Through the Baltimore Onward Israel program, I was able to travel to Israel this summer for the first time in my life. As expected, my summer was filled with beautiful sites, delicious food, sandy beaches and blue skies. But there’s more to Israel than what originally met my eyes, and this trip was more than a typical tourist visit. I was able to discover the complexities of Israeli culture through Jewish traditions, interactions with friendly locals and education every day. I was also able to experience first-hand the most important religious sites of Judaism.

I was given a truly meaningful learning experience of Judaism and what being Jewish means. With my blossoming connection to Israel and Judaism, I developed a deep pride for being Jewish. My trip to Israel went beneath the surface and with my newfound sense of identity, I eagerly wanted to become a Bat Mitzvah.

I was able to become a Bat Mitzvah during our last group trip to Jerusalem. It was a wonderful way to bless my summer in Israel and my life going forward. At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the experience was just that much more special.

As I stood tall in front of my friends and the hundreds of people from the Jewish community visiting the Western Wall that day, I felt proud to be Jewish in a way I had never previously felt. My experience goes to show that it is never too late to become a Bat Mitzvah.

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.