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TJJ Ambassadors 2010

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TJJ Ambassadors 2010 - Page Text Content

S: The Jerusalem Journey Ambassadors 2010

BC: Todah Rabah! | NCSY is the Youth Movement of the Orthodox Union

FC: The Jerusalem Journey Ambassadors

1: Assaf Assaraf - Sherman Oaks, CA Allison Belfer - Manalapan, NJ Ruth Shana Berkow - Vancouver, BC Jacqueline Bierman - New Rochelle, NY Arielle Blatman - Thornhill, ON Mayla Bogulsav - Worcester, MA Matityahu Cohen - Beverly Hills, CA Rebecca Davidson - Portland, OR Talia Davis - Portland, OR Shira Druker - Richmond, BC Robert Ellenhorn - Bellevue, WA Albert Engel - West Hartford, CT Jasmine Chana Esulin - Woodland Hills,CA Joshua Fischer - Orlando, FL Jodi Yakira Fish - Beachwood, OH Joshua Gruber - Wilmette, IL Judah Joseph - Cherry Hill, NJ Joshua Karon - Vancouver, BC Aaron Karp - Teaneck, NJ Philip Katz - Upper Saddle River, NJ Aviv Kleinman - Beverly Hills, CA | Michael Korn - Miami, FL Melissa Kramer - Brooklyn, NY Yardena Lane - Cherry Hill, NJ Erica Lunin - Avenel, NJ Joshua Mandel - Creve Coeur, MO Esther Michel - Hopkinton, MA Lauren Mishan - Port Washington, NY Meytal Misrahi - Beachwood, OH Elana Moscoe - Otawa, ON Liron Ozery - Plantation, FL Emma Regenbaum - Palm Beach, FL Jessica Savitz - Newtown, PA Zachary Schwartz - Solon, OH Nancy Shilian - Roslyn Heights, NY Jared Smith - East Meadow, NY Tzuri Teshuba - Oak Park, MI Daniel Thirman - Wilmette, IL Alexandra Tung - Port Washington, NY Rebecca Wagner - Westlake Village, CA Simone Weisberg - Miami, FL Jennifer Wiseman - Dallas, TX | The TJJ & Ambassador Family | Albert Yakobashvili - Staten Island, NY


3: To whom it may concern, I would like to personally thank you for donating money for myself and others to be able to afford TJJ Ambassadors. Without your donation, I might not have been on this trip. I want to tell you a little bit about my experience on TJJ Ambassadors so that you know that your money went to a good cause. My name is Mayla Boguslav and I am going into my senior year of high school. This summer, I knew that I was going to be in Israel but I did not know with which program to go on: my summer camp’s program or NCSY TJJ Ambassadors program. I loved the idea of the Ambassadors program, but in the end everything came down to whether my family had the money. With all your donations, the choice was easy – TJJ Ambassadors. Your donations allowed me to go on this trip and for that I am forever grateful. This trip was my first time in Israel and I am so glad that I experienced Israel with NCSY. The touring, the learning, the volunteering, and the Shabbatot were all amazing and I would not have been able to experience an NCSY summer pogram without you. You took a risk by donating and then prayed that the program would prove to be as amazing as the creators dreamed. That dream has come to life – the program flourished and it is all thanks to you. You are true heroes. Thank you for allowing me to go on TJJ Ambassadors, Mayla Boguslav

4: Back in America and Canada, our lives are much different than those of the children in the Golan. Depending on where one lives, children can run freely, play in cul-de-sacs, and live normal lives. Here, streets and highways wind through mine fields. Everywhere, signs exclaiming “!” remind us that thousands of mines from previous wars still riddle our homeland. The concept of minefields is something American and Canadian teenage boys deal with only in video games. This is real. Although I have traveled to Israel before, I find myself perceiving this situation much more seriously than before; at any given moment, someone could foolishly wander into an open space of land and die from a land mine explosion. Surprisingly to me, I find myself mesmerized by the barbed wire surrounding these mine fields. In the Golan Heights, a place that we love so much and have fought so dearly for, a majority of land is uninhabitable – whether the mountain too steep, the ground too rocky, or the danger of spontaneous detonation too great. Yet, with all the potential danger of the Golan Heights, every citizen of its many settlements carries on with his or her daily activities. To speak for everyone else, I would say that we all feel safe in this part of the country. Surrounded by towering mountains owned by Lebanon and Syria, we may feel insignificant at first, but we are part of something much larger – a nation of Jews protecting our homeland, the place to which we can always return. The Golan is very different than Cherry Hill, New Jersey, that’s for sure. With much love, Judah Joseph


7: To whom it may concern, I had the time of my life this summer. From water sports in Eilat, to meeting with distinguished Knesset members in Jerusalem, to talking with Kabbalists in Tzfat - it was a trip to remember and a trip to learn from. Not only did I learn so much about my homeland, I learned about what being a Jewish advocate for Israel is really about. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share this extremely life changing experience with so many amazing Jewish teens and madrichim. You have truly touched the lives of so many people this summer and I want to thank you for that. Sincerely, Josh Mandel

8: Dear TJJ Ambassadors sponsor, I would really like to thank you for the opportunity to be among the first TJJ Ambassadors. Over the summer I was able to really grow as a person through the different experiences that I was given throughout the program. From the different sites we visited to the people that we met, I was able to develop a stronger identity with Judaism and strengthen my connection to Hashem. As someone who had never been to Israel before this was the perfect opportunity for me to see the country and identify with my heritage. Not only were the sites amazing, but the staff was outstanding. Each and every one of them was able to teach me so much about Judaism. I know that because of this trip I will be able to advocate for Israel within my community and maintain a strong connection with Hashem. I would like to thank you again for your generous donation which provided me with this life-changing opportunity! Thank you, Jodi Fish


10: Not surprisingly, today held yet another moving experience for many TJJ Ambassadors. We visited Save A Child’s Heart and saw children far worse off than ourselves. We really appreciated the basics in life. After we arrived, I sat on the couch waiting to see the children, somewhat dreading the next hour we were spending there, however, my heart simply melted when the first children were brought out. I almost started crying when all of the children stood before me. Predominantly from Africa, some even starving, the scarred kids played with toys and were united in that they all ethereally shared smiles and brightly lit faces, all the while most of the ambassadors were faint from the seemingly unbearable heat. Many of us learned today that people who have gone through serious struggles are able to feel Hashem’s presence and appreciate the generally unnoticeable things in life maybe even more than we do. The magic of Save A Child’s Heart is that it provides fatally ill children a new start, a new hope for life. Like many institutions in Israel, despite all the false accusations, cruelty, and pure hatred Israel faces on a daily basis, Israelis still allow and welcome children from all backgrounds, including those literally of our enemies. As SACH displayed today, if the sickest and weakest children from around the world smile and laugh while going through traumatic experiences, then Hashem is truly with us, now and forever. -Jackie Bierman

12: To whom it may concern, My name is Talia Davis and I live in Portland, Oregon. I’m the president of JSU at my public High School. I went on TJJ last summer, so when I heard about a new program similar to TJJ I was beyond excited. There are no words to explain this trip besides...life changing. The kids that were on this program were inspirational. In high school, kids find their own groups of friends which then form cliques and divisions, so a program with high schoolers can be nerve racking. The amazing thing about TJJ Ambassadors was that there were no cliques; everyone was really friends with everyone. Some of the amazing moments that we had were during free time when we had the option to be in our rooms or with separate groups of friends, but instead, we gathered as a whole group having Jewish debates and conversations. Not only were the kids amazing, but the advisors were also incredible. From morning tefillah workshops to night time chaburahs there was always time in between for them to wow you with their Torah knowledge. No matter what aspect of life you wanted to discuss, they were there for you. They were so easy to relate to and connect with. They wanted to be there with you more than anything, so we had their undivided attention. This trip has helped me find who I am as a Jew and where I want to go in the future. TJJA helped stabilize my personal identity and helped me feel confident as a Jewish leader. I want to thank every person that made this trip possible for me and every other TJJA member. It was an experience of a lifetime that I value and that I am so grateful for. Much thanks- Talia Davis


14: Today was a very exciting day; we woke up and some of us went to Daven, while some went to prayer workshops. I personally went to Daven. Then, we headed off to our trip to the Golan Heights and Tzfat. We stopped at an amazing lookout point showing off the lush land of Israel. Then our trip leader, Rabbi Goldfischer, talked about a verse in the Torah which explains how without the Jewish people of Eretz Yisrael, the land would be desolate. As you can see from pictures, the land is as lush as ever with its 6 million inhabitants happily living in the land. This shows tremendous legitimacy to the Torah when we see this verse come to life in front of our eyes. We then departed into the ancient city of Tzfat and had a blast eating and looking through the artist colony. After the jewelers showed us everything they sell, we joined together as a group to proceed to a Kabbalistic artist. Robert/Avraham told his story about his transformation from Robert the American college student to Avraham the Kabbalist living in Tzfat. Following that, he spoke about the true essence of every name. This meant a lot to me because although I know the basic meaning of my Hebrew name, I do not use it regularly. Since I now heard about the fact that my Hebrew name holds a stronger and deeper spiritual meaning, I find myself more interested in the history and depths of its interpretation and significance. I made it a new priority to find out about the deep meaning of my name because it will shape my future and how I view myself and my internal spirituality. Love, Arielle Blatman

16: Dear Sponsor of the TJJ Ambassadors Program, My name is Elana Moscoe and I am 16 years old from Ottawa, Ontario and I come from a background of conservative Judaism. I would personally like to thank you for your generous contributions to the TJJ Ambassadors summer program. Because of your support, I was able to connect with students from across North America while experiencing the land for the first time in my life and re-establishing my connection to Judaism. I attended Jewish day school from kindergarten until grade 8 and now I attend a public neighborhood high school with minimal opportunities for Jewish students. Until this summer, I never felt much of a connection to Judaism, it was always just something that my family loosely practiced; TJJA completely changed this for me. For my summer entering senior year, I knew that I wanted to get to Israel to connect with my Jewish heritage and perhaps even rebuild my connection with Hashem which I had lost over the past three years of being in a secular environment. Upon arrival in Jerusalem we immediately visited the Kotel and as I touched the Kotel for the very first time, I found myself beginning to cry when I realized that I was home. This same feeling stuck with me throughout the entire trip. Being in Israel with such an inspiring group of students and advisors gave me the opportunity to reevaluate myself and how I can become a better person through incorporating Torah and mitzvot. From hiking, camel riding and jumping into massive fresh water ravines, to studying Torah in a Beit Midrash and undergoing intensive Israel Advocacy training, I found myself thirsty for knowledge as I soaked up all that my advisors were sharing with me. There was never a shortage of opportunities for learning and personal growth. Before this trip, I had lost all connection to Judaism- Shabbos and holidays were just ordinary days for me. Since I have returned home, I put up a mezuzah in my bedroom and I celebrated Shabbos with my family. This trip has made Judaism real for me and I feel empowered and motivated to stand up for Israel in my public high school. I now have the tools to advocate effectively. Thank you for helping to bring me to Israel and to discover my full potential as a Jewish teen. I hope that all teens will have the opportunity to travel to Israel and have similar experiences as I did. Sincerely, Elana Moscoe


19: In my eyes, Ambassadors is not just a trip; it is a gateway. My time here has changed me. As a public school boy, I do not readily spend time around Judaism. Being an ambassador has opened my eyes to a new chapter in life, a chapter based around Judaism. From our first day – visiting the Kotel and learning about the religious history of the holy land, to visiting the Knesset and learning about today’s Israeli politics, I’ve learned the importance of being on this trip. As one of the 43 pilot ambassadors I have come to realize how important we all are for the future of Israel. I will return to the States with a more extensive knowledge of Judaism and Israel and I plan on spreading information about what I’ve learned here. I will bring Judaism into my home, and I myself have now planned a future of making Aliyah. Not only will this trip define my childhood; it will also change my future. Jared Smith


21: Dear TJJ Ambassadors donor, Although this summer was not my first time in Israel, it was the first time I experienced Israel in such a beautiful way. TJJ Ambassadors was much more than a touring trip in the most incredible country in the world; it was a growing and learning experience as well. The various seminars we attended and numerous speakers we heard from greatly contributed to the trip. In America I will strive to advocate for my homeland and fight for its legitimacy. Additionally, I hope to attend many more NCSY events in order to further strengthen my faith. Without your generous help, I would have had an ordinary summer, but instead I was able to come back to the land of my people and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge, as well as a greater appreciation for being Jewish. Thank you very much for your assistance and please know that it did not go to waste. I am a changed person for the better and I will never give up or forget what I learned while on TJJ Ambassadors. Sincerely, Jasmine Esulin

23: Dear Incredible TJJ Ambassador Sponsor, Thank you so much for everything you have contributed. On our trip you changed so many people's lives, allowing them to have a more educated Jewish life and more knowledge on their Jewish heritage and culture. I have been fortunate enough to have had some previous Jewish education, but some individuals on the excursion have had none and this was their first Jewish experience. Because of your donations, you allowed these children to take on and experience Israel from the bottom up, through learning and touring. We all truly had a blast, made life long friends, and made memories that we will cherish forever. Thank you so much for the amazing opportunity we had. Sincerely, Arielle

24: This past school year, I attempted to run Israel advocacy programs in the Jewish Student Union at my public high school in Portland, Oregon. Although I had acquired some very useful skills at the AIPAC High School Summit, our JSU clubs didn’t provide for any long-term advocacy learning. The way our programming system worked was that the JSU presidents from around Portland would meet at the advisor’s house about every quarter and plan the upcoming clubs. While this system created wonderful clubs that were enjoyable and fun, at the end of the year, I was left feeling unaccomplished in the area of Israel advocacy. There are nearly 300 Jewish students in my medium-sized public school. As the school with the most Jews in Oregon, I have a huge responsibility to ensure that these students are informed on issues pertaining to Israel, Zionism, and modern anti-Semitism. Many of these students are unaffiliated and would never attend a seminar on Israel outside of school. I decided that I needed to reach out to this exact kind of kid in an organized fashion that would educate them and give them the tools to go about their daily lives, constantly ready to give over the truth about the Jewish State. I wrote a program to be used in all the JSU clubs in Portland that consists of one club per month that is engaging and interesting, and gives JSU an overlying theme, rather than trying to teach Israel advocacy in one or two clubs at random points throughout the year. Nothing would please me more than to see other JSU’s using this curriculum. I also plan to have one chessed program, one holiday-related program, and one Israeli/Jewish history program per month. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to develop these programs and inspire other teens like me. Becky Davidson JSU President, Woodrow Wilson High School


26: Dear generous sponsor of TJJ Ambassadors, I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to you for your sponsorship of the TJJ Ambassadors program, in which I was a participant. The program was particularly effective in strengthening three areas - my feeling of Jewish identity and pride, my connection to Medinat Yisrael, and my commitment to defending the State of Israel at college, which I will begin to attend this coming January. Nothing is as validating of one’s own Judaism as feeling the Jewish spirit present among the thousands of Jews gathered at the Kotel on Friday night. Often, as Jews living among those unlike us in the United States, we are tempted to give in, to conclude that living "Jewishly" is too difficult when those around us influence us in the opposite direction. Those feelings fall away, however, when we are at home in Eretz Yisrael, where we feel the tangible attraction of a life lived Jewishly. And it is thanks to your generosity that we were able to experience that feeling. I kept a daily journal during the trip. After I returned, I made one final entry summing up the change in my relationship with the State of Israel. I will repeat them here for you:

27: “Before the trip, it was Israel. Now it is My Country Israel.” Whether or not we choose to make Aliyah in the future, it is imperative for a Jew in the 21st century to understand the significance of the State of Israel, a miracle of modern Jewish History. Not only must we understand the significance of Israel, but we must also be, as we were called, Ambassadors, for the State as it unfortunately suffers from many uninformed attackers at colleges and universities around the world whose message we have been given the mandate to deflect, drown out, and correct. As one of three Ambassadors who graduated from high school this past June, I know that I will be one of the first to put myself in the line of fire as an Ambassador. But I feel prepared, much as a result of the training I received this past summer, particularly from Neil Lazarus and the Dale Carnegie seminar. None of this would have been possible without you, and I extend to you my deepest thanks. -Albert Engel

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  • Title: TJJ Ambassadors 2010
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