As mentioned in a previous post, I went on Birthright in the summer of 2011 and got a completely FREE trip to Israel.
I sent in my application very late and was placed on a waitlist. Eventually a spot opened up for me! There are many different kinds of trips you can take; a bike focused trip, an orthodox trip, a trip with your university, a trip from your nearest big city, etc etc. My spot was a location specific trip; travel to Israel with other Jews in your city—New York!
I lived in Orange County at this time (and there also was an OC trip, but no room for me!). I was leaving to Nor Cal at the end of summer for school at UC Berkeley, and I thought this would be a good celebration present for me. Plus, I was recently interested in learning more about Judaism at this time (which is why I applied). I decided to take it. Unlike other people, I had to pay for my own ticket to get to the airport in New Jersey. That was made up though, because the person whose spot I took paid to EXTEND their trip. After the 11 day organized trip to Israel ends, you can pay <$100 to fly home at a later date. That means I got an extra 2 extra weeks in Israel for free! *After the program ends and IF you decide to stay, then obviously you are funding the trip for yourself, not birthright.
I flew out of LAX to Las Vegas.
casinos in the airport
Then to Charlotte
Then to JFK.
On my LAX to Charlotte, there was this guy sitting next to the window talking to the middle aged man sitting next to me. I thought they were father and son, but at the end of the flight I realized they were talking a bit too formally to be related. They took off their separate ways. On the flight, I noticed the guy playing with a deck of cards. I saw him shuffle and wondered why he was so good! As we got off the plane, I started talking to him. I asked him if he was a magician.
Chase had an audition with Criss Angel to work on his set in Las Vegas. He was now flying to visit a friend. I asked him to show me a magic trick 🙂
Chase was a really nice guy, and he offered to buy me lunch. He was running late so he took his food and left. It was great meeting you Chase! Good luck in your shows! 😀
I got to JFK around 1am or something. My laptop wasn’t connecting to internet, and I couldn’t sleep, so I was so bored and anxious, with nothing to do at the airport. I tried fixing my computer for 3 hours with no luck.
Since my flight out of JFK was around 11am or so, I decided it was time for a quick adventure!
I got my stuff ready and figured out how to get to New York from JFK international airport.
I met these two guys from New Zealand, starting their year trip WWOOFing around America. They were into music, going to see the Arctic Monkeys in a couple days. They were super chill, and we listened to music while waiting for the buses to start running, and watched the sun rise.
Then the bus came, and the driver decided to take a little break and join in the jam session. This video tape turned out to be very useful for me!
I was the only one on the bus at 4AM so I talked to the bus driver. He told me to leave soon in advance so I wouldn’t get delayed by the NY traffic and miss my flight! OKAY! I said, and once we arrived I hopped off the bus, eager to finally see New York!
I was surprised at all the homeless sleeping on the street at the early hours of the morning. They began to wake up and it seemed like they were all walking towards me. I was actually incredibly scared because they reminded me of zombies, and there was no one else on the street except for me and handfuls of homeless people! Eventually, though, the business people of New York came out and started their day.
I got some breakfast and wandered around Times Square. Then, I realized I never took off my luggage from the bus. And I started freaking out. I lost my luggage before I was to spend a MONTH across the world!? What’s wrong with me! I ran around looking for the bus company and didn’t even know the name. Eventually, I figured it out and showed people the FILM of my driver and asked if I could get his number!
Needless to say, I got my belongings back and as only a little bit late to meet with the birthright program.
Out of my nervousness of the previous episode, I had a hard time passing the customs interview. They thought I was a terrorist because I can’t answer questions like a normal person. I was pulled aside and they made me open my bags. The put a sticker on my passport that I still don’t know what it meant, but everyone at the airport who saw it always ended up looking at me differently after seeing it. Oh well. Eventually, I was let in.
I was going to Israel!
Stay tuned to hear more about my trip in Israel.