We started out Shabbat like we usually do, getting dressed, taking hundreds of Shabbat pictures, and making memories with friends.
We later left the Prima Kings hotel and drove to the Kotel. It was there that we davened Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, and Maariv. We sang Shabbat songs at the Kotel joining hands with Jews of all diversities: religious, secular, ashkenaz, sefard, American, and many others. Not everywhere do Jews from around the world unite for a common purpose: complete service of God and singing songs rejoicing and bringing in the Shabbos queen. Nothing mattered except for being together and sharing the moment and the happiness. We then continued the simcha by going to Aish HaTorah for Kiddush. Shabbat Zmirot filled the room along with cherished weekly “shabbos brachas” from Rabbi Zians. One by one boys and girls alike go up to Rabbi Zians and wait for a bracha that reflects our strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. To use our strengths to make a difference in this world and utilize true and good leadership qualities. After dinner, we benched together and walked downstairs for an Oneg.
It was there that JOLT, along with TJJ, sang together celebrating being Jewish. The Zmirot were later followed by a speech by world renowned speaker Mr. Charlie Harari. He talked about always pushing yourself and that being great and being a leader is about always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Charlie conveyed that you’re comfortable you’re not growing as a person. Shevah Yipol Tzadik Vekam. It’s the fact that the tzadik gets up after having fallen so many times is what makes him righteous. He then urged us to take one thing from this trip and to put all of our inspiration from these past weeks into that one action, whatever it may be. After the speech we said our goodbyes and walked back to the hotel.
The following day we walked to the Great Synagogue where we davened shacharit and musaf. Many of the tefillot there were accompanied by choir— especially the kedusha. 😉
We later had kiddush and Shabbat lunch at the hotel where Shimmie Hadar spoke to us. She stressed the importance of “a day without making someone smile is a day wasted,” and the importance of watching out for our fellow peers and brethren.
This was followed by shabbat menucha in the holy city of Jerusalem, where there were optional shiurum, chavruta learning, and walking tours. After a restful menucha, we met up for shalish sudas where we enjoyed a delicious meal, followed by my favorite part: ebbing. We all sat in a circle holding each other and singing songs of Shabbat as Shabbat came to a close.
Over this Shabbat, we were given the opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve learned this summer: gaining a clear understanding of where we have come from, recognizing the blessings we have, appreciating the opportunities for learning with and from the JSummer participants. We have been able to travel and see our beloved home land and recognize the sacrifices that have been made for us to be able to be here. We have learned to utilize every moment and challenge ourselves to grow. As we are winding down, I feel we have begun to internalize the life lessons that we have gleaned throughout our travels and hope to apply them to our everyday lives! One thing is certain, when the program ends…. that’s when JOLT begins!
IDF Training, ATVing, Kever Rochel
Dear parents and fellow JOLTers,
Today was our 8th day in the holy land! It’s crazy that this starts our second week here in Israel. We started our day nice and early and headed from Yerushalayim straight to Acharai for a mini army training session. The activity included many team building exercises. We split into two groups and completed the various challenges that the advisors gave us. My group had to get a ball that was inside a roped circle on the ground out of the circle with out going inside the circle. Overall the army training was super fun exciting and a good bonding experience with our fellow JOLTers. After army training they took us to Emek Refaim for some free time to get lunch and shop. I had a REALLY yummy chicken salad, and it was definitely a highlight of my day :). Then we went to do some chessed at Pantry Packers. We watched a video and saw how many people are really hungry and how they really need our help to package the food, so we split into groups of seven and packaged rice for the hungry. It was a super interesting experience to see that so many people can’t afford food. It made me more appreciative for my dinner later in the day. After that we went on awesome ATVs in the gush. It was so cool!!! We got to see the vineyards and the community that lives there. As I was on my ATV I realized that we were passing the same places that the meraglim and Yosef walked, and I thought it was really cool! After that our jam packed day continued to get better!- crazy right? We went to kever Rachel which was really meaningful to daven at such a tzadekes kever especially after visiting Poland and doing keruv in Austria. I really felt her presence in my davening and I found that really powerful. After that amazing day we went back to our hotel for a delicious dinner and a sick night activity. Overall today and jolt was and has been amazing and only gets better and better. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed!
What a day we had! We started off our day repelling. We all took turns jumping off a cliff while attached to very safe ropes. Afterwards we took a hike back up to get to the top of the cliff which was much harder than when we went down. Then we headed to Yerushalayim for Yom NCSY!!! We got there right on time, davened Mincha and then we went straight in to the delicious bbq. Everyone reunited with their friends from all the other NCSY summer programs. After dinner, we headed to the best part of the night – an amazing energetic concert by Eitan and Shlomo Katz. We danced and sang for hours! Fireworks were blasting and water was spraying everywhere. At the end of the night, we said bye to everyone and headed back to our hotel. It was the best night ever! :)))))
Banana Boating and more
Today was a day filled with a lot of water and a lot of fun! By 8:30 in the morning we were all already packed on the bus and dressed for our first activities—Bannana boating and ODT (outdoor training). The girls went bannana boating while the guys had ODT and then we switched. Bannana boating was so fun!! We had ten people on each Bannana looking float which was attached to a small boat. Then the boat pushed the float while we held on to it. It was such an exhilarating feeling, just flying through the ocean (a few even flew off the floats)! ODT was a super fun team-building activity. We played all sorts of group games. One game was where we all held on to a rope while standing in a circle and one of us had to walk across the rope—trusting everyone holding the rope that the rope was strong enough! After this everyone on jolt met where we had ODT and ate pizza for lunch. Before long we were off to our next activity of the day: water hike. For the water hike, all of jolt trudged through water going up to our waist while trying to walk up and down over rocks. Most of the water hike turned into a water fight as people splashed each other. We all came out soaking wet. After changing into dry clothes and feeling the hot sun and how hungry we all were from the hike, we got dinner. We went to Rancho’s and ate a delicious meal with different meats and pita. Soon we were ready for our last activity to end the day—party boats!! We had two party boats; one for the guys and one for the girls. We cruised through the Kinerrit while blasting music and just dancing and letting loose! A great end to a fun day!! By the end, we were all exhausted and slept like babies.
Water hike and Rafting
Hey parents! Happy Monday!!! Today was our first real day in Israel and it was a blast. We started off the day by going paint balling. Despite all the bruises, the JOLTers fought through the pain and battled in out on the field. We then went on a beautiful water hike through the Hazbani river. And although we were not supposed to get too wet, what’s a water hike if your not drenched 🙂 We then enjoyed a delicious lunch of schnitzel sandwiches. We can finally have meat again! Some people even went for thirds. We then went water rafting. We had a blast splashing our way down the Kinneret as we swam and jumped from raft to raft. Let’s just say that nobody came back in the boat they started in. After a long exhausting day, we arrived back at the hotel where we had dinner. We ended the night with an epic lip synch battle! We all had so much fun singing and dancing until we were too tired to continue and eventually crashed!
It was our 4th Saturday night together as a JOLT family. We just began the fast of Tisha B’av. After we read megila Eicha, we read a couple things called Kinos (which I’ve never heard of before.) These are poetic lamentations. I was pretty tired from the crazy shabbos we just had and I had just sat through Maariv and the Megila reading. I’m just sitting there on the floor (because we’re not a allowed to sit on chairs) and I’m pretty uncomfortable and I think to myself “ugh why are we doing this.” But then I start to read the English translation of the first kinah and it really hit me. Then I read the second, then the third and it started to have an impact. Rabbi Zians started to read the last kinah outloud. As I followed along in the English I couldn’t help but realize how foolish my thought processes were just an hour before. See, when you realize that our program went to Treblinka, Majdonek, Auschwitz, and many mass graves in Poland, you’re perspective is truly broadened.
After reading kina מה and knowing EXACTLY what it was talking about… After listening to a rabbi sing kina מה and you can’t help but flash back to a couple weeks before when we were standing IN the gas chambers UNDER the faucets… When we stood in the shadow of the chimneys when the ovens were in arms reach… When we cried over mass children’s graves…The voice of rabbi Zians, in that moment, could make a grown man cry, and it did…
Later, we went into groups and started to discuss the kinos with our advisers. At that point I was so involved with our discussion I didn’t even stop to think that I had been sitting on a hardwood floor for the past 3 hours. We started on of the most meaningful kumzatis I’ve ever been apart of (and I went on Midwest yarchai 2018!)
It was getting late and the advisors started to light tee lights on the floor. We started to hum, and then we started to sing. The vibes of true emuna ran around the room like vibrant electricity. All I knew was that in that moment I was experiencing true achdus. Finally it was bed time.
The following morning we davened shachris and I got some solid prayers in. Then the advisors started to put huge posters with quotes on them up on the walls. Then Rabbi Zians told us to take a pen and to go to a quote and comment on the poster how that quote spoke to us. You can also go and comment on others comments. There was one quote that really stood out for me. “All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” What I wrote on the poster is something that will really hit you. I wrote that this is the biggest proof that G-d exists. We know that G-d made a covenant with the Jews, so the fact that the Jews are still around means that there’s truth to the fact the G-d is protecting us.
After that we drove to Tiberius to visit the kever of Rebbe Akiva and the Ramchal. My advisor Jake Davidow told me that some people have the tradition to read the chapter of Tehilim that corresponds to the year of your age. So if I’m 17 then I would read the 18th chapter of tehilim because I’m in the 18th year of my life. I did so accordingly and then said a personal prayer for my family. It was very meaningful for me because I’ve always heard stories of these guys in school and I never thought I’d actually get the chance to daven by thier kevarim and ask them to be my shaliach in shamaim.
After everyone was done we went outside and davened Mariv and then we were off to the restaurant to break our fast!
We came to this really nice restaurant called באזל. It was high above the ground with glass walls, a really beautiful view. During the whole meal there were people chowing down on some really good bread. Like I’m talking hard crust soft interior whole wheat. Others were laughing over some really good fettuccine Alfredo. Overall it was a great meal!
When everyone was stuffed to the brim we started to make our way toward a carnival just down the street. I bought myself an ice cream cone and my friends and we started to make our way down the street we saw a bunch of cats and soldiers with M-16’s strapped to the backs. It was a true Israeli carnival! I bought some really baggy pants with a cool mosaic African design. I’m actually wearing them right now I’ve gotten a lot of complements lol. Anyway the night came to a close with me taking a well deserved shower and the brushing of my teeth. Things I couldn’t do Saturday night because of tisha b’av.
I hope this article puts the mind of a JOLTer into perspective and helps you understand what our trip is and what it’s all about. I’LL SEE Y’ALL IN ירושלים!
First Shabbos in Israel
Hey parents! Shavua tov! This Shabbat was our first in Israel and it was absolutely amazing. On Friday night we all took shabbat pictures with a view of the Kinneret behind us because we are staying in the city of Tiberias. Following that, we had an extremely meaningful kabbalat shabbat davening full of various niguns and dancing. After our meal on Friday night, we all gathered in a circle in the shul to listen to inspiring words of Torah from our advisor Donny and Rabbi Zians, who led us as we sang more niguns and songs. During the kumzitz, we got so into it that we were standing up on our chairs and singing to the top of our lungs. It was beautiful and so fun.
On Shabbat morning we all met in the shul for shacharit and a yummy kiddush full of Israeli snacks and beverages. We then split up into our chaburahs to learn torah and gain chizuk from our special advisors. After that we had a delicious lunch and hours of menucha, or nap time in my case, and then dinner and ebbing! Ebbing is my favorite time of Shabbat because we all know it’s coming and we all feel ready to sing our hearts out to say goodbye to the Shabbat Queen. Can’t wait to see you soon!
Israel Day 2 – Tzfat
Today we went to Tzfat. The holy, beautiful, magnificent city of Tzfat. I thought it was gorgeous, seeing the architecture and the buildings and structures covered in blue paint. Ruti, our awesome tour guide taught us a new word in Hebrew that Israelis say all the time – שרותים – which means bathroom. This will definitely be a helpful word to know! Before we toured Tzfat, we sent a messenger bird back to Kfar Kedem (where we rode donkeys yesterday) with a note attached to it. This was how people used to send messages back and forth. It was fun pretending to go back in time. Afterwards, we went to a glass blowing/making shop. The guy who showed us how to make glass pieces told us he is from Atlanta. A couple kids on the program are from Atlanta and it was nice to play Jewish geography with him. He showed us how to make a shot glass – wow it was so cool to see! It was incredible seeing the melted glass sculpted into a vessel that someone can drink out of.
Next, after eating delicious pizza, we went shopping around the old city of Tzfat. There are stores of artwork and jewelry and other things as well. We also bumped into TJJ Ambassadors while walking around there. After shopping for about an hour, we went on a scavenger hunt to learn more about the city ourselves other than being lectured about Tzfat. I have no idea which group won in the end and my group never found the Messiah Alley but it was really fun learning about Tzfat in this hands on way. We also got iced cafe!!! Yum!
After the scavenger hunt, we visited a cave where hundreds of Jews hid during a war. While underground, we were told that Jake, one of our advisors, has to leave Monday morning for school. Although very sad, we all appreciate the Torah and knowledge he spread throughout the duration of the trip. We will miss him so much!! I can’t wait for shabbos!
Israel Day 1 – Kotel and Kfar Kedem
Dead Jolter families!
As we got off the plane from Austria this morning, I couldn’t keep my eyes open or even stand straight. We had had a long, fun day in Munich, Germany and an incredible 10 days with Jsummer. I was tired and all I wanted to do was eat some delicious shawarma and go to sleep for 5 years straight. However, I got off the plane and walked through passport control as well as I could. We got on the bus and drove straight to the kotel. I pushed myself to keep my eyes open and told myself to enjoy the moment. As we walked up to the kotel I got the same feeling I feel every time, but more. We had just gone through an emotionally draining journey in Poland where we followed millions of Jews footsteps as they walked the path of death for being themselves; Jewish. As I walked up to the kotel I couldn’t help but think of how grateful I am to be able to stand in a land purposefully meant for us Jews, and to be able to show my Jewish pride. I davened shachrit with my hand against the wall and davened with so much kavana. I made sure to thank Hashem for the freedom we have and the incredibly beautiful land He’s given us. We then went donkey riding which was a once in a lifetime experience. I sat on the donkey and held on for my life, as my friend drove the donkey through the streets. We made delicious pita and ate rice, salad, and shakshuka. After donkey riding, we had an early curfew and got an amazing and well deserved 8 hour night sleep (but no shawarma yet). Our first day in Israel was a great way to start off our 2 weeks in the holy land and I can’t wait for the rest!
Day 8 – JSummer
After shacharis, the day started with mifkad. After our usual singing and shtick, we saw a fake marriage proposal as a color war break out for JSummer. I have to admit it was pretty good. I would be lying if I didn’t say that emotions were running high. After mifkad we had a ruach filled breakfast. After breakfast, we split up into our teams and began strategizing on how to move forward on banners, songs, skits, decorations and more. Color war included a relay race, which to be honest, ended up being a wild goose chase around camp.
After a long day of team spirit and excitement, we enjoyed a sium by one of our advisors, which was convenient because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to eat meat, as it is the 9 days.
The night concluded with both teams presenting the wholes days work at the judges mercy.
Truly a fun and meaningful experience for everyone, especially the JSummer kids, as they don’t get a fun Jewish environment often. I’m looking forward to the last day of camp tomorrow.
P.S. My team, the blue team, won.