JTA’s Dina Kraft has a nice piece today that connects to several of our recent stories. As Nate Bloom reports in today’s installment of Interfaith Celebrities, Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano on “The Sopranos”) recently visited Israel as part of a birthright israel tour. Birthright israel provides young Jewish adults who’ve never visited Israel before with a free trip to the Jewish state–not like Sigler couldn’t afford to pay her own way.
The story touches on the way that Israel can make children from interfaith backgrounds, like Sigler, feel a powerful connection to the Jewish people and story:
“It’s one of the most beautiful, inspiring places I’ve ever been to,” Sigler said. “I now have a greater understanding and motivation about preserving my Jewishness.”
Among the highlights she noted were riding camels in the desert, dining on roast lamb in a Bedouin tent and exploring the back alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Sigler said she was especially moved during her visits to the Western Wall, where she was surprised by her tears, and to Yad Vashem, where the Holocaust and its history suddenly felt deeply personal.
“I started to think, ‘What if I was there, what if I had been ripped away from my family?’ ” she told JTA.
Sigler said Israel had been a fairly abstract concept before the trip, with her images limited to the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict portrayed in the media.
While children from interfaith backgrounds have been going on birthright israel trips for years, there have only been a handful of trips to Israel for interfaith couples. And unlike birthright, nobody’s paying for their visits to the Holy Land. But a recent study has shown that trips to Israel can have a powerful effect on interfaith couples.
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