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Israel Brings out the Best in Me by Alexa Weintraub

As this whirlwind trip comes to an end, our 12 hour plane ride gives me ample time to reflect on the trip overall. After a relaxing free day at the beach and a goodbye party, we departed Haifa for the airport. On the bus ride we all sat together, singing and laughing and recapping our trip. Although a very different Haifa departure than my experience on this delegation two years ago, I still had the same gut feelings and appreciation for why we were there. Israel is a beautiful country with countless activities and adventures to embark on. But, until you live like as an Israeli would or with Israeli peers, you truly are just a tourist. Looking back to the first half of our time in Israel when it was just the Americans, I wasn’t nervous, but incredibly excited. I have already been to Israel twice with this wonderful tour company, Puzzle Israel, so I wasn’t sure how different activities were going to feel. I knew we had a few new experiences lined up, but I was worried about the most important highlights of the country were going to feel the same as they did before, and that there would be no real wow moments. But as those wow moments kept coming and coming, even at places I’d been before, I became aware of how unique and special this journey was. No matter what we were doing, each moment was spectacular in its own special way. This trip is one like I have never experienced, and I truly believe I never will again. Because that is just the thing with Israel, no two trips are ever the same. I am so beyond grateful to have been given this opportunity to come back on this once in a life time experience, and there is truly no major part of this trip that I would change if I could. Every up and every down made this trip what it was. I am so thankful for this trip, not only for all the extraordinary people I met, the fabulous experiences and inside jokes that will be some of my fondest memories forever, but for making me who I am today. For making me truly find myself and for teaching me how to be my best me. When I came to Israel for the first time, I discovered an indescribable part of myself that I never knew I had in me. A part of me that can learn, grow, be vulnerable, be loud, be sassy, be kind, be real. I can be 100% me and I feel like Israel brings out the best sides of me. And maybe it is the amazing, supportive, accepting groups of friends I have been traveling with and bonded with, but there is something so special about this place that I feel brings out the best in everyone experiencing it. Every time I leave this wonderful, complicated country I feel as though there is a core piece of who I am missing. And I know that part of me stays in Israel and awaits my return, it begs for my return. I love that part of me, and I love discovering how that piece and this constant pull back to Israel has changed my actions and way of living in my everyday life. I can't wait to find that part of me again and again.

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