JOLT Israel
NCSY JOLT Israel!!! Amazingly Awesome and Fulfilling Days #16,17 and 18

Dear Heilige Parents and NCSY JOLT Israel’ers,

I hope this email finds you well. Things have been non-stop and amazing!! Our ZAM ZAM kids just left and it was a difficult goodbye. There was lots of crying and hugging but it was beautiful. I would argue that the beauty of the goodbye was that we accomplished what we sent out to do. We taught our JOLT Israel kids how to be effective leaders in a short amount of time, we created relationships and we changed lives. Our ZAM ZAM kids were able to focus on nothing but fun and exciting activities and trips. No mention of the word cancer, darkness or tears. Beauty and love permeated everything we did and everywhere we went and as such the children experienced the most amazing time of their lives!

Today is a chill day, and that is important for our kids. They Mamesh gave it their all and met success, but now they need time to relax. We took them to the mall to walk around together and soon we are taking them swimming in the Kinneret at the separate beach. It will be good for the JOLT Israel’ers to reconnect with each other. They spent a lot of time and energy connecting with our ZAM ZAM kids and I want them to now dig inward with each other.

Allow me for a few moments to fill you in on the past few days, so you get a sense of what we did and how amazing it was. Friday we came back from our activities, as you know, and got ready for Shabbos. All the kids came down in their Shabbos best and took beautiful pictures together. The reason why I feel that this is so important is because of the fact that just like when relatives stand together and take pictures there is an internal and subconscious sense of connection, the same holds true when we take pictures together! After pictures, we went to the shul to Daven Mincha and Kabbalas Shabbos.  It was amazing to see everyone singing and dancing together in a real show of Achdus. After davening, we went to our room for Seudas Shabbos and enjoyed the amazing food and friends. The smells and tastes were awesome and I know our kids enjoyed all of the delicious choices. Following the food the ZAM ZAM kids went to sleep and we had an Oneg for the Zichron Menachem staff and our JOLT Israel kids. There was no specific structure to it although we did have singing and some games. The most important thing to me was to make sure that we were all integrating well and simply laugh together. Mission accomplished!! It was imperative because of the fact that Shabbos day was meant to be intensive with a lot of focus on activities for the kids and the success of those programs were dependent on the success of everyone melding into a team, which was happening beautifully.

Shabbos morning we all davened together in the shul and from there we went to  lunch. After lunch we davened an early Mincha followed by a talk with our JOLT Israel kids. Our idea was to give the kids actual tips and pointers on how to run effective programs for kids. The things that I specifically wanted to share with them were things that I believe they can integrate in many facets of their lives, moving forward. We spoke for about 45 minutes which included breaking up into groups and working on games to play with the kids. It was awesome, the energy and excitement from JOLT Israel was palpable. The ZAM ZAM kids came and went to predetermined classrooms in the building that we were using. It was awesome to watch what unfolded. The games, the smiles and the laughter were all indicative of a well-planned event.  It was significant lesson for our kids to see, namely, when you organize and plan then you can expect success.

After the activities, which went on for over an hour, we all had nap time! It was well needed!! At 4:30 we met for some coffee and cake and then at five we all met and took a tour of the Kibbutz. We walked through the Refet (where the cows are), we saw the horses, the Kibbutz farm and some important sites such as the shul. It’s amazing how much thought goes into everything. It’s also an important lesson for the kids to see and hear.

After the tour we went to Seudah Shlishit and and ate AGAIN!!! We looked outside and saw the mountains with the sun setting over them. There were beautiful colors of red and orange and pink. We sat on the grass together and slowly the magnetic pull of the sunset brought the entire group over. We sat in a large circle and sang until long after Shabbos was over. I also took the opportunity to speak to the kids about making good choices. I told them a story that happened to me upon my latest trip to Poland when we interviewed a non-Jewish woman, which told us with glee of her opportunity to steal a doll from the bed of a child who was taken to the forest and killed. We spoke about the challenges that people face and the choices that we make. I then tied it into leadership and how good choices make good leaders.  Upon finishing singing we walked together to the shul, davened Maariv and had a beautiful and moving musical Havdalah. Arms around each other, swaying and singing in the soft glow of the candle we molded into one and it was profound as it was heartwarming.

Motzei Shabbos we went straight to our activity rooms for more games run by our JOLT Israel’ers. The ZAM ZAM’ers went to sleep and we had an awesome game night for our JOLT Israel’ers. Of course the evening would not have been complete without a quick birthday party for Michael Frolich with homemade cake and all.

Sunday was awesome! We had an early wake up, early davening, early breakfast and then two fantastic water hikes. The first one was a great little hike in the Banyas where we saw a beautiful waterfall and felt the refreshing spray of the water. The smells of the wild fig trees were intoxicating and the beautiful flora and fauna really made us take a step back and say “Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem”! Before leaving we had lunch delivered to us. We had two different types of pasta choices as well as salad, fruit and cold water. From the Banyas we traveled for about half and hour and got to one of my favorite water hikes called Nachal Majdrase. We walked through the cool, refreshing water surround by wild horsemint, grape vines and other interesting vegetation. As we continued to walk, one quick splash of water became an all out water fight and our little ZAM ZAM campers were screaming with laughter as we all got into it! It was non-stop fun as we all splashed each other and made sure that not one person left the water dry!! My friends, there is nothing like seeing young children with smiles that take over their little faces.

When we got back to Lavi, we showered, changed and ate dinner. From dinner, the kids went to their classrooms to practice for their team songs for our Zimriyah. We brought in an awesome guitarist from a Moshav near Meron. He was totally my style, long payos, long beard, linen shirt and pants with a large “Mitnachel” yarmulke and an awesome story of how he grew up on a “Chiloni” Kibbutz. Anyway, we went to the boys and girls and practiced with them before we all went back to our room and had our amazing Zimriyah.

When we were all finally assembled there was an energy in the room and everyone was ready to get up and sing. The boys went first with a quick interlude of singing and dancing. Then the girls went and sang their own lyrics to “One Day”. When they were finished, we spontaneously combusted into a frenzy of dancing, singing and hugging. It was totally awesome! After dancing we handed out the tye dye shirts to everyone from our activity we had in the beginning of the week.

We put the kids to sleep and gave the JOLT Israel’ers some free time to pack and hang out and we met as a Tzevet. We reflected about the week and came to the same unanimous conclusion…our camp Hachi Achi was an absolute success! 

This morning we davened, ate breakfast and packed up the bus. After everything was packed we all met in out meeting room and thanked each other fopr an experience of a lifetime! Then we watched an amazing video made by Benji Kalmanowitz and Deena Drazin.  We did some special ZAM ZAM chants and went to get lunch. After lunch we walked each other to the buses. Needless to say there was lots of crying and lots of hugging. It’s tough when you become a family and then have to part. The crying to me was indicative of everything we did right. We succeeded in creating a family and we will always be in each other’s hearts.

We left swimming, which was awesome, and we traveled up North to Avnei Eitan. On the way up we stopped at an overlook in the Golan called Mitzpeh Ophir named after a young boy who died of cancer several years ago at the age of 16. In hios memory there are 16 Olive Trees. The lookout was amazing and allowed us to seer the entire Kinneret as the sunset. It was truly inspiring. This evening, I want to use time to reflect with the kids about this amazing week. After we are finished I will try to send out another email and share these thoughts with you.

We have been uploading tons of pictures to Facebook, twitter and Instagram PLEASE PLEASE follow us!! We have also been uploading our videos to Facebook. All you have to do is go to the JOLT ISRAEL page and enjoy! They are awesome videos and awesome pictures.

I hope I didn’t bore you with the length of this email but I really wanted to share with you what we have been doing and how much we have actually accomplished! Please continue to share your comments and reach out, of course, if you have any questions.

I wish you a sweet and holy day. We are taking in the beauty and Kedusha of our homeland!

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With warmest wishes

-Rabbi Weinberg

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