Taglit-Birthright Israel meets Providence, Rhode Island


This past April I began working at a company called Sachlav | IsraelontheHouse, a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizer.

Since 1999, Taglit-Birthright Israel has given more than 400,000 young Jews the gift of a free 10-day trip to Israel. Sachlav is one of several Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizers that runs trips for American citizens and residents.

Among IsraelontheHouse’s distinguishing factors is that we cater to all kinds of people who identify as Jewish. It doesn’t matter if someone considers themselves to be a secular, Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Jew. Our buses blend all sorts of Jews from various backgrounds, which in itself enhances their Taglit-Birthright Israel experiences in Israel. These young people discover the Land of Israel while also discovering the many facets that Judaism has to offer. IsraelontheHouse’s trips are the perfect mix of exposure to Israel’s religion, culture, landscape and history (both biblical and modern), without focusing too much on one or the other.

Our participants enjoy activities such as kayaking in the Jordan River, camel rides, hiking up Masada at sunrise, sleeping in Bedouin tents and snorkeling in Eilat. In fact, we have won Taglit-Birthright Israel’s award for “Best Itinerary.” We add a personal touch by bringing each group to a barbecue at the CEO’s house. It’s hard to believe that all of this is FREE.

As a trip coordinator alongside my colleagues, I helped bring 45 buses of participants to Israel this past summer. One of my responsibilities is to interview, hire, train and manage the counselors who come to Israel with the groups. I inherited many of the staff members I managed this past summer from my predecessor. While scanning the staff spreadsheet that she left me, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the staff members had “401” area codes and “02906” zip codes. It didn’t take me long to realize that some of these current and former staff members were from Providence.

Among them was Nomi Mitchell, a native of Providence and four-time Taglit-Birthright Israel trip staffer. Nomi is now my contact at Boston University, one of our partner organizations. A new name to me was Yehuda Fishaut. I recognized his Providence address, but not him. Yehuda came to Providence from Israel for work and now teaches at both the Wheeler School and Temple Emanu-El. Rounding off our summer staff from Providence was Elanah Chassen, a first-time Taglit-Birthright Israel staffer, originally from Rockaway, New Jersey, who staffed New England March of the Living just a few months earlier.

This coming winter, the Rhode Island monopoly over the IsraelontheHouse staffing positions will continue. (Not bad for the smallest state.) Returning to the staff roster will be Nomi, who will once again be leading a Boston University trip. Yehuda will be returning, and co-staffing with another IsraelontheHouse staff alum and Providence resident, Meital Cafri. Meital moved from L.A. to Rhode Island for college 4 1/2 years ago, and stayed to earn a master’s degree. She is now the Advancement & Membership coordinator at Temple Emanu-El. This will be the second Taglit-Birthright Israel trip that she has staffed.

And new to both Taglit-Birthright Israel and IsraelontheHouse staffing will be my sister, Eve Stieglitz, whose pro-Israel activism over the last few months very much impressed my colleagues in the Sachlav office.

Each of these Providence natives and residents, along with several other staffers, will help to ensure that hundreds of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants will have the times of their lives in Israel. While winter registration is closed, prospective participants can still contact us to inquire if it would be a possible to participate in a trip between December and March. If not, registration for the summer season will open in early February. Applicants can go to www.israelonthehouse.com or email info@israelonthehouse.com for further details and to receive reminders about summer registration. Space is limited. Seize your Birthright before it’s too late!

DANIEL STIEGLITZ (dstieglitz@gmail.com), a Providence native, made aliyah in 2007. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Bar Ilan University; works as a trip coordinator at Sachlav/Israelonthehouse, a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizer; does freelance content writing; and lives in Jerusalem. His short story “End” was just published in FictionMagazines.com’s magazine, New Realm.