Monday, February 21, 2011

Birthright Israel: We’re Coming Back (Part I of ?)

What is the proper self-medicating technique that will lead to sleep on this 11-hour red-eye to Israel? I thought. Options: Benadryl, NyQuil, alcohol, hard alcohol, ethyl alcohol, steal an Ambien, roofie myself, any combination thereof.

I was traveling from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv for my Taglit-Birthright Israel trip—a mostly free, 10-day voyage through Israel with 40+ peers, including 6 current and former Israeli soldiers. I did not know the reasoning behind this “gift,” as the trip organizers repeatedly called it, but because of age restrictions, this was my final opportunity to participate. I simply had to go.

Of course I barely slept, despite my liberal efforts, and instead watched the Jennifer Aniston chick flick, The Switch. I would’ve preferred to switch it for a rag and chloroform.

The other Birthright participants came from all over the United States, though since some Jewish background is a Birthright prerequisite, you can guess the hotspots: California, Florida, Chicago, DC, and New York. Joining dozens of strangers for a week and a half is not typical for me—throughout life, I have opted for the safety of friends and family wherever I went. Upon arriving in Israel, everyone else mingled to get a feel for the social status hierarchy, while I just searched for the person with the best chance of selling me a roofie for my return flight.

At the airport, we met the four Israeli soldiers, one student, and one armed escort who would all be part of our group for the entire trip. Our armed escort happened to be a 22-year-old, bleached-hair, tatted-up bombshell who wielded a three-foot gun at all times. In the short time I spent with her, I decided that I would like her to move to the States and become my wife, but only if she obtains a concealed weapons permit for her assault rifle.

Rounding out our crew were the two Birthright counselors; our bus driver, The Mumbling Russian; and our tour guide, Guy Bar-Yosef, a.k.a. Simple Guy. To answer your question, no, Guy was not my roofie supplier.

Hippie tour guide for Birthright Israel

An incoherent bus driver, native soldiers, a former hippy tour guide, and a bunch of cigarette smoking, barely religious twenty-somethings…this could be fun.

Keep reading:
Birthright Israel: We're Coming Back (Part II of ?)