Saturday morning, we attended a Reconstructionist-style service at Kol Haneshama synagogue in Jerusalem. Following lunch and menukhah (rest), the group took an optional trip to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian quarter of the Old City. Next, we visited a park near our hotel for an afternoon of frisbee and fun. At sunset, we enjoyed a rooftop havdalah service at our hotel with some Israeli friends from Camp JRF. We finished the night shopping and exploring at Ben Yehuda Street to experience some of Jerusalem's unique culture.
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.
Happy 16th birthday Hallel! We started off our day with a powerful tour of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. We spent three hours learning about the hardships many of our ancestors went through. One of the most memorable moments of the experience were the few but compelling minutes of our tour through the children’s memorial. After a discussion on what we each thought was the most memorable part of the museum, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the museum before we began our tour of Mount Herzl, the national cemetery for Israeli leaders and fallen soldiers. We congregated in a circle to discuss what makes a great leader. Then we explored famous graves such as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the tragic final resting place of the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin. Following a short bathroom break, we commemorated the passing of a courageous IDF “lone soldier” who made aliyah to Israel and fought for his country to the very end.
Happy August 2nd! After packing up and leaving our hotel in Tiberias, we headed to Naharayim on the Jordanian border. We learned how the hydro-electric power plant functioned before the Independence War, and about the man who envisioned it all. While there, we learned about the Kibbutz’s struggles in the War of Independence. We then headed to a natural spring which was a lovely refresher from the heat.
In order to beat the heat, No’ar Hadash started the day off early, trekking down Mount Arbel. Not only did we climb, hike, and sing through this famous site of Crusaders and Muslims fighting, but of course danced. This path may have been tough on the knees, but even more on the heart, as there was a steep and sketchy decline with just a rope to hold onto -- a great challenge to those scared of heights. At the end of the hike, we were welcomed by a wandering cow to a fresh spring, where we washed and refreshed.
This morning was relaxed; we slept in, had breakfast, and joined together for communal services. Services were led by "rabbis" Eva Nates and Yonit Slater, who made services engaging through meditation and song. After services, we began to brainstorm ideas for the No’ar Hadash t-shirt, which we will design ourselves. We jotted down certain pictures and words that embody special moments and values that we have gained throughout the course of our trip. The thought process continued up until lunch time at the hotel. After lunch, we headed down the the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) for a relaxing and sunny beach afternoon. We spent the majority of our beach time cooling off in the water. At around early evening, we headed back to the hotel for showers and more relaxation. A few people took advantage of this free time to exercise and clean up after the beach. Once the sun went down, we thoroughly enjoyed a Havdalah service, which reminds everyone of a fun Saturday night at camp. We then headed to the city of Tiberias, one of the four Jewish holy cities in Israel, for dinner and to explore the shops and the downtown area. Overall, this Shabbat was very relaxing and fun, as we got to prepare for our last week in Israel and strengthen the already close bonds that have been created over the course of this trip.
After a hike, the day began with an overlook of Israel’s diverse landscape, from hilltops to city to the sea and even the border with Lebanon. Another short bus ride and we were going down the world’s steepest cable car which led us to natural grottos at Rosh Hanikra. We ventured through the caves, looking at clear blue pools of water that flooded in from the Mediterranean Sea.