Our Journey in Israel - from Solemn Remembrance to Joyful Celebration
Posted on 05/05/2014 @ 08:13 PM
During the past two days, the BBYO National Teen Delegation has gained a real understanding of Israel's culture, history and challenges.
Yesterday our day began with a tour of the Atlit Detainee and Detention Camp, established by the British Mandate for Palestine in the 1930s. The Atlit "Illegal" Immigrant Detention Camp tells the story of the struggle of Jews fleeing Europe (Ma'apilim) from Nazi persecution and death, trying to reach British-controlled Palestine, only to be incarcerated in camps similar in appearance to the Nazi camps of Europe. In October 1945, a daring military operation freed the 208 detainees. On the site, the teens toured a recently purchased ship, similar in size and appearance to those used to transport immigrants to Israel, the notorious disinfection facility, a model of the original camp, restored barracks, a computerized information database and more.
Later in the day, we visited the Beit Ambusa Ethiopian House in Ramleh where we learned about the Ethiopians and their lives here in Israel. They also taught the teens a dance and fed us a traditional snack consisting of red beans and fava beans.
Last night we joined Israelis in observing Yom Hazikaron, Israel's National Day of Remembrance for those who have fallen in battle or to terrorism. We attended a solemn program at the Latrun army base and heard about the lives of five young adults who had died. The teens were visibly moved by the program, which also included musical interludes, and what Israelis have endured. Everyone stood in total silence as the two minute memorial siren rang throughout the country.
"Seeing the ceremony at Latrun was very moving and made me realize the reality of what people our age are doing right here in Israel," Lydia Safir said.
"The Yom Hazikaron ceremony at Latrun was an amazing experience to see how Israel honors the fallen soldiers and their lives and their commitment to serving our homeland," Tracey Katz added.
Today, we began our tour of the Old City and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, as well as a cave experience. At 11:00AM, we stood when the two-minute memorial siren rang, again, watching traffic come to a standstill and drivers get out of their cars to standing in respect along with pedestrians. The highlight of the day was visiting the Western Wall, conducting a joint service and then proceeding to the separated men/women praying areas.
The teens found this experience extremely moving.
"As I touched the Western Wall, I felt such a powerful connection to Judaism that I have been looking for throughout the time," Melissa Mahon said.
Rachel Denenberg added, "It was powerful to stand and pray for all fallen soldiers with hundreds of other people in front of the Western Wall."
"Going to the Western Wall gave me an unexpected and overwhelming feeling of freedom, power and faith," Olivia Reznik reflected.
As the day turned into night, we celebrated Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'atzmaut. housands were in the street cheering and dancing in a mardi-gras like atmosphere.
"I have never seen such pride in a country before," Sydney Gass said. "Israel's birthday made me realize how home I truly am."
"Yom Ha'atzmaut on Ben Yehudah Street was like nothing I have seen before," Alyssa Katz said. "It was a celebration of Jewish and Israeli pride."
Jamie Newman added, "Dancing and celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut in Jerusalem made me so proud to call Israel my home."
"The past two days served as a microcosm for the entire trip," Josh Freeman said. "Yesterday at the Yom Hazikaron ceremony, we experienced a sadness like no other, as the day serves as Israel's most somber day; and then today, we celebrated Israel's freedom in the most amazing way possible on Ben Yehudah Street. The past two days have shown me how important it is to have Israel as my homeland."
"These past 24 hours in Jerusalem have been a roller coaster of emotions," Jeff Kahn said. "From experiencing an incredibly moving ceremony for fallen IDF soldiers to moving into celebrating the beginning of Yom Ha'atzmaut on Ben Yehudah Street. It shows the power of the Jewish and Israeli people and how we can move from a time of deep sadness into finding a way to celebrate our peoplehood."
The teens are experiencing so much and repeatedly share their feelings and utter joy at being here in Israel.
"This has been the best experience of my life and the friends I have made are some of the greatest people I have ever met," Hannah Dalsheim said. "I've never felt so grateful for being somewhere in my life."
"I found my faith in God today," Josh Zack added.
Andrea Sklar and Ariana Rothman commented, "The Kehillah created on the March of the Living is one that cannot be replicated anywhere else."
"Nothing in the world beats Israel," Michael Vivier stated. "From walking in the streets of the Old City, to attending a memorial service on Yom Hazikaron, to dancing the night away on Ben Yehudah Street, the sheer pride that each Jew and Israeli feels in the homeland is incredible."
Tomorrow, we visit Mount Herzel to learn about the special people in our history who are buried there, along with all the other fallen soldiers and dignitaries. And then, we join all the March of the Living delegations from around the world in celebration and another march from the center square of Jerusalem to the Western Wall. There will be music and dancing and guest speakers. The day will culminate with a mega event at Latrun celebrating everyone who participated in the March of the Living - songs, dancing, presentations and unbelievable fireworks!!!
Beginning our Israel Journey: Masada, Dead Sea, and Tsfat
Posted on 05/04/2014 @ 08:26 PM
We have been through a lot the last few days and coming out of the darkness of the Holocaust in Poland to the Hope and Pride of Israel has been a real journey for all of us. It has been amazing how much we were able to accomplish in such a short time!
Our arrival in Israel was met with cheers and excitement, particularly from those who were in Israel for the first time. Heading straight for Masada, the first-timers were anxious, but were supported and applauded for making it up and down the mountain. Learning the history and participating in a morning service made it even more inspiring for us and we were so proud of everyone, many who faced the challenge and succeeded in such a great way.
Masada is a rugged, natural fortress of majestic beauty in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of the Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army (73 A.D.). It was built as a palace complex by King Herod the Great, King of Judaea. The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works, surviving to the present day.
"On top of Masada is where I felt my connection between myself and Israel grow," Eve Sorkin said. "We did a morning service and I have never felt more pride as a Jewish teen."
Only moments after the Masada climb, we drove to the Dead Sea for relaxation, fun and sun! The teens enjoyed rubbing the mud on their bodies and floating in the water. Masada and the Dead Sea was a great introduction to the beauty of Israel.
"The Dead Sea was a totally unique experience, covering yourself in the mud and floating effortlessly in the water," Bruce Dennis reflected. "It will be something I will make sure that my kids do. Hopefully, they won't get water in their eyes."
Our second day, we toured the religious city of Tsfat with its curving roads intertwined with synagogues, artisans and wonderful food kiosks. Visiting the synagogues and hearing the stories about each inspired us. How lucky we were to visit Avram, a local artist and philosopher. We were mesmerized by him and his art and how it connects to Kabbalah.
Tsfat (Safed) is a city in the northern district of Israel, located at an elevation of 900 meters. It is the highest city on the Galilee and in Israel. Since the 16th century, Tsfat is considered one of Judaism's four holy cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias. Since that time, the city has remained a center of Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism).
"I was waiting for my connection with Israel, and I found it in Tsfat," Cassie Koplow said.
There is nothing like Shabbat in Israel. We walked to the beach for a sunset service on Friday night, led by Michael Vivier, Ryan Dishell and Sam Perlen, and later everyone joined in singing to celebrate being in Israel. Our morning service was on the lawn of our guest house and we had two interactive sessions to discuss various topics on Israel and on Identity. The afternoon was spent with sunbathing, sports, more time at the beach and enjoying time relaxing. Our Havdallah service concluded with more singing and then we drove to the town of Akko for a disco boat ride with music and dance.
"I felt at home, as I sang my favorite prayers sitting on the beach in Israel, celebrating Shabbat with my new best friends," Jillian Lindenberg said.
Bonding in Israel
Posted on 05/02/2014 @ 03:57 PM
The BBYO National Teen Delegation continues to bond over shared experiences from Poland. In Israel, they are enjoying a celebration of vibrant Jewish life. Check out these photos of the teens hiking up Masada, floating in the Dead Sea and exploring the Tzfat artist colony!
Celebrating Israel at the top of Masada
Enjoying the view from the top of Masada
Group bonding on Masada
Floating in the Dead Sea
Exploring the Tzfat artist colony
From Poland to Israel
Posted on 04/30/2014 @ 07:00 PM
After nearly a week in Poland, the BBYO National Teen Delegation is on its way to Israel!
Before leaving for Israel, the teens spent the day in Warsaw. A highlight was helping to clean up the Jewish Cemetery of Warsaw - one of the very few to have survived World War II. The Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.
Founded in 1806, the cemetery consists of 83 acres and contains more than 200,000 marked graves as well as mass graves of victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Many of these graves and crypts are overgrown, having been abandoned after the German invasion of Poland and subsequent Holocaust. Although the cemetery was closed down during World War II, after the war it was reopened and a small portion of it remains active, serving Warsaw's small remaining Jewish population.
Upon their arrival in Israel, the teens will enjoy an early morning hike up Masada via the Roman Ramp and tour the desert mountaintop fortress. They'll also enjoy swimming under the desert waterfalls at Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and floating in the Dead Sea.
Our Day at Majdanek
Posted on 04/29/2014 @ 09:12 PM
After an emotional two days visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau and then participating in the March of the Living, BBYO's National Teen Delegation spent a meaningful day in Majdanek. For Michael Hirsh, "this experience has allowed me to feel feelings that I have never felt before."
Today, Majdanek is a chilling reminder of what transpired in the Holocaust. The teens walked through the gas chambers and crematorium and seeing the blue residue from the gas and scratch marks on the walls was when reality really set in for many of them.
"As my fingertips brushed against the walls of the gas chamber, I could feel the energy of my ancestors seeping through my veins," Sophie Levy said.
Majdanek is one of the six death camps built by the German/Nazi occupation forces and the SS in occupied Poland, located in the city limits of Lublin, Poland. The camp's official purpose was to destroy enemies of the Third Reich, help carry out the extermination of the Jews and to take part in the deportations and "resettlement" of Poles. Originally a POW camp for Soviet prisoners, camp authorities started using Zyklon B gas to murder prisoners there, and the camp continued to serve that purpose until it was liberated by the Soviet army in July 1944.
Among all the death camps, Majdanek is the best preserved and could be in full operation within 48 hours. The number of victims is estimated to be 78,000, including 61,000 Jews, 12,000 Poles and 5,000 Soviet prisoners of war. Majdanek covered 667 acres of land and housed 45,000 prisoners at one time, with the plan to expand to house 250,000 prisoners (which never happened). More than 500,000 people of 54 different nationalities and 28 countries were sent through Majdanek, including U.S. soldiers.
The experience has been meaningful and emotional for all involved. "From the first step into Auschwitz to the last step in Majdanek, the whole experience has been very humbling, and lots of other emotions that could fill up multiple pages if I wrote them down," Ben Sass reflected.
Seventeen tons of ashes are openly displayed in a Mausoleum at Majdanek. The seventeen tons of ashes is the equivalent of 68,000 bodies. The ashes were found in barrels during the camp's liberation and were to be sent to Germany to be used as fertilizer. Instead, the ashes are permanently memorialized and honored in a spectacular way.
A bathtub in the crematorium remains in its exact place, for the commandant of the camp who bathed there among the ovens because it was the warmest place in camp. Another terrible sight was the rolling hills containing the remains of 48,000 bodies, the result of a killing massacre by the SS as a retaliation for the uprising that occurred in the Sobibor camp.
At the end of a long day, the teens reflected upon their experience. Jamie Newman said, "It's impossible to wrap my head around the six million and all of the terrible things that happened at these camps."
Olivia Resnik added, "Never have I been so devastated by what's around me and what happened, yet, proud of my people."
"Hearing stories from my peers and true survivors is inspiring, but, physically being in the camps is a life changing experience that will remain in my heart forever, as I spread what I learned about the Holocaust to generations to come," Jillian Lindenburg said.
"Today at Majdanek I saw family photos of the victims at that death camp," Laney Sheffel said. "Seeing those photos that greatly resembled my own family photos truly humanized and solidified my perspective of the Shoah."
While it has been difficult for some of the teens, it is inspiring to see the teens supporting each other. In addition, Trudy Album, a Holocaust survivor who has been accompanying the group during this difficult week, has served as a source of inspiration. "The survivors gave me the strength to continue today when I couldn't do it on my own," Hailey Wilson said.
Rachel Rickman sums up what many teens are feeling: "To experience what I have so far has changed me for the better."
Yom HaShoah - The Day We March
Posted on 04/28/2014 @ 07:00 PM
Today we observed Yom HaShoah, established in 1951 by the Knesset (Parliament) in the state of Israel to be world Jewry's annual remembrance day for the victims of the Holocaust. The day coincides with the date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This is one of only a few official days that was added to the Jewish calendar in more than 2000 years.
It is so fitting that the March of the Living is held at this time each year. With 10,000 people representing 40 countries, the impact and visual was incredible - Jewish people gathering from different countries, cultures and languages, secular and religious, and every level of religious observance, uniting to share in this memorable and impactful Jewish experience. Teens draped in Israeli flags and others waving theirs, we knew that they were doing something very profound.
It was a great moment of pride for our group to walk together representing America and Canada with our BBYO banner held high - the same walk that so many Jewish victims walked unknowingly to their deaths. The "march" began in Auschwitz with the sounding of the shofar and walking under the infamous gate, "Arbeit Mach Frei" (Work will set you free). During the two kilometer walk, there is a point where everyone crosses over a bridge and the view is a breathtaking sight - in front and behind us, we could see the multitude of delegations wearing their blue "March of the Living" jackets and walking in solidarity.
As we approached the famous entrance into Birkenau, teens began lighting candles and placing messages written on wooden placards along the railroad tracks: "In memory of the six million" and "Never Forget," to name a few. Inside the camp and past all the barracks, amidst the ruins, a ceremony was held in honor and memory of the Hungarian Jews who lost their lives. The program included solemn music and stirring speeches from survivors and dignitaries, plus an array of videos playing on huge screens, recognizing Hannah Szenes and Raoul Wallenberg for their heroic efforts to help save Jews. There was the beautiful lighting of six massive torches to represent the six million of our people who perished, and the most inspiring moment was when the thousands of us stood and sang Hatikvah (the Israel National Anthem) together as one strong, loud voice.
Reflections from the March of the Living
Posted on 04/28/2014 @ 06:00 PM
"Nothing has empowered me more than walking out of Auschwitz. Thank you BBYO." - Etelka Ziegler Hazen, Toronto
"I think it's absolutely absurd to think that 10,000 of us marched into Auschwitz II today and were able to leave. We were standing in a place that, when it was fully functional, could exterminate twice as many people IN ONE DAY! It's absolutely flooring." - Alex Schwartz, New York
"Today I walked with thousands out of Auschwitz and into Birkenau, proudly waving an Israeli flag, epitomizing hope in a place where people used to doubt the existence of hope at all."- Marlee Hirsch, New Jersey
"I refuse to sit, but, not just for my beliefs. I refuse to relax in a place where no one got to rest, and so I stand." - Kyle Glassman
"I don't think I've ever experienced so many unexplainable things over such a short period of time. We all know what we're seeing and understand what it means, but it has so much more significance than what I think any of us can fathom. But, I know that once we all grasp that, we'll really realize what an incredible trip this is."- Alyse Weinstein, Ohio
"Today, the Hungarian president called Auschwitz-Birkenau the largest cemetery of Hungarian Jews. Looking back at the plaques that 10,000 people wrote in honor of the six million people who perished at the hands of the Nazis looked like little gravestones in honor of all those who perished in the camps. It gave me chills." - Hannah Sprung, Wisconsin
Reflections from Auschwitz
Posted on 04/27/2014 @ 09:00 PM
"I'm not sure what to expect for the next week and a half, but, these first few days have shown me that regardless of what I go through and see, everyone will be there for each other. We are together as one." - Zach Goland, New Jersey
"I still can't process the fact that I'm in Poland, a place where part of the genocide of Jews took place. However, being a Jew visiting Poland today makes a bold statement. U.S. Jews are still alive and thrive." - Eric Zeiri
"Being able to see it makes learning it have more meaning." - Danny Trompeter, Pittsburgh
"There are no words to describe my experience in Auschwitz today. In any given instant, I mourned for the tragedy, gave thanks for the blessing that is the State of Israel, and simply gave in to an overflowing emotion I cannot name. I cried. I cried a lot." - Itai Almor, South Carolina
A Solemn Experience in Auschwitz
Posted on 04/27/2014 @ 08:00 PM
Our day began with first driving by a remnant of the Cracow Ghetto wall, then traveling nearby to view the entrance to Shindler's Factory. We also drove to the site of the Plaszow concentration labor camp and Trudy Album, a Holocaust survivor, told of the time she spent in that camp. The camp was plowed under when liberated and all that remains is an architectural monument memorializing the people who worked and died there.
Our morning continued with an hour and a half drive to the Auschwitz complex.
Auschwitz was the largest Nazi extermination and concentration camp, about 37 miles from Cracow. One-sixth of all the Jews murdered by the Nazis were gassed at Auschwitz. The camp was established in April 1940 from existing army barracks. There were three main camps and 45 smaller sub camps. Auschwitz I held mostly political prisoners and criminals. An experimental gas chamber and crematorium were there, but most of the killing was done at Auschwitz II (Birkenau) from 1941-44. This was where the infamous Dr. Mengele would make his selections - a wave to the right meant death and a wave to the left meant slave labor. Only 10 percent of each transport was not killed immediately. Auschwitz III and the area sub camps were used primarily for slave labor. There was an uprising in October 1944, with the victims killing several SS men and setting fire to one of the crematoriums; 600 fled, but most did not survive. Gassing ceased in the camp and by the end of 1944, two and a half million had died there from disease, starvation, overwork, torture, gas, or were shot, hanged or injected with lethal drugs to the heart. Of all those sent to Auschwitz, only one percent survived. When the Soviets entered the camp in January 1945, they discovered more than 800,000 dresses, 348,000 men's suits, 38,000 pairs of men's shoes, more than 5,000 women's pairs of shoes and 7,000 kilograms of human hair. 7650 sick and exhausted victims were saved.
Today Auschwitz is very museum-like with numerous exhibits in the original buildings. On display are actual belongings from the victims who were transported there - suitcases bearing their Jewish names, Talits, glasses, a room of their shoes and another full of hair. Standing in the gas chamber and the crematorium was when reality set in for everyone and the importance of this trip.
Continuing on to Birkenau, we gathered in a barrack to hear Trudy's story of her youth, her family and her Holocaust experiences. She is truly an amazing woman and an inspiration to all who meet her. The teens are so kind and protective of her, all wanting to hold her hand when we walk great distances. Those special moments with Trudy are highlights of the trip each year.
To conclude our time there, the teens from Bus 1 led a ceremony of special poems, readings and song, as well as the Mourner's Kaddish and Hatikvah.
Shabbat in Cracow
Posted on 04/26/2014 @ 10:00 PM
On Friday evening we walked to Kaszimierz, the old Jewish Quarter of Cracow, where we joined other delegations in prayer and song at the Tempel, the only reform synagogue in Cracow, built in 1860 and completed in 1862. It was a wondrous sight to see the packed sanctuary with boys and men singing and dancing downstairs and the girls doing the same in the balcony. To know that we were able to walk freely through the streets of Cracow and pray in a once vibrant community was a memory that we will all remember. Returning to the hotel for our Shabbat dinner and Oneg Shabbat ended our first evening in Poland on a strong feeling of community.
On Saturday afternoon, we toured Kaszimierz and discussed the vibrant Jewish community that existed there for hundreds of years. It was the center of strong Jewish learning and culture, Zionism, and the first Jewish publishing house. When Germany invaded Poland, there were 60,000 Jews living in Cracow, almost one-fourth of the total population of the city. Because the Nazis set their headquarters in Cracow, the city was not destroyed and many of the original Jewish sites remain today.
From Kaszimierz, we walked the same route by foot that the Jews were taken and confined to a Ghetto in the Podgorze district in 1941. We saw the exact site of where Jews lived and the place they gathered for transport to various camps, Belzec, Auschwitz and Plaszow.
We heard the story of the pharmacy at the border of the ghetto that was run by a non-Jewish man (Tadeusz Pankiewicz) and his two assistants. The Germans wanted to close the pharmacy when the ghetto was formed, but, Tadeusz was forced to bribe them continuously to keep it open. The back door of the pharmacy became a secret passage and hideaway for Ghetto Jews. Tadeusz and his assistants helped smuggle food, medicines and necessary items to the people in the ghetto and he was ultimately responsible for saving hundreds of Jews with forged documents. In recognition of his actions, he was recognized in 1983 as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Saturday evening, a wonderful Havdallah service was led by some of our teens that also included our survivor, Trudy Album, who told some of her story of life in Cracow before she lit and held the Havdallah candle. It was especially poignant for Trudy, as her granddaughter Zoe was in attendance, having travelled from school in Spain. When the service was over, the teens broke into song and the hotel was filled with Ruach.
At the conclusion of Shabbat, we welcomed several Jewish teens from Poland to share their experiences and talk about life in Poland today as a Jewish teen. Our teens had great questions for our guests and the rapport was a pleasure to see.
Reflections from Cracow
Posted on 04/26/2014 @ 10:00 PM
"I was walking through the streets of Krakow and helping BBYO's survivor, Trudy, walk with our group. She thanked me for helping her and said 'I'm grateful to have you all here as my guardian angels.' It was so sweet and so amazing but I told her that she is our guardian angel. We are so lucky to have her here; Trudy is honestly an incredible person! I love her so much already and can't wait to continue this journey with her." - Molly Kazan, Wisconsin
"As I sit in the Krakow deportation site, the feeling is unreal, complete numbness." - Carley Fritsch, Pittsburgh
"Bearing witness is an understatement to what we're doing here." - Brandon Cotter, Dallas
"Before leaving for the March, I thought I knew everything I needed to about the Holocaust, but now that I'm here, I'm starting to realize that there's so much left to learn and I can't wait to do just that on this trip." - Eliana Dubosar, Boca Raton
"During Friday night services, people were singing and dancing. Watching hundreds of Jews celebrating our faith made me feel proud to be Jewish and finally free." - Daniella Eglash, Pittsburgh
"I am looking forward to being able to understand life in the eyes of those who came before me." - Natalie Engel, Houston
"It is our goal to live to learn to teach." - Brandon Bell, Philadelphia
"I hope to open my eyes to the world and have a voice." - Sarah Goodman, Cleveland
"We've only been together for three days, but I feel so connected to everyone else on this trip already." - Carly Taub, Michigan
BBYO Delegates Have Arrived in Poland
Posted on 04/25/2014 @ 11:00 AM
We are happy to announce that all of our delegations have arrived safely in Poland.
Throughout the trip we will be providing you with insights from our participants. In addition, we want to remind you to keep checking for new pictures. The highlights are shared on Facebook and you also can view more photos on our SmugMug account. Albums on SmugMug are organized by bus. Please be patient as our staff is doing their best to upload pictures as internet permits.
BBYO Teens Heading to March of the Living
Posted on 04/24/2014 @ 04:54 PM
More than 130 teens making up BBYO's National Teen Delegation to the March of the Living are on their way to Poland this evening. The teens have high expectations for their upcoming journey.
“I’ve known people who have gone on March of the Living in the past, and have heard it is really a life-changing experience," Danny Rosenberg, a senior from Kansas City, Missouri, said. "I can’t wait to share my own experience with my friends and family once I get back!"
The teens will spend their first week in Poland learning about Jewish communities of the past and visiting concentration camps. To mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, teens from more than sixty countries will take part in a moving two-mile "March of the Living" from Auschwitz to Birkenau, concluding with the singing of Hatikvah, which reaffirms "Am Yisrael Chai - The Jewish People Live."
“I’ve been to a lot of different Holocaust memorials in the past, and each one has impacted me differently," Josh Zack, a senior from Kansas City, Missouri, said. "I’m really looking forward to seeing how going to Poland on March of the Living will be a unique experience. I hope this will give me a better understanding what us, as Jewish people, have been through, and I will gain more appreciation and not take for granted our freedom."
After this emotional week, the teens will fly from Poland to Israel and will join millions of Israelis in celebrating Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel's 66th Independence Day festivities. During their week in Israel, the teens will enjoy the major highlights of the country including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea.
Tori Hoffman, a senior from Dallas, Texas is looking to gain a lot out of this trip. “I heard from a lot of people that March of the Living was a life-changing experience, and I wanted to see for myself how this could transform me," Tori said in anticipation. "I’m mostly looking forward to going to Israel to connect deeper to my Jewish roots and experience Israeli culture."
Check this blog regularly throughout the next two weeks for updates from the teens and their staff during this amazing journey.