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Hebrew, Friends, and Fun: What I Loved About Chalutzim By Justin Rubenstein

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Justin Rubenstein

Springboard connects teens to amazing experiences in the Jewish community. We love to feature the stories of teens who patriate in these programs and events. It was so exciting to hear from Justin about his time in Chalutzim at OSRUI this summer! We'd love to feature your story too! Email  Springboard@juf.org if you want to write a blog post.

Q: What did you do this summer?

This summer I did Chalutzim, which is a 7 week Hebrew immersion program at OSRUI. You learn about Israel, you are surrounded by Israeli counselors, and you speak Hebrew. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

Q: Why did you decide to do Chalutzim?

Many people at OSRUI do Chalutzim in 10th grade. I wanted to be at camp and to be part of the camp community and my friends. I also wanted to learn about Israel and learn Hebrew.

Q: What are your favorite moments about this summer?

  • I made a lot of friends and was part of a  fulfilling community where we learned a lot from each other. 
  • Our pool party on the second to last day where we played songs, and all enjoyed being at camp in our last few moments of summer
  • Doing amazing cabin nights (tochnit erev) where we had meaningful bonding moments.
  • Learning a lot about Israel and Jewish history. One of my favorite moments was an evening program where we learned about Zionism and the different points of view from Israeli counselors, and where my cabin led skits about the different views of Zionism.

Q: What was it like having Israelis as your counselors?

It was a meaningful experience to learn from them. I thought it was interesting to hear about what it is like to live around mostly Jews and be surrounded by Judaism in their everyday life.

Q: What was it like learning Hebrew in this immersive experience?

I learned a lot more Hebrew. The madrichim (counselors) only speak to you in Hebrew. It was difficult at first but then I got used to it. The madrichim are very resourceful and will typically let you speak in english when necessary. You also have two hours of Hebrew a day where you learn (with break in between). Before Chalutzim, you also take a class with one of the faculty (rabbis or educators) where they introduce the basics of Hebrew.

Q: Now that you have gone to Chalutzim, what do you want to do next?

I hope to go to Israel sometime soon, hopefully this coming summer. I might want to have a career in Judaism or study Judaism in college.

Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing Chalutzim next summer?

I would highly recommend it because it is the most meaningful summer of all the years you have as a camper at OSRUI. 

Justin Rubenstein

About the Author: Justin is a sophomore at Vernon Hills High School and Belongs to Congregation Or Shalom. At school he is a member of Student Council and #vhgive, and is the Director of Activism for JSA (the school’s political, debate, and activism club) Outside of School, Justin is a J2 Madricol in his synagogue, and is the Social Action Vice President of the Temple Youth Group: Jew Crew. He is also an active member of NFTY CAR. During the summer, he goes to overnight camp at OSRUI.

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