by Tal Levy *
I feel as if I virtually went to Richmond, Virginia this summer. It all began innocently with a simple question by our 17-year old son, Tzuf. "Mom they advertised a date for interviews to whomever wishes to go to the JCC Maccabi Games in Richmond this year…should I try?"
The answer was a resounding yes. Our daughter went several years ago and stayed with the Hecht family (parents Ronnie & Michael). We have been friends ever since. The Hechts came to stay with us here, and the rest is history.
The planned trip to Richmond arranged our summer and was clearly one of the highlights of my son's experience. Tzuf joined fourteen other teens from Emek Hefer, who were equally as excited and moved by the experience. Traveling to Richmond was an amazing experience never to be forgotten.
The excitement built gradually as the delegation prepared here in Emek Hefer with several events. This built a sense of team and camaraderie.
We were blessed with an amazing and unique chaperon, , Jacquie Mohar,. With her help, we truly travelled virtually to Richmond. She made it her business to report from the minute they left till they came back in her outstanding blog which was also filled with pictures.
The very warm welcome by the whole community and especially that of the host families was exceptional. The connection was immediate. E-mails, Facebook chats and the phone conversations exuded happiness and excitement about what they saw and did. All were filled with compliments on the open homes and hearts of the host families.
My son, a swimmer, was very excited to stay with his family Ronnie & Michael Hecht and their three wonderful teenage kids. They made him feel as if their house was a home away from home. They went out of their way to pumper him and the rest of the kids who stayed there.
The week of the games was THE PEAK with one medal won after the other. In spite of the completion and different cultures, Jacquie wrote to us, "it was difficult to know who is from Israel and who isn't as they got along so well."
Saying the goodbyes was hard and moving and a lot of tears were shed before the flight back home.
One thing is for certain. The Emek Hefer delegation, thanks to the help and support of so many people on both sides of the ocean caught the Ruach!!! And thanks for my virtual trip to Richmond.
* Tal Levy, a native Israeli and parent of JCC Maccabi Games participant Tzuf Levy, teaches English at at Ruppin College.
Richmond hosted the JCC Maccabi Games this year. Over 800 youth Jewish youth participated, including 13 from Emek Hefer, Richmond's Jewish Agency Partnership 2000 Region in Israel. In order to bring a snapshot of our Partnership, we are presenting some reflections from teens and parents on both sides of the ocean.