Looking Back at the BEST. SUMMER. EVER

Posted on August 21, 2017

NCSYers from across Canada filled three buses— bus 9, 10, and 11—joining 8 other buses of NCSYers from the United States for a 4-week tour of Israel. Each bus had its own directors and advisors to lead the troupe and guide them throughout the grueling and action-packed summer that changed lives.

From Rabbi Josh Stein, TJJ Bus 9 Director

How can I describe the incredible experience of this past summer?  Just thinking about it brings me back to the first day of the trip at the airport, meeting all the teens and their parents, nerves and excitement filling the air, as our TJJ teens were about to embark on the Best. Summer. Ever.

What a remarkable trip it was! From day one, we jumped right into the action, traveling to the north of Israel, hiking, raft building, waters sports, taking a tour of a chocolate factory, just to name a few of the highlights!

Our teens really acclimated to the Israel spirit, leaving no stone unturned and eager to see what was in store for the next day.  From learning about our forefathers and how to walk in their footsteps, our students had the experience of their lives.

I cannot put into words the incredible feeling that I got when I saw each teen open their hearts as they faced the Kotel on Friday night at midnight. There is something so special sitting in the Kotel Plaza and helping the kids reconnect to their roots.  The teens had many special moments, to be sure; however, mine was having the privilege to take part in making a difference in the lives of our TJJers, who I have no doubt will carry this trip with them for the rest of their lives.

 

From Shlomo Mandel, TJJ Bus 10 Assistant Director

The Experience, the people, the learning, the land. You only really begin to digest everything that these powerful and inspiring 4 weeks had to offer a few weeks after you get home. It’s several weeks now and looking back at this amazing journey, I can say this—what started as a trip with 41 strangers ended as a trip with 41 brothers and sisters. The students, the staff, and, yes, even the bus driver, truly became a family, who grew together and were inspired together. What inspired me the most, however, were the students themselves: the student who decided to do that hike that was steep and rocky, that student who decided to buy a siddur so that he could pray and connect with his roots, that student who pushed herself to make new friends.

More than anything else, though, this amazing and life-changing trip is a testament to the power of the Jewish teenage spirit and what it is capable of.

Here’s to TJJ Bus10!

 

From JR (Jason Renard), TJJ Bus 11 Assistant Director

From the moment the TJJers on Bus 11 stepped foot in the land of Israel, our group changed. The group, which consisted of students in Montreal and Toronto, got to know each other seamlessly. As we begin our journey, the kids’ eyes opened in wonder as they perceived the distinct difference between the Canadian and Israeli landscapes.
Starting our trip off in the north of Israel was tremendous; the beautiful mountain ranges together with the unbelievable hikes and phenomenal weather made for a roaring beginning to the TJJ experience.
When we finally got to Jerusalem, both our hearts and minds were open, exploring the old city and hiking through the water tunnels that eventually reached the Western Wall. For the students who had never been there before, it was an experience like no other as they saw thousands of years of history laid out before their eyes. The experience was moving and joyful at once, bringing tears to our eyes.
We learned, laughed and even cried together. We hiked the Zevitan,  swam in the Mediterranean Sea, and strolled the streets of Jerusalem, and even woke up at four in the morning to see the sun rising over the mountains.
TJJ  was not just a trip nor a summer activity; it was a moving, and, for some, life-changing experience that will be remembered forever.

 

From CM (Chaya Miriam) Gerson, Director of TJJ A, together with her husband, Chaim Gerson

This past summer TJJA, an NCSY summer program for public school teens who are looking to engage in Israel advocacy, chessed (social action), and Torah learning, ran a day camp for the kids of Sderot. We got over 45 kids in attendance, the largest it has ever been! Prior to running the day camp, the NCSYers spent the day in Sderot, listening to a few residents about why they live there and learning about the camp’s impact on the children. Afterward, the NCSYers spent 2 days preparing and running an unbelievable camp for these children, gaining so much from giving back to their own communities and becoming more connected to the people of Israel.

From Marc Fein, title TJJ AP

 

Click on the video below to view an overview of the TJJ Best. Summer. Ever.