We started the day on Thursday by walking through the Hezekiah Water Tunnels in the City of David. We all agreed that it was incredible that the intricate system was built 2200 years ago! After, we went to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. We saw King David’s tomb, as well as where the Last Supper took place. Then we headed over to Tantur to talk with Palestinian teens where we discussed various conflicts and possible solutions. The Q&A was very informative; we learned about the teens’ experiences with the IDF, Israeli government, refugee camps, and their identities as Palestinians. We then bused back to the hotel where we had a Q&A with a panel of Jews from very different branches of Judaism. It was an interesting experience to learn about the unique perspectives these people had about Judaism and society. That evening we had a fun time at The First Station, a converted train station that has turned into a plaza/festival area for both tourists and locals.
The next morning, we visited the beautiful grounds of the Israel Museum, where we were able to see the Dead Sea scrolls, many old and new pieces of art, and the world’s smallest bible! Then, we headed over to the shuk (market) where we experienced culture, shopped, and ate some really good food. We then took a bus tour to other neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including the neighborhood of Gilo and the wall dividing Palestinian land from Israeli land. After the tour, we traveled to our new hotel, Eyal Hotel, and Vadim (our tour guide) said it was worth mentioning that the hotel is lovely; from the food to the rooms, we feel comfortable and have begun to make Israel our second home. That night was Shabbat, and we spent our evening at the Kotel; we had our own camp-style service, not forgetting to sit in a circle and sing hippie songs. The city was alive, with it being Shabbos, and hundreds of people took to the streets. We had never seen anything like it. We ended the spectacular night with an oneg (celebration) of our own (only the staff has a Friday night oneg at camp), and we went to bed with a nice, warm feeling having spent our first Shabbat together in Israel.