Our trip comes to a close with a sunny and peaceful Shabbat in Jerusalem, reaching its zenith with a walk to a nearby park. The scene was an awesome progression from eight days ago – we laughed, played catch, embraced and spent the last afternoon almost frozen in time not as a disparate group of Israelis and Americans, but as a true community.
The most powerful point of the day was when Dvir gave us his personal testimony. Up to this point, we only knew basic facts about Dvir, simply because he only speaks Hebrew and we are very much an English-speaking crowd. That darn language barrier. Cut to an extremely beautiful day in Jerusalem, with our group gathered around one of the graves in the new section of Har Herzl. Dvir starts speaking in Hebrew, and tells us that we are standing at his cousin’s grave.
Day seven of trip started with an excursion into the Negev near Ben Gurions memorial site to which the whole group spent nearly two hours enjoying a challenging and scenic hike.
The Negev Desert, vast and barren brought about feelings of anticipation and excitement as we headed to spend a night in the desert, disconnected from the world. As we arrived at the Bedouin tents, our camel rides awaited. Two-by-two we mounted our camels and embarked on a quite short, smelly, and comedic ride around the grounds.
We exited Yad Vashem to the most beautiful and peaceful view of a sunny day in Jerusalem. We were able to enjoy what our people and family will never be able to enjoy. As I looked around, I was comforted by our tight knit group of Americans and Israelis.
Waking up in Tel Aviv, it felt like almost any other day in a major city in the United States.
We spent the next few hours on the bus enjoying stunning scenery, culminating in crossing the Jordan River before beginning our ascent into Tzfat. Tzfat's older areas date back to the 15th century with the modern portion being built during the 50’s and 60’s and is considered a city of Jewish Mysticism. We visited a couple of synagogues and met a few of the colorful characters that call the medieval city home.
We spent a lot of time going around saying our names so we could get to know each other better. The team building and bonding activities were a lot of fun and a great way not only to learn everyone’s names quicker but to become more comfortable being ourselves among a new group of people. The afternoon free time was an opportunity for us to either rest or relax by ourselves or with our new friends. Having Havdallah was a very meaningful way to end our first shabbat together and to start the next phase of our adventure.
Get ready for an amazing adventure! #Birthright #Shorashim
*All pictures are either from your staff’s first trip to Israel, in general or as a staff person, or one of their favorite places*