A free trip to Israel must sound pretty good to the 300 Jewish students applying for the 80 spots currently available.
The fully funded 10-day trip to Israel was launched by Birthright Israel last year, an organization dedicated to the next generation of Jewish youth and their right to experience the homeland of Israel.
Cornell Hillel is allotted 80 spots this year out of the 6,000 total places, 20 more than they were given last year. But that could increase if more applications are received. “The more people that apply the more seats we get,” said Susa Cohen ’02, co-president of Cornell Hillel.
The first Birthright Israel trip was last year, and brought 3,000 students from across the nation to the Jewish homeland.
While there are thousands on the Birthright trip, Cornellians will be sticking together in a much smaller group.
Students on the Birthright program will explore the Israeli countryside by bus, visit Jerusalem, hike through the Galilee region and climb Masada, a fortress south of Jerusalem, all the while discussing their Jewish heritage.
At the historic sites workshops will be led by the Cornell Hillel Staff accompanying the group.
“When you go to the South one of the places you go to is Masada. They tell you what happened there at that site in the history of Israel,” Cohen said.
While students will cover lots of ground and see much of the country, a lot of the journey cannot be measured in miles. The trip “is a think tank of college students discussing what their Judaism means,” said Susan Klein ’03, vice-president of Cornell Hillel.
Topics to be covered by students include how Judaism relates to Israel, Israel’s connection to the past and what it means to be Jewish and in college.
“The trip is sparking new life to the Jewish community as a whole,” Klein said. “The whole thing is suppose to be a personal experience for self-growth and to let people be an integral part of the Jewish community.”
The group remains a community when they return to campus. Reunions and events will bring them back to continue discussions of the trip, according to Klein.
Jewish undergraduate or graduate students between the ages of 18 and 26, who have never been to Israel on a peer tour are eligible for the free trip. Visiting Israel with parents does not exclude eligibility, and any Jewish denomination is welcome.
The millions raised to make this free travel possible came from many sources.
” One third is paid for by the Israeli government, one third is paid for by United Jewish Communities, and one third is paid for by philanthropists,” Cohen said.
Online registration must be completed by October 5 at Cornell Hillel’s website, www.hillel.cornell.edu. There will be interviews with applicants, before the lottery decides the final places.
Cornell Hillel would like to get an equal number of men and women on the trip. We will “break it up evenly by grade and by sex, so we pick evenly,” Cohen said.
The lottery will be an actual party, said Klein. The drawing of the attendants will take place in Willard Straight Hall on October 17, while applicants mingle, eat food and listen to lectures about Israel, Klein said.
Archived article by Lizzie Andrews