My name is Menachem Mendel Rabizadeh and I am from Great Neck New York. Growing up I have always heard about NCSY and how they have inspired so many people and instilled a love of Judiasm in them. My mom was very active with NCSY when she was young, attending Shabbatons and events. They even sent her to Isreal with a scholarship when she was my age. My mom always tells me how NSCY has helped her become more spiritual and provided her with some amazing memories. This is my first time ever on an NCSY program, and the main reason that I decided to go to Isreal with them is because I wanted to develop my love for the land and for Hashem. I could’ve went on any other program but the fact that NCSY has effected so many peoples lives and been a part of my family, the choice was obvious.
This weekend was one of the most powerful weekends I have ever had in my life, no exaggeration. We started off Shabbat by welcoming the angels outside our hotel. During our prayers we focused on the sunset and watched it set while we were singing Mizmor le David. Something that we see every single day is usually taken for granted. We are so jaded by the beutiful things in life such as the sunset, but we have to take a step back and appreciate the wonders that Hashem gives to us. After Kabalat Shabbat we all walked into the dining hall and were greeted by our fellow NCSY group TJJ. Although we did not know many of the kids or advisors that were on TJJ, the warmth that they exerted made us feel like we were family. We all got up on out chairs and started singing Shabbat songs at the top of our lungs. The fact that all of us were singing for shabbat together really made us feel united, despite the fact that we didnt know each other. The Shabbat meal was delicious, and sitting down and shmoozing with all of our friends and advisors really added to the Shabbat experience. After dinner we made friends with a few kids from the other programs and had an oneg Shabbat where we sang and had delicious snacks until curfew.
Getting up for Shabbat was so exciting. The morning service was run perfectly, and almost everyone was included in the prayers weather it by lifting the Torah, carrying it or saying Birkat ha Torah. Torah reading was lead by our director, Rabbi Yoni Pollock and advisor Tzvi Vogel. Following prayers we joined TJJ once again for a delicious lunch. After we benched we had a few hours of free time where we rested, talked to our advisors or hung out with friends. We met up once again to learn a little. The way learning works is that we split up in small groups and have an individual learning time with our advisors based on what we want to learn. After learning we got to the best part of shabbat, where we ebb Shabbat away. All of us got together on the hotel balcony and sat in a circle. We watched the sunset while singing meaningful songs and listening to Rabbi Yoni interpret them for us.
When shabbat ended we transitioned into Tisha ba’av where we changed into non-leather shoes and started fasting. Our program started off with the reading of Eicha. After this we watched many videos on how the destruction of the Beit Ha Mikdash relates to us right now. The root of all sadness and evil in the world right now is because we don’t have the Beit Ha Mikdash. Knowing this, we can identify all the harship in our lives to the destruction of the Beit Ha Mikdash. We all sat on the floor of a dark room and concentrated our emotions on the destruction of the Beit Ha Mikdash and how all of Bnei Yisreal have to stick together. Following the program, we all got up and sat outside in a circle by a small fire. We started off once again by singing. The singing during ebbing was amazing, but this was something else. The amount of emotion prayer that was put into the singing was unparalled. After this, two of our campers had the courage to talk about their experiences in life and all the pain, anxeity and deppresion that they went through. These two stories evoked so many emotions out of all of us and brought many of us to tears. This set the stage for other people to talk the hardships they had to go through. What I can say for myself is that this was the most emotional and beutiful night I have ever had in my life. Everyone goes through something in their life, and the fact that our program came together and understood each others pain and suffering was remarkable. I was truly inspired by every single story and put to tears. That night will be a night I will never forget.
This vibe lasted all throughout Tisha ba’av day aswell. Shachrit and kinos were filled with emotion and the yearning for the third Beit Ha Mikdash to be built. Before the fast ended, we headed to the kotel, where almost every other program was their. It was so astonishing seeing Jews from America, Israel, Canada, England, Mexico and many more coming together and being untied as one. Everyone was putting their arms around each other and singing in unison. We prayed arvit at the kotel and broke out fast on some snacks. After that, we headed to an amazing dairy restruant where we all sat down on one table and enjoyed an amazing meal together. We talked, laughed, and thanked G-D for the food he put before us. I can truly say that after this weekend NCSY Israel ID is my second family.