We stood in a cave at the lowest point in Safed, one of the holiest cities in Israel. The cave was designed to collect natural rain water in a small 6 foot by 6 foot pool called a mikvah. And for the past 500 years, Jewish men from all over the world have skinny dipped in this famous mikvah to cleanse themselves of wrongdoings and to achieve a fresh start. Two days into birthright, I found myself standing naked in a line for this mikvah with the other twelve guys in my group. With eyes to the ceiling, we each took a short dip in the 40 degree water one at a time. In the moment it seemed like a very spiritual opportunity. It only took about a minute after the mikvah for us to realize the absurdity of our shared experience. We had all submerged ourselves in a pool with 500 years worth of Jewish bodily fluids and pubic hair. I felt like I needed a shot of penicillin when I got out. Truth is, I can’t think of a better way for our group to bond. On the first day, we were just a bunch of strangers with only our religion in common. The icy waters of the mikvah may have not touched us all in a spiritual manner, but its physical effects revealed that our whole group is cut from the same cloth.
Needless to say, lots of dick jokes ensued.