JOLT Israel
Machane Hachi Achi Days 12 and 13!!!

Shalom NCSY JOLT Israel Family,

I wish I could explain to you how amazing it was when our Simcha LaYeled kids came yesterday. We had been waiting for this moment since coming to Israel. We have been speaking about this for days and preparing in all sorts of ways. Everyone had a job, everyone knew what they were supposed to do and everyone was on “Shpilkes” waiting for  our kids to finally arrive. The music was ready, our luggage handlers were ready, popcorn and cotton candy was waiting for them and we had our NCSY JOLT Israel kids lined up making a human bridge so that when the kids got off the bus they would walk under the bridge and start dancing. 

The idea is that the more we keep them occupied and we move out of our own comfort zone, the easier it is to lessen the anxiety of the kids from Simcha LaYeled whom, for many of them, it is the first time they have ever been away from home. At 12:47 our Simcha LaYeled bus pulled up with almost 50 kids who would become members of our new family. Off the bus they ran under our human bridge and straight into the dancing. It was simply awesome!!  I am sure that I’m not doing it justice but I wish you would have been there to see it with your own eyes.I stood off to the side and was overcome by emotion. It is always very emotional for me to see these things at the beginning. I think of how much love these children need and deserve and the extreme deficit that exists because of family circumstances. I think about the week that awaits them and how much love they will receive and it hits me at my core. 

After a bit of dancing we went inside with them and gave them fresh popcorn, cotton candy and drinks. Some of our kids brought their luggage into our multi-purpose room and the others had them sit in their respective groups. We made quick introductions and I welcomed everyone to Machane Hachi Achi. That is the name of our camp. Everyone was excited and the positive energy was at an all time high. From there I sent all the kids to lunch. It was an excellent meal of hot dogs, chicken, schnitzel and tons of side dishes. From lunch we loaded the buses and went straight to our first hike-Majrase is a hike along the water of the Daliyot stream which flows down from the Golan into the Kinneret from the north-east. The water was clean and refreshing. Obviously it ended with a massive water fight! Everyone had an amazing time. From there we went back to our hotel and had some time to relax before supper. Any JOLT Israel kid that was interested in going to buy some food in the Chispin Makolet had the opportunity to do so (almost everyone). Dinner was another winner! Hamburgers fresh off the grill and french fries with different toppings.  

The evening continued with the most amazing night activity I have ever seen in my life. I have never done a drum circle before and I thought it would be a nice thing for our JOLT Israel kids to do together with our Simcha LaYeled kids. It turned into the most amazing night activity ever. We were all going crazy with the drums and drumsticks. It was non-stop dancing and banging and singing and laughing. I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Everyone left the night activity with huge smiles on their faces. We ended the night with some well needed chill time for the kids and then a pretty late curfew.  

Davening started at 8:00 this morning and after a delicious breakfast of eggs, salads, yogurts, puddings and pancakes we got our stuff together and traveled to the Chatzbani also known as Nachal Snir.  It is the longest of the Jordan river tributaries. Beginning in Lebanon, it is 65 kilometers long. We walked along the cool water with wild fig trees, grape vines and other vegetation growing. The natural smells along the riverbank were absolutely divine. Obviously we had another water fight. What can I say, who doesn’t love a good water fight.

From the Chatzbani we traveled to Teveria for some fun in the sun at Aqua Keif. While the girls were enjoying their time in the water the boys were having a massive water fight on the beach and vice versa.

We returned back to Chispin, davened Mincha and had dinner. Once again, it was amazing! Two types of chicken, meat, salads and side dishes. After dinner, we had another winner of a night activity called “Mystery Envelope”. It was amazing and the kids absolutely loved it. We danced and laughed and all of us enjoyed our time together.

The kids are in bed and I am going to sleep as well. We have an awesome day planned tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it. 

Speak to you soon,

Rabbi Weinberg 



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