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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nafi and friends at Lev HaTorah’s communal second hakafot on Motzei Simchat Torah (Credit: Lev Hatorah)

Lev HaTorah students (l-r:) Michael Younis (Chicago, IL) and Nafi Lieber (Teaneck, NJ) on tiyul (Credit: Nafi Lieber)

Nafi Lieber is learning at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah. He is from Teaneck, New Jersey, attended the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey for elementary school and Torah Academy of Bergen County for high school. His family davens at Congregation Rinat Yisrael.

His plans for next year? Enlisting in the IDF through Lev HaTorah’s lone soldier program, Lev Lachayal.

Why did you choose to learn at Lev HaTorah?

I first heard of Lev HaTorah when my cousin learned there a few years ago and, because of this, I decided to very seriously look into the program during my senior year. I’m very happy with my decision, as Lev offers me everything I’m looking for: chesed, community and a really warm learning environment.

What kind of goals did you have for your year?

Going into the year, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, so I wanted to really keep an open mind and get the most that I could out of my time at Lev.

What have been some of the biggest highlights of your year so far?

So far, I think a highlight of my year was when we went on a three-day tiyul to Eilat, exploring the Negev Desert and learning about the historical significance of the area both in Israel’s young history and in the Tanach… and the watersports and hikes were a lot of fun too.

One of the most inspiring moments of my year so far was when I was on our yeshiva’s Holocaust memorial trip to Poland. On the last day of the trip, one of the rebbeim spoke about how the most desperate dream of all the six million who perished was to go to Eretz Yisrael, but they tragically didn’t make it in the end. I realized how lucky I am that I can just get on a plane and go back home to Israel whenever I want. This speech, and the Poland trip as a whole, gave me a much deeper appreciation for and connection to the Land of Israel.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest difficulty I’ve faced so far this year has been the language barrier. Luckily, I’ve been picking up a lot of Hebrew since I got here, and it’s getting much easier to get around and speak to the locals.

How has being here been different from your expectations? Did you feel prepared for your experience or did you have culture shock, and how so?

I think my upbringing has mostly prepared me for the experience of learning in yeshiva for the year, and Lev HaTorah really helped ease the transition by make the yeshiva feel like home.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?

My favorite places to go for Shabbat are mostly to family members, especially my Israeli grandparents and uncles, whom I didn’t get to see a lot of growing up in America. “In Shabbatot” in Lev HaTorah are also very fun and meaningful, so I like spending Shabbat at the yeshiva too.

How are you planning on spending your first Pesach in Israel?

My bein hazmanim and Pesach plans are mostly seeing places in Israel that my yeshiva may not take us to. A few friends and I have planned some hikes and other recreational activities to take advantage of these few weeks we have off and make the most of it.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I’m really looking forward to many more awesome tiyulim and having the opportunity to learn and grow in a comfortable but serious environment I can really excel in.

Have a relative, friend or neighbor learning in Israel this year who’d like to be featured in JLNJ’s Israel Spotlight? Please contact JLNJ’s Israel desk ([email protected]) or your local editor for more information.

By Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel