Views of the city of Jerusalem after touring Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum
Views of the city of Jerusalem after touring Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum

Organizers say they are optimistic about the future and look forward to the summer.

Birthright trips to Israel have picked back up again since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a long hiatus, we are excited and honored to bring back so many participants from North America on these important and exciting tours to Israel,” said Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark.

About 2,000 Birthright Israel participants from 45 states and provinces in North America have made their way to Israel this past February and March. A few of those participants are from Metro Detroit. 

The JN caught up with Nicki Borovsky of Bloomfield Hills and Amanda Buchalter of Canton who both say they have been waiting to go to Israel for years and jumped at the opportunity as soon as it was available. 

A 4:30 a.m. wake-up call was worth it for the stunning views on the top of Masada, according to Nicki Borovsky, right, with new friend Bella Sakolish of New York.
A 4:30 a.m. wake-up call was worth it for the stunning views on the top of Masada, according to Nicki Borovsky, right, with new friend Bella Sakolish of New York.

“I’ve been trying to go on Birthright for three years now,” Borovsky said. “The first time that I was supposed to go was May 2020. But because of COVID, that was obviously canceled. Then I was supposed to go this past December with my older sister. And a week before we left, they canceled the trips, and nobody was allowed into Israel.”

In 2020, the COVID outbreak caused cancellations for thousands of young people registered to go. “They are doing everything they can to make sure that it’s safe, especially right now,” Buchalter added. 

Birthright participants must be fully vaccinated. Birthright Israel continues to work closely with Israel’s Ministry of Health to ensure a comprehensive and dynamic COVID protocol, taking care of all participants’ needs while in Israel. With these rules in place, Borovsky said she felt more comfortable going on the trip. 

“Knowing that all the people I went with were vaccinated made it easier to be around people who were in the same situation as me,” Borovsky said. 

An extremely content selfie of Amanda Buchalter on Masada
An extremely content selfie of Amanda Buchalter on Masada

Organizers say they are optimistic about the future and look forward to the summer. 

“Our summer trips are filling up quickly, and we are excited and optimistic that we will now be able to accommodate the 100,000 North American young adults who signed up for a trip over the last two years and couldn’t travel due to COVID,” Gidi Mark said. 

Both Borovsky and Buchalter say they had a successful Birthright experience and would love to go back to Israel. 

“The biggest takeaway that I got from this trip was a sense of community. Both the American and Israeli participants in my group just meshed immediately. Bonding with people from so many different backgrounds over this exploration of Judaism, an immersion into a place that is majority Jewish, is irreplaceable,” Buchalter said. 

To find out if you’re eligible for a Birthright experience go to https://www.birthrightisrael.com.

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