Article Courtesy of New Jersey Jewish News
Twenty-two students from Merhavim, MetroWest's Jewish Agency Partnership 2000 community in Israel (together with Ofakim) arrived in the area in time to celebrate the first day of Hanukka with their counterparts at Golda Och Academy in West Orange.
The Israeli teens were in New Jersey December 2-9 for a visit arranged by GOA and the Legow Family Israel Program Center of MetroWest and funded by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ's Partnership 2000; the Israelis were hosted by GOA students and their families.
They were immersed in an educational program that exposed them to the history of American-Jewish life, including visits to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Lower East Side. They also experienced the diversity of Jewish life, visited Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston and Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, and participated in different styles of prayers services at the academy.
Delegation members talked about their life in Merhavim in Israel's Negev in discussion sessions with students at GOA and local synagogue religious schools and members of JCC MetroWest's Margulies Senior Center in West Orange.
MetroWest youth shlicha Daphna Yizrael, who organized the trip, said that it was "an amazing experience for all who were involved. It included many memorable moments, but the highlight has to have been the wonderful connections that were made between the Israelis and their hosts, who were more than happy to welcome their Israeli guests into their families."
Teen visitor Noy Shoham said, "I feel that now I know so much about the second half of the Jewish people." Fellow delegation member Roten Dan said he now knows that "Israel means so much to this community."
Many of the GOA students will be in Israel for three months later in the school year as part of the academy's Neshama program, where they will be reunited with their new Israeli friends.