In this post, Millie Posner (Tour 1), Bayley Yanover (Tour 3) and Ruby Okin (Tour 7) all share their thoughts after two full weeks of an incredible FZY Israel Tour experience. Read on for the full transcripts of their Maccabiah speeches...
Millie Posner (Tour 1)
Spirituality. Friendship. Gratification. The three words I would use to describe the immense pleasure and completion FZY tour has given me. Without tour there would be little understanding and compassion for the holy land - the place we all adore and have a special bond with.
Without the perfect blend of education, such as the conflict seminar together with the endless fun of water sports and team games, we would not be able to comprehend Israel in the same way. By learning about its difficulties, we are able to fully appreciate OUR land and be grateful for just being here today.
Being on FZY has given me the push I’ve needed to be content with the person I am today but also for everyone to just be themselves. More specifically, the Open house in Jerusalem allowed me to hear people’s personal stories and to be inspired to love who I am as well as accepting others as well.
What I love about FZY is their total support and security surrounding pluralism which allows everyone to be themselves in a safe space whilst bonding as a group. FZY goes far beyond any Jewish beliefs and stimulates individuality which even may be challenging to certain aspects of Judaism.
Anyone who hasn’t been on tour after a year of hard work and barely any fun is missing out on a life changing experience. You will never be able to get this time back. We have had the luxury of travelling around the state of Israel, a place we all connect to and the time to forget differences and to build connections. To me, this is a rare occasion where you get to share experiences with people who will be your lifelong friends - Israel tour is something that you will never forget.
To summarize, FZY tour has enhanced my Jewish identity and I can honestly say, has made me love Israel even more. The people, the beliefs and the environment created here are extremely unique.
Bayley Yanover (Tour 3)
I have loved my time in Israel so far and have many unforgettable memories that I will take away with me for the rest of my life. The singing on the back of the coach has been one of my highlights as I thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere and unityfrom the group. The immensely high energy on the bus is incredibly uplifting and always raises my mood no matter what. Freedom is a key part of FZY for me becauseI love that I can practice Judaism in whatever way suits me best and I am not confined to one ideology or way of practicing my religion. The trip to Yad Vashem and Mount Hertzel was incredibly harrowing and emotional and showed not only just how many people died in the Holocaust, but also how many people die serving Israel to protect us.
This tour has taught me that you don’t need to know people before tour to have an amazing time. Every day I have gotten closer to someone new and I have loved making so many new friends who I will keep in touch with forever. The warm, welcomingatmosphere created by the other people on Tour 3 and the madrichim has really enhanced my time here and made it an incredibly enjoyable environment. Throughout my time here I have learnt so much more about Israel and the struggle for its freedom and land. Every single day I have learnt fascinating information about Israel’s struggles, its leaders and the hopes for the country. The talks about the situation in the Middle East have been thoroughly engaging and informative and I now feel like I know so much more aboutthe current political situation. Before tour I wasn’t really sure about Zionism and the true meanings of it, but now that I am on tour with FZY I understand Zionism better and I am a strong believer in it and the state of Israel.
I was so excited for Maccabiah for the whole tour to come together for one cause which we are all incredibly invested in. I’m excited for the ruach which is one of my highlights oftour and truly makes this an FZY event. The excitement surrounding maccabiah is contagious and I am ecstatic to be competing in such an amazing, unique opportunity here with FZY and Young Judaea groups.
I cannot wait for the rest of tour to strengthen the friendships that I have made on tour and to get to know even more new people. I know that the friends I make on Israel tour will be friends for life because we all feel likea family and have gone through this immense journey all together so we all share a common link. I am excited to be doing some volunteering in the north of Israel because I think it is fundamental that we all do whatever we can to help those who are less fortunatethan us.
FZY’s true, generous nature is powerfully shown through the many activities they do to help others in need, which makes me love this movement even more.
Ruby Okin (Tour 7)
As our FZY journey began with a 3 hour hike (in 40 degrees) a strict talk and an early curfew, many wondered what they had signed up for! However, the hikes became surprisingly exciting, the talks became more engaging but the curfew obviously stayed the same!
Tour has given many the opportunity to grow as young Jewish individuals and provide us with experiences and responsibilities to mature into the person we are yet to become. We are making special friendships that we hope to cherish for life. I can honestly say that tour has opened my eyes to many opportunities I never thought were available to me, such as volunteering at Save a child’s heart, the Israeli army and making Aliyah.
Moreover, tour has also helped me to understand the beauty of pluralism and feel the strong spiritual connection. Shabbat was my main factor in realizing this. Although I am lucky enough to partake in a traditional shabbat meal at home, nothing is comparable to a Shabbat on tour. It’s a feeling that I will never forget. Everyone comes together as a family, despite any differences, to celebrate as one. Living in London, it isn’t always easy to express your true Jewish identity but being in Israel has allowed me to explore this with great confidence.
Not forgetting our strong connection to our Madrichim, Talia, Atalyia, Yuval and Freddie. This experience would never have been the same without you. On behalf of everyone on Tour 7, we are extremely grateful for your immense efforts, patience and care. We have no idea how you do what you do. You were always there for us when we needed you and stick by us even when we drive you mad! However we still remain puzzled as to why FZY gave us two madrachim with the names Talia and Atalia!
Our schedule has been overloaded with fun activities. Such as climbing Masada, the Dead Sea, multiple malls, museums and more, although some of these may not have been appealing to me at 6:30 in the morning! Being with all my friends and madrichim, the peulot gradually became very enjoyable and educational.
In just over 3 weeks I feel pleased to be able to call Israel my home. I will take all the lessons, cultures and memories home with me and aspire to preach these to my friends and family, to ensure that the state of Israel will be everlasting. Israel is a beautiful place with beautiful people and FZY has helped me to understand that. I hope to become a madrich in the future and visit Israel on multiple occasions.