The last night was probably the hardest night on this trip for me. After Shabbat ended, we all went out to eat dinner at a restaurant. We had a nice little banquet where we all got to sit and eat together. This was also where we began to exchange phone numbers and other contact information because we realized that our trip was coming to an end and we need to stay in touch. After dinner, we all went back to the hotel and started our next program which was the awards program. Each of us received our own special book, the NCSY Bencher, and a Siddur with a letter written inside of it from the staff. The letters were read out loud from each kids chaburah advisor. It was so nice and sweet to hear all of the nice words written about us. We also watched a video of all the memories and pictures we had over the summer. While watching, I started to tear up realizing how incredible this summer truly was. After that it was the kids’ turn to thank and talk about all the advisors/staff members. Some of us got up and talked about a specific advisor, thanking them for all of their work this summer.
After the awards program was over, we got together with our chaburah, our learning group, for the last time. It was so sad to think that this was the final time that we’d be learning together. I remember my first chaburah when I didn’t know anyone but I was told that we would become a little family. I didn’t know how true this would be. We became our own little family inside the bigger TJJ Bus 5 family. By the time we finished our chaburah it was about 2:30am, which meant we had 3 more hours together until we had to leave for the airport. Nobody went to sleep that night. We pulled an all nighter together, utilizing every last moment we had!
At 5:30 am, we sadly had to get on the bus and leave for the airport. At the airport we sang a few songs together. Then we had to say goodbye to Ruti, Naor, Baila, and Amit since they were staying in Israel. I slept through most of the plane ride because I was so tired so the long flight wasn’t too bad. Once we landed and found our luggage, it was really time to say goodbye. I don’t remember ever crying that much. Saying goodbye to everyone was definitely the hardest part of this trip. I made so many new friends and all of a sudden I had to say goodbye. I can’t wait until the day I get to see them again. This was an incredible trip and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of the TJJ bus 5 family!
-Noa Vilnai (Saint Louis, MO)