By Sadie Dorf
Twenty Jewish University of Wisconsin students traveled to Israel this past March on a week-long alternative spring break where they experienced Israel through community service and tikkun olam.
The trip co-sponsored by Shorashim and CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston) provided college students who had already traveled to Israel with a new and humbling experience that centered around service work rather than tourism.
These students, alongside two Hillel staff, spent the first half of the trip in Haifa learning about poverty, coexistence and community. The group volunteered at numerous locations throughout Haifa, including a local elementary school and a local farm where they picked over 1700 pounds of radishes that will feed over 400 families.
“It was empowering knowing that what we did, while fun was also helping a county that has given me so much,” said Sarah Glazer, a sophomore on the trip. “Being in Haifa gave me a new perspective which was cool, since the last time I was in Israel, I didn’t spend much, if any, time there.”
Glazer, as well as all the 19 other students, enjoyed the hands-on work and involvement they were able to do. The purpose behind this Israel experience was to give back to a county, that as Glazer said, provides American-Jews with so much.
“The Jewish people have had a long history of helping each other. It’s only right that as American-Jews we go to Israel, have an incredible experience and do service there,” said Noah Broder, another sophomore on the trip. “We got to meet numerous Israelis and interact with them while getting to know new people from UW in a non-school environment.”
The unique variety of students truly enhanced this trip for all attendees. With students varying in gender, grade and involvements, the trip was balanced with charisma, enthusiasm, depth and laughter. Bekah Blumenfeld, a Madison native and freshman on the trip, added that “this trip was a chance to see Israel in a way you don’t usually get on a touristy-type trip.”
“I didn’t know who was going on the trip when I signed up. But now, meeting people with so many different backgrounds, it’s kind of like the first day of school or camp, it’s awkward but really quickly you find a new group of friends that you look forward to seeing,” Broder said.
The trip ended with an amazing weekend in Jerusalem, where everyone celebrated Purim. After a long weekend of good food, Shabbat and festivities, the group of UW Badgers boarded the plane and headed home, looking forward to bringing their Israel experience to Madison.