Natalie and her cousin Shayna in Tiberius.
Natalie Mashinsky, daughter of Deena Thomas and Alex Mashinsky, is a senior at the Goldie Margolin School for Girls. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided her with a Teen Israel Experience grant to offset the costs of her NCSY Euro Israel 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 2023 are open click here to learn more.
By Natalie Mashinsky
This summer I had the privilege of going on NCSY’s summer program Euro Israel. This trip consisted of eighty-six teens flying to Switzerland, driving to Italy, and then flying to Israel.
I could easily say this was the best summer ever. When we flew into Switzerland and started the drive to Italy, I saw parts of Switzerland I never thought I would see. We also drove through the French Alps which was even more awesome. When we finally reached Italy, it was a dream come true. My entire life I had wanted to travel to Italy, so this was a perfect program for me.
We went through the major cities in Italy and stayed there for a week and a half. Shabbos was amazing and we got to see the first ghetto established in World War II.
Italy was amazing but Israel was even better. I never felt much of a connection to the land of Israel until this summer. I even talked to my advisors about my guilt, and they said, “once you get there you will feel it,” and they were right. We covered all of Israel going from Tzfat to Eilat. We started in Teveria (Tiberias) and that was my favorite place. I loved the water there and the layout of the city. It was so beautiful to me I will never forget it. We stayed there for Shabbos and then drove north to Tzfat. I liked the cooler air in Tzfat and how beautiful the stone streets were. From there we went to Haifa and went surfing. This was my second time surfing, and I did not do so well. But I still made amazing memories with my friends as we all fell off our boards.
The next event was Yom NCSY (an annual event with an evening concert that marks the extended NCSY community spending the summer in Israel) and traveling in Tel Aviv. This was my first Yom NCSY, and it was one of the best days of my life. I saw other friends on other programs and got to see all of these Jewish kids come together. In the final weeks of the trip, we went south down to Eilat. The heat there was unbearable, but we got through it as we partied on a boat.
Finally on our last stop we stayed in Jerusalem. This was another one of my favorite parts of the trip. Learning about the history and even walking through the sites gave me an understanding of my heritage that I didn’t have before. After this program my feelings changed, and I love Israel more than anything now. Traveling throughout the land to different cities and different histories opened up my eyes to how important the land is. I also met the most amazing people on this program. I have made friendships I know will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful for being able to go on this journey.
Thank you to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my NSCY Euro Israel trip possible.