Trip Updates: July 8 – 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

Dear Y2I Families and Friends,

In addition to the desert experience (camels, sleeping in tent, Dead Sea and Massada), one of the highlights of the past few days and of the entire trip is the mifgash (meeting with Israelis).  New friendships are flourishing, which I am sure will continue for years to come.

Bonds between Americans and Israelis are critical for several reasons: mutual learning about each other’s cultures; strengthening bonds of our Jewish Family; and better understanding the need to support Israel. Israeli teens will leave us at the end of day today. The closing session will be conducted by them, in small groups, and will include what American teens can do to serve as ambassadors of Israel.

Last night the Young Ambassadors School of Petah Tikvah hosted a dinner, provided by the families of teens in our mifgash, followed by a program that included a list of impressive speakers who are dignitaries of various government agencies and Israeli teens themselves.  The message was the same—Y2I teens have an important role as ambassadors of Israel when they return to the States.  They experienced firsthand the country of Israel, and they now have the obligation to help Israel fight its newest warfare, the attempt to deligitimize Israel. College campuses are often hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiments, including demonstrations, professors, courses, etc.  Having a personal and intense experience in Israel will arm our kids to confront these challenges, rather than run from fear and ignorance.

Our kids see a beautiful, thriving, forward-thinking Israel. Though not without its problems just like any other country, Israel harnesses its brainpower to make the world a better place (tikkun olam) by striving to make contributions to every field of human endeavor. This is what is meant by being a “light unto the nations”. Until you come here and see for yourself, you cannot imagine the ingenuity it takes to make a desert bloom or to develop technology that had once been considered science fiction.  Naysayers and doubters are repeatedly proven wrong.  The Jewish people defy all odds and make the impossible happen.

Yesterday we spent the day in the Tel Aviv area, visiting Independence Hall, the place where it all began for modern day Israel with the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, in a small basement-like room of all places.  Teens heard a recording of the original singing of Hatikvah after its declaration of independence, giving us chills.

The afternoon was spent at Nachalat Binymin, the outdoor market place filled with artisans and crafts, thousands of people, and delectable treats.  Unlike any shopping experience we know, Shuk HaCarmel (name of market area) was a great time for teens to be among the general population and experience a slice of authentic life in Israel.

As I said, we ended our day in Petah Tikvah, meeting families and relaxing with our new Israeli friends. Gifts, hugs and kisses were exchanged, and a genuine feeling of gratitude permeated the air.  Israeli parents were in awe of the Y2I experience and very grateful that 35 of their children had the opportunity to participate in our unique program.  Y2I has become a hot program in Petah Tikvah, and there are many more applicants than available spots. Israeli teens cherish the opportunity to show off their country and to influence the building of relationships, and of Israel’s future, by participating in Y2I, extending Y2I’s impact far beyond the North Shore of Massachusetts.

I write this update to you from Atlit, the British detention camp that housed Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe after the Holocaust.  Unbelievable to think that refugees were placed in camps again, only to survive Hitler’s camps of hell. This place is full of ghosts and reminders, starkly illustrating what life must have been like during Israel’s early days, post-Holocaust. I recommend Anita Diamant’s book Day after Night if you want to get a real feel for what happened at Atlit.  Crazy to think that many of the characters in the book are not much older than your children.

From here we head north to the Druze village of Ossafiya to learn about the fascinating Druze religion and people, who are loyal to the country of Israel. We will have the best lunch of the trip, savoring the delectable foods of the Druze people.

Then…..we begin our good-byes, first to the Israelis, who return to Petah Tikveh this afternoon. It will be an emotional good-bye, which is a good thing. This means connections were made, friendships formed, and hearts deeply touched. Winding down and wrapping up the trip begins today, and for many teens, this will be very emotional, realizing this part of the Y2I experience will soon end.

Day of Remembering….Tomorrow is a heavy-duty day, beginning with another visit from Momo Lifshitz, who will give kids the opportunity to talk and share what they have experienced and what they are feeling. Then we will spend the morning and early afternoon at Yad  Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. From there we will make our way to Mt. Herzl, to honor the memory of those who died defending Israel and the Jewish people’s right to a homeland. They will visit graves of great heroes, as well as graves of soldiers as young as 18.    Seeing the serious side of Israeli-life is as important as experiencing all the fun she has to offer.

Well, tomorrow we pack our bags, load the buses and head back home.  Your kids have experienced a lot these past twelve days and will return changed in some way.  Give them some time to rest and to process the experience, though I know you will be anxious to hear all about it.  They will share, but it may take a couple of days to re-orient themselves to daily life, especially following such an intense 12 days.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the Y2I Welcome Home Event on Sunday, August 26, 2 p.m. at Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester, and for sure, teens will be ecstatic to see each other. I cannot wait for you to see their happiness and joy!

I have lots more to tell you about post-trip opportuniites for your children. When I return, I will be in touch.

See you on Friday!

With love from all of us in Y2I 2012,

Debbie Coltin

July 16, 2012

Dear Y2I Families and Friends,

The past two days seem like a week, packed with all kinds of new experiences, including our trek to the desert.  But first, a quick update on Shabbat.

We had time to exhale from our hectic week and totally immerse ourselves in the Shabbat experience. For almost two days teens were free to mingle amongst all groups, make new friends and re-connect with those already made.

Shabbat was everything we hoped it would be and more.  Relaxing, re-invigorating, and for many, a spiritual 24 hours.  We savored our delicious Shabbat dinner and then headed for the Kotel (Wall) to experience Shabbat like no place else on earth.

Ask your children about how we welcomed Shabbat. There we stood, on a rooftop in the heart of the Old City, at the intersection of all the quarters—Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim.  The holiness of the spot was indescribable, as we heard church bells ring, the Muslim call to prayer, and Jewish people singing with joy as Shabbat entered her destination Jerusalem, the City of Peace. We were one. Arms locked, voices in unison, we sang and experienced the joy of Shabbat facing the Wall to welcome the Shabbat bride.

Then onward to the Wall for an unbelievable sight.  Thousands and thousands of people, a sea of black coats closest to the Wall, singing, dancing, praying, all of us there for Shabbat. Guys to one side, ladies to the other as they made their way to the Wall to touch, pray and express their innermost thoughts.

What a beautiful Shabbat walk we enjoyed, for nearly an hour and a half, back to our hotel.  With few cars on the streets and the majority of business closed, one could feel Shabbat in the air.

Saturday was a relaxing day, beginning with a leisurely walk for most to the Israel Museum to view the fascinating Dead Sea Scrolls.  Others went to Shabbat services, where there was a Bar Mitzvah, which  they really enjoyed.  The afternoon was spent resting by the pool or visiting family and friends.

Saturday night was shopping night on Ben Yehudah St. and your kids added greatly to the local economy with their purchases.  They took it all in—the people, shopping, sights and sounds of Ben Yehudah St.

We departed early Sunday morning to pick up the Israeli teens, and within five minutes they kids made it happen.  What a great sight!  Leave it to them and they make it happen.

Everyone blended beautifully, all of them open to this unique and wonderful experience.

What a time we had in the desert.  The desert is a magnificent place of beauty and discovery, and for many Y2I teens, it was an opportunity to reach new heights and conquer things they never imagined.

The desert can be harsh, with blazing hot temperatures.  Don’t worry. I write this update from the air-conditioned comfort of our last hotel outside of Jerusalem.  We all survived the desert and it was fantastic!  As one teen put it, he is not necessarily homesick, just missing the comforts of home we are used to.

We passed on the archaeological dig since temperatures ran well into the low 100s. Much too hot to be outdoors for such an activity. There happened to be a heat wave for the past four days.  So, normal hot was hotter, and common sense dictated changing our plans.

We took our time reaching the Bedouin camp by visiting Ben Gurion’s (first Prime Minister of Israel) home in Sde Boker. What a Jewish hero and Zionist! His determination and focus to build the land to its fullest potential laid the foundation for Israel to become the great country it is, and his vision for a homeland for the Jewish people inspired all who followed to keep the dream alive.

An added bonus to visiting this site was to see ibex—adults and babies—freely roaming the area.

Being in the desert gives you a different perspective on life.  Her nature and beauty are indescribable, and certainly much different than what we are used to. Unique rock formations, craters, and all kinds of vegetation jolt your senses out of automatic pilot, opening you up to what’s new and exciting.

We had a lot of fun during our short stay in the desert. Camel rides, a traditional Bedouin feast, star-gazing, drumming circle, and campfire with toasted marshmallows and chocolate were part of the late day and evening’s activities.  Early to bed and early to rise—2:30 a.m.—for our pre-dawn hike up Massada for the spectacular dawning of a new day. We toured the ancient ruins of Massada and tried to imagine how they built the fortress. Seems like an impossibility based on our early morning hike up the mountain. (A side note. I recommend The Dove Keepers, a recently released beautiful novel about life on Massada.)

Then we made our way down. Up and down a mountain in one morning. What an accomplishment! Many thought they couldn’t do it, but we all managed just fine.

Then it was on to the Dead Sea for another amazing experience.  The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on the earth! Kids covered themselves with Dead Sea mud, floated on the famed salt water of the Dead Sea, and enjoyed cooling off in the refreshing waters of the pool. Imagine we did all this by noon!

Needless to say the bus was silent all the way back to Jerusalem as everyone caught up on much needed sleep.

This evening, after a few hours of rest and a fabulous dinner, Y2I headed back to Jerusalem for the spectacular laser light show at the Tower of David Museum, where the walls of the Citadel serve as a stage for the light show depicting the story of Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we head for Jaffa and Tel Aviv during the day and onto Petah Tikvah for a special program at night. The mayor of Petah Tikvah and families of Israeli teens in Y2I are hosting us for dinner.  I understand that dignitaries will address our group and express their gratitude for creating an excellent mifgash (encounter) for American and Israeli teens.

Parents, your kids are really enjoying getting to know the Israeli teens and they feel the same about meeting our kids. The mifgash is magical and a very effective way to build bridges between America and Israel and strengthen our relationship on a person-to-person basis. Don’t be surprised if your kids have found new life-long friends in Israel. Actually, on the bus ride back from Massada I received a call from a Y2I parent who is in Israel with her daughter and her daughter’s friend, both of whom were in Y2I last year.  For the past week, the girls have seen Israeli friends they made last year in Y2I.

I am happy to tell you all is well, your children are great and they cannot believe how quickly the twelve days are coming to an end. They are falling in love with Israel, making new friends, and truly having an adventure of a lifetime.

I will do my best to send you one more update before we leave.

Until then, with love from Y2I 2012,

Debbie Coltin

July 13, 2012

Boker tov (good morning) from Jerusalem Y2I 2012 Families and Friends!

Thursday was sababa (awesome!) as teens toured the Old City, walking the ramparts, visiting Mt. Zion, strolling through the Jewish Quarter and once again, touching the Kotel, Wall.  Following lunch, they had a guided tour through the City of David, including new excavations, ending their visit wading through the 2,600 year old Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel.

Last night they met author and lecturer Doron Kornbluth for a stimulating discussion about Jewish identity. Doron impressed upon us three ideas:

  1. Jewish contribution to the world
  2. Jewish survival
  3. Miracle of Israel

Jewish Contribution to the World

The Jewish contribution to every field of human endeavor is out-of-proportion to our numbers.  With less than one-quarter of one percent of the world’s population of seven billion, our small family of 12-13 million leaves an indelible mark upon the world. Officially more than 20 percent of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, and unofficially it is as high as one-third. This is something to be very proud of.

Jewish Survival

Our story is a story of survival and heroes.  We are the oldest People on earth, with a common language, religion and ancestral homeland. Our survival is truly miraculous, surviving thousands of years of hatred, persecution, and exile. Truly there must be a “higher authority” watching out for us.

Fulfilling the Dream of Israel

Following thousands of years in exile, we have re-claimed and re-built our homeland.  One hundred short years ago there were less than 100,000 Jews in Israel. It has grown to millions, and they have turned Israel into the modern, thriving country that it is. Ask your kids.  They will tell you what they saw with their eyes.  High tech, a blooming dessert, brilliant and bold people.  It is all here is Israel.

Doron’s message empowered our kids. Though we are small in numbers, he explained how if we stay strong and value who we are as a Family, the links in our chain of tradition will strengthen and continue.

Doron illustrated this concept for our kids. He did an exercise called “Three to the Power of Ten”. If each of them makes a decision to raise their own children Jewish, (an average of three per family) and this decision repeats itself for ten generations, every Y2I 2012 will have 59,049 descendants! This amazed teens.  By the way, Jason Frost, Y2I 2012 teen, is one of only eight people who have been able to do the math (three to the power of ten), in his head out of all the thousands of people Doron has met during his many years of lecturing. Doron said that Dennis Averin, Y2I 2011, was previous to Jason. Go Y2I!

We ended the evening with a grand celebration of birthdays during the trip. We had a lot of fun!

Like no other place on earth, it is here in Jerusalem that you feel Shabbat coming.  The pace of life picks up in anticipation of the Shabbat Bride’s arrival, only to come to a peaceful pause as soon as Shabbat begins.  On Shabbat, you see, hear and feel how life pauses. People exhale, letting go of the week, resting and re-charging.

Regardless of religious observance, Shabbat in Jerusalem is extraordinary. Teens will experience the frenetic pace of Fridays when they visit the Market later this morning, full of people and foods at which they will marvel.  It will be a scene unlike anything they have experienced, unless of course, they have been here before.

Before going to the market, teens are spending the morning hiking the Jerusalem Forest to the Sataf Spring, where they will find themselves inside the Judean Mountains and amongst the biblical agricultural landscape.  Small caves, terraces, various trees, and rich history await our children as they explore more of Jerusalem and more about themselves.

Our restful Shabbat begins with preparations this afternoon, and it is a wonderful way to experience Shabbat.  Hours of relaxation prepare our teens for what will truly be a memorable Shabbat moment—the Kotel (Wall) on Shabbat.

Our build-up will begin with Kabbalat Shabbat, welcoming the Sabbath Queen, who will arrive to Jerusalem.  We will prepare our spirits and souls with traditional Shabbat songs, blessings, prayers, and love. We will truly come together as one group, as well all gather, not by buses, rather as one Y2I 2012 group, all 122 of us.

We will arrive at the Kotel after our Kabbalat Shabbat, which we plan to do on a rooftop of the Old City. Imagine, being in the heart of Jerusalem, above the people and the streets, a bit closer to heaven, to welcome the Shabbat Bride.  Following our Kabbalat Shabbat, we will continue to the Kotel, where we will see a site unlike any other on this earth.  Thousands of Jews, our Family, from the world over, will come here as well.  Like us, drawn to the Kotel, the center of our hopes and dreams. All kinds of Jews—those wearing their Shabbat finest of black hats and black coats, to Jews modernly dressed.  Generations of Jews, old to the newly born, coming here to be together because it is Shabbat.

Boys on one side, girls on the other, but the joy is the same.  Dancing, singing, praying, pure Shabbat joy.

We will stroll back to the hotel, sharing and reflecting along the way, about what they experienced. Ask your children about Shabbat at the Kotel.  It will be one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

Tomorrow is a late sleep-in, followed by a leisurely walking tour of the Israel Museum and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The afternoon is free to rest and re-charge, as Israelis do, and teens will enjoy the pool and visits from family and friends.

We will bid Shabbat farewell with prayer and song at our Havdalah service, separating Shabbat from the rest of the week. Then we head for Ben Yehudah Street for a unique shopping experience to kick off the new week.

Shabbat is the perfect transition from part one of our trip to the next.  Israeli teens from the Young Ambassador School of Petah Tikvah will join us from Sunday through Wednesday. Our kids will have the opportunity to learn first-hand from their Israeli peers about life in Israel, its similarities and differences to theirs.  The mifgash (encounter) is as educational and beneficial to Israeli teens, as they also learn from our children about life as American Jews. The goal is to strengthen our Family by increasing mutual understanding and support, and I am confident we will succeed in accomplishing this goal.

I understand that many teens, American and Israeli, have already met on Facebook. They are very excited to meet in person, and they are all looking forward to what is in store.

We head for the dessert on Sunday, stopping along the way to pick up the Israeli teens, and to participate in an archaeological dig.  Our destination is the Bedouin camp, for camel rides, traditional Bedouin feast (kosher of course), drumming circle, and a night in the million star hotel (the tent).

You may not hear from me until Monday, after our dessert experience which includes Massada and the Dead Sea.

Your children are very well, totally enjoying themselves, and soaking in everything. More than that, they appreciate the gift they have been given, often expressing their gratitude to me with words of thanks and hugs.

Truly, this greeting is the most special for me.  On behalf of Y2I 2012, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. May you all be blessed with a beautiful and peaceful Shabbat.  To those who made Y2I 2012 possible, THANK YOU! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  It is everything we hoped it would be.

With love from Y2I 2012,

Debbie Coltin

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Boker Tov (Good morning) from Jerusalem, Y2I 2012 Families and Friends!

This morning is one we will always remember. Our first look at the Old City from the Haas Promenade was truly memorable.  Timeless Jerusalem, the place where we “realize” time—the past, our present, and hopes for our future.

We gathered on the Haas Promenade to express our heartfelt thanks with the traditional shehehchehyanublessing, acknowledging the holiness and specialness of the moment, and all it took to get us here.  Everyone who made Y2I 2012 possible was in our hearts as we expressed our thanks and gratitude for the gift of Y2I and the opportunity to be in ISRAEL.  We know that without your support, given in many ways, we would not be here at this moment in time.

What a greeting we got upon arrival! You will see pictures (much later today) of men sounding shofars, drumming and playing soulful music and singing familiar Hebrew songs.  Imagine announcing our arrival in Jerusalem with the blasts of the shofar!  We had chills even on the warmest of mornings.  The ruach (spirit) of the moment was overwhelming, and instantaneously, our feet moved us to dance and our voices to sing. One big, happy Y2I group. To top it off we sang “Jerusalem of Gold” as we looked upon the City of Gold—our beloved Jerusalem.  This is how we realize time.

Today teens will travel back thousands of years—2,000 and even 3,000 years back as they walk, touch, see, hear and feel the history of this place. The Kotel (Wall), the Cardo, City of David, Hezekiah’s water tunnel, and much more await Y2I teens. For many this is the day they have been waiting for with great anticipation.

Tonight teens will have the opportunity to talk in small groups about how they are feeling about their experiences in Israel thus far.  One teen said, “There are no words to describe how I am feeling.  Happy doesn’t come close to the joy in my heart.”

We will end our day with birthday celebrations (cake!), beginning with Matt Beader’s birthday today and several more in the coming days. What a place to spend a birthday.

With love from Y2I 2012 on our first full day in Jerusalem

Debbie Coltin

PS—Yes, our buses and hotels are air conditioned.  There are no soldiers traveling with us.  Keep your questions coming!

July 11, 2012

Shalom Y2I 2012 Families and Friends!

What a mystical morning we spent in Tzfat.  We enjoyed it all–ancient synagogues, rich history, beautiful scenery and views, interesting people, delicious food, and magnificent art.  They were excited to buy gifts for families and friends, and many delighted in purchasing their first Jewish star, chai or hamsa for themselves. Spending time in Tzfat was a great way to launch our day.

A spiritual visit followed by lots of fun—rafting on the Jordan River! Kids got soaking wet while cooling off in rafts full of fun and laughter.  It’s been a really great balance of learning and adventure today. Best part is sharing with lots of new friends.

Later today we will arrive in Jerusalem.  Teens are full of anticipation and excitement about being in Jerusalem, City of Peace, the heart of the Jewish world, center of our hopes and dreams. Tonight we will visit the fascinating Western Wall Tunnels, which I know will leave teens in awe of this most special place. For the next three days we will walk the ancient streets, literally in the footsteps of our ancestors, and touch the very stones they too touch, giving us the most personal experience of the magic of Jerusalem.

Your children are happy, healthy and having lots of fun.  They are soaking in every minute of this unbelievable experience. You should all be proud of your children. Y2I 2012 is living up the great expectations we have of them.

Until next time, with love from Y2I 2012,

Debbie Coltin

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C Day 3!

The Y2I tradition continued this morning when teens met Momo Lifshitz, a dear friend of the Lappin Foundation and Y2I, and a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army. Momo conveyed a passionate, heartfelt message about our Jewish Family and the need for us to love and support Israel. Teens were absolutely silent as they soaked in his message, which seemed to resonate deeply with them.

Momo’s talk was an inspirational way to kick-off our day. He explained how Jews are all Family, and regardless of where we live, what we believe, or how we practice, we are the only family we have.  He reminded us to cherish our Family and most important, keep it strong by not breaking our chain of tradition that is thousands of years old.  Following Momo’s visit, the kids’ smiles were a bit brighter and they stood taller with Jewish pride.

Momo will meet our group again on the last day of the trip and give them the opportunity to do the talking about how Israel has changed them, as well as talk about their feelings about what they experienced.  Today I am sure was the beginning of looking at things differently for most of the teens. Not that I am rushing the time away, but I am so looking forward to what they have to say at the end of our trip.

Following Momo’s talk, we headed out for a morning of adventure and we had so much F-U-N! We took an unbelievable cable car ride up the Manara Cliff and looked into Lebanon, which was so close we could almost touch it.  The view of Israel from this height is breathtaking, and it leaves you in awe at the beauty of this Land.  Then we descended half-way down the cliff, only to finish our descent zip-lining!

A-W-E-S-O-M-E! I am so proud of the kids, some of whom overcame fears of heights and “scary things”, put on a harness and JUMPED!

Following lunch at the mall in Kiryat Shemona, we toured Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights and had a history lesson we will not soon forget.   In addition to all the new friends we make on Y2I and all the adventure we have, Y2I is the best way to learn history, visiting sites where actual events took place and often meeting people who took part in them. Our bus is a classroom on wheels, and all three tour educators—Ron, Amir and Menash, are talented and passionate educators and guides. We are very fortunate to have them as part of the Y2I 2012 team.

Following dinner we danced the evening away on a beautiful sunset cruise on the Kinneret.  We even had time to shop the little stores and stands on the tayelet-boardwalk.  Expect some nice souvenirs when your kids return from their trip.

Tomorrow is check out day and we move on to Jerusalem, but not until we visit the mystical city of Tzfat, which I am sure teens will enjoy immensely.  We will end our very long day of touring tomorrow with a night time visit to the Western Wall Tunnels. So cool….

Your kids are doing well, having fun, meeting new friends are truly enjoying themselves. The next post I write will be from Jerusalem.  I am so excited for your kids!

With love from Y2I 2012 from Tiberias,

Debbie Coltin

Y2I 2012

July 9, 2012

We arrived safely and happily in Israel! We already had a full day with plans to relax at the pool this evening, followed by an early curfew.  I will write more in the coming day or so, after we settle in. Your children are well and happy and having a wonderful time.

With love from Y2I 2012 in Tiberias,

Debbie Coltin

July 8, 2012

Dear Y2I 2012 Families and Friends,

We are on our way to our Y2I adventure of a lifetime!  What a seamless departure we had, and it was smooth sailing on our bus ride to Newark.  Ditto for check-in at the airport, which went quickly and without a hitch.

I am writing this post a bit more than four hours into our flight.  Though we are far from our destination, a lot is already happening on Y2I 2012. Teens are taking advantage of the ten hour flight to make new friends, and it is heartwarming to see how quickly and effortlessly this happens.

Every time I walk through the aisles teens excitedly ask, “What are we doing when we land?  Where are we going first?  What will we see?”  It never gets old talking about what awaits us in Israel.

We have a great day planned for July 9th.  We will visit Neot Kedumim, a gorgeous biblical nature reserve where our day will begin with a delicious breakfast.  Food is a big part of the Israel experience, affording your kids lots of fresh, delicious produce (where cucumbers taste like cucumbers, and watermelon is juicy beyond belief!) and scrumptious Israeli dishes that make my mouth water just thinking about them.

After breakfast everyone will plant trees at Neot Kedumim, literally placing their roots in the land of Israel.  It’s a wonderful mitzvah and a meaningful way to connect with Israel, our land, our ancestral home, the focus of our spiritual hopes and dreams. We will enjoy a nice tour of Neot Kedumim, soaking up the sunshine and learning all about the seven species and much more about what is special about Israel.  Check out Neot Kedumim’s website and there you can read more about this special place.

Then we will make our way to Tiberias, stopping along the way at a chocolate factory (time permitting) and for lunch, of course! Late day we will arrive at our hotel, settle in, have our meeting, and then enjoy an evening at the pool and getting to know each other.  I am sure teens will not complain about the early curfew tonight, especially after they hear about the fun-filled day we have planned for them tomorrow, including zip-lining and much more.

Your children are doing well.  Y2I 2012 is a really sweet, nice group of teens. The counselors, who are equally as nice as your children, are grateful the opportunity to be part of their Y2I experience.

I, too, am excited and full of anticipation for your children about what awaits them on their Y2I adventure. We will do our very best to open their minds and hearts to Israel and help them to connect to this most glorious place.

With love from Y2I 2012, someplace over the Atlantic Ocean,

Debbie Coltin

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