One of the more enjoyable parts of my career in working with Jewish kids is that I get to go on trips with them.  Over the years I’ve been to Montreal, London, the Ukraine, Israel, New York, Washington, DC, and beyond with kids of all ages and have been very lucky to actually get paid to do it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these experiences is that there’s a time on every trip when it all comes together.  It’s that moment when time almost stands still and the feeling of happiness, good times, and just being alive at a special moment fills the group. I’ve also noticed that these magical moments can happen absolutely anywhere.

The Prozdor 8th grade New York City trip, which I just returned from, was no exception.

On Monday night, a bus full of Prozdor 8th graders was making its way uptown from the Lower East Side of Manhattan after a day full of incredible experiences.  New York bagels, NBC Studios, the Chassidic Discovery Welcome Center in Brooklyn, ice skating in Bryant Park, dinner at Noah’s Ark Deli… it was quite a day (and just one of the three on this jam-packed trip).

But the magic happened on that thirty-minute ride- a totally unpredictable but completely amazing moment.  The bus driver put on Z100 (the New York equivalent of Kiss 108), turned it up pretty loud, and we legitimately rocked out to a series of unabashedly top-40 hits, featuring Nicki Minaj as the appetizer and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” as the anthem that brought the house down.  Kids were singing, dancing, and completely unified in their love and appreciation for both the music and being together.

Getting off the bus at 31st and 7th, across from Madison Square Garden, we emerged from the bus with the glow of an awesome moment all over our faces.

As one of the girls said to me as we crossed the street to our hotel, “You know… I really made some new friends on this trip.”

Yeah. I know.