April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Making an Impact While Under Fire

I recall standing at the front of the Yeshi­va University in Israel auditorium during ori­entation for the Counterpoint Israel Program, YU’s annual project to run educational sum­mer camps for underprivileged children in Is­raeli development towns, introducing every­one to the concept of “Lizrom,” going with the flow and being flexible in the face of obstacles. I explained that it would be our anthem for the summer.

If the scheduled speaker decides to cancel without notice, we need to “Zrom” and find something else to do during that time. If our bus shows up an hour late, we will “Zrom” and make it work by ordering taxis. “Zrom” is a de­vice, a strategy, and a way of life that, if uti­lized properly, can provide the key to working through a surprising number of problems and handling a host of unexpected situations.

As Counterpoint Israel began, we employed this methodology to deal with missing supplies, late meals…and terrorist rocket fire.

Last week, on the way back from a nice dinner at a local restaurant, our team received a rude awakening when the serene, blissful night was shattered by a slow, haunting siren. We had 45 seconds to get to safety before a rocket was expected to hit Kiryat Malachi. We sprinted back to our lodgings and took shelter in the bomb shelter.

Though no one was hurt during the in­cident, it was decided that Kiryat Malachi was no longer safe enough to house us. At midnight, the entire Counterpoint team packed up and left Kiryat Malachi. Thus began the ultimate “Zrom” experience, a three-day adventure of going with the flow and finding meaningful and productive ac­tivities everywhere we dared to look.

Still, it didn’t help that rockets contin­ued to rain down on Israel, reducing our programming options by the hour.

As head counselor for the team that staffed the Counterpoint camps in Kiryat Malachi and Dimona, I was so impressed with the way our group faced our unfortu­nate and, and times, frightening situation with extreme positivity and poise. It was difficult being on “lockdown” and it was in­credibly painful saying a rushed goodbye to our beloved campers in Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat. But the YU students didn’t let it drag them down.

The surprises continued, with many activi­ties, including a reunion day in Tel Aviv with all the campers, being canceled at the last minute due to safety concerns. Though the constant surprises took the YU students on an emotion­al roller coaster, they remained excited and hopeful when they headed down to Dimona and Arad to begin the second session of camp.

While the counselors had a full day to get their bearings and prepare their orig­inal classrooms in Kiryat Gat and Kiry­at Malachi, this time they had no choice but to simply jump in and begin teach­ing. Still, to my amazement, the first day of the second session was an incredible success. The counselors were channeling the “Zrom” and it just didn’t matter that we didn’t know how many kids to expect or where the basketball court was located. They were full of energy, eager to educate and inspire, and they connected with the campers immediately.

Reflecting on our incredible and un­precedented Counterpoint experience, I re­alize that there are two very important les­sons.

The first is that things rarely proceed as planned—some discrepancies may be insig­nificant, others more dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life. The sooner we realize that we are not truly in control, the easier it will be to adjust and accept the changes that must be made to move forward.

The second is that no matter how far we must deviate from the plan in order to move forward, we will be successful if we remain positive, energetic, and fully fo­cused on our goals.

Though the constant barrage of rock­ets was intended to harm us and crush our spirits, we overcame. Our group came to the south to positively impact the lives of Israeli youth at risk, and we didn’t let any­thing, not even rockets, stand in our way. Armed with powers of “Zrom,” we made a real difference in the lives of others and even learned a few important things about ourselves.

Sam Weinstein is a resident of Teaneck, and a senior at YU’s Sy Syms School of Business. This summer, Sam and 32 other exceptional undergraduate students from YU ran the ninth annual “Counterpoint Israel Program,” specially designed educational camps for 300 Israeli campers from varied socio-economic backgrounds in Arad, Dimona, Kiryat Gat, and Kiryat Malachi.

By Sam Weinstein

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