30 Hours in NYC
By Jenn Bloom, The Academy at Penguin Hall, 2020
Last November I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 New York City trip with the Jewish Teen Initiative. When I heard about the trip through my temple, I honestly wondered what we could possibly do since we would be in New York for such a short amount of time. Although, I can confidently say that I was wrong, and that we did so much more than I could have ever imagined. Despite being in New York for just over 24 hours, we spent every second experiencing and touring the area. When we were not sleeping or on the bus, we were doing all that we could.
When we arrived on Friday afternoon, we made it to the hostel and started preparing for Shabbat services and dinner with New York Jewish teens. Throughout the day, leading up to services, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Metro Diner, went on a food tour of the city, to a massive candy store, and had the opportunity to go to the Tenement Museum. Here we experienced the cramped living spaces and learned about the lives of past residents, such as a German Jewish family in the 1870s, and an Eastern European Orthodox Jewish family in 1918. We got to really understand and visualize how compact housing was, and what typical life was like years and years ago for large Jewish families. I found the museum to be the most interesting part of the trip, as it was an interactive, yet educational, component to our time together as a group. Personally, the museum opened my eyes to not only how much life has changed, but also how lucky I am for my living situation, and life in general. Jewish life has significantly evolved since then and I am thankful for the way it has.
On day two in the city, when the trip was starting to come to an end, we visited the Museum of Natural History, where we got to roam around the museum and go look at what intrigued us the most. Personally, I was fascinated by the marine biology exhibits, where I got to further educate myself about all of the species and wildlife that live in our world. We then had the pleasure of watching The Play That Goes Wrong, and of course, being typical tourists, walked around Times Square. With all of this said, through my time in New York, I had the chance to not only meet other Jewish teens, but also educate myself on the history of Jewish life, culture, and upbringings. I truly do believe that this trip is an amazing opportunity because I was able to see the Jewish religion in a new way—in a way that I never got to see through Hebrew school or services. I was able to connect with fellow Jewish teens and people that I’ve never even met. I comprehended how being Jewish plays a major role in my life and how Judaism shapes my life altogether. I’m thankful JTI made this experience possible and highly recommend the trip to anyone who is considering going this year.
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