JOLT Israel
NCSY JOLT Israel- A Quick Note Before Shabbos Kodesh


My Dear NCSY JOLT Israel Family,


I received so many emails from parents asking me to send out one more email before Shabbos, so here goes. I hope that the kids have begun telling you how amazing their respective summers were. Sometimes, it takes a few days for them to process their experiences before they can start to share.  I know that since they have gotten back they have been spending nonstop time with each other. That is a great testament to the fact that we really did build the JOLT Israel family the way I had intended to. We created something amazing, a group of Frum teens who can spend time with each other in a wholesome way. A close family setting where they can just enjoy one another’s company, and laugh and joke around. How awesome is that?!! In today’s hectic and crazy world, where adolescents are expected to act older than they really are and are exposed to things increasingly more prematurely. This throw back is in my opinion a Godsend.


I think back to the days that we grew up in. We had our own sets of challenges it's true, but it was nothing compared to what our children are dealing with. Technology is great in some ways, but an absolute disaster developmentally for our kids. The first piece of parting advice I would share is: we need to whatever we can to get our kids to use their phones less. When our children are quiet and not bothering us, it’s a welcome respite. We are all human and as parents the down time is so important for us. But we need to weigh that against what’s happening when our kids are occupied on their phones. Social media, which is what they are primarily preoccupied with is one of the things I dealt with a lot. I spoke to the kids about is the importance of learning how to believe in one’s own sense of self-worth and NOT base their value on the “likes” they receive from “friends” on social media. Social media, which occupies most of our kid’s times is hurting our children’s ability to learn valuable social skills. Trust me when I tell you that I know first-hand how difficult it is, but the day we stop trying is the day we give up on our children. I have techniques that I use and are helpful and I would be happy to share with those of you who are interested.


We have been back in America for just a few days and it is tough. It’s tough on a spiritual level and a familial level (being away from our JOLT Israel family). Besides for all the leadership training, so much of what I try to do is to work on building a deep and burning love for Israel. It takes time and patience to cultivate this love. The piece that I struggle with is that just as I finally start to see the pieces all come together, we are boarding a plane and coming back to North America. That’s where you, the parents come into play. You need to take the baton from me and continue the conversation about the importance of Israel on a national and spiritual level. You can do this by learning with your child (I am happy to point you in the direction of some beautiful Seforim about Eretz Yisrael), you can also do this by guided questions. Ask your child what the sunrises and sunsets were like in Israel and how they are different than the ones we see here. Ask them what it’s like Erev Shabbos afternoon, walking through the shuk and how that was a meaningful experience. Have them articulate their feelings of what is what like to walk on the same stones as our holy ancestors. They will appreciate the questions and I am sure they will jump at the opportunity to speak about it. It will also help to solidify their experiences they had over the summer.  


One of the last teaching I shared with the kids was on the bus to the airport. It was the last Torah we learned together in Artzeinu and I will share it with all of you as well. It’s strong Torah that burns with an intense fire. It is also one of the very important messages that I wanted the kids to hear. It is something that I want them to carry with them and it’s good for all of us to remember as well.


In Shemona Esrei (Nusach Sefard) each day we say the following “Ki Ata Shomeah Teffilas Kol Peh” Which means “Because You (Hashem) hear all the Tefillos of our mouths.” In Yiddish, the expression “Fe” is meant to denote something that is insignificant, unimportant or distasteful.  Rav Baruch of Mezibuz, the grandson of the holy Baal Shem Tov HaKadosh said the following. Don’t read it as “Kol Peh” Everything that that comes out of our mouths. But rather “Kol Fe” the small insignificant things. Meaning, don’t think that the things that we think are not important, but ask Hashem for are not heard. CHas V'Shalom!! EVERYTHING is heard by Hashem, even the things that we think are not important or are "Fe". This message was an important one for me to share. So often we think that our conversations with Hashem have to be about lofty matters, or we need to speak in a way that is prim and proper. The truth is, just like any parent hears their children irrespective of what they are saying, Hashem acts the same way. All requests are important to Him. But deeper than that. How special is it, when our child sits down with us and just wants to speak? Just the act of our children wanting to connect to us is so moving. It is no different for Hashem. When we carve out time in our day to have a conversation with our parent in heaven, it is the act of speaking itself which is beloved. Tefilla is a difficult thing for all people. Even when our kids daven, there are so many struggles irrespective how hard they try. The language barrier, a God we are speaking to that we can’t see, hear, feel…., a structure of Bakasha in a day and age when we “have everything we need”, and the list goes on. Please continue to encourage your children to value the time they spend speaking to Hashem and doing so consciously. Even if they don’t understand what they are saying, the act of speaking to Hashem is so important and cannot be understated! Davening in English is important and so is spending time choosing specific Tefillos to focus on. I did have a Biur Tefilla Chaburah several times with the girls specifically, but it wasn’t enough time and not nearly with enough people. I need to figure out a way to work with them on this important area. Perhaps I will start a whatsapp chaburah on Biur Tefilla for parents and kids. That might be really nice. Nothing is holier than parents and children learning together.


On a side note, I know that there is a survey going around and I would encourage everyone to fill it out. On a personal note, if there are things that you can share with me, via email, that I can do better I would greatly appreciate it.


Anyway, as I get ready for Shabbos out of Israel :-( I want to wish you all a beautiful and sweet Shabbos. Rebbe Nachman teaches that it is possible to bring down the Kedusha of Eretz Yisrael even in Chutz La’aretz. Let’s do that together. Let’s work hard to bring that high level of Kedusha of our holy land to our respective houses and communities. It will only serve to bolster our children’s spiritual and religious development.


With much love and respect


Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg

Director, NCSY JOLT Israel



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