Israel 2018 Blog

Shabbat 5/5/18
Yechiel – Shabbat was awesome!! The Solomonts and the Fulds were both super welcoming. From the meals and the singing to the games and just davening in Israel, everything was fantastic! We got an opportunity to get to learn more about the Addlestone students and the Charleston community. We also learned a lot about the Chashmonaim community. After davening on Shabbat morning, we went on a tour of Chashmonaim, and learned about the history of the city, the security wall and the relationship between the residents of the Yeshuv them and the Arab villages nearby. In the afternoon, we had a chance to hang out with Zachary’s cousins, the Wolfs! It was very exciting to get to hang out with Benny and the rest of his family.

One of the great parts of Shabbat were the meals. Everything was very delicious. The Solomonts had a very interesting custom at the meals, where everybody would go around talking about their week by answering a question. At the first meal, we had to say one thing that brought us ‘simcha’ this past week. At the second meal, we had to say something someone had done for us that we appreciated. It was very interesting, and was a really fun way to learn about other people’s weeks!

*Lilly -5-5-18 Shabbat*
Yesterday for Shabbat we got to get to know everyone better and have time to relax. The Solomont’s had delicious foods and enough for everyone. They gave us nice rooms to stay in as well. Other kids and I went on a walk around Chashmonaim in which we got to see how it was like on Shabbat in Israel. It is much different – parents just let their children walk around no matter how old!

After Shabbat, we went to the mall and it was small but average. The stores were small and a lot of clothing ones. I went into a toy store and saw a lot of new toys that they don’t have in America. I saw a candy stand with so many yummy chocolates and gummy’s. I got ice cream which was delicious. Things in the store were not too expensive so it was good.

Sydney – Sunday 5-6-18
Yesterday we hiked down Mt. Jilabun. It was challenging but really fun. On our breaks, we talked about Israeli geography and Eli Cohen, and how he played an important part of Israeli history. Next, we went to Har Bental (which was on top of a dormant volcano) and learned about the Yom Kippur war. Next, we went to the Bunkers and talked about the conflict with the Syrian government. Next was my favorite part of the day when we went rafting on the Jordan river. Our raft had Lilly, Hadassah, Morah Riki, Yechiel, and Gavin. Ours lagged behind because I wanted to row but I didn’t know how to. Gavin took over and rowed in the back of the boat the whole entire time. We went ahead of the other group, which consisted of Zevi, Rabbi Green (who pushed everyone off of the raft), Jack, Micah, Binyamin, and Zachary. Yechiel rowed for the first half, the next half Hadassah, Yechiel, and I switched off. Everyone but Morah Riki and Lilly got soaked. While I was rowing I ran into a bush, and a gecko landed on the raft. We named it Jeffery. Someone had to toss Jeffrey into the water because Morah Riki started screaming. R.I.P. Jeffrey.

Gavin 5/6/18 Sunday
This morning we started our first hike in Israel in the beautiful Golan. The Jilabun – we had a very difficult hike up the side of the mountain, but as we reached the top we had an amazing view. We also learned about the Six Day War and Eli Cohen his contribution to Israel. Later that day, we went to Har Bental on the Syrian border.  On the mountain, we
learned about the Yom Kippur war and the general who motivated his troops to save  Israel by telling them if they don’t fight Israel will be lost. Although the troops on Har Bental were outnumbered ten to one the Israeli still managed to keep the Syrians out. Then we went exploring in the bunkers on Har Bental and discussed what was going on in Syria. We learned that the Syrian Government were having a civil war with their people. Then we went to the Jordan River for boating it was the best part of the day. I was in a raft with Morah Riki, Sidney, Hadassah, Lily, and Yechiel. Everyone else was on the other boat with Rabbi Green. They played king of the hill against their will with Rabbi Green as king most of the time because he kept pushing everyone out of the boat. After the rapids, Zevi jumped out of the boat and swam all the way to the docks. In my boat, we had a rough start but after the lifeguard taught me how to steer we went a lot faster and we even passed Rabbi Green’s boat. Then we found a lizard that climbed on to our boat but as it climbed on the boat Hadassah screamed which caused Morah Riki to tell us to throw him off the boat. Lily took a special liking to the lizard and named him Jeffrey. Then I threw him overboard. After a long day, we all agreed it was a great and tiring day.

Micah 5/7/18 Monday
Yesterday can only be described as fantastic. Although our first activity, hiking on the side of a mountain, was canceled due to rain, we still enjoyed ourselves, we went on another hike on Mount Carmel. The view was nothing less than gorgeous. We saw surrounding farms of olives and other fruits and vegetables. We learned about Eliyahu and his mockery of nonbelievers. Then we visited an artist colony in Tzfat where we purchased gifts for our family and friends. We each learned to bargain with shopkeepers for better prices than what was given. I personally got the price of one of my presents in almost half! We played bus games and sang songs, and when we started getting hungry –  we all went on our own to an amazing falafel stand where I was able to eat some genuine falafel. We retired to our hostel and davened, ate well, davened again, played games until we finally went to sleep. Pretty full day!

Zachary 5/7/18 Monday
On Monday, the fourth day of our trip, we visited many amazing sights. We started our day with a trip to the kever of the Rambam, and saw many other graves of Tannahs and Amorahs. Unfortunately, it rained after that, and we had to cancel our hike to Arbel. Then we visited the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, which was packed with a lot of people who wanted to see the famous rabbis’ grave. Afterwards, we traveled to Tzfat, which is located on a mountain and is one of the four holy cities of Israel. First, we started from the top of Tzfat and traveled down the layers of history. First, we walked down the road where Moshiach will walk on the way to Jerusalem. We heard about Safta Yocheved, who sat on that road, waiting for Moshiach to walk by, and sadly she died several years ago. Next was the house where two young women were hiding during the Independence War, ready to commit suicide with a hand grenade if the Arabs got in, and thankfully the Arabs were defeated before they threw the grenade at themselves. Then we visited the Shul of Rabbi Yosef Cairo, who wrote the Shulchan Aruch, we even got to learn a bit of Shulchan Aruch too! Finally, we split into groups and visited the shuk of the famous art colony. After that, we drove to Mount Carmel, where Eliyahu HaNavi once stood up to prove Hashem was the only G-d.

Binyamin 5/8/18 Tuesday
Today was about self-reflection and understanding how privileged we are. We went to the Hall of Independence in Tel Aviv and learned about the creation of the State of Israel, proclaimed in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion. We watched an awesome video about the history of modern Israel and saw a copy of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. After that, we did volunteer work for an hour, packaging food for families in need. At lunchtime, we went to the Shuk in Tel Aviv and got to order food by ourselves. I went around with Jack, Yechiel, and Zachary. We went on a picture-scavenger hunt around the Shuk, finding Israeli’s with specific shirt colors and shoe brands, and buying souvenirs and candy along the way. We then walked around the old city of Yaffa, while our guide, Tamar, pointed out notable structures and explained their purpose. Our last activity of the day was the Blind Museum, a unique simulation of living blind. Helping us through the 7 exhibits was a nice man, who was blind from birth. We went through a rain forest, a house, a boat, a street, a Shuk, a room where we listened to music, and a cafe, all in complete darkness. It was a great way to understand how lucky we were.

Hadassah 5/8/18 Tuesday 
We began our day with the thought of how lucky we all are. We went to Independence Hall, which is the place that made this trip possible. In Independence Hall, we saw an amazing video which showcased the actual video footage from that amazing day. After that, we went to go volunteer with an organization called The Jaffa Project. The Jaffa Project has many different programs to help the needy. One of the ways they help people is by giving them food twice a month. We went into their storage facility and began the process of packing boxes full of food and other necessities. After that, we went to the Tel-Aviv Shuk. We were split off into groups and we had the chance to walk around, get food, and complete a mission. The mission was to take a picture with certain things: with a soldier, someone wearing a certain color shirt, with someone behind the counter, someone wearing Tevas, and with someone selling red candy. I was with Lilly and Sydney. We went ordered, which is an amazing drink that Israel is known for, their iced coffee! We then walked through the Shuk. We were standing at a candy store in the Shuk and I felt a tap on my shoulder and I heard a man say excuse me. I turned around and there was my “brother” Nate who was taking a gap year. I hadn’t seen him since September. He was standing there with 2 of my old camp counselors. I was so happy to see them. We had an amazing time hanging out and walking around in the Shuk. After that, we walked around Tel-Aviv and saw the gorgeous views of the city. We ended our day by going to the blind museum. I was in a group with Sydney, Lilly, Gavin, Micah, and Morah Riki. Our guide’s name was Danny. He became visually impaired at age ten. With his help, we went through seven different exhibits in the dark. We went through the forest, a house, a boat, the city, a Shuk, a music room, and finally a cafeteria in the dark. Throughout this experience, I learned to not take anything for granted because you never know what could happen. We learned that it’s not easy to do certain things without your vision and that’s why it was so important to have the experience of losing our vision. It was an amazing thought to end the day with.

Lilly 5-10-18
We started our day at tel azaka and learned about the battle of David and Goliath. We learned how David was weaker and smaller and used a slingshot to kill Goliath. We then went to the Bar Kochba caves – crawling around inside – where we learned why the Jews could navigate and move much easier than the Romans.  The Jew didn’t wear heavy armor so it made it easier for them to move. We then went to another cave system and saw how the Hellenist people lived. Then close to noon we learned about Bedouin culture which was really nice. I learned that with Bedouins, when you enter they either give you a full cup or 2 sips cup of coffee/tea, if they give you a full cup than they don’t want you there but 2 sips worth means your welcome to stay. We rode on camels and ate Bedouin style which is like everyone is a big family. After we had a nice bonfire were we roasted marshmallows and drank tea. We ended the night with going into the pitch black desert and meditating. We got to connect with our minds and nature.

Jack 5/10/18 Wednesday
Our day began waking up at 7:00 am (ugh). After davening we headed off to tel Azaka the mountain that the battle between David and Goliath took place. We went into the Novi and learned about what took place on the very dirt we were standing on. Next, we went to the bar Kochva caves where after a little bit of convincing and a lot of yelling, I finally went into the caves. After that, we learned all kinds of things about the Romans when they were in charge of the land of Israel, like how when they went into the caves either the Romans got lost or the Jews would be ready for them and attack them. Then in the afternoon, we went to another set of caves and underground caverns – we went here to see how the Hellenist lived like how they stored their water or where they put there Mikvas. Then we went to meet the Bedouin people who were very nice even when I burned my hand and dropped my tea on his carpet. Then after talking to a Bedouin, we got to ride camels through the desert which was something I was looking forward to this whole trip. Then after we got off our camels and stopped arguing about who’s camel would win in a fight against the other people’s camels we got to have an authentic Bedouin feast with laffa, lamb meatballs and chicken. Then after that, we had a “meditation session“ in the middle of a pitch black desert or so I’ve been told, I think I fell asleep in the middle of it. But after that, we ended our night as every night should – with a bonfire and marshmallows.

Zevi – 5/11/18 – Thursday

The day started very early at 4:00 am to watch the sunrise. We went to Masada and we saw the most beautiful sunrise. The sun started slow then you see this burst of fire in the sky.

The next thing that we did was hiked in the Negev- specifically in Ein Gedi. We saw some great waterfalls and swam in them. We then went to the Dead Sea, and when we got in, everything stung and someone almost cried. Then we drove to the hotel and went to Ben Yehuda street at night!

Micah – 5/11/18 – Thursday

We woke up very early in the morning to go on a long high up the mountain in Masada. Although we were all probably tired and grumpy we still had a good time climbing up the mountain. Once we reached the top, the sunrise had already started painting beautiful streaks of vibrant colors across the sky. We davened at the old synagogue from 2000 years ago. After the men finished wrapping up their tefillin, we learned more about King Herod and his great buildings including his bathhouse, palace, and spa. We made the long trek down the mountain, most of us talking, telling stories, and sharing jokes. It was a fun learning experience and was truly breathtaking.