JOLT Israel
Days 10 and 11- Beautiful Shabbos and Meaningful Fast

Shalom NCSY JOLT Israel Family,

Shabbos was magnificent! The difference between "week one" and "week two" are beyond amazing and transformational. The kids have totally jelled and the social drama that popped up in the first few days is a thing of the past. Obviously we contend with all age appropriate things especially on a large group like ours. However, I am so impressed with the way the kids are excited to learn, grow and evolve into the people they truly want to be. I have seen so much growth with so many of our JOLT Israel kids. More about that later….. 

After returning back from Eilat we had some time to get ready for Shabbos. The grounds of the Kibbutz were beautiful and the rooms were nice and clean. They were nice little “Tzimmerim” which actually comes from the German word “Zimmer” meaning room. Everyone had time to shower and change, followed by our group meeting together for pre-Shabbos pictures. We davened Kabbalas Shabbos together and then we went to eat our Seudah. The food was awesome. Several different options of meat and chicken, rice, salads and hot side dishes. We sang Zemiros and just enjoyed our time together in a wholesome way. After eating we went to our multi-purpose room and had an Oneg. It was great, we hung out and laughed together. I can't stress how awesome it is to hear simple, wholesome laughter. We ended the night with an advisor panel. I wanted the kids to get to know them a bit better in a fun way. We asked them questions and had a great time. The evening ended with the panel and I gave the kids a pretty late curfew and everyone took advantage of the time together. 

We had a late wake up and a late Shachris Shabbos morning which was just what the doctor ordered for all of us. The sun is draining and so are the early wakeups, I hold that on Shabbos morning it is important for the kids to catch up on their sleep. This means late wake-ups and time to relax and sleep Shabbos afternoon. After Shachris we had Kiddush and a round robin Dvar Torah rotation with Divrei Torah given by some of our NCSY JOLT Israel kids. It was great. They really prepared and delivered their ideas like professionals. We followed with lunch and then Mincha. Once Mincha was over we had a few hours to rest up. Many of the kids stayed at an optional Chaburah and others learned B’Chavrusa with our advisors.  I am proud to say that at ten days into the program we have over 50% of our kids learning B’Chavrusa with someone. I fully expect us to get higher than last years 85%. Between me and you, these stats are beyond awesome and speak to the high level of the kids on our program!! I am really proud of them. 

At 6 o’clock we had “Shoot the Rabbi”. This is something that I find to be a very important program. It is a safe place without judgment and the kids can ask anything they want to me about anything. Their voice and curiosity is validated and they get they get answers to important questions that are on the minds of normal 15 year olds. We ended after an hour and then went into Seuda Shlishit. Once we all finished eating we took our chairs and put them in a circle outside, where we sang and I spoke to the kids. One of the things that I focused on with them was that we successfully finished stage one, which means we have effectively become a tight knit family. Now it is time for us to raise the bar for ourselves and kick it up a notch. We now need to function like a family. No more sitting on the side while some kids help schlep. No more staring at your phone while other kids are packing the bus. Everyone needs to chip in and help out. Shabbos finished strong with some real ruach, Maariv and an awesome NCSY JOLT Israel Havdala! Following Havdala we had some time to change and then met back for a pizza Melaveh Malka. While waiting for the pizza, one of the members of the Kibbutz came to speak with us about life in Gevulot and what the Kibbutz movement is and how it has evolved. 

Today we davened and left Gevulot and went to our first stop, the Gush Katif museum. I bring kids there every year because it is such an important place for them to see. To be clear, I have very strong political opinions but my educational objective in this museum is NOT to have them pick sides. Rather I want them to really understand the complexity of Israel. It is an important thing for them to understand in general. Life is typically not black and white. That is true in our daily lives and certainly in Israeli politics. We continued our travels up North to Teveria where we davened Mincha at the Kever of Rebbe Akiva. After davening and some personal reflection time, Ben and Yehuda spoke to the kids for a bit about Rebbe Akiva and his story and some personal messages for us. Some of the kids wanted to go to the Kever of the Ramchal and they had a moment to do so before we made our way to the Kever of Rebbe Meir Ba’al HaNeis for a quick Tefilla. Outside of the Kever, Yifat, our amazing tour guide spoke to the kids a bit about the history of Rebbe Meir and the Segulah that is attributed to him.

We got to Chispin tonight and broke our fasts here on some amazing food. We had a delicious split pea soup, salmon in a garlic sauce, Morrocon fish, shakshuka, and loads of side dishes. Following dinner we all met together and I went through the timeline for tomorrow and what the expectations are for each one of our leaders. I wish you could be here to feel the energy in our multipurpose room. It’s wild!! The kids have been split into six groups of ten, corresponding to the six different groups of kids coming from Simcha LaYeled. We are decorating the room with streamers, balloons and posters. The best part is that everyone is involved.  We took a quick break to wish Hannah Greenberg a big happy birthday with a make your own sundae party! 

Tomorrow is going to be an intense day for all of us. Emotions and energy are going to be at an all time high and we are going to dive head first into an experience that is soon to change our lives for the better forever! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. 

I am so proud of each and every one of them. Ashreichem! 

If you are getting feedback from your child that I need to know about, please let me know so I can be of help to them.

From the holy and beautiful mountains of the Golan,

Rabbi Weinberg

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