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GIVE
Girls Israel Volunteer Experience
We Miss NCSY GIVE 2016!

Dear 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. Hopefully all flights have landed safely and everyone has reached their respective destinations with ease (aside from those lucky ladies who get to extend their stay in Israel- jealous!).

We feel so privileged to have been able to spend the summer with each of your daughters! I know you may think it’s my job to say this, but we were so lucky with the motivated, sincere 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 proudly say 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. A huge part of this spark being ignited is thanks to our incredible team of advisors, without whom this summer could not have been possible:

Ahava Smith… FL

Andrea Weiss… FL

Daphna Weingarten… NY

Jamie Sobin… NY

Jennifer Silverman… CA

Michal Alge… MA

Michal Raskas… MD

Rebeka Hill… FL

Shira Aharon… NY

Tess Blaustein… FL

Yael Skurowitz… FL (to whom we wish a huge mazel tov on her engagement, which happened this afternoon at the airport in Florida!)

Penina Abramov… NJ – our AMAZING social media director who kept you connected throughout the summer!

Last but not least, our three head staff members this summer:

Our extremely dedicated and talented Camp Mom, Rachel Glickman (Israel), and our amazing, fantastic bus heads, Alexa Ratner (GA) and Beth Gindi (LA), who led our girls day in and day out with humor, fun, Judaism, and meaning.

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. Aka they’re the real deal. The relationships that have evolved over this summer between the NCSY GIVErs and advisors will not only last a lifetime, but have also impacted the approach your child has to their Judaism. Whether it was volunteering at a food packing institution, working on a kibbutz 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 and 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 will be receiving contact lists with both camper and staff contact information and are encouraged to call us often to discuss anything or just to say hi. You too should feel free to use this information for yourselves if we can ever be of any assistance.

I would like to share one of my favorite ideas that I share each year, as 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. 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, 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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