Ahava came to Israel as a young girl 8 years old from West Hempstead, NY. Despite her relatively young age, it took her a while to overcome the cultural divide.
Once Ahava went to high school, and joined NCSY, she finally felt like she was part of a community.
“Coming to NCSY was like coming home,” says Ahava. “The upper staff is incredible, especially Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg and Rabbi Mike Kahn. It’s really reassuring to meet people like you, and to have a comfortable place to work through our experiences as teen olim. NCSY helped develop my Zionistic identity.”
“Many teenagers aren’t happy living in Israel because it wasn’t their choice to live here,” Ahava explains. “As soon as they can, they want to move back to their country of origin. Many of them struggle with their Jewish identity and staying religious. At NCSY Israel, teens can receive the support they need from dedicated advisors.”
“One of my advisors is Chana, and she is the best advisor ever,” laughs Ahava. “That’s how she is saved on my phone.”
“Two years ago, I had a question on why fish and meat can’t be eaten at the same time, and she sat with me for two hours as we looked up the halacha together. It was so illuminating and empowering to know the source of the halacha, and not just to be told what to do. People always ask questions like what is the point of shomer negia, Shabbos, or why should I stay in Israel? The advisors are there to help you emotionally, religiously and spiritually. ”
Although Ahava had a great sherut leumi position in a museum lined up, she decided to push it off and will be attending Midreshet Lindenbaum in the upcoming year.
“I have so much gratitude towards NCSY,” Ahava says. “I couldn’t have made it this far without them.”
By Pnina Baim