The next stop was one of our favorite parts of the day: the Kotel. With so much historic and religious significance, the Western Wall is known as one of the holiest sites in the world. It was exhilarating to see people of all different religious backgrounds and beliefs worshipping and praying at the same place. Being able to put our hands on the wall and think about all of the people who came there before us was something that was truly indescribable.
Our first stop in Tel-Aviv was Independence Hall, the location of Israel's independence signing in 1948. We watched a brief film describing the context of the signing as well as its implications for Israel. We then joined another birthright group, as we gathered in the room where the signing took place to listen to a speaker elaborate on the knowledge we gained from the earlier video. I was taken aback by the passion the speaker had for Israel, and it was apparent she was an expert on all things Israel. The session ended with us listening to the iteration of the Israeli national anthem that was sang during the signing in 1948; this was truly a moving experience for the group.
Following our discussion, we boarded the bus and began drifting down the Jordan River. To me, this was the highlight of the day. While the water was a little cold, and everyone insisted on splashing around, the time we spent on the raft talking and laughing as a new group is something I will remember forever.