June 9, 2017

The Countdown to Neshama

Aryeh Lande ‘18

Among the many distinguished guests Israel will welcome in 2018, the most memorable of them all, perhaps, will be GOA’s class of 2018.
Every year, the senior class ends school in mid-February, ditching the classroom for hands-on learning in Poland and Israel. During the three months away from home, the Neshama cohort encounters significant sites in Jewish history and interacts with locals to deepen their connection with Judaism and Israel, as well as with each other.
With the year coming to a close and significant exams in the past, one thing is certain: Juniors are getting increasingly excited for the great adventure that awaits them.
One of the leading reasons for the buzz is the opportunity for personal growth.
“I'm excited because it's a chance to be independent and learn about a country from the inside out,” junior Mikayla Spierer said.
Spierer’s idea was shared by classmate Abby Faynshteyn, who said the trip will give her the “true experience of independence.”
For many students, being in a country without their parents will be a new or, at least, rare experience. The ability to interact with a country through open eyes and a clear mind is a possibility that excites the student body.
Along with the chance to have personal freedoms, some students are excited about the opportunity to foster close connections, as well. One student, junior Noah Brown, is particularly excited about the cultural immersion that this trip offers and the ability to connect with Israel.
“I’m really glad that GOA offers this opportunity that allows us to not only experience the Israeli culture we’ve learned about and immerse ourselves, but that it also helps us forge a meaningful spiritual connection to our religious and ancestral homeland,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, other juniors, like Alex Beigelman, emphasize the personal connections the trip will help create, especially in the last days of high school.
“It's a great way to end your high school career,” he said, “and create lasting memories with your closest friends before going off to college.”
The uniqueness of this trip is that, while it is the end of school, it is also the last chance for many to get to know the classmates with whom they never had classes and get to form a friendship with those you hadn’t befriended before.
Finally, Neshama will be especially powerful for the Israeli students of the grade, as they get to experience their familial homeland alongside their classmates, discovering it through a new perspective.
“I feel a strong connection to Israel and can't wait to rekindle that while spending three months there with my best friends,” junior Etai Barash said.
No matter the motivation for the anticipation, the experiences Neshama offers will be formative in the lives of the members of the class of 2018. The trip will offer a chance for self-reflection, personal growth and the ability to discover a new home.

Next February cannot seem to come soon enough.


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