I could go on and on about Israel Lacrosse Association and its indelible and growing impact on my 21-year-old son who has been involved with ILA since 2017. While Jake had proudly played for Team Israel in the US and Europe, it was his experience participating in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Gap Year program in Israel that, amid the covid-19 pandemic yet more devastatingly on the heels of having just lost his father to a terminal illness, that had a most profound impact on him. At a time in his life that understandably could have broken him, coupled with the isolation of the pandemic and the 100% remote learning his college had implemented, Jake chose to attend the Gap Year program while continuing to attend school remotely from his apartment in Ashkelon.

Through the leadership and self-growth opportunities afforded to him through the Gap Year program, coupled with the mentorship of the program leaders, Jake took advantage of everything that was available to him. In the eight months he spent in Israel, he grew into a far more capable, self-reliant and independent person than he had ever been; the growth he experienced there far surpassed what he had his first two years of college. During his stay he exhibited a resilience and courage I’d never have dreamed he would have, especially after the devastating loss of his dad. The young man who returned from Israel in May 2021 was an infinitely more confident, self-secure and mature version of the boy who left the States eight months before. The rich experiences Jake had and the deep family-like friendships he made are indeed priceless, and as his mom I am grateful to Israel Lacrosse Association for what it has afforded him.