Every year Sachlav Birthright Israel brings thousands of young Jews from all over North America to Israel for a free 10 day trip. As a non-denominational organization, Sachlav prides itself on bringing Jews from all different backgrounds together. Over the years, Sachlav has become known for its diversity and its unique participants including but not limited to movie stars, professional photographers and LGBTQ advocates. It is this diversity that sparked the need for Humans of Birthright Israel! If your interested in going on a trip, REGISTER HERE.
Meet Joshua Ronen! Josh is a 27 year old doctor from San Jose, California. Known by everyone on his trip as “Dr. Josh,” Josh went to medical school in the Caribbean and completed his studies at several major cities in the USA. He will be moving to Texas to start his residency in Internal Medicine this coming summer. Mazel Tov Dr. Josh on this huge accomplishment!
Heres what he had to say about his trip:
Q: How would you sum up your trip in a few words?
A: My true introduction to everything Israel.
Q: Tell us about your life as a doctor! What inspires you and what are your goals?
A: I went to medical school offshore in the Caribbean and lived on an island for the first two years and transitioned back to Los Angeles for the last two years. My life was really busy – filled with tons of studying, board exams and long hours training in the hospital. Nevertheless I still enjoyed the island life when I was there!
The journey was tough, undoubtedly. Shoot, just the 9 months leading up to my Birthright trip were incredibly intense with graduating from medical
school and applying for residency. I’ll save the longer schpiel for another day, but I will say it was all incredibly worth it. After 10 years of hard work, it was amazing to return from my Birthright trip to the news that I had been accepted to an Internal Medicine residency program in Texas.
What inspired and motivated me throughout it all was what I was learning and the purpose of it all – to help my patients. I first fell in love with medical science in college and I have never looked back. Medicine has always amazed me in its breadth and depth. And despite all of the sleep deprivation throughout medical school, I was always eager to get up in the morning for it.
What are my goals as a physician? As I enter residency this summer, my goal is to devote all of myself to becoming the best internist I can be. Above all, I want to continue to be myself by providing compassionate high-quality care to my patients. Residency is the promised land and I’ve finally made it.
Q: How was visiting Israel as a newly minted physician? Did you find anything that you could relate or connect to?
A: You know, I think the biggest thing for me this trip was disconnecting from my work. My friends and family can tell you that I haven’t been able to do that for the longest time. I have always been working towards something so at first it was difficult for me to not do anything work related. But the trip, as jam packed as it was, turned out to be exactly what I needed – time away to hit the reset button.
Q: Why did you pick Sachlav IsraelontheHouse?
A: As I was searching through the website looking for my ideal trip I felt that Sachlav offered the best trip options for me personally- in terms of the dates and activities available. All of the trips leaving from Los Angeles were already filled so I ended up choosing a trip based out of NYC. Turned out to be a wonderful group!
Q: What was/is your connection to Israel and Judaism before your Birthright Israel trip? What was/is it now after your trip?
A: I grew up in a Persian Jewish family. I was raised as a Reform Jew. I went to Hebrew school through 8th grade, had a p’dyon haben, Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation- the whole nine yards! On the trip when I was in touch with my parents, I remember telling them how thankful I am that they raised me with cultural awareness of Jewish and Persian food, music, traditions, holidays and family life. My dad spent his teenage years living in Israel with his parents, brothers, and sister. So for me the goals of this trip were twofold – discover the land in which my dad grew up and find my own connection to it. Part of my heritage lies in Israel and it always will!
Q: What impact has your Birthright Israel | Sachlav IsraelontheHouse trip had on you?
A: I had always wondered what life was like for my dad growing up in Israel. I visited Israel once when I was 7 or so, but this trip was on another level! We were on the go most of the time, but it was incredible seeing everything that Israel has to offer. Seeing Israel through my dad’s eyes meant everything to me!
Q: What were your three favorite things on your trip?
A: Tough question! It’s hard to pick just three. Swimming in the Dead Sea, Purim at Machne Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, camel riding in the desert, hiking Masada in the desert, meeting Israeli soldiers and students, exploring Tel Aviv and spending time with my family in Israel.
Q: Do you plan/hope to come back to Israel? If so, why?
A: I do! I don’t know when it will be as I’m starting residency very soon and will have little free time. As I have had more time to reflect post trip (“post shalom” as we said on the trip, haha), I feel that Sachlav gave me a crash course in everything Israel. The next time I go, I want to slow it down and spend more time with my family and in Tel Aviv and Haifa. I asked my aunt about the major medical centers in the area, so if my residency program allows perhaps I can return to work as a physician for a month or two. If that doesn’t work out, maybe after I graduate from residency I can come back. I would love that. No set plans yet obviously, but I will find a way back soon.
Q: Would you recommend Sachlav IsraelontheHouse to a friend?
A: I definitely would! The staff and organization of the trip itself was great. I always felt safe and enjoyed the trip very much! It was exactly what I needed. I look forward to keeping in touch with my friends from the trip for many years to come. Thank you Sachlav!