Editor’s Note: The first class of Israel Next Dor in the Lehigh Valley will graduate on June 14 at the Jewish Federation’s Community Celebration & Annual Meeting. These 12 up-and-coming leaders traveled to Israel together last summer and spent the past year learning and building connections back home. HAKOL reached out to the participants and some describe here their experiences in their own words.
Abby and Ben Feinberg: The experience after returning from Israel has been immersive. We have a better understanding of our local Jewish community’s current needs and future goals. We’ve also been excited to feel our voices are heard by the community when we are requested to provide feedback or suggestions.
Nissa Gossom: This past year has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Jewish Federation and the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley while making long-lasting friendships. It has also given me the opportunity to reflect on how I can be a bigger part of shaping our Jewish community.
Jessica Kamber: I rediscovered my Jewish identity and the importance of it. This was sort of like my rebirth into my Jewish faith. Something that was near and dear to me as a child was rekindled through my participation in this program.
Howie Levin: The Israel Next Dor experience has served as an introduction to myself and our family of the vibrancy of the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley. The friendships we’ve made, activities we’ve become involved in and connections to Israel that were formed before, during and after the trip have been invaluable in helping to establish our Jewish identity in the Lehigh Valley. I hope the Jewish Federation continues this program going forward to help continue to grow the future leaders of the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley.
Rachel Levin: I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Israel Next Dor. The connections and relationships I have built in my community and Israel are due to this program. I have made lifelong friends. I am forever changed as a person for the better.
Mike Smith: This experienced changed my personal and professional life for the better by helping strengthen my Jewish identity while introducing me to a new set of friends that I can have at my side the rest of my life. The number of inside jokes, memories and thought-provoking moments made during the trip still make me laugh, smile and think.
Alan Raisman: We not only traveled to Israel, but found ways to continue to give back, creating future Jewish leaders in the Lehigh Valley. We will always remember to answer the call on Super Sunday. We will always thank those contributing to the important work being done by the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Day School. We will work to grow the Young Adult Division by creating events, attending events and telling the story of how we got involved with the Federation. And we will look at what our next steps can be, from joining boards of Jewish nonprofits to attending events on behalf of Israel Next Dor. Our trip may be over, but our involvement is just beginning.
Andrea Reich: I'm so grateful for the Israel Next Dor trip. Not only did I make new friends, it was a catalyst to become more involved in the community. I look forward to becoming more involved in the community through volunteering and social activities.