On Tuesday, July 10, the United Synagogue Youth (USY) Tikkun Olam youth mission from the United States was to be found in Beit Shemesh, painting a local school as part of their social action activities. The group is staying at KKL-JNF's Nes Harim Field and Forest School in the Judean Hills, and had spent the previous day at KKL-JNF's Adulam France Park, which was created and is maintained with the support of friends of KKL-JNF from France.
Andrew Van Bochove of Las Vegas, Nevada, the head of the group, explained: "United Synagogue Youth sends a number of youth groups to Israel every year. This group is called Tikkun Olam, and we volunteer in community service all around Israel for about a month. For example, we worked in Jerusalem at a soup kitchen, in Haifa at a children's hospital, and with special education children in Ofakim.
"Our agenda is social action and environmental justice, which is where our connection with KKL-JNF comes in. At KKL-JNF's Nes Harim Field and Forest School, where we're staying, we sometimes have nighttime activities in nature, like a bonfire, if we're not too tired. This is a group of fifteen kids aged 15-18 from all over the United States, and they're really great," Andrew concluded.
Lauren Kerner (16), of Orange County, California, is on the USY international and regional board, and this is her first trip to Israel. "Israel is amazing," she said. "This has been a life-changing trip for me, being in Israel and feeling such a strong connection to a country for Jews, and doing things tourist groups don't usually do. Yesterday, when we were in Adulam France Park, we did a lot of digging and hiking. I love archeology, Indiana Jones is one of my heroes. I'm definitely going to come back to study here, and very possibly join the Israeli army."
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