When Josh Matulsky and Rebecca Noymer first heard about CJP's Spark experience — and the chance to travel to Israel with Greater Boston’s Jewish community on a young adult subsidy — they knew they had to apply.
“We were really interested, and it felt like an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” says Rebecca. “It seemed like a no-brainer.”
After their subsidies were approved — and they officially registered for the April 2023 trip — Josh and Rebecca began attending CJP’s Spark something events, a series of gatherings in Boston for young adults, some of whom would also be traveling to Israel on Spark.
“It was so nice to meet everyone and just be part of a broader Jewish community,” says Josh. “At that point, we were mostly involved with the Riverway Project at Temple Israel Boston. Spark really opened our eyes to CJP and the different experiences it offers.”
“It’s just a feeling you can’t describe”
From the moment they touched down in Israel, Josh and Rebecca say they felt an incredible sense of belonging.
“When you’re driving on the highways and you see Israeli flags everywhere, it’s just a feeling you can’t describe,” says Josh, who was last in Israel in 2006 with his Jewish overnight camp.
Spark highlights for the couple included walking through Jerusalem on Shabbat, a graffiti art tour of Tel Aviv, and coming together with 7,000 other young adults from around the world to mark Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers.
“There were so many great moments on the trip,” says Rebecca, who had been to Israel three times prior to Spark. “We had an amazing bus with fabulous leaders. Everyone got along and we made some lifelong friends. It felt special to be there with such a tight-knit group.”
Re-igniting a spark
Since they’ve been back in Boston, Josh and Rebecca got engaged (and hired a photographer friend from Spark to take their engagement photos!) — and together, have jumped deeper into Jewish life. They’ve attended several CJP events, including a Young Couples event, where had the chance to meet other young couples, build community, learn more about CJP, and reflect on their values as individuals and as a couple. In addition, Josh is participating in CJP’s Dewey Stone Kadimah Leadership Program.
Beyond CJP, they’ve gone to social gatherings at The Chai Center in Brookline, participated in a Friends of the IDF Krav Maga event, taken a class on ketubot (traditional Jewish marriage contracts) at Kolbo Fine Judaica Gallery, and have become “more open” to all the Jewish opportunities in front of them.
“If I have 10 minutes during the day, I find myself looking back at my Spark photos just to revisit the trip,” says Josh. “It was such a memorable experience. I’m not going to go 15 years again without visiting Israel. The trip re-ignited that spark I forgot I had for Israel, and for that sense of Jewish belonging.”