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Kiruv Korner: Ascending to Eretz Yisroel – by Rabbi Meir Goldberg

One of the most exciting initiatives in the broader Jewish world is Birthright Israel, the free ten day trip that many Jewish college students attend. Most Birthright students enjoy the ten day whirlwind of touring, exploring and living in Israel. But what happens when it is over? Where does the inspiration go? What about the educational/inspirational aspect of Judaism? How about Torah and Yahadus?

Many of the more inspired Jewish Birthright Israel alumni ask themselves the same questions and they find their answer in the Meor Israel trip, run by Meor campuses across the country and locally run for Rutgers students by Meor Rutgers Jewish Xperience (RJX).

The thirty four Rutgers and Maryland students who attended the 16 day adventure were able to grow and actualize their potential through a mix of deep and inspiring classes, touring all over Eretz Yisroel and meeting with and growing from some of the most inspiring teachers of Torah in Eretz Yisroel.

Our trip started up north with the highlight being a day in the holy city of Tzfas. Students visited the Arizal’s mikva, the Bais Yosef’s kever and Bais Medrash. We danced in the streets and breathed in the sheer ruchniyus that permeates Tzfas.

While at the Kever of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai, we davened mincha and noticed that we were standing right next to former Shas leader, Eli Yishai. MK Yishai agreed to come on our bus and speak to our students. He didn’t disappoint. See the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r58jDCi4E4E&t=19s

After a Shabbos of davening, learning, eating, shmoozing, and growing at the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel, we headed to Yerushalayim. Each day we spent approximately three hours learning and growing from some of the most inspiring speakers available, such as Rav Beryl Gershenfeld, Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Shlomo/Machon Yaakov and Founder and President of Meor, R’ Leib Keleman, R’ Moshe Zeldman and more.

Afternoons were spent hiking, exploring the old city of Yerushalayim, biking in the Judean hills, etc.

One of the trip highlights was attending the Sheva Brachos of the granddaughter of the Belzer Rebbe. Our students saw thousands of Belzer Chassidim in the courtyard of the Belzer Shul while also taking a tour of the building. We then walked over to Yeshiva Yagdil Torah in Ezras Torah and got a taste of Gemorah.

The inspiration will last a lifetime and give our students an eternal bond with Torah, Klal Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel.

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