Reflections from Israel: Closing Time
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
Letters from Israel: The “CVK” Experience
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
Letters from Israel: Once In A Lifetime
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
Letters from Israel: South Week
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
Week Two: Gadna Week
Last week, CVK’ers got a taste of what army life is like. They spent the week camping at an army base, shooting rifles, and having barbecues - talk about a bonding experiences. They began their week-long Gadna with a masa, or journey, at night. Led by soldiers and their madrichim, the CVK’ers traveled around the area near their base, carrying (empty) stretchers and following the correct path. They took orders from their commanders, and held the Israeli flag proudly high. What a rush!
Week One: Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You
Part of the transitional process of Opening Week on CVK is the participation in ice breaker activities, where participants get to know and trust each other and their madrichim. CVK spends one day in the forests outside of Jerusalem, doing trust exercises, group activities, and other ice breaking games. The long-lasting friendships are already starting to form, as our CVK’ers are having the times of their lives!
Week One: Opening Ceremony
Last week, CVK’ers arrived in Israel. Upon landing, they were greeted and welcomed enthusiastically by their Israeli madrichim and peers. During the Opening Ceremony, they were introduced to Israel and heard speeches from their peers, getting excited for the upcoming few weeks. Here is one picture from the festivities.
And now, a few words from your kids… (CVK 2012 Opening Ceremony Speech)
Hi, My name is Matt Stapylton and I come before you with the great task of answering some questions about my expectations for this coming month. Number one, why did I choose Chetz V’Keshet? Now, I was fully prepared to answer this with a great description of my feelings toward this program using only a few too many adjectives. In actuality, my Mom found it online and convinced me to go.
So, what convinced me? Unlike some of the other Israel programs I’ve looked at, this one offered more adventure, greater physical challenges, and the chance to spend time with Israelis my age. When I told my friends I was going to do basic training, half of them were impressed, the other half were concerned. As for me, I’m not quite sure yet.
Now that I’ve made the mistake of telling you how I chose this program, I’ll go on and talk about how I started picturing the trip as the departure date got closer. I’ve been to Israel before when I was younger so I knew that it is a beautiful place, filled with friendly people and amazing things to do. I pictured hiking up Masada, and was intrigued by the water hike up the Madrasa River. I’m not an observant Jew, but being Jewish is a large part of my identity and I feel connected to that when I visit Israel.
I know my friends back home won’t believe me when I say I’m really looking forward to eating salad for breakfast, but I am a little concerned that by the last week, I’ll really miss a good old American hamburger. I figured it might be an uphill battle against my appetite when the medical form said that Israeli food contains more vegetables and less protein than Americans are used to.
I’ve brought a Frisbee and I’m looking forward to starting up a game. I also hope someone has a guitar and we have a chance to jam a little. Last but not least, I hope to improve my Hebrew.
Like some of you, I was apprehensive about going out on a limb, or in this case a plane thousands of miles away from home. Yet, I know that there are going to be so many great things going on that we’ll be too busy to feel homesick. I look forward to getting to know all of you in the month to come, or, as they say in Hebrew, Yallah, Chevreh, zman livalot!