Everything to Add to Your Israel Bucket List
Although I'm not a religious person, going on Birth Right was an amazing experience that I'm so grateful for. I went with a Reformed Jewish group so it wasn't primarily focused on prayers and services, but mainly on the history of the Jewish people and how Israel became a state. Below are some of the experiences I had in Israel that should be added to to your Israel Bucket List if you plan on visiting!
1. Explore the Old City, Jerusalem
A trip to Jerusalem is not complete without visiting the Western Wall, the holiest site for the Jewish people. I really recommend taking a tour of the Old City to learn about the Temple's destruction and the history behind this sacred place. It's so neat to see all of the little pieces of paper with prayers on them that have accumulated in the Wall's cracks over the years.
2. Ride camels in the Negev
The Negev was the first desert I'd ever been to, and it was absolutely beautiful! We spent the night in a Bedouin tent and it was so peaceful & quiet, you could see every star in the sky! Spending the evening in the desert was definitely one the highlights of my trip.
3. Wake up at 4AM to climb Masada & watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea
The Negev is even more beautiful with the sun rising over it! Totally worth the early wake up call & hike. After the sun rise, explore the ruins atop Masada, where Jewish Zealots once lived. This is another place where I'd recommend a tour, as their history & self-sacrifice is a very interesting and emotional story.
4. Float in the Dead Sea
Truly a once in a lifetime experience, swimming in the Dead Sea was so much fun. You really can't stay in for too long because the salt eventually starts to burn, but the mud helped offset that.
5. Explore the markets & go swimming at the beach in Tel Aviv
I didn't have as much time as I would have liked in Tel Aviv as we had to leave early because we were there right before war broke out between Israel and the Gaza Strip in 2014. That being said, in the short time I was in Tel Aviv we visited Rabin Square & the beaches and markets were wonderful.
6. Go to Yad Vadshem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
To really gain an appreciation for the state of Israel & those who helped hide Jewish people during the Holocaust, definitely visit Yad Vashem for an emotional but important piece of history to remember.
7. Eat falafel & traditional Bedouin food
8. Be nice to the desert cats
On a return trip to Israel, I would love to spend more time in Jerusalem & Tel Aviv, and go to Haifa & Eilat!