Back from Birthright Israel Blog

Back from Birthright Israel Blog

Meet alumnus David Schulman

(Alumni Stories) Permanent link

David 1

David 2

When did you go on a Birthright Israel trip and with which organizer? How was it?: I went on my Birthright Israel Trip in the summer of 2015 through Israel Experiences.  It was an amazing, once in a lifetime trip and I came away with 40 amazing new friends.

Why did you decide to go to Israel: My grandmother went to Israel when she was young and always wanted me to have that same experience.  She passed away in the last year and I wanted to experience Israel like she had.

What is your favorite trip memory/funniest story: It would either have to be experiencing Shabbat in Jerusalem at the Western Wall or numerous wild dance parties to Golden Boy!

You are from: Utica, NY

Where are you living now: Chicago, IL

How do you pay the bills: I work in sales for an international software firm called Cision.

Favorite food from Israel: Hummus!!!

Your claim to fame/fun fact: I was in a New York Yankees commercial as a child.

Meet alumnus Marti Pine

(Alumni Stories) Permanent link

Marti photo 1

Marti photo 2

When did you go on a Birthright Israel trip and with which organizer? How has it impacted you?: I went in late May this year, with Shorashim! Words can not describe my experience from the trip. I graduated a year early from college and was moving back home, so I decided this would be a perfect summer to go to Israel and hopefully make some new friends. I didn't realize that I signed up for an all Chicago trip, I just thought I was leaving from Chicago. I am 21, but asked to be placed on a trip for 22-26 year old trip, so that I could be with people who may just be starting graduate school, like me, or working in the real world. Everyone says that you make best friends from these trips when your in Israel, but often times because of location, people don't remain close. I realize that I went on Birthright 5 months ago, but my bus (shoutout to bus #873) has still remained close. Right after Israel we of course got together, but even now we plan mini reunions. Less than two weeks ago about 8 of us got together at someones apartment to have a relaxing night. Two of ourIsraelis have come to visit. I get to see two of my fellow birthright participants in LEADS every week, and know that I always have someone to go to one of the Jewish events around Chicago with me. Some people from my trip I talk to on a daily basis and others I may only have contact with from viewing their snapchat story, but I know that my bus participants would always be there if I needed them. It has made the transition to coming home a lot easier than I expected. 

Why did you decide to go to Israel:  I felt that it is important to see the land of the Jewish people and to reconnect with my Jewish heritage. Especially with everything that is happening  in Israel now, it is important to be proud to be Jewish. I wanted to be able to explore my Jewish identity further and going to Israel allowed me to do that.

What is your favorite trip memory: When we were at the bedouin tents, I decided to take a break from all the stories, laughs, and singing to take a moment to myself. I pulled one of those matts across all the huts and placed myself far away from everyone else. I star gazed and took in my surroundings for a good 20 minutes. Although I was by myself, I was able to reflect on my trip thus far and take in every moment to its fullest. That was my aha moment. I was in Israel. Sometimes people feel it when they get off the plane and others when they are leaving, but for me that is when I knew I was in the land of my people.

You are from: I hail from The World's Largest Village, Skokie, IL.

Where are you living now: I have two amazing roommates that I like to call mom and dad. Sometimes when mad, I go more formal by calling them mother and father. 

Favorite food from Israel: I don't have a favorite food from Israel but I really like Makupelet.

Your claim to fame: At the end of each summer at my Jewish summer camp (Camp Chi) we would light C H I on fire in the middle of the lake. Only three campers from the oldest  group got to do it. Out of the 91 campers, I was going to camp the third longest and got to light the CHI. It happened over 5 years ago but I'm still calling it my claim to fame.

Meet alumnus Brian Fraze

(Alumni Stories) Permanent link

Brian F.

When did you go on a Birthright Israel trip and with which organizer? How was it?: I went on Birthright this past June 2015 with Shorashim. My group leaders were Jordyn Harris and Alex Feder (AKA Mom and Dad).

Why did you decide to go to Israel: Going to Israel (and on birthright specifically) was something I had always wanted to do, but to be honest never fully expected to see through because of timing/scheduling conflicts...etc (Insert more excuses here).  Fortunately, both my cousin and I had an availability this summer and made the decision to sign up for the trip. My main reason for wanting to go was not necessarily for religious regions, but more so to have an adventure, gain perspective and a greater understanding of what it is to be Jewish. By the time I left, I had all three and so much more. We had gained a family in the Israeli Soldiers on our trip and with my bus-mates as well.

What is your favorite trip memory/funniest story: I know I'm only supposed to pick one memory here, but there's too many so I'm picking two memories and I'll try my best to keep them short. The first memory is when we went rafting through the Jordan River. My cousin Sam, myself and our Israeli Soldiers jumped ship and, as if we were pirates, started taking over other rafts eventually leading to a full on splash fest with our fellow bus 899ers. All the while, chanting the Hava Nagila and beating our chests with our paddles like a medieval war cry. That day was EPIC. The second memory was a night we went out in Jerusalem. Our entire Bus took over this bar that was empty when we got there. By the end of the night we were all singing backstreet's back on top of the tables.... any night with BSB on the playlist has no option but to be legendary.

You are from: Chicago

Where are you living now: Chicago

How do you pay the bills: I am currently the Vice President of a company called which specializes in manufacturing an developing Eco-Friendly Pet Products. Additionally, I coach HS/Youth lacrosse in Deerfield/Lake Forest. I have also been actively pursuing a career as a Hip-Hop Artist since 2011 and regularly perform around the Midwest and Chicagoland area.

Favorite food from Israel: Shwarma

Your claim to fame/fun fact: I once threw a burrito into a moving ceiling fan and successfully cleared the blades. (See: Jeffrey Weisberg for proof).

After Birthright Israel, Brian was feeling so inspired, he wrote a song about his trip. Check out Brian's song Love IsRael now on iTunes. 50% of the proceeds will be donated to JUF.