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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hands-on Leadership Experience: ILead 2013

By Sammy Tbeile

            This past July I had the privilege of going on a program called Ilead with other students from Yeshivah of Flatbush and other schools. I’m sure you’re asking yourself the same question that I’ve heard countless times over the past 8 weeks; “So what’s Ilead?” There isn’t a simple answer - there are no two lines that can sum up our 5 incredible weeks in Israel. Hopefully, I can try to give you a bit of insight and maybe even an answer.

            We got off the plane and quickly realized that this wasn’t an ordinary trip to Israel as we grabbed the bags that contained everything packed for our first 48 hours of camping. Over these 48 hours we got to know each other, our Madrichim (counselors), learned how to build a tent, how to build a fire, some first aid, how to navigate, and failed miserably at a navigation mission. Yes, it was a busy two days but they were nothing compared to some of our later days.
            Don’t get the wrong idea though, Ilead wasn’t some form of twisted Jewish Survivor or Lost. Everything we did on Ilead had a purpose. When we went on hikes (sometimes at 3 o'clock in the morning) we learned about the beauty of the land, and saw an even more beautiful aspect in ourselves as everybody helped each other. The hikes were the ultimate lessons in teamwork. When we went to the Knesset we learned about the Israeli government and had our own debates on relevant Israeli issues. There, we realized the responsibility that leaders have. When we experienced Gadna (or Army Week) we learned about discipline and authority. When we experienced Survival Week (literally getting split up into groups of four in the desert with maps, compasses, and food) we learned not to doubt ourselves, how close we’ve become, and how much we’ve grown. When we went to Sderot for a weekend we were inspired by the families who lived there even though it was tough.
             Ilead was a great followup experience to a leadership course that many of the Yeshivah of Flatbush students took throughout Junior year with Mr. David Galpert, in which we analyzed different leadership styles and techniques through class discussions and Thomas J. Wren’s The Leader’s Companion. The goal of the course was to prepare us to be leaders throughout our senior year and beyond. So, I promised you an answer. Ilead is a program that created a beautiful family of 31 leaders who experienced Israel; broke out of their shells and bubbles; learned countless invaluable life, religious, and other skills; in hopes that they come back and take a leadership role in their schools and communities. So, don’t worry you’ll hear more from us as we incorporate everything we have learned on Ilead and at Yeshivah of Flatbush to improve our schools and communities!