Here are a few pointers to anyone planning on going on a Shorashim Birthright trip...don't lose anything (they will make you serenade the bus to get it back), don't forget your hat (Ira wouldn't like that), don't plan on getting too much sleep (7am wake up almost everyday). Despite the early wake-ups and the interesting bus performances, we've done a seemingly endless number of cool things and it's only day 3. Today we went to Jerusalem and toured the Jewish Quarter followed by visiting the Western Wall. Because it's many of our first trip to Israel we were unsure what to expect. Avraham, the artist we met in Tsvat, said it would be "amaaazingggg" to touch something that people have traveled just to touch for so long. He also mentioned that we would feel a current running through us, but that is hard to believe until you get there. Upon touching the wall, and I can only speak for myself, I felt a surge of emotion. It was amazing to feel the sense of tradition and hope that comes with a simple touch of an ancient wall.
Also, because tonight started Shabbat we had a lot of group activities including a service and group discussions on our beliefs and ideas. The service we had was unique because the members of our group come from all over the United States and Israel, all with different traditions. We also had discussions on what are the most important components of Jewish life, dealing with Jewish stereotypes and anti-semitism, and how to move forward from the Holocaust while still always remebering what happened. We all had to learn to open our minds to other people's ideas in order to have meaningful discussions on these topics, but we realized that it's also okay disagree on these personal issues. Regardless of our sometimes differing opinions, the entire group is bonding and really coming together already.