Sunday, May 4, 2014

Visiting our Friends at Gan Ner

On Friday, we traveled to our sister region near Afula to visit our former young Israeli emissary, Gal Ron, and the kids at Gan Ner. We were greeted with snacks which we ate hungrily. We are always hungry, even though we are eating really well! The kids arrived in small groups so they didn't overwhelm us, and introduced themselves. We played several games together to get to know one another. It was a lot of fun and we laughed a lot. After a very short time we were all friends. We broke into small groups for some other activities and an opportunity to really get to converse with each other.

At the end of our time there no one wanted to leave. However, we were heading to our Host Shabbat with much anticipation. Everyone is ready for a little change of pace and a little extra sleep. Have a great Shabbat.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Meeting Israelis and Making New Friends

... by Josh and Dylan

We started our day off early. After waking up at 6:15, praying Shacharit and having breakfast, we made our way to a hike to meet some 8th graders from Israel! "Practicing our hebrew on real Israelis was a blast!" said Josh. The hike was full of adventures and friendships that will last a lifetime. Our kids are now Facebook friends with Israelis! Our kids are really branching out and going out of their comfort zones to meet new kids everyday. After the hike and a delicious picnic lunch, we went on a bike tour. "It was hard work, but after we saw the views and the birds, it was very rewarding. I'm very happy I took part in this amazing opportunity to bike in this beautiful land," said Dylan. 

After the great bike tour, we drove towards the Kineret where we went on a fun disco boat. "The disco boat was an opportunity to bond with the other kids through the form of dance and music," said Micah. The disco boat's music was a entertaining mixture of Israeli and American music. It was a way to integrate Israeli modern society into our trip. Even though the disco boat was a lot of fun, we got hungry and rode the bus back to kibbutz Degania Bet to eat dinner. We had some free time on the kibbutz and then went back to our rooms to catch a good night's sleep before Host Shabbat. "It was amazing meeting the Israeli students. Socializing with them enriched my vvocabulary and it was amazing to compare and contrast our teenage lives," said Maddy. 

Our views of Masada by Maddy and Rebecca

Today was a phenomal day. Even though we do not enjoy waking up early, there was a rush of excitement knowing that we were going to climb up the historical Mount Masada and then swimming at the Dead Sea. We ate a nutritious and excellent breakfast made by the kibbutz. Then we were on our way to Masada. We hiked up the Roman Ramp. Tired and sweaty we prayed Shacharit. "We prayed with so much joy and kavanah, it was the best tefilot we have ever had!" said Rebecca and Maddy. We took a few moments to appreciate the significance of Masada and then we toured the top of the mountain. We saw many sites and we had a great understanding of the mountain's history after we toured the top. We made our way down the snake path. It was challenging, yet very rewarding and we would do it all over again. After the strenuous hike we drove to the Dead Sea. We were hungry so we ate a delicious lunch at Ein Gedi by the Dead Sea. We covered ourselves from head to toe with mud. It made our skin feel so smooth and regenerated our youthful look! We later floated in the Dead Sea waters which had an abundance of salts. After a long day we were longing for our beds.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Meeting new friends, dancing on the water

Today we went to Har Meron for a mifgash (meeting) with a group of kids our age from a school in  Nahariyah. We started with a few icebreaker activities to get to know a little about each other. We then went on a very long hike and practiced our conversational Hebrew along the way. The views were really spectacular and we exclaimed, "Wow, azeh nof hazeh!"  which means "Wow, what a view this is!" After our hike, our new friends joined us for a picnic lunch. With Facebook, we will be able to keep in touch with them when we get home.

We said our goodbyes and boarded the bus to the Hula Valley and the Galilean Hills for a bike ride
in a nature preserve. Everything is so green here, a welcome change from the brown of the desert. Everyone who wanted to got to ride a bike. If you didn't want to ride you could go in a golf cart. We made a few stops along the trail to learn about the migration of birds from Asia, Africa and Europe. We were fortunate enough to see many of them and other wildlife.

After riding, we took an ice cream break before re-boarding the bus and the much anticipated"Disco Boat" ride on the Sea of Galilee. We had a great time. We wobbled, danced, and had a lot of laughs. Even the teachers got up and danced. It was pretty funny!

Hannah Pliskin and Jason E. Buckman

The Golan Heights

Micah Glickman
Golan Blog  

Here we are are at Mitzpe Gadot in the Golan Heights. The view was amazing and we saw the vantage points that the Syrians had over Israel and the many kibbutzim and small villages in the valley. Looking around, I thought about how serious the place was. I thought about the hundreds of Israelis who died here at the hands of the Syrians. I thought about the active mine fields and retired trenches that surrounded us and their purpose. Ilan, our moreh derech, (guide), talked about a generation of Israeli children who spent their childhood sleeping underground in bomb shelters. I could not have chosen a more appropriate place to learn about how Israel captured the Golan Heights and the sacrifices of Eli Cohen, Israel's most famous spy. The quiet of the environment only added to the experience.