As our time here in Israel winds down, the collective emotions of both the chanichim and madrichim are bittersweet. Yes, I am positive many of us are exhausted and ready to sleep in our own homes, see our families, and eat Chipotle (boy, do we Americans love our Chipotle). On the other hand, the cohesiveness created and bonds formed over the past month, not just within our group, but as a unit, will be greatly missed. These past 4 weeks have presented us with every sort of challenge, breakthrough, sickness, up, and down we can possibly imagine. In addition, our time here has included more love and happiness than we could ever have hoped for. It seems that just yesterday we were greeting our participants in the airport, loading their luggage on the bus, and heading off on our adventure.
We began our journey just outside of Jerusalem before being thrown right into the Negev desert, one of the most unpredictable places on the planet. Jumping right into this challenging and trying time was no mistake. This time forced us to rely on everyone in our group as well as our madrichim for support. We explored the Old City and prayed at the Kotel, allowing us to gain a deep connection to our Judaism. We stayed in a Bedouin tent and met people of all faiths and religions, helping us gain a greater understanding of how different everyone in the world is, yet how we are all the same deep down. We climbed Masada and visited Yad Vashem, allowing us to truly appreciate the ability to be Jewish in our modern day world. We had the chance to split up into smaller groups and pick onions for needy families, learn first-hand about the Israeli Defense Force, or hike the length of Israel, all the way from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean Sea. In between all of this, we had the chance to reconnect with old friends and form new friendships with Jewish teens like us from all over the country. All the meanwhile exploring our homeland and learning both about it and ourselves.
We sure did a lot over this last month. They say that time flies when you’re having fun; but what about when you’re having the time of your life? I suggest it’s like moving at the speed of light. As sad as many of our chanichim may be to leave, we must remind them how special it was to be able to have this experience. As A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. We are not saying goodbye, only L’hitraot.
by Evan Silverstein
Madrich and Rosh Kesher, Group 2