We are writing live from Israel where we are just at the beginning of an extraordinary experience that is unmatched in the Jewish camping world - spending an educational week in Israel with the premiere leadership of Tel Yehudah, our Merakzim (Unit Heads) and Roshim (Specialty Area Directors). We're only about 14 hours into the Supervisors' Israel trip and already we have been presented with what is both inspiring and frightening; our inheritance of the Tel Yehudah tradition of educational excellence. Over the past 60+ years, TY has been a prolific exporter of Jewish educators. Today, we met with three Judaeans whose outlooks, both ideological and educational, grew in the fields of Barryville: Scott Copeland, Director of Israel Travel Education at the Makom Division of the Jewish Agency, Mel Reisfield, the perrenial Young Judaea chalutz of the sicha (lecture) and Gil Troy, history professor at McGill University, and author of multiple books, including "Why I am a Zionist."
What are the common threads of these three men? They have made Aliyah, influenced thousands upon thousands of individuals through their work, and all three have made invaluable contributions to their fields and to Young Judaea. And, of course, they were all Merakzim at Tel Yehudah. What distinguishes educators like these, and the hundreds of other inspirational minds that have both helped shape and been shaped by TY, is their embodiment of what they educate; true holistic educators. Their work and leadership at Tel Yehudah is not a hobby, but a logical outcome and biproduct of their worldview, as evidenced by their major life choices.
It doesn't take more than a few minutes of conversation about TY wih Mel, Gil or Scott to see their passion about what we do burn as intensely as if they were fresh off Year Course, ready for their first summer as madrichim. Yes, while our chanichim and tsevet can leave Barryville, we all carry TY around with us for life. It has fine tuned the lens through which we see the world with its complexities and ambiguities; it offers us a community that nurtures critical thinking, meaningful relationships, and a cohesive Jewish way of life.
With many more days ahead, we have only just begun to whet our thirst for more encounters and learning opportunities with these educational giants. We hope that we can glean some of their knowledge, insight, and passion for Judaism, Zionism, Israel and more and become even more inspired and empassioned ourselves and we ready for another amazing summer at Tel Yehudah.