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Meet an Alumnus: Michelle Chiera

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Michelle ChieraMichelleC2

When you went on a Birthright Israel trip and with which organizer: I went on Birthright in December 2012 with one of the Kesher groups.  

Why did you decide to go to Israel?: I was adopted when I was 3-days old through the JCFS network. My whole life the only constant that I've known about genetic family history is that I am 100% Jewish. Both when deciding to come to Israel for Birthright and then again in moving here this year, I definitely made the decision knowing that my family (and biological family) came from this place somehow and sometime. I spent my whole life giving and learning from the city of Chicago, I am a south-sider through and through. I knew at this point in my life it was time to do the same for a place where I knew my ancestors came from.  

Your favorite trip memory/funniest story: Birthright gave me one of my closest and dearest friends, and Israel Teaching Fellows has given me friends that are like family which I am eternally grateful for. Me and my roommates went to Berlin and then two of us split off and did Barcelona, where I was able to meet up with my brother who happened to be on vacation too, and Madrid. After Madrid we flew into the Jordan airport at 2:00 am where we were going to cross the Melech Hussein Bridge into Israel, again at 2:00 in the morning two American, Jewish girls with Israeli visas, hiking backpacks and elephant pants. It was the most ridiculous, exhausting legs of our Sukkot vacation, and is now one of my favorite stories to tell.  

You are from: Beverly neighborhood on the south side of Chicago (and no it is not a suburb).  

Where you are living now: Rehovot a neighborhood near Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv.  

How you pay the bills: Masa pays for housing (thankfully!) and provides us with a stipend of about 1200 NIS a month. I've worked and saved money since I was 14 and have been using some of that for trips and extras this year. I have a very supportive temple who donated some money to help pay for the trip deposit etc.  

Favorite food from Israel: My favorite food in Israel has to be Malawah. It's not quite a pancake, not quite a burrito but it is SO delicious.  

Relationship status: How very Jewish mother of you. I am single-ish/casually dating.  

Your claim to fame/fun fact: On birthright and again in my apartment my "claim to fame" has to be my South Side Chicago accent. Apparantly I sound like an SNL superfan or Mike Ditka to people outside of 773/312 limits.