Meet Your Staff: Ilana, Josh, and Karen
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? From River Edge, NJ. Currently live in New York City.
What do you for a living? I'm the Israel Educator at a Jewish High School in NYC.
When did you go to Israel for the first time? My first visit to Israel was with my family the summer before 8th Grade. We traveled all over the country. I loved it so much that I went back the next summer...and keep going back any chance I can.
What's your favorite Israeli food to eat and favorite place to eat it at? T'mol Shilshom, a delicious restaurant tucked away in Jerusalem. It's filled with books of Israeli's greatest poets and authors and they serve the best shakshuka.
What's a fun fact about you? I'm really good at fitting way more things in a suitcase than are meant to fit. When your bag is overflowing and won't close on our trip - I got you covered.
What's one thing about Israel that you wish you could bring back to America with you? The fresh vegetables, the music, and the sense of feeling close to everyone you pass on the street.
What's your favorite place to visit in Israel? The Tel Aviv beach, Jerusalem on Shabbat, and my cousin's house.
What's the #1 reason that you recommend that your friends and family should go on Taglit-Birthright Israel with Shorashim? To experience Israel with Israelis!
Anything else that you want to share? Being in Israel is magical, eye-opening, and delicious - I can't wait to experience that with Shorashim!
Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Grew up in Michigan and live in DC
What do you do for a living? I am a foreign policy advisor to a member of congress on the House Foreign Affairs Committee - but will be leaving to attend Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the Fall.
When did you go to Israel for the first time? I first went to Israel on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with Shorashim in 2010. Since then I've been back four times, including living and working in Jerusalem for four months.
What's your favorite place to visit in Israel? It was a tradition in my family for my father to take each of the (four) children to Israel for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah so I first went when I was 13-years-old.
What's a fun fact about yourself? I have two little angel baby nieces - if you meet them you'll know why it's a fun fact.
What's your favorite Israeli food/favorite place in Israel to eat it? Israeli food, in general, is amazing and with so many delicious options, I never expected my favorite to be pita filled with eggplant and hardboiled egg, but that is exactly what happened when I found Sabich Tchernikovski in Tel Aviv. Sabich is like falafel, in that it is a pita filled with delicious fixins, except that instead of the centerpiece being falafel balls, it is grilled eggplant and a hard boiled egg. Try it before you judge it.
Where is your favorite place to visit in Israel? Tel Aviv where I used to live for a bit working as waiter on the beach.
What's your favorite place to take groups? The Dead Sea. The floating feeling still blows my mind and I've been there several times. I love seeing the reaction of those who have never felt anything like it before.
If there was one aspect of Israel that you could bring back to America with you, what would it be? The fresh pressed juice and smoothie stands everywhere.
What's the #1 reason that you recommend that your friends and family should go on Taglit-Birthright Israel with Shorashim? Birthright is an amazing opportunity to see a beautiful, fun, complex, democratic, and thriving nation teeming with history and culture... for FREE!
What's your spirit animal? Puppy. Because puppies.
Anything else you want to share? Food.
Karen Ben Yehuda
How long have you been a tour educator? Two years.
What's your favorite Shorashim memory? Feeling part of the Shorashim family.
What's a fun fact about yourself? I practice yoga :) and I love eating cheese.
What do you love most about Israel? The variety of people.
What's your favorite place to take participants to on Birthright Israel? Jerusalem, my home town.
What's your favorite Israeli food and favorite place to eat it? Stuffed grape leaves at the Machne Yehuda market.
Why is it important to you to have Israelis on the trip for all 10 days? You have the chance to really get to know them, and creating long-term friendships.
If you could say one thing to future Birthright Israel participants, what would it be? Come with an open mind and ask difficult questions. Leave your comfort zone - that's when you really start discovering new things.
Anything else that you want to share? Looking forward meeting you this summer☺