Brett Deutchman, vice president of LC Hillel, was one of 40 U.S. students to travel to Israel in January on a Taglit-Birthright trip.
Taglit-Birthright provides a free 10-day trip to Israel twice a year for young Jewish people from around the world in hopes of strengthening their Jewish Identity. It’s sponsored by a variety of philanthropic groups and the government of Israel. More than 300,000 students from around the world have participated in the program.
Brett said he had never traveled outside the U.S. before and he was a bit nervous about what he would find in Israel.
“Israel is not the war zone that the media portrays it to be,” Brett said, “and it’s not all desert like popular culture portrays it to be. I felt very safe there.”
Brett said a highlight of the trip was a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “He said how it’s important to be connected to Israel, the land where your ancestors came from,” Brett said.
An English major from Edison, N.J., Brett said the trip to Jerusalem included a chance to write a prayer and leave it in a crack in the Western Wall, commonly known as the Wailing Wall. In Tzvat, Brett experienced his first mikve, in which men submerse themselves in cold water for a spiritual cleansing.
The trip also included spending a night in the desert in a Bedouin camp, where the group experienced the worst rainstorm since 1998; hiking near Golan Heights; and clubbing in Tel Aviv, which Brett called “Israel’s version of New York City.”
Brett said the trip definitely made him feel connected to Israel. Back here at LC, Brett is preparing to become president of LC Hillel, the international Jewish student organization. LC Hillel is part of Hillel International’s Soref Initiative “Small and Mighty” HSOs (Hillel Student Organizations). Hillel’s Soref Initiative enables students and local college and university communities to celebrate Jewish life on campus with smaller Jewish populations and provides opportunities for Jewish students to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity.
Brett is also a resident assistant in McWane Hall, a job he loves. “The job teaches you everything about time management and building community,” he said.