So you’re probably wondering who is going to be guiding you through the best trip of your life.
Here’s the answer: a bunch fun-loving, young, relatable, easygoing and highly experienced people who are going to be making every moment memorable for you!
The Tour Educator. The licensed tour guide knows Israel like the back of their own hand. He or she shows you all the sights and provide insightful background on where you are and what you are seeing. Far from boring you with historical facts, the tour guide is fun and engaging and can make places really come to life. They add a ton of personality and meaning to every location and help you experience Israel in a vibrant, deep, and rich way.
An Israeli Activity Leader*. This staff member makes the trip fun and engaging by running activities on the bus and at night. They’ll help break the ice, teach you Israeli songs and a little Hebrew, run awesome evening programs exploring Jewish identity, and prepare you to meet the Israeli soldiers. The activity leader works every day to make sure you don’t have a dull moment!
American Staff Leader. This is the leader of the American team who makes sure to develop personal relationships with the participants. Their main goal is to make sure this trip is going to be the time of your life. On some trips the staff leader might be a famous Broadway performer, on other trips a Jewish educator or rabbi. They share great stories, meaningful content, insights, cool facts, etc., and make the trip an even more fun and meaningful experience.
A Note on Rabbis: if the word “rabbi” makes you want to run screaming, consider this amazing review from Jenny, a 20-year-old participant:
- “I’m not religious, so having a rabbi on my trip was a major concern I had about going. I can honestly say that all of my fears about the strict, no fun rabbi I expected, were completely diminished within the first few seconds of meeting him. Throughout the trip my Rabbi crowd surfed on the bus, wore a durag, told us to call him Rabbi D-Unit, sang his own rendition of multiple Backstreet Boys’ songs, and danced down the aisle on the bus to any and every song that came on. He was hysterical, and the more time I spent with my Rabbi, the more every negative idea that I previously had about a Rabbi being on my trip dwindled. To my complete surprise, he was probably the best part of my trip.”
American Co-Staff. This can include an American co-staff leader, alumni staff, and/or madrichot.
- American Co-Staff Leader: Some trips also have an additional American staff leader who works together with the main staff leader to ensure you are having the most incredible experience possible!
- Alumni Staff: These are people who have been on Birthright Israel themselves, usually in their mid-20’s. They help out with logistics, and are there to talk to the group and hang out as friends. You can talk to them, ask them questions, and turn to them with any problems you might have.
- Madrichim: “Madrich/a” in Hebrew means “counselor”. The madrich or madricha is usually a student leader, typically a college girl. You can talk to her about anything. She’s there for you if you have any questions or issues. They are caring and helpful and create a family-like atmosphere in the group.
The Medic/Security Guard. Picturing a strict, serious man following you around with a gun? Think again: the medic/security guard is usually really young (around your age range) and totally a part of the group—and is sometimes a girl. Many participants make friends with the security guard and stay in touch after the trip!
The Bus Driver. This is the guy who’s going to take you all over Israel, picking you up and dropping you off at every location. Trust us, at the end of the 10 days you will miss him! He usually has a bunch of water bottles to sell in case you forgot one too.
*Not all trips have an Israeli co-staff. At those times, this role is played by the tour guide too.
OU Israel Free Spirit has private donors who provide an extra American staff member on some of the trips, who goes above and beyond what is provided by normal Birthright Israel trips; this is one of the things that makes Israel Free Spirit so special!