By Isabel Royz
Yesterday we woke up to fresh New York bagels waiting for us at breakfast. We were tired, but ready to start another eventful day.
After breakfast, we climbed onto the bus and drove to Chinatown in order to explore the culture of the neighborhood. While walking down the streets, we saw many elaborate buildings and colorful streets, as a result of the Chinese New Year. The decorated Chinese shops added to the cultural aspects of this wildly diverse city.
After visiting Chinatown, the group traveled back to Brooklyn to Hatzoloh, the Jewish first responder volunteer organization. We had heard from our guest speaker Jamie, a member of Hatzoloh, over Shabbat about the work that they do there. It was very interesting to hear and see the organization in person, and they even let us see the inside of their ambulance, in which they transport patients to local hospitals. Getting to hear about how this organization was built was a really interesting experience because it showed the impact that Hatzoloh has on the community. Afterwards, we had amazing schnitzel for lunch.
As the day went on, we were all super excited to visit Times Square. When we got there, it was an overload of bright lights and people filling up the streets. We split up into groups and explored the streets, visiting many different stores, and getting the firsthand experience of Times Square. In the end, we all got together, got our picture taken and projected onto a billboard!
Later in the day, we went to Yad Leah, which is an organization that sends clothes to support communities in Israel. We stacked, folded, and packaged the clothing to send to a certain city. It was a very amazing experience, and knowing that we were helping others created a warm feeling within me personally.
Finally, as the day came to an end, we all sat down and had a banquet in our hotel, talking with the amazing advisors and staff. After the banquet, we all gathered round in a circle, singing songs and sharing what we learned from this trip. We sang and learned new songs and prayers, as well as the meaning behind each of them. In between we went around and talked about what was important or meaningful about this trip to us. It was a time of reflection, as well as connection between the participants.
Overall, it was an amazing experience of both seeing different sites in New York, and being able to connect to and learn more about our Jewish religion.
Isabel Royz, right, is a sophomore at Buffalo Grove High School in IL.