Is Israel Experts the Best Birthright Trip Organizer For You?
Read our trip organizer review / Q&A with Alex below!
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate Israel Experts as a Birthright Trip Organizer?
Alex: 9. The trip was great, but everyone knows that Birthright trips tend to be a little too touristy. There’s a weird disconnect with the lofty, aspirational themes of Birthright as you’re being herded around overpriced shawarma spots and tourist traps.
Q: What type of Jew are you (Liberal? Reform? Orthodox? etc.)
Alex: Reform and non-practicing.
Q: Was the Israel Experts Birthright trip organizer a cultural “match” for you? Why or why not?
Alex: Yeah, the trip was not too serious. They took an objective view to just about everything, which is very different from what I’ve heard about other Birthright trip organizers. We were encouraged to debate the issues and challenge anything we didn’t agree with. I felt welcome to express my opinions at all times, the trip guides were super cool and passionate about educating us, and we were able to visit a lot of amazing sites. Great trip overall!
Q: In terms of types of Jews on your trip, what was the composition of your group?
Alex: My bus was almost all non-practicing Jews. There were a few conservative Jews in the group as well.
Q: Were there any parts of your trip with the Israel Experts Birthright trip organizer that really stick out to you? What was most memorable?
Alex: 1000% it had to be the Western Wall. I felt such an amazing energy there. It was the most moving part of my experience, by far. I also enjoyed climbing Masada – the weather was beautiful that day. We spent a night in a (very touristy) Bedouin encampment, and I got to meet people from another Birthright group. That was cool too.
Q: Were there any parts of your trip that you didn’t enjoy?
Alex: I thought the Dead Sea was a total rip-off. We stayed there for almost two hours and were encouraged to buy “dead sea minerals” skin care products which were super expensive. Floating in the Dead Sea is fun, but gets old fast. Don’t get the water in your eyes..
Q: Was there any drinking and/or hooking up that occurred during your trip? Was your trip organizer fairly accommodating toward this behavior?
Alex: Oh yeah. At each of the kibbutzim we stayed at, there was a dedicated bar that we had full access to – so… we did. Israel Experts also sent us out for a night drinking in Tel Aviv, so not only was drinking encouraged, it was basically funded. Some of our group staff drank with us, though not the tour guide.. I don’t think it’s common for your guide to participate in that stuff. There was a lot of hooking up that happened in my group. Americans hooked up with each other, and they also hooked up with some of the Israelis on our trip.
Q: Looking back, was there anything you wish you had known before choosing to go on Birthright with the Israel Experts trip organizer?
Alex: I just wasn’t very well educated on what the different trip organizers are like. The only way you can find out (aside from this website now…) is by talking to friends who were on the trip themselves.
One thing I think was smart, is I waited until I was 22 before going on Birthright. That allowed me to join the older 22-26 year old group. I found people were very mature, insightful, and didn’t really over-drink (they knew their limits). That was a lot better than hanging out with a bunch of kids.
Q: Do you think you’d recommend Israel Experts to your friends? Why or why not?
Alex: I’d certainly recommend this trip to people who want a secular, open-ended experience. My group was fun, and I made a ton of friends, but very few of them were actively practicing Jews. Israel Experts is a very secular trip, which was cool for me, but I could see people who want to have a deep religious experience being disappointed. Our trip was not accompanied by a rabbi. The guide was a total boss, and our staff were cool too.
The trip was definitely different from what I had imagined. In my mind, I think I over-romanticized it. When you go on Birthright, just try EVERYTHING and be open to all the people you’ll meet. You’ll have a great time!