Written by: Naomi Strauss, NFTY-PAR member and SHAFTY/Shir Ami member from Newtown, PA
One use of the root of Baruch is the Hebrew word “L’havrich” which refers to taking a vine and putting part of the growing branch under the ground so that it may sprout roots, just like each group has sprouted and grown into a complete kehillah (community). Throughout this trip, we have all made amazing memories together that has formed us into one family. Although we’ve all come from different places, different sessions, different friend groups, we have all been brought together as one through these memories that we now share and will never forget. During the first week, we survived a 10-hour bus ride without wanting to kill each other and visited horrific places from the Holocaust, supporting each other along the way. However, the fun truly began when we finally arrived in Israel after counting down the days from last year.
I think we can all agree that this trip has been more fun than any of us pictured it to be, but when we leave were not going to remember all of the big things that happened or all of the places we’ve visited. Rather, we’re going to remember the little things and the memories that we’ve all created and the way we made each other feel. We will always remember the bubbly feeling we got as we saw each other in the airport or the secure feeling we felt as we slept under the stars together. We will always remember the tingly feeling we felt in our noses when we saw each other smiling. The pain in our stomach from laughing too hard and most importantly the sadness we are going to feel as we say our last goodbyes in the airport.
I remember the very first day of this trip. The excitement and anticipation of the upcoming weeks was at an all-time high, but Itamar just being Itamar had to slip in a little bit of reality. He said “in no time at all I will be saying goodbye to all of you in this airport”. I thought nothing of it, I had five weeks of adventure and risks ahead of me. Right before my eyes this trip unraveled to make twists and turns I never expected but fun only ever came out of the unexpected. Yeah, climbing Mount Shlomo wasn’t easy. Sure, the hours on hours of bus rides felt like they would never end. But now we can all look back and see all the hidden lessons this trip taught each and every one of us: Jewish history – the importance of learning about the past. Hiking – perseverance. Hearing bombs at the border – appreciation. Being together – unity. These lessons will come with us everywhere, from the streets of Poland to the heart of Jerusalem to our small suburban town homes. Although we are leaving each other soon, this trip will never leave us. When we all depart, a little bit of this kehillah will go home with us.