Teens in Israel: ‘Having fun but very uncomfortable’

Teens in Israel: ‘Having fun but very uncomfortable’

Maddy Rudoy, 17, arrived in Israel on July 1 with BBYO and is still there enjoying her tour, according to her mother, Holly Rudoy of Mt. Lebanon.

“They’re definitely having fun,” Holly Rudoy said of her daughter’s BBYO group. “But we’re very, very uncomfortable.”

Maddy’s group made it to Israel, but not all of BBYO’s groups did. On July 8, the closing of Ben Gurion Airport forced BBYO to cancel Israeli tours for two groups of teenagers who had already arrived at JFK Airport, ready to depart for Tel Aviv.

As for Maddy’s group, the itinerary is changing on a daily basis, according to Holly Rudoy.

“Their visit to Tel Aviv is canceled, and they are limited in what they can do in Jerusalem,” Rudoy said. “BBYO is juggling all their different groups there, flip-flopping the kids from the north to the south. But they are giving them great programming.”

Maddy is scheduled to return home on July 21.

“But if they were coming home today, I’d be really happy,” admitted her mother.

Twenty local Diller Teen Fellows were scheduled to leave for Israel this week, but the departure is now slated for the middle of next week. Along with the later start, the itinerary of the trip has been adjusted as well, according to Chris Herman, Pittsburgh Diller Teen Fellows program coordinator.

“The two major components of the trip are still intact,” Herman said.

The Pittsburgh teens still will spend time in Pittsburgh’s Partnership 2Gether city of Karmiel and the Misgav region, and they will join with the other nine Diller groups for the International Leadership Congress in Givat Haviva.

As of Monday, the teens were still scheduled to travel with Israeli teens from Karmiel and Misgav, but “their original itinerary doesn’t apply,” Herman said.

The new itineraries will be dictated by Diller International leaders who are in Israel keeping close tabs on the situation there, he added.

The decision to postpone the trip was based on the “escalation of activity from Tuesday to Friday [of last week],” according to Herman.

“The situation on the ground changed,” he said. “Fifty percent of the country had restrictions, and much of our itinerary was impacted.”

Because Diller leaders in Israel needed time to rework the teens’ itineraries, the trip to the Jewish state was postponed, Herman said.

Herman met with local Diller teens and their parents on Sunday to explain the changes.

While Micah Ackerman, one of the Diller teens scheduled to go on the trip, was disappointed in the delay, he understood the reasoning behind it.

“I’m just going to let Diller International make the decisions, and I’m just going to go with it,” Ackerman said.

Another meeting for the Diller teens was scheduled to be held on Tuesday this week, at which the staff would report on any additional itinerary revisions, or if the trip needed to be canceled.

As of Monday morning, NCSY was still scheduled to leave for its teen tours of Israel on Wednesday, although visits to the south of Israel were postponed for at least the first week of the trip.

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at tobyt@thejewishchronicle.net.)

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