It’s funny how life works. During the summer of 2018 I had only mentioned the idea of going on Birthright. Lucky enough I met Sydney Harlow the Hillel Program Director and by December it was for sure that I would be on a plane to Israel by the 17th. Even now talking about this trip pulls strings on my heart because of the people I met, the experience I had and what I myself witnessed. Yes, I always considered myself Jewish even if I did not practice anymore. But actually participating on a Birthright trip changed the way I look at life. I would like to become more observant. Even now I still keep in contact with both the American and Israeli friends that I made over my break. The laughs and moments we shared I will never forget. My next step is to go back after my graduation this May. I have recently applied for the Onward Israel arts & culture program which started June 12. Taglit-Birthright with Hillel International took me on the adventure of my life. From visiting Yad Vashem, to conquering Mount Masada, and having lunch everyday with our Israeli soldiers really was just an opportunity of a lifetime. I hope other students in college take this time to take up this amazing experience just like I did, even in if it was spur of the moment.
Cassie Benjamin ’19 is a Senior at USF Sarasota-Manatee and traveled in December 2018 to Israel with Gulf Coast Hillel.
To learn more about the Birthright trip and to sign up to travel to Israel with Gulf Coast Hillel go to freeisraeltrip.org/gulfcoast or email our Program Director, Sydney, at Sydney@gchillel.org