The Israeli teens may have just left New Jersey after three weeks together with us but our memories of our time together with them are still vivid and bright. Here’s “Part 1” of our experience with them to share with you.
Journal Entry #1: The teens arrive!
For many of the teens, this flight was their very first experience of traveling by airplane. They talked about the roar of the engines and the feeling of lift off in their bellies. But, like most kids, quickly adapted to hours in the air and spent their time anticipating meeting their host families for the first time.
After touching down from their flight from Israel, our Open Homes Open Hearts lay leaders and staff took the kids out for breakfast, a tour of Liberty State Park and the 9/11 Memorial.
Back at the JCC, our host families eagerly awaited the teens’ arrival. The bus pulled up, the teens piled off and introductions and hugs ensued. Most families were meeting their Israeli teens for the first time but, for some families, this moment was a long-awaited reunion.
This year, the two counselors from Israel, Dana and Naor, who chaperoned the group on their trip from Israel to New Jersey, had a very special history with OHOH. Their host families, Amy and Rob Wexler and Stephanie and Rob Laub, of Woodcliff Lake, have stayed closely in touch with ever since they were students themselves in the program over 10 years ago. “To see Naor grow up over the years and become a responsible young adult is one of the great joys of our lives. We consider him one of our children”, said Stephanie Laub. When Naor stepped off the bus from the airport at the JCC to greet everyeone, Rob Laub exclaimed, “It feels like my son has come home!”