Last Tuesday evening 450 teenagers and staff from tens of communities across the US and Canada, including 112 teens from New Jersey, departed from Ben Gurion Airport as different people than when they arrived there five weeks earlier. This was due to the unbelievable journey they took touring Israel on the Bnei Akiva summer program, Mach Hach BaAretz.
Frisch rising junior Avital Zelig described that, more than just the incredible travel experience, “I feel prouder than ever before to be part of an amazing lineage and nation who has a homeland and I feel incredibly fortunate to have one.”
Since its first summer in 1972, Mach Hach has been inspiring teens through informal experiential education and supportive mentoring. The program’s goal is to foster a deep love and unwavering commitment to Israel and Torat Yisrael in participants, while nurturing leadership skills that prepare them to make a real difference for the Jewish people.
As Dan Katz, camp director, explained, “With nine full buses of teens from almost every major Jewish community across the US, Canada and even Israel, the summer not only provides teens a glimpse into the land of Israel, Israeli life, culture, Jewish history and Zionism, but an opportunity to step outside their community and expand their horizons by meeting peers from many different backgrounds.”
Despite the range of communities, schools and former camps, Avital explained her experience with her fellow bus-mates, “Mach Hach has taught me how am Yisrael is all responsible for one another.” This is a sentiment many other campers have shared. Through her experiences on Mach Hach Avital has come to feel, “we are all a family and our homeland is Israel.”
For more information about Mach Hach BaAretz and Bnei Akiva programming, visit www.bneiakiva.org.