Sunshine, Smiles and More…

July 12, 2014

What an amazing day-and-a-half we have had! Yesterday we greeted 24 Israeli teens from the Young Ambassadors School in Petah Tikvah. Though they joined us for a short four hours, as one of them said, it was one of the best afternoons of his life. The mifgash, encounter, was supposed to be for four days, but a change of plans shortened it to four hours. All of the teens made it an extraordinary experience.  They took advantage of every minute, and made friends, who they felt they knew for years. They already connected on Facebook, twitter, and instagram, making it easy to stay connected and to get to know each other better. Tons of fun at the water park was had by all.

We welcomed in Shabbat with songs of peace, candle-lighting and blessings, followed by a delicious Shabbat dinner.  Then we spent the evening outdoors, under a near-full moon. Soccer games, swimming, and poolside talks provided the group with more bonding time, which they really enjoyed.  A group of 101 teens is massive, so time to meet each other is critical to making our North Shore Jewish community stronger and closer. As has been the case for every past Y2I cohort, your children are making friends with kids they would have never met. It’s so sweet when they tell me “I met my new best friend on this trip!”

It was a late wake-up today because of Shabbat, giving teens time to catch up on sleep. After breakfast, teens had time in  their small counselor groups to share what they learned about Israel, what they are feeling, and how their perceptions of Israel have changed.  I know you are disappointed for your children about the itinerary change. But, believe me, Israel is having a positive impact on them as individuals and on their Jewish identity. Their Jewish pride is getting stronger, and they are falling in love with Israel.

Late afternoon today we  will have a presentation by the Bau Sisters, daughters of Josef Bau, a Holocaust survivor, who had an amazing life. A couple of Holocaust survivors who are staying at this hotel have been invited to join us.  Many kids sat and talked with the survivors who are here alone, listening to their stories and lending their ears, making the survivors feel so good. You should be very proud of your kids! It was one of the most touching moments of the week.

Tonight we are going into town, but will return in plenty of time to watch the World Cup. Tomorrow we will hike, visit ancient sites, and more. Plans for jeep rides and a visit to the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum are also in the works.

I want to share some of what your kids said at meeting time today:

Anyone can do a regular trip to Israel.  Ours is something you cannot buy.

Israel is home to many people. It feels like my home away from home.

Before I came to Israel I thought everyone lived in fear. Being here I realize there is nothing to fear.

People in America should start to understand why Israel is important to the world. They need to understand the reality Israel faces.

We prevail and we survive.

No one is a stranger. Everyone talks  to everyone, even in a place  where there is so much to think about. It is opposite in America. We are taught not to talk to strangers. Here, in Israel, even if you don’t know people, you know them.  We are family.

We  plan to be at this hotel (Rimonim Mineral Hotel) until the end of our trip.

Your kids are safe and happy and doing well.

With love from Israel,

Debbie

 

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  1. Jerry Rosen says:

    Dear Deb,
    My son, Jonathan Rosen (Malachi Rosen is on your trip)has been forwarding your letters to me.
    You are an amazing woman with a wonderful background. Bless you and all the staff for all you do to keep our kids Jewish. (And believe me, I know hard difficult this is in this day and age.

    Safe journey home to you and all.

    Todah Rabah
    Jerry Rosen

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