Reflecting on Transformative Trips to Israel



May 4, 2023

RootOne is an organization that helps thousands of Jewish teens travel to Israel during their high school years. Many of those students go on to become leaders in their campus Hillels. The stories of these transformative trips are a snapshot into what inspires students to become leaders who are proud of their Jewish identities. Stay tuned as we share more of their stories.

Student stands in front of a large gold sphere with Hebrew text inscribed on it

Victoria went to Israel during the summer of 2021 with support from RootOne. She shares, “Going to Israel was the best thing I have ever done. The trip connected me to my Judaism in ways I could have never imagined. I made lifelong friends who I am still in contact with today.” While on the trip, Victoria realized that finding a vibrant Jewish community as part of her college experience was a high priority. This realization drew Victoria to Brown University to study public health. 

 Victoria got involved with Hillel on the first day she stepped onto campus. She is particularly proud of her leadership in Brown RISD Hillel’s Students for Israel club. Victoria connects her involvement in Hillel to her experience in Israel. She explains, “The trip made me realize the importance of being involved in a vibrant Jewish community. I am now a strong advocate on my college campus for Israel’s right to self-determination and making sure that Jewish students feel proud and safe around campus.”

Pictured: Victoria on her trip to Israel

In the summer of 2021, thanks to a grant from RootOne, Jess participated in BBYO’s International Leadership Seminar in Israel, which he described as a life changing experience. One of the most profound parts of the trip for Jess was his visit to the  Western Wall, “The moment that solidified my faith and pride in my heritage was the moment I touched the Western Wall for the first time. I felt the thousands of years of history before me, and it made me realize just how resilient our people are. After that, my friends and I stood further away from the Wall, put our arms around each other, and recited the Shema, my favorite prayer.” 

Jess’s experience in Israel inspired him to choose a school with a vibrant Jewish community when applying to colleges. At University of Maryland, he got involved in Hillel shortly after arriving on campus. Hillel offered Jess the opportunity to explore other aspects of Judaism which has been an interest of his since his trip to Israel. Jess also serves on the board of Ruach, the Reform Jewish student group at University of Maryland Hillel.

Pictured: Jess (right) at the Western Wall on his trip to Israel with BBYO

Two teenagers stand in front of the Western Wall in Israel. The author of this story is on the right in a blue button down shirt.