A Life Changing Experience
By Jared Kossover
This summer I had the experience of spending a week in Europe and four weeks in Israel as a part of NFTY’s Ldor Vdor trip. This trip, as cliché as it is to say it, was a life changing experience, one I fully intend on remembering for the rest of life.
To explain why, I guess it’s a good place to start where I started, meeting the people in my group. The majority of them, besides the four friends that I came with, were complete strangers. They came from all over the country, Ohio, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, even California, to meet at JFK Airport in New York. Saying they were strangers only holds true for about the first day of the trip, after that point we were friends soon destined to become a family. I can’t stress this enough, it even seems bizarre to me thinking back on it now how quickly we all became friends. Of course you might be reading this and thinking to yourself “well of course you became friends quickly, you’re with each other all day every day.” That’s very true, but of course it could’ve gone the other way, in which we all hate each other, thankfully it didn’t. These people are the reason why this trip was the life changing experience it was. They taught me things about myself that I never knew, not all of them good things either. They helped me grow as a person and made me realize what it is I want for myself, and when possible motivated me to achieve those things. They became my best friends, and they made the trip that much more worth it. I’ll probably never see most of them again and that thought makes me sad, however forever I will remember them and the times we had.
On a different note, this trip was very special to me for reasons beyond being a Jew and traveling to my homeland. It was special for me because I felt I was retracing my heritage. Both my grandmother and my grandfather lived in Poland and are survivors of the holocaust, so traveling through Poland and experiencing the concentration camps was especially meaningful for me. It was interesting to me to hear my grandmother talk about the Jewish Federation. The same organization that enabled me to go on NFTY’s Ldor Vdor trip by awarding me a scholarship, helped my grandmother and her family come to America after World War II. I asked my grandmother about her experience with the federation and she only had positive things to say. She said that they saved her and her family’s life by bringing them to America, and once they came over they helped them set up their new lives. She talked about how the federation gave her and her family an apartment to live in and some starting money and helped her parents get jobs so they could begin to support themselves. Her closing remark was that she is incredibly grateful for all the Jewish Federation did for her.