Aviv Kotler from Kibbutz Gat – art and environmental protection:
Aviv, a 10th grade student at Tzafit Regional High School tells us that, “apart from the desire to learn something new, I’m looking forward to experiencing a different community on the other side of the world. How can I, as an Israeli, inspire them to want to come over here and see my community – and to see that this is a good relationship, which is advancing and developing.” Besides being a guide in the HaShomer HaTzair youth movement, Aviv practices sculpturing, art and dancing and is highly aware of the importance of keeping our environmental clean. The environmental issue is a hot topic everywhere, and Aviv is going to integrate it into her guiding sessions.
Amir Gordon from Kibbutz Galon – volunteering, sports, guiding:
As far as Amir, a 10th grader at Tzafit, is concerned, “my main expectation is to get to know Jewish-American culture. Then I want to be able to successfully explain Israel to them and bring them a taste and feel of Israel, for example to tell them about life in Israel. My third goal, is to enjoy myself.” Amir is a guide at Gefen Community Center, he volunteers at the Sdot Yoav
School’s petting zoo, and plays in Tzafit’s basketball team. Amir is used to playing basketball with the members of the group that he guides, and he believes that basketball and other sport activities will work well in Lehigh Valley too.
Noa Peleg from Kibbutz Kfar Menahem – dancing, photography, painting:
Noa is excited about the great experience that awaits her this summer: “I’m looking forward to learning from this experience, to come away from it with a feeling that I accomplished what I set out to do, to deliver the material I have to deliver: to purvey to them the Israel which I call ‘my home’ and which is also the home of my partners in the delegation.” Noa is a guide in the HaShomer HaTzair youth movement, and she studies painting, photography and dance. In Noa’s view, dance is perfect to integrate into guiding because it can impart joy and energy to everybody in daily life. Another way is by using art and handcrafts to work though each topic of the summer camp.
Roi Barkay of Moshav Kfar HaRif – piano, theatre and basketball
Roi is a guide in the Ichud Haklai youth movement and a 10th grade student at Tzafit. He is looking forward to gaining some new experiences overseas: “the thing I expect, and want first, is to have new experiences and get to know a new culture. As a representative of Yoav I believe that our connection with US Jewry is immensely strong, but our lives here in Israel might seem vague and unclear to them, and think it is important to show them how we live here.” In Roi’s opinion, drama and music are excellent ways to bring people together.
Bringing Israel to Lehigh Valley
All four are going to act as guides at Center Valley Jewish Community Center’s Kochavim Summer Camp . One of the objectives of the journey is to strengthen the relationship between the two communities. Barrie Saias, Manager of the Kochavim Summer Camp wrote us:
“The Lehigh Valley community is looking forward to hosting teens from Yoav, our partnership/sister community in Israel. We will have 4 teens and 1 young adult Shaliach from Israel join us for the summer. Partnering with the Yoav Region of Israel has proven to be a wonderful way of immersing our community in Israeli life. Our JCC Camp Kochavim campers, staff and greater community will have different opportunities to live, work, play, and travel with our Israeli teens. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to connect with young adults from Israel.”
Yonit Waldner-Peleg, Coordinator of the Partnership, Chen Rozen, from the Yoav Regional Council’s Education Department, and Ziv Menahem, from Kibbutz Beit Nir, who has been delivering preparatory workshops for the new delegations for several years by now are all associated with this project.
“The children undergo an eight-session workshop that prepares them for the summer delegation,” Ziv told us. “They are given a lot of content about guiding and their Jewish identity, and engagement, with the intention of making them ask questions about their identity. At the core is the topic of bringing people together. It is of great importance that they bring their own story into it: where they come from – their community; their Regional Council: Israel. The essence of the whole issue is bringing people together. And the children that were carefully chosen bring with them their private stories and their own Israel stories.
Bringing hearts together
And almost last, but not least, what tip can we give them from someone who has already been to Lehigh Valley and all the way back? We asked Shai Bachar, who was on the 2013 Teen Delegation, and she told us: “my most important experience from the mission, except for meeting children my age was meeting with families… [Four local families are hosting mission members]. It is highly important to get together with these families because besides graining a warm relationship and a warm home you also get a second home overseas for the rest of your life – which is really like a family.” Shai explains that she maintains routine Email correspondence with one of the families, and that another family is planning on visiting her Kibbutz this summer.
The Yoav youth delegation might only be a small group of people, but in their own way they are going to learn that one can change the world, even if it’s just a little, with their self-awareness and commitment to the idea they serve. Aviv’s words express well what we would like to wish to Yoav’s four delegates to Lehigh valley: “I hope that I will leave something of myself there … and will take something from there. I hope the experience will be etched in my memory.” We send our best wishes to Aviv, Amir, Noa and Roi, on behalf of the Partnership and the entire Yoav community, may you go in peace and return in peace and discover this connection that binds people’s hearts together.