JOLT Israel
Days 4,5,6,7,8 – SOOO AWESOME!!

Dear NCSY JOLT Israel Family,

I hope this email finds you well. We had a wonderful, powerful and exhausting few days and I am excited to share them with you. It’s been very busy, with non-stop days and late nights. Currently we are gearing up for our Zichron Menachem (ZAM ZAM) kids coming tomorrow.

Let me give you a rundown of the past few AMAZING days!!!!

Friday night was a night of firsts and it was beautiful. Prior to our first Kabbalos Shabbos together we walked to a view point and watched the sun going down in the west. To be honest with you that in my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than sunsets in the Holy land! After davening we had our Seuda together which was great. The Ruach was excellent and if it’s any indication of things to come we are in for a rocking summer!!! From our Seudah we went straight to our first oneg. I always love spending this time together because it is just wholesome goodness. It’s young teens, sitting around and enjoying each other’s company. We laughed the evening away until it got pretty late and then headed off to sleep.

Shabbos morning, we had a late wake up followed by davening, Kiddush, learning and lunch. After which we had free time before reconvening at Shalashudis. We then headed off to our first ebbing. It was perfect. We spoke about leadership, about second chances and about using this summer as an opportunity to grow. We also began the conversation of learning how to move outside of our selves. This is going to be a big deal especially once we start working with ZAM ZAM. The singing was so sweet and watching the new friendships develop was truly heartwarming. After an awesome Havdalah we got changed and headed off to Yerushalayim for some free time. We spent about an hour and then headed back to Kfar Etzion where we were treated to fresh pizza. It was great.... but not New York pizza though.. Just sayin..

Sunday morning, we packed up the bus and headed off for a full day. We began our day up North in Atlit. We learned about the plight of the early Jewish illegal immigrants that were coming to Israel before the war, during the war and after the war (World War Two).  Rabbi Rosenfeld, our amazing assistant director told the story of his grandmother who was in Atlit and then he actually found her name in the database. That moment brought it home for all of us. After Atlit we drove up to Teveriah and had about 45 minutes at the separate beach there. Walking to the bus in the intense Teveriah heat, we got a nice treat of ice cream. Super refreshing! Lot's of interesting flavors and super fun to watch them start melting the second the air hits them. It was a battle of who would win first the heat or our mouths....

We made a quick stop at the Kever of Rebbe Meir Baal HaNeis for Mincha and then continued on to our new home for the next two weeks in Hispin. It’s a beautiful complex in the Golan with large and spacious grounds. There are actually a few other groups here for the next few days but you can hardly feel their presence and everyone kinda does their own thing. My personal favorite part of this place are the amazing sunrises and sunsets. They are magnificent…maybe even magical.

Yesterday was an amazing day! The kids were really itching to do a hike, but with the heat wave we are limited to what we can do and when we can do it. I told the kids that our option was waking up super early and doing a hike when it was still cool outside. There was a resounding yes and that’s exactly what we did. We woke up at 5:30, davened at 6 and loaded the buses for an awesome hike on Har Arbel. It wasn’t too difficult and it was mostly downhill but it definitely got the juices flowing. Throughout the hike Yoel, our Moreh Derech, explained the history of this ancient place. The history actually dates back to the time of the Mishna. It’s always cool when you can relate to a place and it has real meaning to our collective history as a people.

From the hike we made our way to Tzfat where we had an amazing tour of the old city and gave the kids some free time in the old artist’s quarter. When we finished in Tzfat we made our way to Tel Sakei for some army training. It was Awesome!!! We started with a history of the actually place and the pivotal role it played during the Yom Kippur war. Our first activity was an escape the room style game that took place in an old bunker. No flashlights, just feeling our way through the dark and more importantly, relying on one another to get there. It was a fantastic leadership and bonding experience. After making our way through the room and being part of a memorial for those young Jewish men who died in that battle we did our own army training. Parents: You should have seen it! It was amazing. Crawling on the ground, scratched up elbows, and covered in dirt the kids learned about hard work, pushing yourself to the limit and team work. Everything that JOLT Israel is about!

We returned back and ate dinner, washed up, learned a bit and relaxed until curfew.

This morning we had a late wake up and after davening we spent time starting to organize things for when the kids come tomorrow. We broke up into our bunks and made welcome signs and put together ice breakers. The kids are really excited for tomorrow and so are we! We broke for a little and then came back together for Mincha. From there we took a quick trip to Katzrin to the super market. The kids bought food and water for themselves and it was a nice little excursion which allowed us to see some of the beautiful Golan.

We had learning groups and then Maariv after which we broke our fast. This evening, we are watching the well-known movie “My sister’s keeper”. When the psychologist from Zichron Menachem spoke to us on Friday he suggested strongly that we watch it before we meet with the Zichron Menachem kids. Rabbi Rosenfeld will be wrapping it up and putting everything in perspective for us.

Tomorrow it all begins…The kids are pumped…we are ready and I know that our Zam Zam kids are going to have the time of their lives and will received the love and attention they crave so badly.

We are doing good things here….

I am looking forward to sharing tomorrows events with you. They will be powerful and beautiful. Tomorrow is the moment when your children transition.

With warmest wishes from Artzeinu HaKedosha

-Rabbi Weinberg    

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