About the prompt: We asked each Peer Ambassador to share with us a pivotal moment in their Jewish journey, what being a Peer Ambassador means to them personally, and what value speaks to them. Stay tuned over the next few months to hear from all of the Peer Ambassadors.
Check out Sophia's blog post below as she shares about her experience this summer on URJ NFTY's Chalutzim Ba'aretz trip in Israel and how this experience gave her an opportunity to appreciate her friends and her Jewish experiences.
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to go to Israel through NFTY’s Chalutzim Ba'aretz program. We did everything from bargaining, eating our weight in falafel, camel riding to doing the iconic Masada hike. There was one hike in particular that I still think about everyday, Mount Shlomo.
Mount Shlomo is located in the Southern end of Israel near Eilat bordering Jordan and Egypt and even Saudi Arabia is far off in the distance. Now, what does a hike have to do with my Judaism? After a long year and a half of feeling disconnected from everything including my Judaism- away from camp, shabbat at temple and holidays without family, everything felt at peace as I looked off into the mountain. Being surrounded by my friends who were also taking in this view and knowing the same feeling of finally being connected I realized how grateful I was to be Jewish.
Sitting in silence with my thoughts, I realized how lucky I am to be with my friends, both old and new and get to spend my summer in Israel and see the gorgeous and unforgettable veiws. I came back home feeling a strengthened love for my community and culture. My next wish is to get better at Hebrew! I’m so thankful for being on Springboard Ambassadors and being a part of a community that will help more people feel at home and find that place or feeling of connection within their Judaism. I will forever be grateful for my hike on Mount Shlomo.
About the Author: Sophia is a senior at Vernon Hills High school. She likes to read, go for walks and hangout with friends. She found her love of Jewish youth leadership and the community while as a camper at OSRUI and serving on board of her synagogue's youth group. Making some of her best friends and memories is what inspired her to do Springboard’s Peer Ambassador program. She hopes more people can experience all that there is to offer within the Jewish youth group community.