Next week, I am going to Israel after a two-year hiatus. My usual cadence is to go once or twice a year. The first trip is to interview candidates to join our Israeli staff, otherwise known as the Mishlachat. The Jewish agency is our partner in this endeavor: they know the camps and set up candidates that would be a good fit. Each candidate has attended at least an interview and 2-3 screening workshops. My trip is also an excellent time to take our camp staff on Year Course for a good old-fashioned hamburger at Burgers Bar. Unfortunately, good BBQ is hard to find in Jerusalem.
The second trip is an inspirational trip. Each April or May, CYJ attends a training seminar for all the Israelis going to North American camps at Kibbutz Shefayim. Our seminar, which has around 400 people in attendance, includes Young Judaea camps, URJ camps, a few independent camps, and the directors of many of the camps. It’s fun, rejuvenating, and reminds me why we do what we do. The ruach, or spirit, is incredible. I meet eager staff who talk about bringing Israel to our chanichim (campers). They also do not say it, but a trip to America and traveling afterward is also exciting.
This year, we have hired 13 Israelis and 3 Tsofim (scouts) to come to Texas. I am very clear with the Israelis that their mission is to make friends with the CYJ Tsevet, get them to visit them in Israel, and bring their version of Israel to our chanichim. Building a strong Jewish identity and creating Zionists is the value-added of CYJ. I hope you love Israel as much as I do!