People

Nadav Weiss: My Teen Israel Experience

by JCPConnect-
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Nadav Weiss, son of Jessica and Dr. Daniel Weiss, is a senior at Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys (pictured davening at sunrise in Israel). Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemksy Endowment Fund provided him with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the cost of his NCSY Israel ID program in Israel. All rising high school juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. To learn more and apply, please go to: www.jcpmemphis.org/lemsky-endowment-fund.

By: Nadav Weiss

My NCSY Israel ID Summer experience was one that I will never forget. With everything bad that happened this past year due to COVID, this trip really tipped the scale towards the good.

First, it was my first time in Israel. While I did not expect it to be during these times, I am glad that it was. Second, it was an awesome program with amazing people. I made so many friendships along the way with people who saw Israel the same way I did. During the trip there were many meaningful moments that really made me feel at home and were the highlights of my trip.

The most memorable and meaningful experiences were my trips to the Kotel. I went to the Kotel a total of four times and each one had a distinct perspective for me. The first time we went, I was blindfolded and led to a balcony to take in the sight for the first time; it was truly breathtaking. After my whole life of wanting to be in Israel, wanting to be at the Kotel, I was finally there. When visiting the Kotel for the first time it is customary to rip your shirt and I still have the ripped shirt because looking at it makes me want to go back more.

Nadav is pictured during one of his many visits to the Kotel.

The second time we went was on a Friday night, and the atmosphere and ruach (spirit) of Kabbalat Shabbat was unforgettable and truly spectacular. My third trip to the Kotel was during the fast of the 9th of Av. Singing and mourning with Jews from Israel and all around the world really made my connections to the Jewish people stronger and more meaningful. My last trip to the Kotel was a goodbye one and it really hit me because after that we would be heading back to America. While it was sad to say goodbye to this life changing sight, it was not a goodbye forever, and I promised that I would return next year for a yeshiva gap-year.

Also meaningful were the nature activities that we got to do along with exploring and traversing the land. During the last week of the trip we woke up at 4 a.m. and did a sunrise hike to the top of one of the mountains. Once we reached the top, we took out our tefillin and put them on to daven. When the sun started to rise, I managed to get a beautiful picture of me davening with the sun rising in the background. I keep that picture close to my heart.

Another nature activity was sleeping in Bedouin tents. Just sleeping outside with nature while looking up at the stars was breathtaking and an experience I will never forget. Israel is made up of so many different environments and the uniqueness that each one has really represents the beauty that Hashem (G-d) saw in this land.

My Israel trip was the best summer I have ever had. In the end, the beauty of the land and the meaningful experiences along the way connected me more with the land of Israel. I cannot wait to go back to revisit places and to find new ones with ever new experiences.

I am grateful to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my summer experience in Israel possible.

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