Our CVK 2013 trip has officially ended, and while many of our participants stayed in Israel to spend time with friends, family, and each other, many of us are back in the states and missing Israel already. Stay tuned for more photos and speeches from the trip - we had a wonderful time!
This will be my first trip to Israel and like all of you, I am excited for this trip and the experiences we will all share. At first, I was a little nervous because this is definitely taking me outside of my comfort zone and I didn’t know anyone on the trip, but then I got to thinking about what this trip could mean to me.
I have heard that going to Israel is unlike any other experience abroad, and I look forward to seeing the sights and learning more about the trials and successes of this place and it’s resilient people. Personally, I am a member of BBYO, which is the largest Jewish youth organization in the world. Through my experiences in BBYO, I have come to further expand my Jewish Identity. I haven’t always been so close to my Judaism as I am now, but despite being someone who more recently found his Jewish roots, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement just being able to be here.
CVK has given us the chance to learn and encounter so much that Israel has to offer. All of us have been presented with an amazing opportunity to really see the country and experience the Jewish culture in a new and more intimate way. I always thought that I would have to wait to see Israel, and words cannot express how thrilled I am to be going into my senior year having had this experience. I hope to bring this experience with me in all that I do, and I expect that like I have heard from so many others, that I will be a changed, better person for taking this step in immersing myself in something I feel such a strong connection with.
I still can’t even imagine how amazing this trip is going to be. I couldn’t feel more proud to be standing here in the Jewish homeland, even though we just arrived. Through this shared experience, I hope we can all grow closer to each other and our faith.
Three things we love: Tzofim, Israel, and Play-Doh!
Erev tov, chetz vekeshet.
You and I, and the segel, have just reached the final moments of a month-long adventure together.
The rhythm of CVK made these tidbits somewhat evasive, but there were one or two things in this program that were of particular value, and that one would be challenged to find in other programs.
For one, this was no summer camp. The military structure of the program—the tzevet, the machlaka, the pluga—put us all in a position where we get to know each other in a rather mature and intimate way.
We were challenged on multiple occasions—planned and unplanned—to help ourselves, and to help each other, and to help each other help one another.
That in itself is of great value, though there is one more thing I’d like to mention that is less noticeable, yet of great significance.
Our mefakdim are active duty servicemen and women in the IDF, and their passion for their job and our county was reflected in everything they did and in everything they taught us. But it wasn’t the ere “hitla’avut” of camp couselors. The boiling passion they showed us—for us, for their jobs, and for their own opportunities in life—revealed to us (the chanichim) an extended peak into a uniquely adult universe: one of responsibility, dedication, hard work, determination, love, and just enough light-heartedness and shtuyot to keep you within the confines of sanity.
So whilst the individual laughs and gaffs and fears and tears sure are something to remember, and the challenges are moreover something to cherish, it’s the big picture—the whole month-long picture you might have missed with your camera—that can teach us the biggest lesson, and turn us into people of deep strength and deeper passion for what’s important in our personal worlds.
On your way home, you naturally start digesting everything that you’ve gone through, and that varies from person to person. But this particular program added an extra dimension to our communal plate and I know that, at least for me, that same big picture will be the greatest source of wisdom in the years to come.
I’d like to thank the mefakdim, the samalin, the mememim, the mempeyim, the mefaked of cvk, and every single person involved in the planning and execution of this phenomenal July.
Thank you all very much, and a safe trip to you all!
~ Yaniv Levy
When I first signed up for the Chetz v’Keshet, I had no idea what to expect for the summer. I was nervous and days before I had sleepless nights. From the end of CVK, I can tell you all that whenever I look back on the trip, I can’t help but smile.
The people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, and the memories I’ve made will never be forgotten in my heart.
One memorable experience for me was Gadna Week. We learnt what life as a soldier is really like. It taught me a lot about my friends, but also a lot about myself. As in charge of tzevet, I had many responsibilities and expectations. Helping the team come together and endure discomforts was no easy task. Every masa (military journey) and activity was challenging, but through each challenge, we got closer. We learned how to sneak around at night and dodge grenades.
I have friends and family waiting for me but I don’t want to leave. When this trip is over, through good or bad times, I will always have these memories to cheer me up. Leaving this program, I don’t think of you as friends, but as family. I know you all feel the same, so let’s look at this not as the end, but as the beginning of life long friends.
~ Gal Moore, Machlaka 4
My name is Adir Even and I’m here to tell you about the amazing experience that is CVK. The main idea it to take American youth and team them up with Israelis and grant them an opportunity to see the land, the culture, and the people of Israel, from Rosh HaNikra to Eilat. We have already explored Jerusalem, travel the beautiful desert called the Negev whose future was predicated by Ben Gurion’s vision. In the strenuous Gadna week that we all loved so much, we learned skills such as navigation and how to shoot a weapon. We were impressed by the luscious Galil and the beautiful North of Israel.
But the most important thing was meeting new people whether Israeli or American. The idea of connecting Israelis to Americans is very special because we have the chance to learn about eachother’s lifestyles, where it’s m&m’s or falafel in the Jewish quarter.
On a personal level, I am glad that I was able to partake in this life-altering journey. I recommend for all who can to participant in this adventure. And of course, nothing would have been the same without our amazing mefakdim who were always making sure that we had fun.
~ Adam Even, Machlaka 2
CVK has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to not only learn about the country my family comes from, but also to learn about myself.
I can’t believe I’ve only know all of these people for a few short weeks, because I feel like our relationships are as good as the ones with my friends that I’ve known for years back home. Driving, laughing, eating and pretty much living together has created a bond between us that I think is really special and not always easy to form.
Everything within us was tested during Gadna week, and I think we came out stronger and closer than we did going in. We supported each other through all the tough times and I especially remember being literally pushed up the mountain during the night hike when I thought I couldn’t take another step.
Besides the hard times that we help each other through, there are equally important times spent together when we are just relaxing outside before bed; playing music and enjoying each other’s company. Even though we didn’t have any organized activities during these times, they contributed a lot to the trip and really allowed me to get to know everybody better.
Finally, I want to talk about something very personal that I’ve experienced, through CVK. It’s that feeling of self-pride when I’ve accomplished something especially difficult such as climbing the Masada and and received my own dog tag with my name engraved on it.
Overall, I’ve had a really special experience on this trip, and I know I won’t ever forget all of the memories I’ve made here.
~ Yaell Livni, Machlaka 1
The South wek was very challenging but really bonded our Machlaka together. The heat took a tole on us but made the experience much more worthwhile. The climb up Masada was the most meaningful to do, side by side with th new friends we’ve made. The feeling after Masada was indescribable — you really feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. Sleeping in the desert, under the stars, was a memorable experience because it is unlikely any of us would be willing to slep on the rock floor again. The hike the next morning was extremely difficult and long but worth it because the view of Syria, Jordan and Israel was incredible. In general, South Week was great!
~ Ashley Tempstet and Sandra Perl, Machlaka 3
The North week began after our first free weekend following Gadna. All of my friends and I were glad to escape the army and enjoy a week of touring in northern israel. During the week we visited one of the Druze villages. It was nice to be able to see the way in which these villagers live, eat, and practice religious customs.
The following day consisted of Arab/Jewish discussion and cave rappelling. The Arabic girls and my American peers compared customs in our religions, one being dating. Their parents do not allow the girls to date until they leave for college. We were also told that some of their classmates secretly have boyfriends and girlfriends. Although it would be difficult to follow these Arabic customs, I respect and admire them.
Water rafting in the Jordan river and the Banyas hike occurred later in the week. I personally love hiking, but the unbearable heat made the hike more challenging.
A BBQ was prepared for us as soon as we arrived at the kinneret, as well as a beach party at night. After an eventful night, we fell asleep under the stars. I woke up the next morning with eleven mosquito bites- most of which have unfortunately not yet gone away. The Mefakdim finally allowed us to enter the water and take part in the extreme water sports. Hiking in the Magrase river concluded north week.
~ Michelle Abramov, Machlaka 2
North Week in CVK has been such an experience to remember. I have rappelled down cliffs and rafted down rivers, ate with Druze and had a dance party like them. I have seen an ancient city with more history than I can fit in a week and crawled through caves. Although at times the lectures could feel like alot, I can honestly say that I am proud to leave Israel with more than I came. Sometimes the program has been hard, like in Gadna week, but I only feel like I grew from it.
~ Ofir Elyakim, Machlaka 4