JOLT Israel
NCSY JOLT Israel Day #8 Beyond Amazing Opening To Our Camp!!!!

Dear NCSY JOLT Israel Family,


Today was a day full of emotion. Since last we spoke, we received our campers from Simcha LaYeled and the love and friendship is flowing. We received the kids at about 11:50 A.M. Israel time. You need to picture it. The bus pulled up, the music was blasting “V’Ahavtu”, the sun was blazing down and the positive energy was overflowing. We were all dressed in shtick i.e. costumes, hats, and lots of other fun things. The excitement was rocking we made a human tunnel as the kids got off the bus and ran through it. They were greeted by our JOLTers and taken to dance. I wish you would have seen it. Hopefully we will be able to get videos out to you. It was something amazing. I was overcome with great emotion and stood on the side, tears streaming down my cheeks. The love that flowed could be felt and so could the emotion. I was so proud of my JOLT Israel kids. They executed the plan perfectly. Everyone did everything exactly as it was supposed to play out!


I suppose you might be wondering why I place so much emphasis on the beginning. The truth is because it is the beginning that sets the tone and tenner of our experience together. Once we set the baseline where everyone is able to move out of their comfort zones the ability to free flow conversation with our younger campers is much easier. It also allows us to ensure that the tension level is taken down tremendously. For many of our children from Simcha LaYeled this is the first time that they have ever experienced anything like this. It is a very overwhelming experience in the beginning. The truth of the matter is that one young girl had to be taken home because it was too much for her to handle. Another one of the kids are with us lost a brother to Cystic Fibrosis, two months ago. It’s real life…and that makes what we are doing that much more powerful and profound.


After dancing our kids of the bus we took them to a field next to our multi-purpose room where we had fresh popcorn, cotton candy and slushies. We ate, listened to music and learned each other’s names. Then we all went into our multi-purpose room where I introduced myself and then introduced Yoel. I explained that our goal was simple- We are one family and our focus is fun! From there we broke up into four groups (these are our groups for the time that we are running our camp). We ran icebreakers, handed out our special Machaneh Hachi Achi (The name of our camp) T-Shirts, and water bottles.


Following that we went to lunch. A beautiful spread of salads, meats and several delicious side dishes. The food has actually been amazing this entire summer, but they really do it right for us!! Anyway, we went straight from lunch to our first trip together. It’s a gentle stroll call Ein Tina. There is a small stream that we walk through and a brief uphill climb to a little waterfall. The water was cool and refreshing as we walked through it. For those of us how stopped to rest while stepping in the water were treated to little fishing nibbling at our feet. It was really a nice light hike and a perfect opening activity for our camp. Upon returning from our mini hike we had a whole Tie-Dye activity for the kids. It was a lot of fun and our little campers loved it!!


From Tie-Dye we davened Mincha together as we always do. But this time we davened outside, on the soft grass, wind in our hair (not mine unfortunately, but the kids) breathing in the sweet smell of Kedusha and nature. It’s a pretty powerful combination for some awesome Kavvanah! We went to dinner and enjoyed our second meal together as a family. The food was great as usual and to be honest, underratedly, we are so lucky that we have our own dining room. It just makes everything much easier on all accounts. From dinner we actually were able to get a live feed to watch the semi-finals of the world cup together with our Israeli campers. It was actually pretty cool and soccer is much more interesting than traditional American sports. We finished the evening with Maariv and a Sachnash (Sichat Nefesh) a meeting where we all shared our feelings on this very emotional day. Every child had the opportunity to share their feelings with our group. One of the things that I do from the beginning is create a safe place for people to share ideas, thoughts and feelings in general. No judgments ever. This is particularly important for evenings like this when the kids share things with their friends that may make them look or feel vulnerable. Baruch Hashem, everyone maintained the highest level of maturity (I would expect nothing less). It was an important moment for all of us.


Tomorrow is our full first day with our campers and the bonds that have been formed will only increase. As I explained to the kids tonight, even though of many of them were concerned and continue to be concerned about the language barrier, so much more is said by a hug or a Frisbee catch than words can ever express. The language that we speak on JOLT Israel is love, understanding and friendship and that is a language that can be understood by everyone.


I wish you all a beautiful night with the deepest Brachot from the Holy Land.



Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg

Director, NCSY JOLT Israel


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