Finding My Heritage

3 years ago Leighest 0

By Shai Fichtelberg/ Sonoma County, CA

I’m not gonna lie—at first, I was hesitant about attending CTeen’s Heritage Quest this summer. My mom and my Rebbetzin Altie Wolvosky, convinced me. Now that I’ve come home, I can’t thank them enough for the experience. 

CTeen Heritage Quest changed my life in the best ways possible. I found my family, I learned more about my history, I connected to my Judaism and most importantly I found the true meaning of Am Yisrael Chai. I went into Heritage knowing one person, and landed in Poland with no suitcase. From the moment I met the girls, they were offering me clothes and they didn’t care that they didn’t know me they just wanted to help. That made me truly happy and excited to get to know the girls. Throughout Poland, as we went from place to place, where millions of Jewish people were killed, I realized how amazing that it is that we are still here. Not only did I learn more about the Holocaust  and Jewish life in Poland, I learned more about my personal history.  Four of my great grandparents survived Auschwitz. Thinking about that made lighting Shabbat candles so much more important to me and I felt truly connected to them.

After the emotions and connections in Poland we traveled to the true Jewish homeland Eretz Yisrael. It was a complete change in scenery and a complete change in  the connections. We were in a place that we could truly be proud to be Jewish. We sang, we laughed, we got to experience things that people only dream of. We went to the Kotel to spend Shabbat and it was the most amazing experience— imagine hundreds of Jewish people celebrating Shabbat together! It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We danced and sang with people that we didn’t know and people we may never know but it didn’t matter because we had such a strong connection rooted within us.

Each moment in Israel and throughout the whole trip made it apparent how important it is to have pride in our Judaism. I truly felt proud and have carried that home with me. All the truly amazing and inspiring moments made it so hard to leave my new sisters and my homeland. I will definitely keep every moment and every feeling in my heart forever. I don’t think I could ever forget any of my fellow campers  or the counselors because they impacted my life in such an amazing way; they inspired me, they made me so happy and now that they are in my life I don’t think I will ever be able to go on without them. I am so grateful for them for this experiences. So if you are considering going on heritage quest I definitely recommend it. It will change your life in the best way possible and help you group to heights you never thought imaginable.