World Bnei Akiva’s Limmud and Amla (Learning Latin America) program concluded its educational program this past week. The program’s alumni from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil spent the past year experiencing Israel in all its various facades and learned the core values of the movement.

The groups journeyed to Ein HaNatziv where they learned about work and fulfillment, to Machon Le Madrichim Institute in Jerusalem where they learned about Zionism and training, and to a Yeshiva in Efrat and a Seminary in Jerusalem where they strengthened their Jewish identity.

During the course of their program, the participants had to deal with a case of cancer that struck group member Jonathan “Juno” Cohen. The cancer was a rare and violent type and early detection of the disease was extremely important.

World Bnei Akiva acted quickly to fly to Juno back to Australia for emergency treatment. It had a great influence on the team, and was the turning point of their year.

Thereafter, Juno’s peers realized that that they must give their greatest efforts to help their friend. The group went to volunteer and travel around the country while hailing the slogan "Do it for Juno."

The group’s dream was to have Juno return to them. Throughout the year, Bnei Akiva was in constant contact with Juno and once the opportunity to bring him back to Israel presented itself, the organization immediately acted to bring him back. With the help of his family, doctors and generous donors, Juno was able to return to the country and surprise his group mates at the conclusion of their version of "The Amazing Race," which took place during the course of the year.

The group traveled throughout Israel for three days participating in various challenges and using the knowledge and experience they acquired to complete various tasks such as recruiting 20 people do to a street performance, completing obstacle courses, taking Hebrew and Zionism tests, and more.

Juno was waiting for his team at the Jerusalem endpoint, making their finale a very emotional and tear jerking moment. The demonstration of true brotherhood, love and friendship was a significant factor for Juno while dealing with the disease. Juno recalls that in particularly difficult moments, he remembered his friends and the love and encouragement they sent from Israel, and he thinks that's what brought about his speedy recovery.

This past week, Juno was informed that he has completely recovered from the disease.

Many of the participants will use this lesson of community and leadership in their respective countries, while many others plan to make Aliyah to Israel and join the adult programs in the organization.

Chief Executive Officer of World Bnei Akiva Roi Abecassis said, “Bnei Akiva members from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa chose to spend a year in Israel to experience authentic Jewish Israeli training which will enable them to make the most significant life decisions - where to live, where to work, what values to embrace in their adult life.”

“This amazing story will implement the values of the program and give a new and unique meaning to the concept of friendship. Bnei Akiva as a worldwide community aims to educate on the importance of mutual responsibility to the participants all over the world and will continue to operate like this in the future.”