JOLT Israel
Thank You..It Was Truly The BEST.SUMMER.EVER

Dear NCSY JOLT Israel Family,

I hope this email finds you well. I am currently writing this to you 38,000 feet in the air, after having slept for 7 hours. The kids are all spending their last few hours together and the energy of the group is palpable.  The past few days have really been meaningful and I want to share them together with you.

Monday was an amazing day and a meaningful one as well. We started off our day with an AMAZING breakfast. It was really excellent and it was personally nice to see the kids eat like adults and have adult conversations at their respective tables. After leaving the hotel we went to our first stop, the Emek Tzurim dig.  We sifted through buckets of dirt that were illegally dumped by the Wakf after illegally doing construction on Har HaBayis. Many of the over 40,000 tons of dirt contain priceless and significant archaeological artifacts. So we sifted through countless buckets and found pottery shards, animal bones (Most likely from Korbanos), mosaic tiles and even a coin. Being involved with this type of activity immediately following Tisha B’av really hit home the stark realization of what was and what is no more.. Following this amazing activity we made our way into the Gush for a wonderful lunch at Oz V’Gaon, which is the park that was established in memory of the three young yeshiva boys who were killed several years ago. We heard a bit about the place and then had an amazing lunch set up for us. From there we went to one of my most favorite spots in Israel called the Alon HaBoded- The lone tree. This was the tree that the refugees from Gush Etzion were able to see when they would stand in the hills of Jerusalem. I explained to the kids that this tree represents our hopes and dreams, but even more so it represents our destiny as Jewish people. In my last real meaningful talk with them, I explained that after the amazing summer that we had we need to reevaluate our wants and dreams. Do we want to be the trees of the past that saw our destruction and pain, the trees from the most difficult moments of Jewish history or are we the Alon HaBoded, the tree that symbolizes our return and our reclaiming our destiny!

After the Alon HaBoded we made our way to Pat B’Melach where we learned about bread making and had the opportunity to do so. It was awesome and the owner told me that JOLT Israel was the best group she had the entire summer. I actually got it on tape….We made our way into Meah Shearim and went to Manny’s. Due to the great generosity of Touro College every kid on JOLT Israel was able to buy a sefer at Manny’s Seforim store. What an awesome opportunity for our kids and if I could only explain to you the level of excitement to buy seforim!! Ashreinu SheZachinu!!

Tuesday was out last full day together as a JOLT Israel family and we spent it doing an awesome little hike called Ein Prat or Wadi Kelt. The smell, the views the experience is something that was remarkable and unique to Israel. Walking through wild fig trees and lime trees, seeing wild grape vines and raspberries if only you could see it in your mind the way we did. Natural pools of water cutting through the valley were home to fish and other animals. We just borrowed time in their natural habitat and jumped into cool off. It was a wonderful last day hike. We went to Ben Yehuda and the shul to give everyone some free time to buy gifts and relax together. At about four we went back on the buses and went to the hotel for some down time. Most of the kids spent the time getting ready for banquet and at seven we loaded the buses and went to Yaffala, a small home style restaurant where we had the most amazing summer end banquet ever!

Everyone came dressed up nicely and many of the kids came wearing their JOLT Israel sweatshirts and t-shirts that I handed out the day before. Besides the food being amazing, we started with our evening with four teen speakers who spoke about their summer and why it was truly the best summer ever for them. We had a rap by Hannah and Ally and then a video produced by my close Talmid Avi Schuckman. It was beyond amazing! The advisors sang a beautiful sing that they wrote in honor of the kids and then we turned our area into an energy filled dance party (Mechitza of course). It was so much fun! The Kids loved it. We made our way to the Kotel to say good bye for the last time on this trip. After a few minutes of silent reflection we started an impromptu Kumsitz at the Kotel. Imagine 70 JOLT Israel people, staff included, singing songs on a cool breezy night in Jerusalem, and slowly people from all walks of life came in to join us. It was just perfect! WE had to get to the busses and the kids continues singing together, arm in arm all the way back.

We went back to the hotel to daven Maariv and then handed out awards to each one of the kids. They didn’t have a curfew last night and many stayed up all night. We made it through the airport with relative ease and soon we will be landing in JFK.

This was the summer in which memories are made. It was everything that I had hoped for and more. If I could only tell you how much growth there was for each and every person! I am so proud of my NCSY JOLT Israel kids. They exceeded my expectations in every way. Do you know that we had over 92% of our kids learning B’Chavrusa throughout the summer? How about the fact that kids were finally able to open up about things with advisors and myself that gave them clarity about things in their lives. I mean the list goes on and on. My point being, JOLT Israel is more than just a post 10th grade summer tour, it is an actual investment in your child’s growth as a person, an individual and a Ben or Bas Torah. Every person in their own way and at their own level. There is no cookie cut child and we do not see them as that either, They are respected for their individual views and ideas and NEVER judged. Every question is valued and every desire to DMC is taken advantage of. Some of our kids were not used to having the bar set as high as it was, however they all raised themselves to the occasion. I am proud of their growth as people and thinkers and I encouraged them to be in touch with me throughout the year and beyond like so many of my students do. Like I always say, once a person is in my life as a students I am always there for them.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing staff that worked tirelessly to make sure that your children had the BEST. SUMMER. EVER. Ben Book my assistant director, Hannah Backer, Davida Respler, Ally Orgel, Lauren Aduculelsi, Yonatan Glicksman and Yehuda Colton. Each advisor went above and beyond in order to make sure that you children were well taken care of and had a summer that they would never forget. Our Israeli staff Yoshie, Josh, Yifat, Shira and of course Iris our bus driver, this summer would not have run as smoothly as it did due to your great work. Of course, Achron Achron Chaviva, my wife Nechama. She is a role model in every way to the kids who come with us each year, this year being no different. She is focused on seeing each child reach their highest potential and does not accept mediocrity. The kids love that about her and I suppose they also enjoy watching her put me in my place every now and then as well. The great success of this program from the behind the scenes is due to her hard work together with the Israel staff.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that there were so many different facets which comprise JOLT Israel and are responsible for the amazing success that we had this summer. I am already planning for JOLT Israel 2020 so spread the word to family and friends. Let them know how amazing the program is, how much your children loved it and how much they were loved by all of us.

Thank you again to each of you for believing in me and my product as well as NCSY Summer. It is a tremendous Zechus that I have to work with the best in the business. David Cutler, without his support and close friendship this program would never be where it is now. Elliot Tanzman there is no one quite like you. Every time I see Elliot he is checking up on the kids and following up on issues making sure everyone is doing well. Amy Mauskopf you are amazing and your work behind the scenes is so much of why everything works the way it does. Rachelli Schwartz, your good work and constant encouragement has been a great source of strength for me.

Lastly, I thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu for giving me the Zechus to inspire and lead a generation of children who need guidance and hope more than ever before.

If any parent ever needs me for any reason, you have my number and I am always available for to you for anything and everything. Thank you for believing in me and what I do it is fueled by a deep care and concern for each one of your children.

May Hashem bless us all with good health and happiness, Nachas from our children and the ability to continue to guide them all in the right way. May rejoice with their healthy maturation as Bnei and Bnos Torah.  Amen Kein Yehi Ratzon.

Rabbi Weinberg

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