TSTI Teen Nathaniel Wolf Meets With URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

During a conference call with URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs earlier today he shared a photo taken last wheek while he was visiting Israel. The picture shows Rabbi Jacobs with the NFTY High School Students who are currently participating in the EIE-NFTY High School in Israel Program. There in the back row, third from the right, is our TSTI teen Nathaniel Wolf. Nathaniel is a terrific young man and we could not be more proud of him. (As an aside, last week, before the ceasefire was in place I FB messaged “HOW are you???”. He replied,”Good we are in Eilat right now after finishing Gadna yesterday.” That wasn’t the answer to the question I was asking… but it did, in fact, answer my question. He was fine and was learning and experiencing a tremendous amount- more, in fact, than anyone would have expected.

I asked Nathaniel’s mom, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, to share a few thoughts on NFTY-EIE and having her son in Israel at this time. This is what she had to say…

Nathaniel has been in Israel since late August where he’s participating in the NFTY-EIE High School program. During that time he has lived on a kibbutz… hiked the width of Israel from sea to sea (the Galilee to Mediterranean)… climbed Masada… met with Rabbis and Imams and students and scholars who have come to Israel from all over the world… explored Jerusalem… traveled to Poland for an intensive Holocaust remembrance… completed a week of basic training in the IDF… all while studying Hebrew, Jewish History, and, of course, taking all of the regular high school classes (and SAT prep!). It has been a truly amazing and life-changing experience.
We had the opportunity to visit Nathaniel in October and saw firsthand all the wonder and intensity of what he’s experiencing and learning. Most recently, when the Israeli response to Hamas attacks began to escalate, we were very concerned — especially when Hamas rocket fire reached the West Bank, not terribly far from the kibbutz where NFTY EIE is housed. But not only has the NFTY Program remained in constant contact and allayed our fears, we’ve also seen in our son his own willingness to step up — in words and deeds — to stand by and for Israel. I have told my family and friends who’ve worried about him: “Just talk to him… read his Facebook page. You’ll learn a whole lot more by engaging with him than you’ll get from much of what’s being reported in the media.” He’s strong minded and strong willed, and exactly where he wants to be.
There are 5 weeks left of the program — it ends on New Years Eve — and just today Nathaniel posted a Facebook status that laments, “Where did the time go?”
This much is for certain: NFTY EIE didn’t just keep my son and his classmates safe. Rather, NFTY made sure that students were taught…and inspired… and nurtured… and challenged to think and live just as an Israeli teenager does. It is an experience — and a gift — he’ll carry with him forever.
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