By Max Appell
Hillel hosted an event in honor of Birthright Israel’s 22nd anniversary on Tuesday night. The event’s purpose was to get students involved with Birthright’s upcoming winter and summer trips.
Birthright is an organization that sponsors free ten-day trips to Israel for young Jewish adults. Maryland Hillel offers Jewish students of this university the opportunity to partake in the Birthright experience.
The “Birthright Birthday Bash” included over 60 students who signed up in advance and many more who signed up at the door. The event featured multiple activities including cornhole, tetherball, trivia and live music. Hillel also provided kosher dinner from Shouk.
Olivia Hazlett is the Hillel Springboard Social Justice Fellow and is responsible for freshman engagement on this campus. She went on a Birthright trip the summer after her freshman year of college.
“[Birthright] is an opportunity you can’t turn down,” Hazlett said. “By going with Hillel you get to go with a community that you can then come back to campus with.”
Hillel has been the largest contributor to Birthright’s program from Maryland for the past few years. There are currently three buses of students who signed up for the winter trip through Hillel, and there is room for more.
Mal Goldenberg, the IACT Coordinator for Hillel, works closely with Hazlett and is in charge of putting on Israel-related events as well as leading the Birthright trips.
“I think it’s really important for people to see where [Jewish people] came from,” Goldenberg said. “We have faced so many persecutions… it’s a testament to [the fact that] we are here and we’re not going anywhere.”
Goldenberg is also the Greek liaison and works with Jewish-affiliated sororities and fraternities on campus to host events at their houses.
There were many students who attended the Birthday Bash, including those involved with Greek life, with the intention of going on Birthright this upcoming winter and summer.
Jayme Silver is a sophomore psychology major who became interested in Birthright through her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi. Silver has never been to Israel and wants to learn more about her heritage.
“I hope to meet new people and experience new things that have to do with my religion,” Silver said.
While a majority of students at the event had never been to Israel, some students were hoping to get a new experience out of a trip they were familiar with.
Maddy Kagan is a sophomore psychology major who has visited Israel three times in her life, but she is excited to experience the trip again with her friends at UMD.
“My favorite place was Ein Gedi,” Kagan said. “It’s a hike through the desert and then you end up in a waterfall.”
The Birthright 22nd Birthday Bash brought together Jewish students from across the university who shared excitement for visiting Israel, but involvement in Birthright continues year-round. Students interested in attending a Birthright trip should contact Hillel to get involved.