By: Ariel Fogelman, Director Israel Programs and Operations
On the early morning of February 8th, the Yallah! Israel staff embarked on a journey South to the Northern Negev. The purpose of our trip was to explore educational aspects as we engage with this region, known for its beautiful landscapes, rich history, and resilient communities that have faced significant challenges, marking a defining moment in the history of the state of Israel.
Throughout the day, two profound emotions, home, and family, resonated deeply with me. Our sense of family began with our morning hugs, setting the tone for the day as more than just a tour but a family visit during challenging times. Remarkable individuals graciously opened their homes to us.
In Kibbutz Saad, we gathered in the family living room with Tal, the head of the readiness team, and his two delightful children. As Tal shared his personal story of October 7th and the ongoing challenges the kibbutz confronts, we remained mindful of what was suitable for the children to hear. It underscored our responsibility while working with teenagers in such trying times.
In a field adorned with Anemone flowers (the national flower of Israel), we met Lulu, the farmer, who proudly described how they not only cultivated the potatoes and carrots of his Kibbutz but also those of neighboring agricultural communities unable to access their fields during the war. He spoke with a sense of purpose that only a farmer can truly understand.
Next, we met Yuval, the teen coordinator of Kibbutz Dorot. We discussed collaborative activities between teens from the Kibbutz and American teens. One idea that emerged was to organize a fun activity for younger children known as Kayefet. The Kibbutz band is set to play in Jerusalem on Sunday, marking the beginning of our next shared adventure.
With Ester and Dalya, two mothers observing their children in the playground, we conversed about the importance of sustaining a sense of solidarity and meaningful connections between different segments of society, even beyond times of crisis.
The enthusiasm we encountered from everyone we met about our preparation for a Reform Jewish teen trip this summer was palpable. It felt as if we were announcing the arrival of long-lost relatives coming to visit.
Despite the day being long and challenging, it was also empowering and inspirational. We concluded the day with a profound sense of purpose, reaffirming our commitment to creating a safe, meaningful, and joyous summer. We left with a strong conviction that our teens are in for the summer of a lifetime.