CHESHIRE brothers Daryl and Andrew Cowen had never been to Israel until they participated in a UJIA Birthright-Taglit group in January.
Now both brothers are winding up another visit to the country, with parents Jenny and David Cowen, of Bowdon, joining them.
"David and I had not been to Israel since our youth and with the boys so enthusiastic after the UJIA Birthright experience, we decided it was time for a return visit," Jenny told our Israel correspondent Lydia Aisenberg.
"We had such a fabulous experience with Birthright earlier in the year and couldn't wait to get back again," explained Andrew, who has just finished a three-week programme in Israel with Aish.
"When I was invited to join more than 100 students on this trip, I jumped at the chance."
Jenny and David met up with Andrew in Mitzpe Ramon after spending their first few days in Haifa and at the Dead Sea.
"It was such a good decision as that area is just so unbelievably beautiful," Jenny said.
"We probably would never have thought of going there had it not been the termination point of the Aish programme.
Daryl added: "I have not ruled out the possibility of returning for a lengthier stay in the future."
Brother Andrew said: "One of the most moving experiences was participating in the funerals of the three murdered teenagers."
Due to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust centre that day, it was decided that all 100 students - one of whom was fellow Mancunian Joel Festenstein - would attend the funerals.
"We joined thousands of people at the funeral in Modi'in," Andrew said. "We wanted to pay our respects and had to hike 45 minutes up a mountain to get to the site and then later that night, attended prayers at the Kotel.
"This visit to Israel has been an unforgettable experience and among the highlights definitely visiting Safed and Tiberias and especially the six days we spent in a yeshiva near the Zion Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem."