“By the third week of Kollel, I was in the beis medrash after Night Seder till twelve or one in the morning, learning with my chavrusa. They just give you a love of learning.”
Avery, 16, is a junior at Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie, IL. Though not actively involved in NCSY, Avery attended NCSY Kollel this summer, based on the recommendations of yeshiva staff working in coordination with NCSY. The program, located in Israel, combines interactive Torah study with competitive sports, and Avery is quick to admit that he wasn’t sure it would be a relaxing way to spend his summer.
“I wasn’t too keen on the learning going in,” he concedes, “but the learning is chilled out, and that makes it enjoyable.”
In particular, Avery says it’s the “personalities of the people” that made the learning so engaging. He talks about his madrich, who still calls him every single Friday.
“He’s not my age, so it means he really cares, and he’s not just doing it because it’s his job,” says Avery. “The madrichim don’t get paid, and everyone is there because they want to be – and you feel it.”
Now that the summer is over, Avery says he’s noticed he’s grown in more than just his learning. He describes Kollel as having a very “accepting environment,” and this acceptance made an impact on him.
“I look at people more openly now,” he says. “In Kollel, you have kids from every type of background – public schools, yeshivas, academies. And then you realize that although you may be your own person, we are all in the same boat; we’re all trying to grow and accomplish the same thing.”
Avery adds that he felt this not just in the beis medrash, but also at the Friday night onegs, which proved to be a trip highlight for him.
“We had four hundred people dancing and singing together, public school teens and yeshiva kids. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” he says.
“Kollel gave more of a love of learning – and Judaism,” he says. “The entire program was just amazing.”
Captions: (Top) Avery learning in the beis medrash at Kollel. (Middle) Avery, left, taking time out from learning to skate with fellow Kollel participants. (Bottom) Avery, third from left, and friends on Kollel.