ILSI: Leadership, Travel, & Friends

Hello from the Holy Land and from the ILSI community. 

On our opening night 99 teens and 13 staff from 12 countries, discussed how Israel, is not only going to be our home but our classroom for the next three weeks. On ILSI, we are going to explore this vibrant country, understand some of its complexities and use our time to refine our leadership. Our experience will be focused on us as individuals. Most of us have had practical skills training, but on ILSI we define our personal priorities which we use to guide the types of leaders we want to be. With 3,000 years of historical leaders and powerful narratives, Israel is the perfect landscape for us.

Our first day was in the Old City of Jerusalem, where we find ancient ruins, a bustling city and important sights in our shared history. We saw the walls of Jerusalem that have seen many wars, remains of a “main street” from the Roman period and King David’s supposed palace. We journeyed underground to tunnels that were used in a siege of the city of Jerusalem – the story of which you can find in the bible. These tunnels are flooded from a natural spring, which was refreshing during the hot day. After drying off, we walked to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites for our Jewish people. The Western Wall, or Kotel, is a remaining support wall of the foundation for the Jewish Temple. Today, on the spot where the Temple stood, the Temple Mount, now stands the Dome of Rock. Across from the dome is the Al Aqsa Mosque, which is mentioned in the Qur’an. We prepared notes, walked to the Western Wall and had personal prayer and reflection time. Teens and staff are busy prepping for our first Shabbat together. 

Prior to that, we will meet our mishpachot, our “families”, for the first time! These reflection groups are where we will review the day. Centered around our values and questions, this is where we start to refine our leadership. This is where we are challenged to think critically about our presumptions, values and discover our drives and guiding principles. We have much more to share in the coming weeks and we cannot wait to share them with you. 

Quotes from our participants:

My favorite part of the trip is being with my friends who feel like brothers and sisters in what seems like our home; the holy land, Israel. – Adam Weintraub

ILSI has been such an awesome experience so far! Exploring Israel with my close friends and new ones has been great and the City of David tunnels were so interesting and fun to walk through. – Kian Roy 

It has already been the most amazing time. It’s my first time in Israel, and the feeling of being here can’t be put into words. The Western Wall was so powerful, and I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful place! – Ellie Hornick

This trip has been so fun! It’s so awesome to meet new people and experience Israel for the first time simultaneously -Jordyn Loring 

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