Dustin “The White Tiger” Fleischer’s Final Birthright Reflections
A particular right of possession or privilege one has from birth is known as a birthright. The Taglit-Birthright trip is something that every Jew around the world should take advantage of whether you are Reform or Orthodox, whether both of your parents are Jewish or just one. The trip allows you to see the country of your people from your own eyes and not just from the perspective of the media. You get to see Israeli culture, people and defense troops. You meet other Jewish people from all over the world. It is an experience that has further connected me to my heritage and has given me a deeper understanding of who I am as a person. One of my favorite quotes, from my idol, Bruce Lee, is “life’s greatest obstacle and achievement is to know oneself.” The Birthright trip has given me that gift and reinforces my confidence in stating that it is an opportunity that every Jew should take advantage of.
I was blessed enough to have two amazing guides from Yael Adventures help me along the way. One was a man named Evan Saltzman. I immediately felt a great deal of respect for Evan, learning that he served in the Israeli Defense Forces. Being from the United States, most people would not volunteer to put themselves in that type of dangerous environment but Evan is so passionate about the country, that he served in the IDF. It is individuals like Evan and the IDF who put their lives on the line daily for the State of Israel that allows birthright trips like mine to even be possible. They are modern day superheroes and for that I would like to say thank you to Evan Saltzman and the rest of the IDF.
My second trip guide was an amazing woman named Lucy Batterman. A woman with such passion and strength in what she believes in, backed with an immense amount of knowledge. As soon as I heard Lucy speak, it sparked something in me, a sensational pride to be Jewish. I immediately knew there was something special about this woman and we formed a great friendship. She helped make my Bar Mitzvah on Masada possible, she knew answers for every one of my thousands of questions, and was a shoulder for me to lean on at one point in the trip when I needed it most. I could one day see Lucy on a podium in front of thousands of people speaking on our religion and people because that is how remarkably talented this woman is. I am truly blessed to have made a friend in such a great and kind soul of the beautiful Lucy Batterman.
Originally, I had thought that I was going to go to Israel to see my land and learn more about my culture but I was wrong. Not that the latter is untrue, but there was so much more to this trip. It’s instinctual that when you first meet someone, you start by comparing and not identifying. Everybody in my group had different looks, jobs, and came from different parts of the country but we quickly became great friends as soon as we identified with one commonality, being Jewish.
I think if the world stopped negatively comparing each other’s differences and started to identify similarities instead, we will actually see how closely related we all really are. Religion or culture is only one thing; you don’t have to be Jewish to become my friend. My entire coaching staff is African American, one being a Muslim and the other being a Christian and I look at both of these men as second fathers to me. I urge everyone reading this that next time you meet someone new please do not compare and cast judgements on these but instead find similarities in order to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.
Being the first world boxing champion who is a descendant of a Holocaust survivor is a destiny that only I can conquer. I believe if achieved, it will bring a great message to not only Jewish people but also the world as a whole of what the human spirit can achieve together. This is something that my birthright trip helped me realize; that I fight for this message. Not only for my own people and culture but the world as a whole. Put an end to discrimination, embrace tolerance and make this world a better place.