Hey there HaNegev! This is Hailee Grey speaking! For my 2012 and 2013 summers, I decided to take some adventures, make new friends, create memories that will last a lifetime, and so much more through the incredible summer programs that USY offers.
Over the summer of 2012, I traveled across our sweet land of liberty with 53 strangers who, as cliché as it sounds, would soon become like a second family to me. Over the next 6 and a half weeks, we spent our summer going from coast to coast to see the amazing wonders in our country by bus. Some of you may be thinking right now, “6 ½ weeks…on a bus… with 54 people… ARE YOU CRAZY?!” Okay, yes it seems kind of rough, but let me tell you, all the time we spent actually on the bus and all of the 8 hour drives, is probably where all the real bonding, growing as a family happens, and the memories form. When we got off the bus, whether we were touring the Google Building in Silicon Valley or messing around on a hike through Yellowstone National Park, we not only saw the ins and outs of the USA, but I was also able to find a deeper connection to Judaism. Never before USY on Wheelsdid I know that there could be a synagogue still active in Oklahoma, a certified kosher Subway restaurant in Ohio, or really that no matter where you are, you can still be Jewish.
Flash forward another year to the summer of 2013, and there I am, going on another journey with USY… this time to the real homeland, Israel. Because many of us are raised Jewishly, many of us attended Hebrew School, maybe a Jewish Day school, or maybe even just had some books relating to Judaism in the living room of our houses. Whatever the case may be, every Jewish person has heard of Israel, has seen pictures of Israel, knows about the high salt in the Dead Sea, knows that one of the holiest sites in Israel is the Western Wall, etc… But I never knew just how astounding Israel is until I physically went there and saw it for myself. Sure, I went to the Wall, climbed Masada, and floated in the Dead Sea, but over the 5 ½ weeks I spent in Israel on USY Israel Adveture PLUS, I felt like I belonged. I remember one Shabbat that my group spent in Jerusalem, we were getting ready to startSloach and proceed into Havdallah. For many USYers, Sloach is the best time of convention because of the beauty of however many USYers sitting together in a circle and hearing our voices blend together to sing Shabbat away. However, this one Sloach session with G2 in Jerusalem, I will never forget. We were sitting on this porch thing, and ya know, sitting in a circle, everyone’s leaning on each other and we sing. A close friend and I just lay back, listened to the beautiful sounds around us: the singing, the activity starting to happen again on the streets of Jerusalem right below us, as we took in the last few breaths of Shabbat. The sun was set, as the moon began to rise. My friend and I look up at the dark sky, and start counting the stars. 1 star, 2 stars, and 3 stars. Just that vision of myself, under the sky that reigns above Israel, singing USY Sloach, and getting ready for another adventurous week of Israel Adventure that was ahead of me; I’ll remember that feeling forever.
After taking part in each program, I can honestly say that USY knows what it’s doing, especially during the summer! I encourage all of you to try and find your way to any of the summer programs that USY offers. The first step is to find out more! Here’s a link to a short little video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD9Y1rEZPeo ) that I made about Pilgrimage in case you want to watch that, but also, make sure you check out the International USY website for more info as well! ?http://www.usy.org/escape/
And guess what?! IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP! ?Also, feel free to text, call, DM me on twitter (@hgrey9), facebook me, or however else communication works if you have any questions at all about USY Summer Programs!
USY on Wheels Classic, Bus B 2012
USY Israel Adventure PLUS, G2 2013
P.S. Do you know the PHRASE THAT PAYS?
If you don’t, look at the attached flyer for the PHRASE THAT PAYS. Go to the link and fill in the information, and if we call you and you know the PHRASE THAT PAYS, you’ll be awarded $75 to use toward a USY Summer Program!