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GIVE
Girls Israel Volunteer Experience
We Miss NCSY GIVE 2014!

 

Dear NCSY GIVE Parents,

 

I hope you are all enjoying having your girls home with you again, but to be honest, we really miss being with them in Israel. Within the next few hours, hopefully all flights will have landed safely and everyone will have reached their respective destinations with ease.

We feel so privileged to have been able to spend the summer with your girls. I know you may think it’s my job to say this, but we were honestly so lucky to have had the motivated, sincere, positive and extraordinary group of campers we had on NCSY GIVE this summer. When reflecting on the summer, not only did your girls learn a lot about themselves and the holy land of Israel, I can also say with great confidence that each and every one of your children grew remarkably in their Jewish pride and Jewish identity. Whether it was the diverse chessed organizations we worked with, the educational programs, conversations with various staff members or an inspirational speech, each camper verbalized some sort of tangible growth they have attained this summer. I have no doubt that a piece of this growth is reflective of the intensely real experience that we felt this summer in Israel, abandoning our scheduled itinerary to reroute to the North until circumstances allowed us to return to Jerusalem. The love and passion these girls developed for the land of Israel, the people, the soldiers, and the nation as a whole is something that could only have resulted from sharing so many hard times, losses and unifying moments with the rest of our nation. We feel blessed that 5 weeks ago our flight was able to take off as scheduled and feel thankful to Hashem for keeping us out of harms way so that could provide our GIVE participants with an experience like no other group of GIVErs has ever (and hopefully will ever) experience. And of course, we continue to pray with the fullest of heart for our brothers and sisters protecting us and our land, and making our summer in Israel possible.

When speaking with various campers, I keep hearing over and over again how they plan to push themselves to learn and explore more of their heritage and how much each advisor impacted their lives as a role model. I just want to take a minute to recognize our incredible team of advisors, without whom, this summer could not have been possible:

              Jenny Konigsburg… NY

              Rachel Sandler… PA

              Rena Beirig… NY/Israel

              Batsheva Blaustein… IL

              Daphna Weingarten… NY

              Amy Weiss… FL

              Zahava Moskowitz… NY

              Yali Cohen… CA

              Alexa Ratner… GA

              Zisse Hanfling… NJ – the incredibly talented advisor 

                                             behind the blog, pictures and videos

              Erica Pirak… NJ – Head Advisor, bringing 3 years of 

                                                  GIVE experience to the staff

 

And last but not least, our upper staff members this summer: 

 

Margot Reinstein, our stellar Bus Head and Associate Director of Education, and our incredibly talented Assistant Director, Miriam Borenstein!

These advisors work on a volunteer basis, meaning that they are on the program simply because they want to be a part of your daughters growth. The relationships that have evolved over this summer between the campers and counselors will not only last a lifetime, but have also changed the approach your child has to their Judaism. Whether it was running a carnival for children from the South relocated to the North or dancing and singing with the elderly, each NCSY GIVEr is going home this summer more passionate and aware about their responsibility to am yisrael, the Jewish people, than they were when they arrived 5 weeks ago. Some of their growth is visible, tangible, whereas much of it is embedded deep within their hearts. Either way, we are so proud of each of them for their willingness to open up, gain confidence and let this summer impact them. We hope that you will be able to see the growth in your child and appreciate all of the life changing experiences she has had this summer.

We now make a small request of you, the parents. Please continue to encourage your child to learn more, to keep asking questions and stay involved in chessed in your respective communities. Each GIVEr has received contact lists with all of our information and are encouraged to call us often, whether to say hi or discuss anything. You too should feel free to use this information for yourselves if we can ever be of any assistance.

I would like to share an idea with you that I feel is very applicable to our summer.  The Alter of Slobodka, a 19th/20th century Torah giant in Eastern Europe, quotes a Torah commentary that discusses G-d coming to Adam and telling him to name each animal with a name he deems appropriate for that animal. After completing this task, G-d then asked Adam to name HIMself. Adam replies, “I will be called Adam (man) for G-d fashioned me from the adamah (the Hebrew word for ground/earth)”. The Alter of Slobodka then asks: why do we even bother mentioning this naming which seems so obvious? What is so deep and insightful about Adam referring to mankind by a name who’s root lie in the source of man’s creation, adamah– ground?

The Alter of Slobodka then answers: When we want to work the land (adamah) and reap plentiful harvests, we must hoe the ground, plow the fields, plant the seeds and then water them. The process is long and tedious, but in the end, it is totally worthwhile since you have beautiful produce to show for your efforts. So too with mankind (Adam), in order to produce beautiful “crops” and to guarantee the most grounded and passionate Jewish children, we must work on ourselves, push ourselves, encourage each other, plant the seeds and water them. As the parents, you have planted the seeds and we have spent these last five weeks helping to “work the land” and “water the seeds”. As we return your children to you, we ask that you try to see for yourselves the incredible leaps your child has taken and that you continue to “water them” and encourage them to search and grow. Your children, our children, are the future of the Jewish people. We will be here, alongside you every step of the way, to ensure that these beautiful children, the fruits of the adamah, should develop into some of the greatest fruits the Jewish people have ever seen.

Thank you again for allowing us to meet your very special daughters and for entrusting us with their safety and wellbeing in such a tumultuous summer. We hope for you that you as a family continue to grow and learn together, and that you recognize that you are now part of a much bigger family as well, that is, the NCSY GIVE family.

As always, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. I would love to hear feedback from you and thank those parents who have already emailed me. It is so rewarding for us when we hear that you can notice the maturation and growth of your daughter.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you soon. Thank you again for a tremendous summer and may we all merit to meet again soon in Jerusalem!

Erin and the NCSY GIVE family

PS: We encourage you to revisit our summer experience with your daughter by visiting our NCSY GIVE website, at give.ncsy.org. I’m sure she’ll have many wonderful memories to recount and share!

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