JOLT Israel
Learning about Jewish Resiliency and Strength

Good Morning NCSY JOLT Israel Family,

I hope this email finds you well. Thank you so much to all of you for your feedback from yesterday's email. I am happy that you all appreciated where it came from. Many of you had questions and that's great, it's exactly what I want, namely, to open up a dialogue. Please don't hesitate to reach out any time you want. 

Yesterday was really awesome. It was a day that really speaks volumes about the resiliency of the Jewish people. We began out day going down south, into the Negev, to the Shvil HaSalat or the Salad trail. It is one of my favorite places to visit because its success is a message of hope and life. I also happen to be a shtikle agriculturist. I hope my enthusiasm for this miracle of plant life came through with the kids.  Nestled among sand dunes and desert is a flourishing agricultural center. We had the opportunity to learn about agricultural techniques in arid landscapes and saw first hand a desert blooming with herbs, fruit and vegetables. We picked fresh carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes and ran through beautiful mazes of passion fruit vines. It was really an amazing experience for everyone. After the salad trail we made our way to Sderot and gave the kids time to buy food in the outdoor mall. Some of the kids went to Gregs, some went to Sushi (I mean in fairness how long can one go without Sushi) and some stood on line to get Mehadrin Pizza Hut. I obviously stood online to get a stuffed cheese crust Pizza. Following lunch we broke the kids up and had a really fun scavenger hunt. The kids loved it and so did I. They loved it because it was fun and they were asked to do some wacky things. I loved it because having kids involved in wholesome activities instead of sitting on their phones and swiping through Instagram and Snapchat all day is a meaningful experience.

We loaded the buses and went to a park right next to the the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot, where we heard from one of the Rebbeim who teach there. Rabbi Katz is an American native and told us about the realities of living in Sderot. He shared his take on the political situation as well as the many miracles that the community has experienced while under rocket attack. It's very sobering to walk through this beautiful children's park in which every single structure is painted bright colors with cute butterflies or caterpillars but also doubles as a bomb shelter. Rabbi Katz explained to us the beauty of Sderot as well as the harsh reality that every child in the city has PTSD on some level. We took a walk together to one of the satellite buildings of the Yeshiva where the pockmarked facade still bears the scar of receiving a direct hit just a few months ago. As Rabbi Katz explained to us, the beauty and strength of the Jewish people could be seen by way of the Beis Midrash being open the next day. 

We loaded the buses and went to Cheitz Shachor or Black Arrow. It is a lookout about 1 Kilometer from the Gaza Border. It was an opportunity for us to speak a bit about the complexities on the ground regarding the current situation. We dispelled some myths and the kids shared opinions and even some facts.   These moments are wonderful opportunities for everyone to hear from each other and share with each other in a safe way and in a safe place. 

We loaded the buses and made our way back to Kibbutz. We were treated to a delicious dinner of Lasagna, potatoes au gratin, and salad. This was followed by Maariv and a lot of chill time with several optional Chaburahs for those interested.

This morning we did the Coca Cola factory in Bnei Brak. It was really amazing!!! I have never been there before and it was very well done!!  We traveled to Machon Ayalon where we learned about the brave souls who manufactured artillery for the Jewish forces in secret. It was unbelievable. I am happy that we had the opportunity to share this with the children. I am sitting now and finishing this up while the kids are outside eating lunch. From here we are going to the Agam museum and then Ben Book will be making a Siyum on the beach. It's been 4 days without Fleisch and we are all getting a bit antsy.....

Anyway, I look forward to speaking with you tomorrow IYH

With warmest wishes

-Rabbi Weinberg


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