Rochester teens on "Journey for Identity 2" greeted their Modi'in counterparts with signs of welcome, yet they didn't even seem necessary. The kids knew each other instinctively as the Israeli group landed at the Rochester airport on July 17. There were lots of hugs and kisses, singing and only one missing bag out of the whole group!
The group's orientation the following morning got off to a great start with the sharing of personal goals for the program, like one from Jake Wagner, who hopes to gain friends that will last a lifetime. Ori Zviran, from Modi'in, told a reporter who covered the event for Rochester's Jewish Ledger that he wanted to teach his new American friends about his country so they will love it as he does!
Day one continued with a beautiful trip to Camp Seneca Lake; the weather cooperated for a lovely summer afternoon. During this visit to the JCC's overnight camp, the Modi'in teens experienced what Jewish camping is like in the Diaspora. The group worked together on the camp's ropes course and did trust exercises with a camp instructor.
They group had dinner, hosted by the camp, and enjoyed evening activities along with campers, returning home around 10 pm for some well-deserved rest.
Day two was cloudy and rainy but only in terms of the weather! The group continued to bond and grow with a series of exercises about Jewish identity led ably by Federation Teen Coordinator Josh Boress. The warmth in the room was contagious.
Then Federation Executive Director Larry Fine was "chef extraordinaire," grilling hot dogs and hamburgers in the rain so that close to 60 people, including Federation staff, could have a picnic lunch, albeit indoors due to the weather.
Finally the sun started to shine and the group boarded a bus to visit Mendon Ponds Park where they participated in a series of workshops regarding Jewish roots and heritage led by Bonnie Abrams, Director of the Center for Holocaust Information and Awareness.
The next day brought a trip to Niagara Falls and the outlet mall followed by a family Shabbat dinner with the Partnership Steering Committee at Temple Beth El; about 100 attended for the group's first Kabbalat Shabbat!