Written and nominated by Jacob Epstein, NCSY Alumnus
Ayal Gul exemplifies what an amazing NCSY advisor is. From his crazy antics to his intellectual thoughts in a group Torah session, he never ceases to amaze and inspire. In fact, I remember exactly how I met him. We were singing Adon Olam after shacharit—me being the shortest person in the room and him being by far the tallest—and naturally he decided to stand next to me, arm in arm.
Shortly after, on another Shabbaton in eleventh grade, we were discussing the idea of “What does it mean to be a Jew?” Midway through the conversation, he said something that I really believed in. He said, “To be a Jew means more than just to be a part of a Jewish religion, but rather to be a part of the Jewish people, an ancient people still alive today and still practicing our ancient culture and beliefs. There is no separation between halacha and Zionism because both are equally important aspects of the Torah.”
We began talking and Ayal introduced me to the ideas of Rav Abraham Kook. I had already decided to make aliyah immediately following high school, so naturally this topic was close to heart.
To find a way to vocalize ideas, which I had held dear for so long, was a wonderful experience. It allowed me to become strong in the beliefs I held, and it inspired me every day to push along my path of aliyah. Now I am studying in yeshiva in Israel and finalizing my plans to officially make aliyah this coming August. Till this day, I regularly devote a considerable amount of time to the works of Rav Kook. These works inspire me daily to make my dream a reality. Had it not been for Ayal, I likely never would have been exposed to this, and more importantly, not have had the extra strength to pursue my dream.