Friday, June 17, 2016

An awe-inspiring tenth trip to Israel, this time as a JNFuture volunteer

Steve Postal, JNFuture Volunteer Vacation
The author threshes wheat at LOTEM's ecological farm during his JNFuture Volunteer Vacation in Israel.  

JNFuture Volunteer Vacation brings Jewish young adults to Israel for a week to volunteer and tour the country. Here, Steve Postal of Washington D.C., who participated in the JVV, that ended earlier this month, shares his impressions of the experience. The next JNFuture Volunteer Vacation takes place from December 25 of this year though January 1, 2017. It's not too early to plan ahead!  

By Steve Postal 

To quote the great Israeli rock band Mashina, אין מקום אחר, there is no other place

This was my tenth trip to Israel (my second with JNF), but unique for me because it focused on the north.

The north's stunning beauty left me in awe. The grottos of Rosh Hanikra; Israel’s first accessible nature trail in Nachal Hashofet (in partnership with LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible); and the lush green hills of the Western Galilee complimented the eclectic rooftops of Jerusalem’s Old City and the white sand beaches of Tel Aviv we saw later on the tour. We stayed in the beautiful Kibbutz NirEtzion, with a night sky so crisp you could see three planets at once (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). Yes, this was verified by a smartphone app!

A quiet moment at the Western Wall. 
My favorite part of the trip was working the land and giving back to those in need. I threshed wheat, picked onions, de-weeded and de-thorned olive trees, and used a hoe to shape the soil. I also assembled care packages of food for the needy, for an organization run by a previously orphaned husband, his wife, and their eight children. The husband burst into tears speaking about how his life was rescued by his wife. Now, their family pays it forward together.

We spent the second half of the tour mostly in Tel Aviv, visiting the shuk and touring the various historic neighborhoods of the city. At night we sat with our feet in the sand, in beach chairs close to the sea, laughing until 3 in the morning. On Friday night, we gathered for a festive Shabbat meal with locals and other groups.

So I have no complaints. It was a great trip to give back and see the miracle that is Israel once again. I can't wait to return.

JNFuture Volunteer Vacation
Participants in JNFuture's Volunteer Vacation visit LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible, where people with special needs
can enjoy Israel's natural beauty.

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