Jonas Kannady, son of Rachel and Geoff Kannady, is a senior at White Station High School. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided him with a Teen Israel Experience grant to offset the costs of his BBYO program in Israel. All rising juniors and seniors are eligible for grants of up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Teen Israel Experience applications for Summer 2022 are now available online. Click here to learn more and apply.
By Jonas Kannady
First, I would like to start out by saying, thank you. I honestly would not have been able to go to Israel if I had not received Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund scholarship. Israel was by far one of the best experiences of my life.
From when I first arrived at the airport in Newark until I left Newark after the trip, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. During my time in Israel, I was able to have an experience not all Jewish teens have, let alone Jewish people have, which is just being in Israel. With that being said, it is an experience I will never forget.
The impact this trip had on me is everlasting. Israel gave me the experience to be able to connect with Jewish history I had been told about and heard stories about before I can remember. Being able to see these places in person was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This trip also gave me more connections with young Jewish teens. I was able to spend three amazing weeks in Israel with people who live in California to people who live in Florida and all in between. Some of the people have turned into my best friends, some of whom I still talk to every day.
Having the experience to walk down streets like Ben Yehuda Street, the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, along with seeing the beautiful country was amazing. One of my fondest memories while in Israel was when we stayed at a Kibbutz Menara, located in the upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border. While we stayed at the Kibbutz, we learned about life in the Kibbutz and witnessed it first-hand. While at the Kibbutz we heard amazing stories about growing up and living in the Kibbutz. Along with the Kibbutz experience, I visited the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip border, and experienced a jeep ride. Those experiences I saw and the threats I heard about were remarkable. Those experiences and visits honestly made me feel 1000% more connected to Israel which is more connected in those moments to Israel than I had ever been. The thought of Israel being gone from one of those neighboring states made me realize and appreciate Israel more than ever.
Witnessing the Holocaust Memorial was one of the most impactful things of all especially being able to learn more about the most tragic event in Jewish history. The one thing I remember the most from all the memorials is walking through the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem. Walking through the memorial and hearing the voice over the speaker saying name after name nonstop of the children killed during the Holocaust will forever resonate with me. Many of the names and ages of the children killed during the Holocaust were around the same age as my sisters which gives me goosebumps even now as I type this essay.
Overall, Israel gave me a forever experience that I will never forget. I am incredibly thankful to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my BBYO Israel summer experience possible.