NCSY PUBLIC SCHOOL TEEN LEADERS FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA VISIT ISRAELI COMMUNITY OF SDEROT AS PART OF THE JERUSALEM JOURNEY AMBASSADORS PROGRAM
Public school teen leaders from across North America visited the Israeli community of Sderot last Thursday as part of NCSY’s The Jerusalem Journey Ambassadors (TJJA) program.
Now in its second year, TJJA is designed to recruit and develop top teens from North America who are leaders on their public high schools and have promising potential to be leaders on their college campuses as well.
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Declared TJJA Director Rabbi Ben Zion Goldfischer of Modi’in, “This tour was a life-changing experience for our TJJ Ambassadors. When most teenage groups don’t even entertain the thought of visiting Sderot, our NCSYers witnessed how moved Sderot residents were because of our decision to visit the town. Our participants have more insight into the conflict and into the psychology of Sderot children — children who they will also be running a camp for in two weeks time. The TJJ Ambassadors have witnessed how the sounds of the Torah learning have drowned out the sounds of Kassam rockets.”
Guided by Noam Bedein, Director of the Sderot Media Center, the TJJ Ambassadors were encouraged to use their skills and knack for Facebook and internet as venues for defending Israel. After a showcase of Kassam, Ketuysha, and Grad missiles at the Sderot Police station, the TJJA Ambassadors were taken to a local playground that had been redesigned as a Kassam-Free protected zone. Mr. Bedein then simulated a “Tzeva Adom,” “Code Red siren,” which is sounded under threat of missile attack. Students were given 15 seconds to seek refuge in a bomb shelter.
After stopping to observe a lookout of the border where the TJJ Ambassadors had a clear view of Gaza and the border crossings where Israeli humanitarian aid pours into Gaza daily, the TJJ Ambassadors were taken to the Sderot Yeshivat Hesder(Israeli yeshiva in which students alternate their service in the armed forces with time spend advancing their Torah studies).
Rosh Yeshiva Rav Dovid Fendel addressed the TJJ Ambassadors alongside a menorah made of Kassam rockets. He described to the students how the spirit of Torah and Zionism has managed to deflate the will of the terrorists. “Sderot has become a symbol of hope — Am Yisrael Chai!” he declared.
From July 7-August 11, the Ambassadors are meeting with prominent figures and visiting key locations in Israel to discuss current and on-going struggles in the country in order that these emerging leaders will be better prepared to articulate the case for Israel.
“Israel’s most important battles are currently being fought in the battlefield of public opinion, and today we are currently outmanned and outarmed,” explained Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director of New York NCSY and creator of the program. “We need to educate teens who will be influential on influential campuses.”
TJJA is a first visit to Israel for many of the teens, all of whom come from public high schools in North America. Listening to the riveting presentations and having the opportunity to hear about issues ranging from negotiating with terrorists to the current relationship between Israel and America, they are able to understand the critical matters from the very people helping to set policy.
For more information about TJJA, visit www.ncsysummer.com.
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