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The Birthright Monologues

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For 15 years, the Taglit-Birthright program has been sending young American Jews to the Holy Land, where they connect with their Jewish roots. Haaretz’s Aimee Amiga presents the stories of six young people and their experiences:

Being in Jerusalem was amazing. It was crazy to see no cars out on Shabbat. We walked to the park and I couldn’t believe how dead it was. I’d never seen anything like it. I’d never really known the rules of Shabbat, so seeing the whole city shut down, you really feel and know that you’re in a Jewish country, where people live by Jewish laws. It was also weird that there was no Sunday. It was the first time I’d experienced anything like that: living by the Jewish calendar, by a Jewish week…

I was brought up in an environment of two Jews, three opinions. We don’t agree, we argue. There was none of that on Birthright. It was all very much, “We’re gonna tell you what it is” – so closed to the spirited, respectful, understanding, nuanced debate that’s central to Jewish life and Jewish thinking…

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