This summer, the FJC’s Stars Ukraine program provided 50 young people aged 18 to 26 with a magical summer experience – a ten-day learning seminar in Israel that was a journey deep into their roots and wide to the country’s borders. Over the course of the trip, the group traveled from the mountains of Tzfat to the Red Sea in Eilat, all the while learning more about themselves, Judaism and the places around them.
“The program was extremely packed, we attempted to really give our group ‘an Israeli experience’ all the while connecting them to new and interesting sides of Jewish tradition only found in Israel,” said the program’s director Zalman Bokarev.
The program was very full indeed. “How can they handle this? How?”- read a joking post on the program’s Facebook site in the middle of the trip. “Wake-up, morning prayers, breakfast, lecture, lecture, lecture, lunch, excursion, ritual scribe workshop, wine degustation, dinner, an evening quest, feedback, bonding and conversation deep into the night and..sleep?? And this is only the third day!”
The group spent a special Shabbat near the Old City of Jerusalem, praying at the Western Wall, exploring the Jewish quarter’s hidden treasures and singing Hasidic melodies over a festive meal.
After the Shabbat they stopped briefly at Hebron for a visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs, went further south and camped in the Negev and finally finished off the trip with a dive in the Red Sea.
“The trip literally charged me with an energy and motivation for further personal development and learning,” wrote one of the participants in after-trip feedback, “the Shabbat in Jerusalem was an unforgettable experience that can not be repeated anywhere else.” “It was not just a restful break for me – I got a lot of very important information out of the trip,” wrote another.
Stars Ukraine is FJC’s Jewish heritage learning program in the framework of which hundreds of young people in the country attend weekly lectures and study throughout the entire year. It is also accompanied by learning trips in the summer, such as Europe and Israel trips.