“How Israel Tour Changed My Life & Why You Should Go With JLGB”
Writes Tour '16 participant Zach Igielman

“On the 4th July 2016, I embarked on the most life-changing, enjoyable, exciting and powerful experience of my life. I woke up, terrified that I was about to be confronted with my new family for three and a half weeks. As a JLGB non-member, I knew very few people on tour and was worried I would be an outsider in my tour family. How wrong was I? Upon arriving at Tour Orientation, I was welcomed with a warm hug from the few friends I knew already, and pleasant introductions to all the new members of my family. Little could I have imagined how close I’d become with some of my new friends, how I would be able to confide in them and share the most phenomenal experiences. But just one night into tour, as we camped out in the desert, I had completely forgotten that I had only just met these people.

My highlights from tour are vast. Our Friday night at the Kotel made me feel so warm, loved and at home with my tour family. Our insane naval battle on the river Jordan and banana boating on the Galilee were insanely fun. Hiking was both challenging and rewarding, as we saw some of the most beautiful sights over the Negev, Galilee and Mount Hermon, and we were lucky enough to see vultures waking up from their sleep. Despite some activities being somewhat intense, they were still a wonderful opportunity for team building and making friends while having a laugh and mucking around - you truly forget who was and wasn’t from JLGB. My favourite memories are of two particular things which remain especially close to my heart. The stimulating discussions which occurred after shabbat at the Kotel and during shabbat in Pikiin, where a group of insightful young people joined together to discuss religion, philosophy and theology, and to process everything we had seen and experienced that week. My other favourite memory, due to my particular passion for technology, was in Tel Aviv, where we visited one of Google’s amazing campuses and participated in a start-up challenge. Both of these experiences developed my interest in living and working in Israel, made us closer as a group and gave me skills for the future. This visit also gave me more of an idea of what I can achieve in the future and motivated me to continue my business venture.

This is one particular thing to have come out of my friendship with Jake and involvement with JLGB:  our start-up MakeTronix. Jake and I have been friends forever and since he is a lifelong JLGB member it was his enthusiasm for JLGB that prompted me to sign up for JLGB tour. I have always been involved in designing circuit boards and writing computer apps, as well as teaching computer programming. Over several months, Jake and I came up with the idea of creating a kit based on the Raspberry Pi, a mini programmable computer, which teaches young people programming via building their own alarm. Stage by stage, we developed our idea, designed and produced prototypes, programmed the kit, wrote tutorials, made a website and established our business. I’m proud to say that we successfully crowd-funded our product, raising £1,721, and it is now being used by people and schools across the world to learn programming.

This is just one example of how JLGB tour doesn’t just end on the flight home. Since then, I have joined JLGB, and continue to share many wonderful memories with my tour family. The friends I have made are for life, and the memories I will treasure for all of my days.

Through JLGB, I met like-minded people that share my interests. From forming a choir with my fellow musicians, to contemplating the big questions with my fellow philosophers, there are people at JLGB with every interest.

If you’re interested in having the most life-changing and enjoyable experience of your life, where you get to explore Israeli culture, sites, nature and religion, whilst making life-long friends, don’t hesitate, go on tour! Once booked, there’s no turning back, you’re part of the family from day one! Go to www.jlgb.org/israel and sign up now!”

JLGB Israel Tour 2017 is running from 4 - 26 July and is open to everyone in Year 11. Applications are still open! Watch the video by clicking here. For more information email israel@jlgb.org or call 020 8989 8990.

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