By Jacob Gurvis
This piece originally appeared on the Urban Mitzvah Corp blog on July 30, 2014. Jacob is a leader in SHAFTY, our youth group, and staffs MINCHA, our 7th & 8th grade program.
When I was signing up for Urban Mitzvah Corps New Jersey (UMC), it was just assumed that I would go for the full six weeks. Four weeks wasn’t really logistically possible, with my father being in Israel and my mother at URJ Eisner Camp all summer. So I signed up for all six, not really knowing what it would be like, or what would happen if I didn’t like the first session.
Fortunately, none of those worries proved true. Even after fourteen summers at Eisner, the first session of UMC was one of (if not the) best months of my life. The friendships I made were incredibly special. I loved my job site, Play S.A.F.E., but it was the fun we had in the house and on our trips that made the session truly magical. Whether it was playing poker at night with all the boys, or just sitting and jamming out on guitar, we all had an amazing time together. We were just 32 teens from all over the country, with different backgrounds, customs, and likes, all bonding every second of the day. I never could have imagined that one group of people could become so close so quickly. And I couldn’t be happier that it turned out the way it did.
Needless to say, after such a life-changing and incredible month, saying goodbye was not going to be easy. In fact, that Tuesday morning, watching as 22 of my new best friends left, was one of the hardest days of my life. The day was full of crying and hugs, and saying goodbye was, to put it simply, heartbreaking.
After the tears and goodbyes, for the ten of us full-summer kids, the thought of starting over with new kids did not seem appealing. We were sad, and frankly did not want to meet new people after such a transformative month. It was tough for us to stay positive and excited, but we pulled through, and welcomed the new participants with smiles and open arms. By the first night, I could tell that we’d all be okay.
Now almost a week into second session, I’m so grateful that I was able to stay for both sessions. Sure it was hard saying goodbye, but the new friendships I’ve already made have made it all worth it. It was definitely weird starting over and having a completely new group come in after the month I had, but it has already been so great, that I wouldn’t give this up for anything.