Spending time in Israel is always an invigorating experience filled with lessons and inspiration! Recently, I had the privilege of spending some time in Israel together with Rabbi Josh Stein, NCSY Director of Thornhill, to visit more than 40 NCSY teens and alumni who have chosen to spend time in Israel learning in a yeshiva or other educational program. Some of them have been there for a few months; others for several years. What they all had in common was having gained from their experience a sense of growth, maturity, purpose, and identity.
Our trip culminated in a Shabbaton in Jerusalem. We spent an incredible Friday night together, during which the students shared what they were grateful for and what they learned from their experience in Israel. Their passion and thirst to make their time in Israel a time for growth was simply inspiring. As the candle light of havdallah brought the waning hours of Shabbat to a close, the students had a hard time letting go. Whatever role NCSY has had in their journey toward cultivating a stronger Jewish identity gives me a great sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that our work, bolstered by the efforts of an amazing staff of dedicated individuals, is bearing beautiful fruit.