Day Two: Shabbat in Jerusalem
Shabbat offered everyone an opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge for the days ahead. Students were offered different options for Shabbat morning services. Some chose the Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues ofYemin Moshe, some went to the Agron Center for an egalitarian service, while others attended more traditional services. Upon our return, we gathered for Shabbat lunch and then had some time for a Shabbat nap. All rested we walked to Yemin Moshe to see the only windmill in Israel and to talk about the first Jewish settlement outside of the walls of the Old City, which was financed by Moses Montefiore and other philanthropists. We had a great view of the city walls and the hills surrounding Jerusalem. On our way back we stopped at a local park for some recreation. The boys enjoyed a competitive yet friendly basketball game which helped to break the ice.
We held our Maariv and havdalah services outdoors as we felt Jerusalem awaken from Shabbat and begin to bustle. Before heading out for the night, we held a birthday party for Maddy and Hannah Pliskin as they celebrated their 14th birthday in the Holy City! "It was very special to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to us in Hebrew and to celebrate in a special place" said the girls. Then, off we went to Ben Yehuda Street. It is amazing how much money they can spend, shwarma they can eat, and fun they can have in an hour! "This was so much fun!" said Josh Shafer. There will be a lot of nice presents coming home!
Day Three: Sunday
What a day! Our first stop was Beit Guvrin, the site of an archeological dig. We climbed down the centuries to dig in the dirt for fragments of history from the time of the Maccabees (176 BCE). Noah E. found many pottery shards, Dylan and Micah found pieces of wine jugs, and Zeke and Jacob even found the continuation of a staircase, proving that there is still more history to be discovered. We formed a bucket brigade to get our finds out of the cave, passing bucket after bucket of dirt, rocks, and pieces of history from one to another. Once outside we actually sifted the contents of the buckets looking for treasures.
Our day continued with "giving back" to the people of Israel. Leket Israel serves as the country's National Food Bank and largest food rescue network. Students headed out to the fields to pick turnips. "A philanthropist bought the land and farm specifically for vegetables and fruits to be grown, harvested, and given to the hungry," said Lillie Pinette. "It felt good to be able to do something to help other people and it was fun!"
After our farming adventure, we continued south to the Negev for two nights. On our first night we stayed at a picturesque kibbutz called Mashabey Sade. After dinner, our madrichim Shiran and Eldad, lead a meaningful Yom Hashoah tekes (ceremony). Dylan and Maddy took part in the presentation and represented our school beautifully. We then broke up into our yachad or small discussion groups to process more about Yom Hashoah and our days in Israel thus far.