KSU Hillel promotes Israel trip

April Samuelson

Despite the rain in Kent and an ongoing war Israel, Kent Hillel signed up students in Risman Plaza yesterday for a trip to Israel this winter.

“Jewish students should go to Israel to connect with their history,” Hillel Assistant Director Mike Levinstein said. “They should go on this trip because it is free and campus based.”

Senior chemistry major and Grinspon intern Benjamin Fogel said the free ten-day trip includes a climb up Mount Masada, nature hikes, a tour of the Dead Sea and a tour of Jerusalem. He also said students should go to Israel because it will change them religiously and socially.

“What it does is it makes a very special connection between you and Israel,” Fogel said. “Before you go, Israel is just a place on a map, afterward it feels like home. You get homesick for Israel.”

Shiendel Schecter, junior international relations major, said she experienced this feeling when she went to Israel with her family for her cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. She wanted to go back again.

“The second I set foot in Israel, it was this overwhelming sensation of being home, of being connected to hundreds of generations that came before me,” she said. “I really did feel heartbroken when we left. When I found out this was a potential opportunity, I wanted to sign up. I’ve been waiting since January.”

Marc Newton, junior theater major, said he signed up for other reasons.

“I wanted to see Israel more or less just for the adventure of being out of Ohio,” he said. “It just sounds like a way I can meet some people.”

Sophomore marketing major Erin Fine said she signed up to go Israel because many of her friends and family members have gone there. Fine also said the current conflict in the region has not changed her mind.

“When I heard about it over the summer, I was nervous at first because I didn’t know if they would still do the trip, but I have a family friend who was over there,” she said. “They just told her to stay toward the South.”

Newton said he thought the war just added something interesting to the trip.

“It just makes it an adventure,” Newton said. “It’s in the back of your mind, but you shouldn’t worry about that.”

Senior accounting major Kyle Keckler stopped by the tent on his way to the University Library. He said he was interested in going to Israel but not during the war.

“Under the circumstances, the chances of me going to Israel are probably zero,” he said.

Both Fogel and Levinstein emphasized the students’ security was a top priority.

“Security is the top of everybody’s mind and there is strong coordination between trip organizers and the Department of Defense to make sure students are safe,” Levinstein said.

Fogel said there have not been any trips canceled because of the war, only some schedule adjustments.

“Every day they check to see what was going on,” Fogel said. “Every day, every hour they make adjustments to the trip based on what’s going on in the country. If there is something dangerous going on in one trip, you don’t go there. They take you to another place in the country.”

Schecter said she doesn’t want the war to stop students from signing up.

“I hope that the current situation in the Middle East does not deter people from taking advantage of this opportunity,” she said. “It’s definitely something to consider, but it’s not the be all, end all. I think it would be very unfortunate if people looked to the news coming out of that area and, because of that, decided not to go.”

For more information about Birthright Israel see http://www.hillel.org/israel/default.

Contact religion reporter April Samuelson at [email protected]