by Sophie Lipton

We have just launched a UJIA Birthright trip to Israel with Reform and Liberal Judaism, which takes place in August.

Sophie Lipton

Sophie Lipton

It’s for 19 to 26-year-olds and, excitingly, will be open to those who have already been on Israel tour.

It is an opportunity for people who may have little by way of Jewish inclination of their own – perhaps just an occasional family trip to synagogue – to form life-long connections with a great group of people, Israel and Judaism.

They will be given the chance to ask questions and create memories – and meet people in Israeli society striving for equality and social justice.

When I went on Israel Tour, six years ago, at the age of 16, we visited Givat Haviva – a centre that works for the equality of Israeli Arabs.

I listened to people calling for peace that I might not have heard from afar. Israel Tour, and experiences like these, led to me to read Middle Eastern studies at university.

Then I led Israel Tour for RSY-Netzer a year-and-a-half ago and, while teaching others, learnt a lot myself. Now a young adult, I was much more aware of my surroundings.

I was moved to see progressive Judaism in Israel, when we visited the Kol HaNeshama synagogue in Jerusalem.

When I had visited as a teenager, one of my main interests was socialising.

Returning as a young adult, I appreciated seeing cultural and political aspects of Israel, as well as enjoying all the fun of the trip.

I again felt the value of seeing something from the inside, of being part of it.

How different this is to reading the news from afar. Listening to multiple points of view is very valuable and our Birthright trip this summer will explore them.

This is a trip for first and second timers, a chance to see Israel anew and to reflect on what it means to you. It’s a chance to connect to Israel, Judaism and likeminded people.

• Sophie Lipton is a Jeneration student fieldworker