Every year Sachlav Birthright Israel brings thousands of young Jews from all over North America to Israel for the experience of a lifetime. Over the years, Sachlav has become known for its diversity and its unique participants including 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 Sonia Engman! Sonia is a 24 year old seasoned and experienced dancer and choreographer with more than 1,400 followers on Instagram! Sonia is currently a dance teacher at Empire Dance Academy in Kansas City and a crew member at TigerStyle! Crew.
Follow her on Instagram at @sonia.stylez
Heres what she had to say about her trip:
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico but I spent half of my childhood and young adulthood in San, Juan, Puerto Rico with my father being immersed in Puerto Rican culture.
Q: How would you sum up your trip in 1-2 sentences?
A: Traveling to Israel on Birthright was definitely one of the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. Traveling to the other side of the world has truly given me a broader perspective of and compassion for different kinds of peoples and some of the daily struggles they face.
Q: Tell us about your life as a dancer. Where does your inspiration come from and what are your goals?
A: I like to think I started dancing before I could even walk. Growing up with musicians for parents gave me a sense of rhythm and appreciation for the arts at a young age. Dance has been such a big part of me and my life that I feel like I would not survive without it. I have trained in as many styles as possible- modern, hip hop, contemporary, breaking, house, popping, waacking, ballet, jazz, and flamenco- but most of my choreography utilizes modern/contemporary, hip hop and house dance.
I am inspired by so many things, namely things that are unique and different. I like being strange and going against the norm in my movement. Inhuman creatures and space are often the inspiration for my choreography. But my fellow artists and crewmates also inspire me! I am constantly surrounded by so much talent that I always feel challenged, in the best way possible.
Pssshh GOALS. I have too many goals but to name a few… winning a hip hop battle, performing with or choreographing for any of my favorite dance companies in the world, moving to New York city, performing in Paris, AND dancing with Bruno Mars.
Q: How was visiting Israel as a dancer?
A: Visiting Israel as a dancer was incredible! One of my absolute FAVORITE dance company’s and choreographer’s in the world is based out of Israel- Batsheva Dance Company directed by Ohad Naharin. I’ve only ever seen videos of their work and so to actually be in the same place as them geographically was amazing!
Q: Why did you pick Sachlav | IsraelontheHouse?
A: I did some research into some of the different organizations and I felt like Sachlav’s vibe fit me the best. I wanted a well-rounded experience (history, culture and outdoors) and from what I read Sachlav felt like the the best option. Our tour guide was the BEST and probably the coolest person I’ve ever met!
Q: What was/is your connection to Israel and Judaism before your Birthright Israel trip? What was/is it now after?
A: A connection to Judaism has always been a part of my life. I attended Hebrew School as a child and celebrated most Jewish holidays with my family. Even though my Judaism has not been the most prominent thing in my life and I do not adhere to most of the traditions, I have always felt extremely proud to be Jewish.
I did not have much of a connection to Israel before my trip. I honestly did not understand much about Israel either. After traveling on Birthright, I feel like my eyes have been opened. I fell in love with the country- the food, the places and many of the people. To stand where my ancestors stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, to cry with my fellow Jews at Yad Vashem, and to see what life is like for Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border was absolutely life changing.
Q: What impact has your Birthright Israel | Sachlav IsraelontheHouse trip had on you?
A: Besides the obvious fact that hummus from anywhere else in the world is forever ruined for me (can someone ship me some please?), I made so many amazing friends on my trip! I feel so blessed to have been with such an amazing group of people. We all connected instantly and even though I have not yet seen any of them since, I know that I could see them 10 years from now and still feel a connection. I also feel less ignorant about the world, having seen a bit more of it on my Birthright trip. I also gained a lot of respect for Israelis and the day to day struggles and normalities they experience that may be similar but also much different from my own. I also feel a stronger desire to raise my future children Jewish and to continue my heritage and celebration of such a rich culture.
Q: What were your three favorite things on your trip?
A: This is definitely the hardest question to answer because I LOVED IT ALL.
But I’ll give it a try. Here we go.
1) Jerusalem. By far my favorite city in Israel. The energy and history and architecture and everything was off the charts breathtaking.
2) The hummus/ eating dinner in a bedouin tent. My goodness, there is nothing better in this world.
3) Waking up to a view of the Sea of Galilee and realizing that I was, in fact, in Israel.
Q: Do you hope/plan to come back to Israel?
A: I absolutely do plan on going back to Israel! I would love to make it back to explore more and of course it would be a dream come true to do an apprenticeship with Batsheva Dance Company….
Q: Would you recommend Sachlav IsraelontheHouse to a friend?
A: I would definitely recommend Sachlav IsraelontheHouse to a friend. They were very upfront about what to expect with their organization and I feel like my trip was true to what they prepared me for, but even better! I hope to experience Israel in the summertime and do more outdoor excursions the next time I visit.
Thanks Sachlav and Birthright! 🙂
If your interested in going on a trip, REGISTER HERE.