Yehuda Kahn: My Teen Israel Experience

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Yehuda and friends at the Kotel during the NCSY Kollel trip last summer.

Yehuda Kahn, son of Dr. Yosef and Talia Kahn, is a junior at the 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 cost of his NCSY Kollel Israel trip last summer. 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. Applications for Summer 2023 are now available online. To learn more and apply, click here.

I spent this past summer in Israel attending NCSY Kollel and had an amazing Israel experience. It is a beautiful culture with so many amazing landmarks. Israel is a great country for hiking because everything is so close together due to it being such a small country. During my trip, I went on many different hikes, such as the one in Ein Gedi, which was a beautiful water hike. Every 50 feet or so there is another lake that we would jump into, and it would be so refreshing.

Every Friday, the campers would all drive to the Machane Yehuda shuk (market) in Jerusalem. The kosher options were phenomenal. Food that is typically difficult to find kosher in Memphis, such as falafel, shawarma, and pizza, were readily available on the trip, which made it even more enjoyable. Israel is impressive since many American chains opened up in Jerusalem in a kosher version.  Pizza Hut or Big Apple Pizza are just some examples. I am sure some of you have heard about the famous Marzipan Bakery in the shuk. If you are ever in Jerusalem, you should try to go to the Marzipan Bakery and purchase some of their famous rugelach. There is no rugelach in America that compares to Marzipan rugelach in Israel.

 Every week there was one big tiyul (journey). Some of the tiyulim were hikes in great scenic sites, and others were attractions like the visit to the Blind Museum in Holon. Also, we met great Rabbis and visited a great Rabbi’s grave. Every day the campers went on one or two mini tiyulim to either the mall or to the Kotel or to some fun exciting place.

NCSY Kollel took us to the Kotel many times and it was an indescribable, beautiful and a very spiritual experience.

The learning in NCSY Kollel was amazing. I was in an amazing shiur (lesson) with a truly knowledgeable rabbi. We also had chaburas (small groups studying Torah) of about 4 to 5 kids with one madrich (counselor.) In chaburas we would learn and do fun activities together. Every time the whole camp goes somewhere, chaburas stayed together. My madrich was amazing and really taught us a lot and made the experience a lot better.

In NCSY Kollel I made many new friends and met amazing people throughout the entire six weeks. The kids that you are around determine how good the experience in Israel is going to be. Many nights I played pickup basketball with friends and would go to the canteen afterwards. We also had basketball leagues with about eight people on each team and 48 teams which encouraged everyone to play basketball and have a blast. I had an amazing team and we played very well together and made it all the way to the semifinals.

I thoroughly enjoyed my fun and spiritual Israel experience this summer. Thank you to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my NCSY Kollel trip possible.

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