4 Palm Springs – Ramat HaNegev Youth Exchange July 2016

Palm Springs – Ramat HaNegev Youth Exchange 2016

We were privileged to host a wonderful delegation of 9 teens from our Partnership Community of Jewish Federation of the Desert.
They spent 10 days travelling around Israel and especially in Ramat HaNegev.

The group of 20 teens (from Palm Springs and Israel) were hosted in the Pitchat Nitzana communities and families and spent their days doing a wide range of activates. This is a wonderful program which builds strong connections between the youth, leadership skills, Zionist identity and an amazing personal connection to Israel.

The program continues next year when our youth will be visiting in Palm Springs area for the continuation of the exchange where they will learn about Jewish life in America first hand.

Thank you to our wonderful Partners in Jewish Federation of the Desert and Temple Sinai for all their efforts and support in making this program happen.

Here are few words by our recent visit from the Palm Springs Youth Exchange 2016

“When we were given the opportunity to go to Israel, we expected to have a lot of fun and
those expectations were fulfilled immensely but we never expected to be immersed into an amazing culture.

We visited and viewed a lot of important places to the Jewish people which helped us engage in more in depth and universal discussions about the world we live in today. We walked through Har Herzl and listened to great tales of brave soldiers who sacrificed themselves for the state of Israel, so that the Zionist hope would continue on.
We then observed each and every detail about the horrible events that took place during WWII In the Yad Vashem holocaust museum. We realized that we have a huge responsibility to ,continue preventing atrocities like the holocaust to ever happen again to any race or ethnicity of people.
We were given the special opportunity to pray at the Kotel, the most important piece of history for the Jewish people, along with a very historical trip to Masada and a relaxing float in the Dead Sea.

We had been planning to meet with another youth group in ramat hanegev and we were very excited to get to observe how teens our age live in the Israeli desert.
We didn’t expect to be welcomed with such graciousness and kindness to where we felt like we had come home. These teens are so passionate for many things and very dedicated and determined even if it’s during a friendly game of soccer (kadur regel).
We were able to communicate even through a small language barrier and develop friendships, and learned how responsible and kind the teens in Israel are.

We were so glad we got to stay with our host families in moshavim, small communities where everybody acts as one big family (mishpacha) and we were able to get to know the friendly neighbors and pets of the other residents in the moshavim of Kadesh Barneiah and Kmechin and were taught how to live like an Israeli 16/17 year old.

We played various games like icebreakers, interactive activities, and card games that really allowed us to get to know each other’s personalities and cultures. We loved to swim with the kids in the moshav’s community swimming pool and even local spring in the desert.
The teens intimidated us at first because they seemed to be very athletic and masters of outdoor activities but we then realized this is part of their culture, they really appreciate the environment they live in and refuse to take it for granted like we do in America and spend as much time as they can out and about in the Negev.
A lot of the schools here promote nature preservation and always remind the youth about partaking in Tikkun Olam.

We absolutely love spending time with these amazing people and feel like we’ve become one big mishpacha, a family. 

We want to thank the Jewish federation of the Desert and the Ramat ha Negev Regional Council for this extraordinary opportunity to visit Israel.
To sum up all the events of our trip we like to end on a short note –
Israel is really Sababa !”

Alana Mittleman
Jacob Hough
Joanna Berkowitz
Megan Eslamboly
Afton Kalkoske
Ari Freedman
Sam Trudeau
Josh Feldman
Gabby George