I Am Here Because I Am a Part of Something Bigger Than Me

Date: 01-03-2024 | Category: Birthright Israel Onward,Blog,For Students | Reading Time: 3 Minutes

By: Eric Glassman

Since arriving to Israel on December 25th, we have been greeted with intense admiration and appreciation. Our trip is unlike any other I have participated in. We are not bound by visits to the Kotel or Dead Sea. Instead, we are empowered by something greater. 

It is challenging to label what that is. I feel drawn to describe it as Tikkun Olam or Tzedakah, yet neither fully encapsulates the feeling.

On our first day at Hashomer Hachadash, we were greeted by Israelis and Jews from across Israel and the world, all unified by the collective desire to do good and help. I recall the conversations with other volunteers clearly. Many expressed their gratitude or amazement of our being here. 

While speaking to a volunteer from Toulouse, France, I was asked “Why are you here?”. I am here because I am a part of something bigger than me. I am an important piece of Jewish strength and unity.

The connection I feel has only gotten stronger over the past week. 

We shared special moments with Ethiopian Jews who were brought to Israel during Operation Solomon and Operation Moses.

We reconnected with friends from Camp Livingston, some who I had not seen in many years.

We embraced family members who have made Aliyah to Israel.

All this and more have contributed to a powerful, moving, and impactful first week in Israel. My heart is full from the moments we have shared as a group and with Israelis.

As we brought in 2024 together, I felt a strong sense of pride and unity in our Jewish community. I firmly believe that these experiences are necessary and should go in tandem with the typical Israel tourist experiences.

The camaraderie is palpable and I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to be together and give back. 

Eric and the 9 others are a part of the Birthright Israel Onward Volunteer in Israel initiative.