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How a 5 day Trip to NYC Helped my Son Discover his Jewish Identity

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I cannot say enough wonderful things about the  Springboard School Break trip that my son, Jared, attended over President’s Day weekend.  In fact, I have been so vocal about the trip that someone asked me to write about it. 

Let’s back up a bit.  My son Jared is 15 and a freshman in high school. He was s somewhat engaged at Hebrew school through his bar-mitzvah and celebrated holidays with the family, but he never had a real interest in Judaism.  I am a B’nai mitzvah tutor and fairly engaged with multiple congregations, I’ve been to Israel, my daughter is a b’nai mitzvah tutor at our temple, she got confirmed and went on Ta’am Yisrael. Jared did not want to go on Ta’am, or to Jewish overnight camp or join BBYO.  He has been very engaged with Keshet—doing Buddy Baseball, Buddy Bowling and Special Olympics since the year before his mitzvah, but he was resistant to doing anything else. I didn’t want to push it and after a while I stopped telling him about various things that different organizations were offering.   

Springboard NYC

Until, that is, someone told me about a VERY reasonably priced trip through Springboard to NYC over President’s Day weekend.  When I asked Jared about it, he thought on it for a few days and then decided that it sounded like fun. I had only recently heard of Springboard from colleagues that I met while preparing to chaperone Ta’am Yisrael. The Springboard staff was so excited, and I knew that it was going to be a good trip for Jared.  But, I had no idea just HOW good. 

I dropped Jared off at the airport and said a quick goodbye.  He brought his phone on the trip, but I only received few texts while he was gone saying he was having a great time.  NCSY, the organization that ran this Springboard program, kept us updated on Facebook Live so I saw glimpses of the group in New York and everyone seemed to be having a great time. They did a ton of things while they were there, but the highlights he talked about when he got home included going on the Staten Island Ferry; speaking to a NYC police officer about 9/11, spending Shabbat in a NYC hotel, ice skating at Rockefeller plaza and doing tzedakah by sending clothes to Israel. 

Since his return home, he has asked about going on future Springboard trips and joined our local BBYO chapter.  I could not be more thrilled to see him getting involved in the Jewish community. Thank you, Springboard! 

-Mara Heichman, mother of Jared Heichman (Big Apple Adventure 2018 Participant)