An incredible Israel experience

31 March 2015

Despite the drizzly forecast in Heathrow last Wednesday the spirits of the eight young people returning from Israel were soaring, after an unforgettable ten-day trip.

The group had just taken part in the UJIA Birthright trip, in partnership with Norwood. The trip aims to give participants with learning disabilities the same opportunity to experience Israel and explore their Jewish cultural heritage as their peers.

With activities ranging from milking goats and making their own cheese, sailing, riding bicycles, visiting the historic Masada, riding donkeys, trekking in the forest, making traditional Israeli music and covering themselves with mud in the Dead Sea, every day was packed with excitement. There was time too for reflection. The group visited Yad Vashem, the Kotel and took part in sessions focussing on positivity and group development.

On the plane home, the participants enthusiastically recounted their 'high points' of the trip. Jonathan said that he enjoyed blowing a shofar and making bread. He said it was good to "squish the milk out of the goats."

Hanna said: "The best bit was the Dead Sea. It was fun to float around, even though I was a bit paranoid!"

Marc said that his favourite part of the trip was the visit to the Masada. "I was interested in the ruins and the history of Israel."

Hilary Rosen, Business Manager, Health and Wellbeing at Norwood said: "The whole trip was an amazing experience for all the participants. Staff have been overwhelmed by how fully the group have participated and how well they have all developed as individuals."

David Neifeld, UJIA Birthright Co-ordinator said: "UJIA Birthright is an enriching and amazing experience and we are proud to have worked with Norwood once again to bring this opportunity to young Jewish people who might not otherwise have the chance to go on an educational trip to Israel."