Strings of photographs lined the trees outside the University Student Union Wednesday as members of Beach Hillel, the center for Jewish students, showcased their annual voyage to Israel and the occupied West Bank of Palestine.
Cal State Long Beach students passing by were invited to look at pictures taken on previous heritage trips. Trips like these are a type of tourism aimed at exploring the location of one’s cultural background.
“For many students who went last year, they were in shock,” Unger said. “They were surprised to see that it was like a regular city there.”
Members promoted the annual trip to students outside of the organization and encouraged those walking by to vote on their favorite photos displayed in the trees.
According to Claire Spivaka, sophomore health science major and member of Beach Hillel, many students go through organizations such as these for travel and learning opportunities.
Young adults of Jewish heritage are eligible for a free visit to Israel through Taglit-Birthright Israel, a non-profit which includes a 10-day educational heritage trip.
“The eligibility to go on Birthright is someone in your family needs to be Jewish and it is for student ages 18 to 26,” Spivak said. “Although I think they are extending the age to 28 for next year.”
For non-Jewish students, Beach Hillel also offers a chance to take a 10-day visit to Israel and Palestine through 49ers to Israel, a non-profit Israeli educational and advocacy club for students in leadership roles on campus. The organization aims to educate students about the two cultures.
“Any sort of student leader on campus is eligible for this trip,” Director of Beach Hillel Rachel Kaplan said. “This includes presidents of a fraternity or sorority, leaders of clubs and student government.”
In order for students to be eligible to attend the heritage trip or 49ers to Israel, they must interview with leaders of Beach Hillel. The interviews will assess what Judaism means to the individual and what they look to gain from the trip.
“The 49ers to Israel trip will explore many different walks of life to students,” Kaplan said. “Students will get to travel to many areas around the West Bank.”
Both travel opportunities are free to those who qualify but will require a $250 down payment for the plane ticket. The Birthright trip will take place near the end of May into early June, while the 49ers to Israel will be near the beginning of August.
Estie Sherbak, a sophomore health science major, was able to travel through 49ers to Israel last summer.
“It was a great opportunity to go there and see Israel in a new light,” Sherbak said. “I would recommend students who aren’t looking for a birthright trip to still go.”
Beach Hillel will begin accepting applications in February. Those interested in the birthright trip will speak to Maya Unger, Beach Hillel’s current Israel Fellow, and the 49ers to Israel applicants will interview with Kaplan.