One thousand and two hundred member-youths and graduates of the Orthodox Union's NCSY movement gathered this week in Israel to celebrate the organization's activity.
The guest of honor at Monday's ceremony, which took place in the Mini-Israel park, was Miriam Peretz, who lost her two sons in Israel's wars.
Peretz recalled her childhood in Morocco, where Jews "walked with their heads bent." Since arriving in Israel, she said, she walks with her head held high. She told the young audience excitedly that despite everything she has been through in her life, she feels great pride to live in this land, and she wakes up every morning with joy in her heart.
She called on the youths to "walk with your heads held high, proud to be Jewish."
Rav Avi Berman, Head of OU Israel, addressed the audience and said: "You, who have visited the Land, have seen and experienced the great meaning of the Land of Israel to the Nation of Israel. Take that home with you and be true, faithful ambassadors of the only land in the world that is the home of the Jewish people."
Rabbi Steven Burg, the OU’s managing director and international director of NCSY, also addressed the youths and graduates, some of whom made Aliyah to Israel following their NCSY activity.