Natalie Mashinsky

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.

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Volunteer Federation callers from left to right: Nathan Greenbaum, Ethan Vanderwalde, Natalie Mashinsky, Talya Mendelson, Brooke Sanderson, and Rafi Goldkin.

“It was nerve-racking at first but once I got the hang of it, it was amazing to be able to help and give back to my community,” said Brooke Sanderson, an NCSY teen volunteer and burgeoning Jewish community lay leader, who recently had her first experience in fundraising thanks to Memphis Jewish Federation. “It was a good feeling to be able to raise money for Federation’s Annual Community Campaign, especially knowing that many of the NCSY programs happen because of it.”

On Sunday, October 2, six teens from Memphis’ NCSY chapter visited the Federation office to make calls urging donors to support the 2023 Annual Community Campaign. Thanks to their combined effort, 62 donors pledged gifts that afternoon and more than $9,000 was raised, with more than half of the gifts increasing over last year.

“Calling members of the Jewish community was a learning opportunity for me and I learned a lot of great skills,” said teen Nathan Greenbaum. “I am thankful to Memphis Jewish Federation for everything that they do for our community.”

Memphis NCSY receives grant support from Federation’s Annual Community Campaign, empowering the organization to maintain high-level teen programming through its local Memphis chapter and through its Jewish Student Union, which creates Jewish culture clubs in public and private schools in and around Memphis.

“We want to make sure our whole entire community knows what we do at Memphis Jewish Federation, and it’s a great place to start with teenagers to let them understand how connected our community is,” said Judy Lansky, Memphis Jewish Federation’s Director of Development. “Before we taught the teens how to solicit, we talked about what Memphis Jewish Federation does locally and globally to support Jewish families. We sat down and had all the teenagers raise their hand for the different ways that they had been involved with Federation, whether it was with NCSY, Margolin Hebrew Academy, JCC sports, BBYO, summer camp connections, etc. They were all connected to Federation in many ways that they didn’t previously realize. Also, a lot of the teenagers participate in B’nai Tzedek, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis Teen Philanthropy initiative.”

“I was nervous to call people I didn’t know from my community, but this experience has really made me grow,” said teen caller Natalie Mashinsky. “I feel more comfortable calling people now because of this experience. I am so happy that I had the chance to speak to both people I knew and some that I didn’t know. I feel more connected to my community now and appreciative that I got to help Federation.”

“It was great to bring in the teens and see them give back to the community that gives to their programming,” said Rebecca Brown, a Memphis NCSY staff member. “Their excitement and eagerness to raise money for NCSY and the Memphis Jewish Federation was so inspiring to see. They are looking forward to the next call-a-thon!”

NCSY is a world-recognized organization that has played a pivotal role in the lives of Jewish teens across the globe. With the vision of Harold and Enid Boxer, of blessed memory, the Orthodox Union founded NCSY in 1954 to provide Jewish teens with an opportunity to build a strong connection to their Jewish roots through inspiration and leadership skills.

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