Friday, December 20, 2013

Not Just any Birthright Trip

We will eat falafel.
I leave to staff a Birthright trip, Sunday, December 22 for 10 days.  I love visiting Israel and taking people there for a first time experience.  This time I am on a special mission as my Birthright trip is for young adults with Aspergers. (Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. It can lead to difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness.) My middle son went on this same trip 2 years ago and had the time of his life.  Shorashim is the sponsor of this trip and has been for the past few years with different partner organizations.  The students this year as in the past are from all over the United States.  This trip is not unlike other Birthright trips, we see the same sites from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv to Safed but we don't move around as much; we have more staff and most of our time is programmed. We will eat falafel, ride camels and have a wonderful time.  I will know more in a few days and look forward to blogging my experiences.  

I find as a parent of a young Jewish adult on the spectrum and as an Educator in suburban Chicago that we don't offer many Jewish programs for this constituency. As a professional I am not proud of this fact but I do believe that in the future we will see more programs for students not on the spectrum. Even in my school every year I see more students on the spectrum who would benefit from long and short term Jewish experiences.  

I am looking forward to working with a dedicated staff and I know my group is excited and can't wait to land at Ben Gurion Airport Monday.  We will begin our journey and I know one thing for sure: it will be a memorable one.
Jonathan at the Kotel, with his Birthright Madrichim, Counselors