June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Over 250 NJ Teens and Staff Land In Israel on Mach Hach Ba’Aretz

(Courtesy of Bnei Akiva) After almost 15 months of closed borders in Israel, Mach Hach Ba’Aretz, Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada’s premiere summer Israel touring program for teens, landed in Ben Gurion Airport this week. With close to 600 teens and staff from across the U.S. and Canada, and over 250 coming from New Jersey, it was an emotional experience for all the participants—many of whom have been practicing strict social distancing in school with masks in small groups for over a year. Additionally, most did not attend sleepaway camp last summer and finally, it felt like they could be just teens again, experiencing the summer program of a lifetime.

Mach Hach was one of the very first touring groups granted entry permits once Israel opened its doors to tourists. As early as mid-June, a smaller group of over 80 11th graders left for Israel on the Mach Hach LeDorot program for teens who could not participate last year due to the closed borders. On an even greater scale, Mach Hach and Bnei Akiva’s staff were overwhelmed with pure joy and emotions seeing the dream of returning Am Israel to Eretz Israel come to fruition. It was a rollercoaster of a year not knowing if Israel would open its borders to tourists this summer, but after months of dedication it finally happened.

As Rav Shaul Feldman, executive director of Bnei Akiva of the U.S. & Canada explained, “Just as we learn from Tehillim, בשוב ה’ את שיבת ציון היינו כחולמים… many times throughout our history, after years of hoping, years of longing—our hearts fill with excitement and a strong desire to fulfill a dream. For us, throughout these dark days of the pandemic, our desire like David Hamalech describes, was also for Zion—for the return to Israel. This summer, after months of closed borders we are once again able to bring hundreds of teens on Mach Hach back to our homeland Israel.”

Not only was it exciting to be supporting the teens, who could certainly use the trip—but there is the added satisfaction knowing the program will support Israel tourism across the country, which has been hit tremendously since the start of the pandemic. In addition to Mach Hach Ba’Aretz, by this week all of the Bnei Akiva summer programs have officially opened, including the five Machanot Moshava sleepaway camps and four day camps, including over 1000 campers and staff at Moshava Ba’ir New Jersey.

Mach Hach will also be sending another group of 11th graders on Mach Hach LeDorot towards the end of July for the second half of the summer.

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