Jewish students visit Israel

Pat Jarrett

Mindi Greenberg, senior sports management major, at the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of the Jewish faith. SPECIAL TO THE DAILY KENT STATER BY MINDI GREENBERG

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A trip to Israel may have saved a life.

While Mindi Greenberg, senior sports management major, was on the Taglit birthright Israel: Hillel trip Jan. 7 through 18, her father suffered a minor heart attack.

“If I wasn’t in Israel, I wouldn’t have my dad,” Greenberg said.

She believes because she was at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount the day he had the heart attack, one of the most holy sites of the Jewish faith, he survived.

Greenberg is one of 16 students who participated in the trip.

The birthright trip was offered as a gift to Jews ages 18 to 26 from different organizations and charities. The government of Israel, North American Jewish Federation and a smattering of private donations paid for the trip.

Greenberg said she found herself on the trip, which is available to Jews worldwide.

“In the months of December and January there are about 3,000 people on the birthright trip,” said Dovev Barak, an Israel emissary and fellow at Hillel. “I am their link to Israel.”

He said 98,000 Jews from around the world have taken the free trip.

Barak is from Israel and is here for a year-long fellowship with Hillel.

Brody Klotzman, freshman visual communication design major, and Kari Williams, sophomore pre-med major, said that overall the best outcome from the trip was the new friendships they made.

“I became really good friends with one of the (Israeli) soldiers. We e-mail each other every day,” Klotzman said.

The soldiers were not necessarily there for security, but were part of the overall experience and to mingle with the Americans, Barak said.

Williams, who has ambitions to study in Israel and eventually practice medicine there, said the trip was only the start of her relationship with Israel.

“You can’t have your second trip until you’ve had your first,” Williams said. “And we’re all going back soon.”

The trip is more than social. It is designed to give young people a chance to see the Holy Land and explore his or her faith, Barak said.

Klotzman communicated her feelings about the trip.

“You hear about it (Israel), and it’s such a great thing, and then you’re there, and it’s like ‘Whoa, I’m here. It’s real,'” Klotzman said.

Greenberg echoed Klotzman’s sentiment.

“I’ve never felt so comfortable being in a place,” Greenberg said.

There are two trips every year, one in the winter and one in the summer. Only the winter trip is through Hillel. There were three or four students from Kent State who went last summer, Barak said, but Hillel recommends the winter trip.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected].