Teen Exchange Reflection

29 December

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Teen Mentor Reflection

by Nir M

I was a little apprehensive of joining this exchange for the second year. I was excited about the possibility of the different and transformative experiences that are possible in this incredible partnership, yet I was nervous about how would the program develop for me.

I had asked myself, Will everything run smoothly? Will I have the meaningful experience like I had last year? Well, now after more then half the Israel side of the yearlong journey passed, I can definitely say that the answer is a big YES. Yes -this has been an incredible journey for me and for the participants.

The new cohort is amazing, both the Israeli side and the American side, and the experiences are as meaningful as ever. During the morning of the second day in Jerusalem, during the “Shacharit” where each one said what he or she is thankful for, I could say we were a united group based on the reflections of the teens. Everyone was honest, saying what he or she really thinks, and each individual seemed very pleased to be exactly where we were at that point.

I think that after hearing about the terror attack in Jerusalem in the first day, visiting the Kotel also became something much more meaningful and important to our group. We all knew why we are here, even though Israel is a tough and complex place, and that nothing and no one can break the connection between Jews all around the world and Israel.

During the Friday service, I was amazed to see all of the Americans singing the prayers, knowing a large amount of them by heart. I once again felt that this connection is something that cannot be described by words, and is indeed strong and unique mifgash (encounter). We then went on to the Shabbat Dinner and Oneg where we sang some songs and it felt, as we are one group. We were all laughing, singing and enjoying each other’s company.

I am looking forward to the rest of the trip, and to my new “New York” friends, I no longer worry about our group. This group is amazing and I know that both sides will continue to have meaningful and enjoyable experiences that they will remember for a very long time. I also know that strong friendships have already been made on this journey and the connection between Israel and Jews all around the world is as strong as ever!

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