Last Tuesday evening 450 teenagers and staff from tens of communities across the US & Canada including 4 teens from Chicago departed from Ben Gurion Airport as different people than when they arrived there 5 weeks earlier. This was due to the unbelievable 5-week journey they took touring Israel on the Bnei Akiva summer program, Mach Hach Ba’Aretz.
For Ida Crown rising Junior, Tali Rosenzweig she describes, “I’ve always wanted to make Aliyah, but when I entered high school I started questioning that idea and realized that making Aliyah is extremely difficult and felt like it was too hard. However, after experiencing Israel through Mach Hach, it brought back those feelings that I am meant to be here, I need to be here!” Through traveling and truly engaging with the people and the land itself, Tali has been left with a yearning to return unlike she had before.
Isaac Shiner, another Chicago teen, explains his time on Mach Hach as crucial in helping him “gain an appreciation for Israel as our homeland.” It’s a concept we grow up with, but felt differently once experienced traveling the land firsthand.
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 explains, “with 9 full busses 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, Tali explains her experience with her bus, “we are just one big group of friends; we’re a family, really. We all love each other and there isn’t one person who isn’t part of our group.”
For more information about Mach Hach Ba’Aretz and Bnei Akiva programming visit www.bneiakiva.org.