With each Federation-supported Birthright bus on the road in Israel, there’s a little something special in the air. Every climb up Masada and dip in the Dead Sea, every spiritual discovery, sublime falafel and new friend seems unforgettable. And often, these connections—to Israel and to each other—grow much, much deeper.
But romance was the last thing on Danielle’s mind when Brad was assigned to the Birthright bus she was staffing. Here's their story—in their own words.
Danielle: I went to Israel with Masa [a Federation-sponsored immersion program in Israel for young adults] and I fell in love with the country, the culture and the togetherness. When I was asked to help lead a community trip for Birthright through my Federation, it seemed perfect.
Brad: I had been to Israel once before but I didn’t really retain my memories. In college, all my friends were going on Birthright, but I always seemed to miss opportunities. Finally, years later, a friend convinced me to sign up. I got accepted last-minute for a trip from my community.
Danielle: I didn't remember that at all—until he reminded me. We're having a great time in Israel, and on Shabbat, the third night of our trip, all 40 of us on our bus were sitting in our hotel lobby in Jerusalem, just talking. And Brad comes up to me and tells me about that message.
Brad: On Birthright, no one knows each other. Israel is the one connection we all share, it’s what makes everyone feel instantly comfortable. Those 10 days together have a way of showing the truest version of the person you’re looking at. And I liked the truest version of Danielle. She’s a take-charge kind of woman. If there’s a problem, she won’t stop till it’s solved. She’s not afraid, she’s strong in her convictions.
Danielle: After the trip, it was my job is to follow up with everyone. Brad took this as me flirting with him and he asked me out a couple times. I said no. This went on for a month! Then finally, it was Valentine’s Day and my mom convinced me to accept. We went out for beer and pizza and we ended up talking for five hours. Ten days on Birthright was like two months in real life—it was like we already had known each other for a long time.
Brad: The time kind of melted away and the next thing we knew we were holding hands walking out of the restaurant.
Brad: After a few months, I knew I wanted to ask Danielle to marry me and I designed a special engagement ring. On the day I wanted to propose, of course, she wasn’t feeling well. So I just came home with groceries and soup and I started pulling out things out of the bag. “I got you soup, I got you juice, and…will you marry me?” I pulled out the ring.
Danielle: I was dumbfounded! I kept saying, “For real?” Brad said, “You feel better, don’t you?”
Danielle and Brad are planning their wedding, with a honeymoon in Europe and, of course, Israel. And after their Birthright experience, they’re now members of a local synagogue—that already (accidentally?) addresses their mail to “Mr. and Mrs. Gordon.”