Trip of a lifetime for Birthright group

30 December 2016

Eight young people with learning disabilities spent 10 magical days in Israel, as part of Norwood’s Birthright scheme, in partnership with UJIA, which aims to give young people with learning disabilities and complex health needs the same opportunity to engage with their Jewish culture as their peers.

The group landed in Tel Aviv on 21 November, and quickly started exploring the city. At Kfar Kedem they dressed up in biblical clothes, tried out a 2,000 year old form of transport (donkey) and made traditional bread in an old fashioned brick oven.

Twenty-three-year-old Mathew said: "I loved stroking the donkeys and riding them. I was also interested by the equipment that was used a long time ago to make pita bread."

At Lily Sharon, a park just outside the historic old town of Akko, it was time for some monkeying around; the group took to the treetops for some team building and high rope exercises. Everyone took part in all the activities: swinging, going on the zip line and abseiling down a tree.

Gabriel, 18 said: "I climbed the tree and I felt like I was flying!"

The group then travelled Jerusalem, visiting the Western Wall and Yad Vashem and taking time for some quiet reflection. Before it was time to go home, they explored the Masada and the Tower of David, took a dip in the Dead Sea and shopped till they dropped in Mamilla.

Emma Forman, Jewish Cultural Advisor, Norwood, said: "The trip was fantastic – it was such a joy to experience this journey with the eight participants and brilliant staff team. We are so grateful that this trip takes place, it was an honour to see the young people Norwood supports experience Israel in a way that they never knew was possible."

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