“Just wanted to share something that dawned on me yesterday and has been on our mind ever since. At our outing, where I met many of you for the first time, I was taken aback when Batsheva introduced me as the girl who ‘was a counselor at TheZone.’ I’d never been introduced as ‘TheZone girl’ before, but after some time, I realized that I was introduced as the camp counselor because I have what many dedicated Israeli Oorah staff don’t: a firsthand knowledge of what exactly we work so hard for. I have seen exactly where the money we make is spent.
“In light of this, I would like to share a little bit of my experiences that have inspired my work. I want to tell you about a girl named Sally. Sweet, a little quiet, but always smiling, 16-year-old Sally. I would learn with a group of teens at night. They happened to be a louder, more social group, who needed a bit of direction, but we picked out the Chofetz Chaim’s Ahavas Chesed and we made it a nightly routine in their room. Every night, Sally would join. After every session, Sally would timidly ask her questions. I didn’t give it much thought; I just thought she wanted a bit more conversation. Little did I know how much Sally wanted to grow.
“One night, she told me her guilty secret: she dreamed of going to seminary. ‘Dreamed,’ meaning it would never happen. Her parents were absolutely, vehemently against it. She went to a school where no one made that move, and she didn’t even know how to ask her parents for such a luxury. Having just come back from my first year in seminary, I felt for her. I davened that next day, but I knew how these stories went. I should have known that it would be different for an Oorah girl.
“There I was, a year and a half later, walking down a street in Geula, pulling things together for my upcoming vort, when I hear a familiar voice say, ‘Mazel tov!’ I responded robotically, but at a second glance, my jaw dropped. It was Sally. In Eretz Yisroel.
“I had so many questions for her, but judging by her proud smile and her tzonuah garb, I could tell that it would be too long of a story. The important thing was that Sally had made it to seminary and got a chance to experience and learn as she so much craved, and to shape her future in this foundational year. I was also delighted to hear that she was in a ‘frummer’seminary than I had attended my shanah alef year (now THAT’S nachas)!
“Now I can only imagine how each dollar we help to bring in contributes not only to a kid’s personal growth, but to the shaping of our future Jewish homes.”