Northern Israel and Shabbat on the Kibbutz

While traveling to northern Israel, we stopped along the Jordan Valley at a memorial to hear from one of our bus drivers, a retired Colonel in the Israeli army. He told of the three-year terrorism that occurred there in the late 1960’s and related other historical events that occurred. When asked if he still lived in the area, he said that he and his family will always live there.

The afternoon was filled with a great falafel lunch and swimming in the Kineret (the largest freshwater lake in Israel). We settled in at the Afik Kibbutz and really had a wonderful Shabbat here.

Our Friday night services were planned and will be led by Deena Notowich (Tennessee), Ruthie Perlman (South Carolina), and Jack Hirsh (Pennsylvania).

Our Shabbat morning service was led beautifully by Haley Ornstein (Connecticut), Molly Reich (New Jersey) and musically by Jack Hirsh (Pennsylvania). It was really special moment when four of our teens each became a Bat Mitzvah. Mazel tov to Cammy Resnick (Texas), Lexie Weiss (New Jersey), Kathryn Kleiner (Oklahoma) and Megan McCorquodale (New Mexico). Special thank you to the following Pennsylvania teens who read the Haftorah: Eli Weikert, Noah Woolf, and Kaela Shore. We also appreciate our staff, Ira Dounn and Jonah Potasznik, for inspiring the girls and providing them the necessary guidance along the way. (We are uploading pictures and I will include them in my e-mail tomorrow).

Each girl wrote and shared their feelings and some of their friends spoke in their honor: Shira Hovav (Texas) for Cammy, Brielle Shapiro and Alli Pollack (both New Jersey) for Lexi, Rachael Brodsky (Oklahoma) for Kathryn andAriel Stern (Illinois) for Megan. Additionally, we received special messages from their families and Ellen Goldstein (staff) and I read the messages to each girl. The afternoon was a relaxing one, with teens resting, sunning , playing sports, a Zumba class and a meaningful discussion about G-d. A resident from the kibbutz spoke to the group about the kibbutz and her 30 years living here.

A special Havdallah service with reflections about our journey began our evening, followed by a disco boat cruise in Tiberias.

Some thoughts from our teens …

“Being able to celebrate Shabbat in Israel really ties together everything I have learned in the last few years, especially everything we all learned in Poland. I am so lucky to be able to have spent the last two weeks with amazing people and this is most definitely a trip I will never forget.” – Haley Ornstein (Connecticut)

“This is my first time in Israel, and it has been everything I imagined and more. I don’t want to leave.” – Rachel Varon (Virginia)

“March of the Living was a great opportunity to see Israel for the first time. Pairing it with the first week in Poland and all my closest friends made for an instant connection to the homeland.” – Ellie Glass (North Carolina)

“It’s been so nice to be here. I never thought I’d be here today. It’s so surreal that I’m actually in my homeland.” – Evan Spitzer (Texas)

“Israel means home to me.” – Rachel Sperling (New Jersey)

“I’ve loved getting to experience firsthand, all of the things Israel offers, that I’ve only gotten to see in Pictures.” – Jessie Sureck (Texas)

“I’m so happy to be part of this journey for March of the Living. Afterall, what is the March of the Living? It is to remember the past.” – Linda Schwab, Survivor

“To me, being here in Israel is truly feeling at home, especially because I’m here with BBYO. Being surrounded by people who share the same values as me, is a feeling like no other.” Brandon Alter (Maryland) “Israel is a special place, and this trip has provided me with incredible memories that I will carry with me forever. I’ve loved spending time with old and new friends while experiencing Israeli culture, holidays and history. When we fly home on Monday, I know that I will be returning a better and stronger Jewish woman.” – Marni Rein (Georgia)

“Live for yourself and you live in vain. Live for others and you live forever. The March of the Living exemplifies that the Jewish people are a resilient and selfless people. Never have I felt more comfortable anywhere than I do in Israel. This is my home, this is my tribe.” – Jake Weiner (New York)

“Being a part of March of the Living has changed my connection to the state of Israel and my Judaism as a whole. The juxtaposition of walking the campgrounds of Auschwitz and just days later, celebrating in the streets of Jerusalem, has solidified a deeper personal connection and pride with my Homeland.” – Barrett Dover(Texas)

“Being in Israel is so surreal. I’ve had the time of my life on this trip and I would do it all again if I could!” – Brandon Rock (Ohio)

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