The sun casts a shimmer of light upon my body and the warmth is suddenly tangible upon my face. My camp director defines this as the sunspot. On sunny mornings at camp, overlooking beautiful Lake Huron, my camp director instructs the kids to face the sun, let the warmth provide energy to their bodies and harness that energy to power the fun-filled day. I stare at this sunspot, soaking in as much energy as I can and then allow the light to open my eyes.
But this time, I am not at camp. I open my eyes to a view from a yacht on the Mediterranean Sea just off the Herziliya coast in Israel. I take in the warmth from the sun, similarly to how I do at camp, but this time I think to myself -I want to save this golden energy to power the incredible semester ahead of me.
My first day back in Israel on the Nachshon Project was spent on a yacht. The Rabbis took us for the ‘ultimate’ icebreaker by putting all the fellows on two teams to race the yachts down the Mediterranean Sea. Although the yachts were a little slower to race than originally intended, the outcome of the activity was successful in a different way than expected. Continue reading →
By Noam Spira
I’ve never really felt any connection to Tel Aviv. With the exception of the small area of Jaffa, I thought it has little, if any Jewish significance. Sure, it is a city of success in the economic and cultural sectors, but I never felt any deeper connection to the city the way I have felt many times before in many other Israeli cities. This is what I have felt for a long time, but I am not sure I still feel this way.
On our fourth day of the opening conference, the Nachshon Fellows headed for Tel Aviv with our tour guide, Jamie. The theme of the trip was Tel Aviv as the first Hebrew city. Throughout the tour, Jamie made the distinction between a Hebrew city and a Jewish city, being that many of the founders of Tel Aviv wanted little to do with religion, but felt that the Hebrew language was the ultimate unifier of the Jewish people. However, Jamie explained, the religious Jews believed that the ingathering of the Jewish exiles would only occur when God decided so, as in the coming of the messiah, and rejected the secular Jews’ migration to Israel.
Our first stop was a lookout of the city skyline from the outskirts of Jaffa. It was unbelievable to imagine that when the founders of Tel Aviv looked out from this vantage point all they saw was sand, the vision of a modern Hebrew city just a fantasy, while we were standing looking at a vibrant cosmopolitan powerhouse. If up until this point of the tour I was still skeptical about anything truly great happening in Tel Aviv, I finally reached a turning point. Continue reading →
Fairfax, VA B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp Virginia Commonwealth University
Aaron Berner is from Fairfax, Virginia and he is in a dual degree program at Virginia Commonwealth University studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s in Education. Aaron has been attending B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp for 12 consecutive summers. One of the most impactful experiences for him in camp was participating in, and then leading, the “Pioneer” program in which the rising 11th graders live in a self-sufficient tent village. This experience helped Aaron develop leadership skills, maturity, and a connection to Judaism. This past summer he served as Division Leader for the oldest campers, a job he will fill again this upcoming summer. Aaron has a true passion for working with teenagers, and in the future hopes to become a High School teacher. Outside of camp, he has been active in BBYO (Chapter President and VP of programming), in addition to working as an enrichment counselor at the local JCC “Before and After School” Program. This being his first time in Israel, Aaron is looking forward to exploring the important sites and getting a feel for what it’s really like to live in Israel. Israel and Judaism has inspired him by the way so many people from different backgrounds, belief systems, and parts of the world can come together and coexist. As a future educator, he hopes to learn how to encourage students to learn about other people, other ways of life, and other worldviews in order to bring people together, and garner understanding and empathy.
Westchester , New York SUNY Oneonta Ramah Day Camp in Nyack
Ari Friedman, from Westchester, NY, has attended Camp Ramah in the Berkshires as a camper for six years, and moved on to become a counselor for four years at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, most recently as “Sgan Rosh Edah of Tzeirim.” This upcoming summer he plans to staff at the inaugural summer of Ramah Northern California, where he will be in charge of ocean exploration and adventure sports, a lifeguard and a counselor. Growing up, Ari was an active member of his local chapter of USY and he attended the Nativ gap year program in Israel. Ari now attends SUNY Oneota, where he is studying Sociology and History. He is secretary at his campus Hillel and Vice President of AEPi. Ari is excited to see what new perspectives the Nachshon Project will give him for his future as a Jewish professional.
Ann Arbor, MI URJ Kutz Camp University of Michigan
At University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Jake Levine is studying International Studies. Jake also teaches at the Sunday School of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, and has led the 11th/12th grade seminar on Jewish leadership. He works throughout the year for NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) as well as for the Kutz Camp, where he spends his summers. Jake’s main role in camp is the Special Projects Coordinator. Judaism inspires Jake because it is the richest, most intentional, and most powerful way in which communal responsibility and collective action has come to exist in this world as a vehicle to help others and build community. Israel, as an outgrowth of Judaism, is the concretization of these ideals into a regulated state, and Jake is inspired by the way Israelis and the larger idea of a Jewish state have changed the world for the better, even amongst great struggle. Jake hopes to serve the Jewish community in two ways: helping people use Judaism as a way to navigate trying circumstances, and helping to ensure a vibrant Jewish future. He specifically hopes to work with Jewish youth as well as become a military chaplain.
Minneapolis, MN Herzl Camp University of Minnesota
Sophie Stillman, from Minneapolis, is a student at University of Minnesota. She is studying Strategic Communications and Political Science with minors in Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She is on the leadership team at her campus’ Hillel. Sophie attends Herzl Camp in Wisconsin, where she is the program director for 5th and 6th graders. She is inspired by the strength of the Jewish community, and Judaism’s underlying values of strength, community and perseverance which has kept the Jewish people alive despite adversity.
Long Island, NY Camp Ramah in the Berkshires The Ohio State University
Emily Rebenstock is originally from Long Island, New York, but currently studying Psychology at The Ohio State University, in Columbus. She has spent the past 11 summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and most recently was a counselor for the oldest campers, which was her favorite job in camp so far. While at school in Columbus, Emily works as a Teacher’s Aide in a local after school Hebrew School and she leads the children’s service on the High Holidays. Emily is involved in her campus Hillel regularly and is a member of Buckeyes for Israel, which is a group that promotes Israel education and advocacy on campus. Although she hasn’t yet decided how to incorporate Judaism into a lifelong profession, her Jewish experiences in camp have had an enormous impact on who she is today. Emily is excited to see how The Nachshon Project will encourage her to develop her leadership skills and inspire her even further!
Westchester, NY Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake SUNY at Albany
Jamie Spock is a junior at the University at Albany-SUNY where she is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Judaic studies and Hebrew. In the past she has served on the executive board of her campus’ Hillel as the Social Action chair. She is excited to be the first Nachshon Fellow representing Young Judaea! As a camper she attended CYJ Sprout Lake and Tel Yehudah. This will be her fourth summer as a staff member at Sprout Lake but her first as the merakezet (unit head) of “Ofarim” girls (7-9 year olds). She is very excited to have the opportunity to live and study in Israel. Some of her hobbies include traveling, cooking, and adding to her record collection. She hopes that the Nachshon Project will help her figure out a way to combine her love of Judaism, Israel, social action, and education.
Huntington, NY URJ Camp Eisner University of Delaware
Didi is active in Jewish life on her college campus at University of Delaware, where she served as the President of UD Hillel’s chapter of Challah for Hunger. Currently a junior at UD, she is studying Human Services. Throughout middle school and high school Didi was involved with volunteer work at her local synagogue in Huntington, NY, her hometown. In the summers Didi attends URJ Camp Eisner, where she has been a counselor for three summers and this summer will be part of Senior Staff. What Didi loves about Judaism is that that there is an instant connection between herself and other Jews she meets, and she especially loves this homey feeling she gets when spending time in Israel. She hopes to one day work as a Jewish educator so that she can instill a great love for Judaism and Israel in children.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Ramah Day Camp in Nyack University Of Central Florida
Sarah Jarvis, from Ft. Lauderdale, has been attending Ramah Nyack for many years. She has been at CIT, a counselor, a “sgan”, “Rosh Keif”, and “Rosh CIT”. Growing up, she was active in USY and Kadima throughout middle and high school. Sarah is currently attending the University of Central Florida, where she is majoring in Hospitality and Event Management. In the future, Sarah hopes to incorporate event planning into a career in her Jewish community. She is constantly inspired by the way the Jewish people come together in good and bad times.
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