NCSY Summer Kollel in Israel: Actions Speak Louder than Words
To commemorate the reading of the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah this coming Sabbath, November 19, which describes Abraham’s purchase of the Maarat HaMachpelah (Cave of Patriarchs), a booklet of greetings from both Israeli and Diaspora leaders will be published by the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs of Israel. The government of Israel has designated this ancient, revered cave as a national heritage site.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which includes the Orthodox Union as a member, has been asked by the Ministry to call on each member organization to submit an entry for the booklet.
The following is the Orthodox Union submission:
For millenia, we, the Jewish people, have traced our connection to the Holy Land of Israel to our biblical roots. As faithful Jews who attend synagogue regularly, and who read and absorb each week’s Torah portion, we have recently read of the Almighty’s promise of this land to Abraham, the first Jew.
The Seymour J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center, located on Rehov Keren HaYesod in the center of Jerusalem, is a heart pulsing with life and hope for the Jewish people—all Jews, of all ages, of all backgrounds. With the vision and leadership of its Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman, the OU Israel Center has evolved into a center of Jewish communal activity and programming par excellence.
Since coming to work for the OU Department of Public Relations in April 2010, it has been my wish to intern at the OU Israel Center - to learn about its activities, report on its programs and interact with the hundreds of teens sent by NCSY and Yachad for summer experiences. During the process, I hoped to deep my professional skills by drafting feature articles for OU Headquarters in New York.
In the U.S., we use phrases like “kids off the derech” or “teenagers at risk”, but Israel’s Dati Leumi (religious Zionists) have termed it “youth on the edge”. The following letter was submitted to Olam Katan, a popular Shabbat newsletter in Israel. The author offers a personal opinion that gives us an insight into the hearts of Israel’s disaffected youth and what OU Israel Programs are doing to address the situation
Within an exclusive Dati Leumi forum, I recently read opinions regarding the “Rikud Degalim” (flag waving parade to the Old City on Yom Yerushalayim). Amongst the crowd, even though the parade had been organized separately according gender, it was noted that a small contingency of Dati Leumi boys and girls were hanging out together, and that individuals within this crowd, some of whom were couples, were observed to be holding hands or embracing.
OU Israel, in conjunction with L’ayla, hosted the first annual Women’s mission to Israel during the week of Feb. 13-22, 2011. A group of women from across the United States joined the trip and the verdict was unanimous- it was an unforgettable experience for all the participants, including those women in Israel who joined the tour for individual days.