Written by Ben Perlstein, a Hadracha Merakez (Unit Head) at TY this summer.
I still remember my first moments as a chanich (camper) at TY. I was one of the first campers to arrive that summer, and my madrich (counselor), Steve, came to greet me and my parents at the office. Looking back, I feel I came to appreciate more and more every year how life changing that moment was – and it seems to become more so all the time. Steve inspired me in every way a fourteen-year-old can be. I remember sitting in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) hearing him talk about his experience running for and serving on Young Judaea’s National board as a senior in High School. As a rising freshman at the time, I thought he was the coolest person I had ever met, leading on all the questions we had learned to love and identify with at camp.
It was that conversation with Steve that led me to my own experience on the national board four years later. He ended up being my Madrich (counselor) again when I went to Israel for the first time, on Young Judaea's Machon in Israel summer program after TY, and he has continued to be a personal and professional mentor to me and more importantly, a great friend to me in so many ways.
Steve made Aliyah in the same year that I spent in Israel before going to college, and gave me a job when I came back again after graduating. I can’t help but feel that the same inspiration I felt when we met on my first day at TY has infused and sustained our friendship ever since. And I know it is what I hope to transmit to TY chanichim every day now that I’m back. These are the relationships that represent the greatest impact of what we do, reminding us all that TY itself is truly a gift that keeps on giving.