They were floating in the Dead Sea, meeting Israeli soldiers and praying at the Western Wall while other students took accelerated courses on campus, worked or lay around this winter break.
The university chapter of Hillel sent a national record 89 students on a free birthright trip to Israel from Jan. 4 to Jan. 14, with about 15 other university students participating in birthright trips through other programs, said Hillel executive director Rabbi Ari Israel. The 5-year-old Hillel program sends students to Israel twice a year.
"It was spiritual in the fact that I'm kind of a religious person so just being there in Israel affirmed everything kind of," sophomore finance major Marty Pollak said. "But it was a lot of fun too; being with 80 Maryland people in Israel was just crazy. We brought a little taste of Maryland with us to the country."
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