Thursday, February 4, 2010

Apparently Chabad Offers Birthright Trip (and Their Site Shows Little Difference From Traditional)

I just got this in my inbox.

You’ve heard so much about Birthright from your classmates, your cousin, your best friend. You heard of the fun, the thrill, the spirit, the life changing experience; seems like everyone’s been but you, now it’s your turn!

[Specific Chabad org excised] be taking a Birthright trip this summer leaving May 26th. We work with “Mayanot” one of the top Birthright providers, known for providing the best experience, and memories for a lifetime. Check out their website for more details on this 10 day whirlwind tour of the Holy Land with 40 other college kids just like you

I attend the Chabad on campus weekly Parsha and Pizza group, primarily for the delicious, delicious kosher pizza, though I do pay attention and try to engage-though I spend most of the time when the shaliach gives "Der Rebbe's" opinion on a matter from the parsha trying to figure out whether the shaliach believes Menachem Mendel Schneerson is z"tl or shlito (I'd probably lean z"tl if I had to choose one or the other, but I'm not sure).

Anyway, I suppose it's hardly that surprising that Chabad has a Taglit Birthright trip of its own. After all, why they may have technically refrained from open "Zionism" (i.e. secular Zionism), they are vociferously engaged in being pro-Israel and have gotten into fights in the streets of Brooklyn with the Satmars over this issue. Especially given their being the #1 (in terms of resources and activity) kiruv organization in the world, it's hardly a surprise.

What is a surprise is the nature of the trip, at least based on the sample itinerary they present, and how similar it is to what I expect of a "generic" Birthright Israel trip, like the Shorashim one I hope to take this summer (of course, if I take a Birthright trip, I'm staying in Israel for at least a month, as I might not get a chance to go again for a long time. Hopefully I can spend some of the time staying with relatives if some of them will have me, and maybe if I'm lucky/skilled I could get some friends in Israel to let me crash at their place, especially since hostels will eat up a ton of money I'd rather spend in other ways (including on friends!). Sadly, like friends I made elsewhere in life, I have not done a great job of keeping in touch with people I met at Ramah Day Camp when I was 9, and I actually don't even know their last names-perhaps my mother has a list).

Anyway, yes, they go into the Golan (not that I have an issue with anything regarding the Golan) and do the tunnels thing in Ir David (I remember that being fun and hearing the Mu'azzen from the Arab neighborhood on the side we got out on), but I see nothing at all in the West Bank, despite Chabad's fervent opposal to surrending an inch of Judea and Samaria.

Nor do they seem to hit up Kfar Chabad. Though on the other hand, doing that might be counterproductive. Not everybody who goes on a Chabad Birthright trip will be deeply enough into things to go along with the Yechi types.

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