Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Love Letter to Mayanot

To everyone involved with running and making Taglit- Birthright happen,

There aren't words to describe how thankful I am!! 
My birthright trip just ended this past Thursday. I'm missing my bus 500 tons! Still in Israel now, I'm at a loss for words to describe the happiness and belonging I feel here. I love this place and I thank you for showing me the land.

Each evening on the trip, we had to refer to our schedules to figure out what we had done that morning. We were always going, doing and seeing something wonderful. I'm so lucky to have joined the trip and to have had such amazing leaders and staff members. Everything about it was magical! It was surreal being in a place where our ancestors lived.

Friday night at the Kotel was beyond words. We sang the night away and I'll never forget that. We had the sweetest soldiers on our trip and we were so lucky to get the chance to know them.

Meeting new friends, exploring new places, learning so much history and everything that happened in those 10 exhilarating days will stay with me forever.
Thank you for bringing me here, to my home away from home.
This was beyond surreal!!!

With tons of gratitude,
Kaila Fine
(Mayanot: Taglit Birthright –Israel Bus 32-500)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Looking Up

Hannah Weinstock, Mayanot Women's Program Alum from Queens, New York

I have never been what is considered normal. When everyone else was looking straight I was looking up. I've always believed in the mysterious, in the unknown. I'd watch movies and read books about magic. Hoping that if I wiggles my fingertips at the right door it would snap shut, or if I stared hard enough at the light it would go on.

As I got older, this air of mystery never left me. I stopped wiggling my fingers at the doors and staring at the light switches. But my life has always been without, it's as if I have always been half awake. I was never unhappy, even during those angsty teenage years I always had a lot to appreciate. I had a loving, supportive family, awesome, fun loving friends, I went to a good school, and lived in a wonderful community. It was a very good life...but it was unfulfilled.

For the last year and a half I have gone through a life changing process that has brought everything into perspective and brought nothing but humility and fulfillment into my life. That being said, there have been many challenges. I remember holding a blue siddur (prayer book) in my Chabad house and crying because I had no idea how to use it; I didn't even know where to start. I knew once I finished college I would be able to take on leaning full time. Ever since I stepped foot in the Beit Midrash (Main Study Hall) during a Mayanot Birthright trip, I've known where I wanted to do it.

Mayanot has brought me nothing but happiness. it hasn't been long, but with everything I've already learned, my davening (Prayer) is stronger, my connection with Hashem (G-d) is clearer, and my understanding of myself as a Jew is more revealed. No, I can't shut a door with the wiggle of my finger, but I can help bring Moshiach (the Messiah), and that is magical.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Mayanot?

“I wasn’t determined to go to Israel until after plenty of my friends had already gone. When I searched for the right Taglit Birthright group for me, after viewing multiple options, Mayanot was the obvious choice.

Every day of the trip, we learnt something new, whether it was a Hebrew word, some new detail about the culture, or the land we were journeying on that day, it was truly incredible. The days were long but no one wanted to miss a minute of this amazing gift.

Being placed with strangers in a strange country can be scary, but we all had this common bond that grew and strengthened throughout the 12 day journey.

What I received, while I was on Taglit - Birthright Israel: MAYANOT, was a feeling of certainty and of belonging. I only hope everyone gets to go on this trip and find what they are looking for too, a country full of life, love and the power to keep the Jew’s and their spirit alive.”

Samantha Bowen, Taglit- Birthright Israel: MAYANOT Alumnus