Spending the summer on NCSY JOLT Israel was truly life-changing for me. There were so many incredible aspects of this once in a lifetime trip to Israel. This was not my first trip to Israel, but it was by far the best way to experience Israel! NCSY and the Federation’s Lemsky grant gave me this opportunity to grow as a Jewish teen leader as well as give back to Israeli children.
The mission of NCSY JOLT Israel is to tour Israel in a unique way that allows for each of us to take advantage of the cultural and religious experiences that Israel has to offer, as well as work together to develop our team-building and leadership skills. One unique experience we had was herding sheep in groups. Several of us worked together to learn how to herd sheep in the most efficient way. It brought to mind for me the times of our ancestors, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, as we worked in small groups implementing old-fashioned techniques to herd the sheep. It took communication, teamwork, and a lot of mess to figure out how to do it. I grew very close with the 59 other teens who joined me on the trip! This was just one example of an activity we experienced during our amazing five weeks in Israel.
The highlight of the trip was running a ten-day camp at Zichron Menachem. The campers were all siblings of children fighting illnesses. Often, the siblings do not have the typical fun summers that Israeli children experience, because their parents are busy caring for a sick child. The camp celebrates these siblings and allows them to shine. As part of the program, we planned activities for the campers and made the experience as special as possible for them. I especially loved using all the Hebrew I have learned at Margolin Hebrew Academy to communicate with the children in the camp. Many of the other participants in JOLT Israel did not have strong Hebrew communication skills and they stayed mostly with the children who could speak English. I loved being able to talk with all the children and help them feel as special as I could!
This experience in Israel helped me grow as a person and focus on how I can give back to others and learn about my role on teams. But most importantly, I experienced Israel with my friends. Memories like climbing Masada at 5 am in a group of 60 people and dancing at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av with hundreds of American teens on NCSY trips will stay with me for many years to come.
Jason Schubert, the son of Charna and Eric Schubert, is an 11th grade student at Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided him with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the costs of his Summer 2019 NCSY program in Israel. All rising juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants of up to $3000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Teen Israel Experience applications for summer 2020 will become available at www.jcpmemphis.smapply.org.