By Rabbi Loren Sykes, Director of Israel Immersives
I love arrival day! Seeing teens walking out of Customs Control and into the Arrival Hall at Ben Gurion International Airport is exhilarating! Not only is it fulfilling to see our teens enter Israel with huge smiles and lots of anticipation, but it also gives us tangible satisfaction that all the effort invested into preparing for NFTY in Israel Summer 2022 trips is finally paying off. It was thrilling to meet teens from across North America and to hear what they were excited about and looking forward to as part of their summer Israel journey.
Speaking of journeys, your teen will spend the next four weeks on an intense journey of self-discovery, connecting with their heritage, visiting places where Jewish history happened, and the Jewish future is taking shape. They will learn about historic and modern Israel. They will have the chance to walk in the ruins of what many scholars believe to be King David’s palace in Jerusalem and visit the Peres Center for Innovation: a place that celebrates Israel’s ongoing contributions to the world of high-tech from the creation of new mobile apps like Waze to innovations in water management and agriculture. They will learn about the ancient Israelite residents of the fertile crescent, encounter great and mystical rabbis from the Middle Ages in Safed, and about key figures in the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
One of the most impactful parts of a NFTY in Israel trip is encountering different kinds of Israelis. Throughout the summer, teens will meet:
- A Hasidic couple who moved to Israel from Brooklyn many years ago.
- An Israeli Muslim family who lives in Ein Rafa, an Arab village located fifteen minutes from Jerusalem.
- A Palestinian and a Jewish citizen of Israel who lives in the West Bank who will talk about their different experiences.
- Israeli peers who will join them for a portion of the summer during our Kishre Noar program.
Over the years, we have learned that developing a deep, meaningful relationship with Israel begins with meeting Israelis of different backgrounds. We are excited to see what your teens take away from these important encounters.
In the few days since their arrival, your teens have already discovered so much about what the Land of Israel is all about and how it connects to their own lives and souls. Over the past three days, your teen has been to:
- The Haas Promenade, also known as the Tayyelet, is possibly the most beautiful and enchanting view of the Old City of Jerusalem.
- Ben Yehuda Street, a must stop spot on any first-time trip to Israel.
- The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, held by Christians to be the location of Jesus’ tomb.
- The Davidson Center, the Southern Wall Excavations, and the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall.
- Dig for a Day where they learned about the historical and political importance of archaeology and where they got to, well, dig!
- Shuk Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s famous outdoor market, where they got to experience the smells, sites, sounds, and, of course, tastes of the Middle East!
And they have only been here for about seventy-two hours!
Imagine all they are going to experience, discover and think about over the course of the entire trip!
Finally, we know that it is no small thing to send your teen half-way across the world to a foreign land in the middle of an ongoing and evolving global pandemic. We do not take your trust for granted. We work day and night to provide your teen with a healthy and safe trip so they can have an incredible and meaningful experience. Thank you for trusting us with your most prized possession, your teen.