Through Birthright Israel, A Newfound Identity and Path Toward Leadership

By Sarah Pozzi

While interfaith marriage and families have become increasingly more common, growing up with two different religious identities meant I never felt fully Jewish. That is, not until Birthright Israel.

My mother is Jewish, which according to religious tradition, made me Jewish, but having a whole side of my family adhere to another religion raised confusion. Would I be celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or both each winter? What did celebrating those holidays really mean to me? What did being Jewish really mean to me?

As I went off to college, I began to feel like a part of me was missing, but I didn’t know what. College is a place where students reconcile identity, and I did not feel like my identity was whole as I began my life on campus.

That said, I did know that because I was Jewish, I could sign up for a free 10-day trip to Israel on Birthright Israel through the University of Delaware Hillel. I was feeling a wide range of emotions as I prepared myself for what I had heard former participants call a “life-changing experience.” I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that in order to experience a life-changing trip, I needed to give myself to the journey.

Little did I know, Birthright Israel would not only lead to me finding a faith identity that feels right, but it also has transformed me into a leader in my campus Hillel.

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