I am in the car, on my way back from Miami. I am listening to Matisyahu on a CD and the song Jerusalem is playing. Instantly, I am catapulted into a stream of memories that flow from my mind. I see Hasidim dancing around the Kotel. I see hundreds of teens on a rooftop singing prayers to bring in the Shabbat. But,
This summer, I had the privilege to take part in an amazing summer experience: NCSY’s The Jerusalem Journey, TJJ. Over 200 teens from across America and Canada were divided into five buses, and sent on a simple mission to tour the country. However, the “tour” became much more than a scenic excursion. We delved into a deeper sense of our Judaism and explored our faith. On Shabbat we not only sang songs, but we learned D’var Torahs and listened to sermons from prestigious rabbis. Through this trip, I was able to question my beliefs and not fear an outcome that would stray me from Judaism. I was able to learn, in depth, about certain prayers like the Shema and delve into the mysticism about Hashem’s many names. I even got a ring engraved with the Shema on it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that without my TJJ experience, I would not be the person I am today. Although we were only in Israel for a month, the length of time we spent there was incomparable to the amount that we accomplished. We started out as a group of secular strangers and ended as a Jewish family.
As I turn onto the exit that will eventually lead me to my house, I think back to those lazy summer days, before I went on TJJ, in which I basically watched TV all day or Facebooked. It is amazing to think that one’s life can change in a matter of a few weeks. I went from sweating in the humid Florida heat to zip-lining down mountains, hiking through waterfalls, and simultaneously learning something about myself and Judaism. This summer was truly one I will never forget.