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A Place to Call Home

Posted on 08/23/2013 @ 05:37 PM

With summer closing and the Jewish New Year—Rosh Hashanah—approaching, it is time for us all to reflect on the past year. While we are all getting ready for a busy year with school and BBYO, we should each take a moment to think about our recent summer experiences.

This summer, I set out with over 100 Jewish teens from North America and around the world to Israel. I was on ILSI (International Leadership Seminar in Israel) and the Sea-to-Sea Hike. ILSI is a summer program with the mission of providing leaders with an enduring connection to the Jewish state. We learned about the history of the land while walking in the footsteps of great Israeli leaders like David Ben-Gurion and Yonatan Netanyahu.

Even after we left the synagogue on Shabbat, we continued singing songs in the streets of Tzfat. We also helped feed over 900 families by picking and packaging vegetables, climbed Masada to see the sun rise, rode camels, met with a Knesset member, visited the Kotel, rafted down the Jordan River, and so much more. I finished my trip by hiking “yam le yam” (sea to sea) across the country from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee.

My BBYO summer made me passionate about ensuring that my people will always have a right to live in our homeland. I wanted to find a way to turn my passion into action. The opportunity arose when I was accepted to be a StandWithUs MZ Teen Intern. StandWithUs is an organization that educates others about the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to promote peace in the region. Being an intern, I attended a national conference in LA where I learned how to advocate on behalf of Israel. StandWithUs is providing me with the resources to start a Peace in the Middle East club at my school, bring Israeli soldiers to Tampa, FL, and teach others about Israel in my community and in North Florida Region.

As we enter Shabbat and the last days of the month of Elul, I invite the Order to reflect for a moment on our personal connection to Israel. Whether your Israel connection is through a trip, a person, or even an article or movie, think about the thousands engaged throughout our movement having one thing in common – a place to call Home.

This Shabbat message was written by Paul Felder, Regional S’gan of North Florida Region in conjunction with Lory Conte, Program Associate of North Florida Region.

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