As the Development Director of NCSY Israel, I am tasked with telling the story of the organization to the broader community. It is hard to convey a nuanced story and I often feel myself correcting misconceptions. But after speaking with a few of our alumni, I realized that they are the best way to relate our story.
I recently met with Avi to tell me his story. Avi made Aliyah in 2010 at the age of 11 with his family. Moving from Maryland to Yad Binyamin, Avi needed to adjust to a very different life in Israel. School in Hebrew was difficult. He jumped between a couple of schools and dropped out at various points throughout his integration process. Socially he felt lonely. On his Aliyah flight he met another oleh his age and they became friends who have remained close to this day. That friend, having made Aliyah from New Jersey, was the only person in Avi’s life that shared in his story of struggle and adjustment.
At the end of 2016, Avi was introduced to NCSY Israel through a shabbaton taking place in his community. He still remembers that shabbaton as one of the greatest Shabbat experiences in his life. The meaningful singing and dancing, the caring and welcoming advisors, but most of all, Avi was drawn to the social network NCSY provided. He was introduced to other teens working through the same integration struggles as he was; people that finally could relate and understand him. Before NCSY, Avi was so unhappy with his elementary and high school experiences living in Israel that he anticipated returning to the United States after graduating. NCSY Israel changed all of that. He became more comfortable and confident here. As the oldest of 5 children, Avi was the first in his family to navigate enlisting in the IDF. He was fortunate to have the help of a cousin who had served in the army, as well as NCSY Israel co-regional director Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg. Rabbi Ginsberg was able to guide him through the process as someone who has served in the IDF himself. Avi now proudly serves in an infantry unit in the Israeli army and is thankful towards NCSY Israel for its help in getting him to where he is today.
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