(idea submitted by L. and dedicated to Hannah W.)
It is an established fact that many Jewish Young Adults travel to Israel on Birthright or some other form of organized tour. But in recent years more and more adventurous JYAs are broadening their horizons, from Morocco to Pakistan, whether it is for vacation, study abroad, or any other excuse. There are numerous throwaway reasons why this trend has emerged: curiosity, general interest, intellectual pursuits, and whatnot, but the real underlying reason for the presence of JYAs in places like Jordan and Tunisia is much more visceral.
One possible explanation is a general desire to stick it to their families/parents/Rabbis out of general rebellion. Nothing can put a twist to Seder with your grandparents like starting a sentence with “This reminds me of the time I went clubbing in Beirut…”
The other possible explanation is that JYA travel throughout the Middle East as a way to compensate for their lack of manliness. Since, on average, JYAs lack the height, weight, muscle mass, to be classified as “hunky”, JYAs fabricate a more “badass” image from their escapades abroad. For example:
Non-JYA Muscular Jock: “Dude, remember that chick you were totally into? I hooked up with her last night. Sorry Bro.”
Less Muscular JYA: “Don’t stress it, I was up all night anyhow chatting with this girl I met when I was at a hookah bar in Cairo.”
Non-JYA: “You’ve been to Cairo?!”
JYA: “Please, you haven’t?”
Lastly, JYAs simply enjoy the “wow” factor they receive from telling Non-Jews that they have visited places that most American’s don’t recognize and can’t find on a map, like Petra, Cappadocia, or Fez.
Whatever the underlying reason, at least JYAs see a little bit of the world, and should consider themselves exceptionally lucky that they have the opportunity to do so.