JOLT Israel
NCSY JOLT Israel- Free Shabbos and Some Brief Meaningful Reflections

My Dear NCSY JOLT Israel Family,


I hope this email finds you well. The kids all got to their host homes safely Baruch Hashem and are looking forward to time with family and friends. I want to tell you about yesterday and I also want to share some reflections with you from the past few weeks.


We began our day yesterday in Har Hertzel. We spoke to the kids about the fact that Har Hertzel is more than just a soldier cemetery, it is a place which represents true Gevurah. There is a beautiful story told about R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ZTVK”L, as told by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.  “Every day, someone would drive Rabbi Auerbach from his home in the Sha’arei Chesed area of Yerushalayim to his Yeshiva in Bayit Vegan. The Rabbi would occasionally ask the driver to pull up for a few moments outside Har Herzl, the burial site of Israel's fallen soldiers, where he would recite Tehillim. Why did he do this? A student once approached him and asked for a timeout from his studies so he could travel north to pray at the graves of the tzaddikim (righteous people). Rabbi Shlomo Zalman looked perplexed but didn’t immediately answer. Sensing hesitation from his rabbi, the student elaborated, explaining he had some personal issues to think through and he felt praying by the graves of the righteous would help. Rabbi Auerbach replied that he fully understood what the student wanted to do and why he wanted to do it, but could not understand why he would travel four hours to pray by the graves of a few tzaddikim when there were thousands of them buried on Har Herzl, just five minutes from the yeshiva!”


This was the message I wanted to convey to the kids. It was a place of Kedusha, but then we came to the plot of the Lamed Heh. It was in this place, that I told them was, in my opinion Kodesh HaKadoshim. The Lamed Heh were a group of 38 soldiers who walked by foot on January 16th 1948 to try and bring supplies to the besieged Jews in the four settlements of the Gush Etzion Bloc. One got hurt and was taken back by two others. The remaining 35 continued walking through the night and saw an old Arab woman and allowed her to live (even though protocol would have been to kill her). She told the Arab villagers about the Jewish soldiers and the Jewish soldiers were surrounded. After using up all their supplied and ammunition they were brutally maimed and murdered, 12 of whom were beyond recognition. After receiving the bodies back, Rav Aryeh Levine ZTVK”L was asked to perform a secretive Kabbalistic ritual called the Goral HaGra and was able to accurately identify all 12 soldiers. I spoke about the Gevurah of these men and my own personal experience meeting the solider who got hurt and heard about his experiences. It was actually in 1996 when I was a Madrich on NCSY Kollel….


I also shared a different and powerful story of Gevurah. It is a story I heard from Reb Shlomo Carlebach. Here is the original:

Take a minute and listen to this story!


After I finished with the story I challenged each of our kids to find an area of Gevurah deep inside themselves. I explained that for each person it is going to be different but it is the most important thing they can do to continue the amazing religious, spiritual and individual growth they have gained over these past four weeks.  We went to several other Kevarim and Yoel our amazing Madrich and Ben Book our amazing assistant director spoke about their personal stories and deep connections this that hallowed place.

After our very meaningful tour we ate lunch and then drove to Tel Aviv. It is important to me for the kids experience the out of the way cultural facets to Israel. We gave them some free time in the Shuk HaPishpishim (Flea Market) in Yaffo. Our goal was to see who could bargain down the shop keepers more. We actually had some pretty solid hagglers in our crew!  After a short stint there we made our way to our Tel Aviv drop off and then our Jerusalem drop off, albeit late due to some serious traffic.


The kids are all sending in pictures of run ins with other members of the JOLT Israel family. It’s amazing to see the chemistry that has been created. The bonds are strong and that’s how we like it!


Over the past four weeks I have seen tremendous growth in almost all of our JOLT Israel participants, religiously, spiritually and individually. The growth hasn’t been easy for everyone, and some are emerging slowly but I believe everyone has, to some extent, become more thoughtful, introspective and willing to learn about themselves and their relationships with God. I am thrilled to report that we have close to 70% of our kids who are actively involved in Chavrusa learning! That number is mind boggling and our advisors really get a massive shout out for that!! The educational leadership of Jed Zaslow has been spot on. His determination and desire to make sure that every child has what they need to be successful learners is as inspiring as it is effective. Our advisors give of their time in a way that is above and beyond what I could have hoped for. Every day that goes by I am more and more impressed with each and every one of them. Not to mention the chemistry that we all have as a team. It is truly unique and for this I as the director and the children are truly blessed! Ben, Jed Yonatan, Davida, Rachel and Hannah, Yoel and Alon, words can’t express how fortunate we all are because of your constant and selfless contributions.


I also want to thank all of the parents who have made the effort to be in touch with me thus far, so that we can collaborate together and work through situations that arise. It has been amazing for me to work together with all of the parents as closely as I have. Part of my educational philosophy is working towards educating the whole child. That has many different meanings for many different people. My personal take on it is that educating the whole child in 2018 MUST include the parents as well. When parents and educators work together in a true partnership, the children are the most successful. Ashreichem to all of you!


We are going into Shabbos soon and I am looking forward to a recharge so that we can finish off this beyond perfect summer stronger and better than ever before!


I want to wish you all a good Shabbos, a relaxing Shabbos and the Yishuv HaDaas to know that each of your children are reaching levels and heights of unprecedented proportions. It is a Zechus to help facilitate the growth of each and every participant on JOLT Israel. Ashreichem and Ashreinu!!  


With warmest wishes


Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg

Director, NCSY JOLT Israel

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