1. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 11: The Golan Heights

    Today we explored the northernmost part of Israel, the Golan Heights. We began our morning with a drive through the mountains to Bania. There we embarked on a long hike, where we walked alongside a small creek, dipping our feet in the water and taking in the beautiful landscape surrounding us. As the day became increasingly hot, we were glad to finally reach our destination, the Bania Waterfall. After a lot of walking, suddenly a roaring waterfall was before us. The Bania Waterfall feeds into a bright blue pool, which is teeming with fish. In the end, all of our hiking and sweating was absolutely worthwhile!

  2. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 10: Out of the Desert

    We started the day at the campgrounds in the desert and had a nice breakfast of bread, cereal, and chocolate spread. We survived the night outdoors and although we were sleep deprived prepared for a full day of traveling. Our first adventure of the day was a camel ride led by by Bedouins. Everyone's thighs were very sore, but it was so worth it! Then we arrived at Sde Boker to visit the tomb of David Ben Gurion where we learned about his time as Israel's first prime minister. After, we were all thankful to leave the desert and finally begin our journey north. We visited a kibbutz to explore a coexistence greenhouse project where we met with an Arab businessman talk about social issues and discrimination. To end our day, we met with Ethiopian children and heard a story about a woman's migration from Ethiopia to Israel. Then we headed to our hotel next to the Sea of Galilee and enjoyed a wonderful dinner together.

  3. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 9: Nature and Teamwork in the Negev

    We started our 9th day in Israel with a sad farewell to Kibbutz Ketura, leaving the high-tech algae farm and massive solar fields behind.  After playing some games together on the bus, we arrived to our first activity of the day, Makhtesh Ramon or the Ramon crater.  We learned about IIan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut to ever go into space on the Colombia shuttle. Ilan and the other 7 astronauts aboard the Colombia tragically died when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. However his bravery was duly noted and memorialized by the naming of the crater. We also learned about the crater itself. The crater, stretching 25 miles long, 4 miles wide, and 1,640 ft deep was formed 10 million years ago by extremely erosive wind and water. We also  watched a short video documentary about the exotic animals within the crater, making us paranoid for our camping trip later that night. The view of the crater was stunning and for a moment we were beyond words, giving David and Bri a brief, but peaceful moment of silence.

  4. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 8: Life in the Desert

    Today we had a later start than the past few days, beginning in the dining hall of Kibbutz Ketura, one of very few socialist kibbutzim left in Israel. After breakfast, we conducted a little activity on the kibbutz about how they run the kibbutz, make decisions, and handle problems. They have a general assembly (Aseyfah) that meets once a month with the entire community. At that meeting, committees bring up issues for the assembly to vote on. There are a lot of subcommittees that report to an executive committee. The subcommittees work on different topics and try to create solutions and regulate their own aspect of Kibbutz life. We did a little project where we were split into groups where we pretended to be committees and were presented with problems. Each committee was supposed to find a solution to the problem and present it to the assembly who then voted on the solutions. It was a simulation (in a much faster sequence) of decision making on the Kibbutz.

  5. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 7: Desert Exploration

    Today was truly an exhausting but incredible experience. Today was an especially exciting day because we were able to celebrate Matt Hopen’s Birthday! We all woke up at 3:30 am to gear up for Masada. With only a little coffee and snacks we all made the long trek up the snake path to smile at the top stopping often to overlook the beautiful view.  

  6. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 3: The People

    Our third day in Israel was filled with explorations of different cultures and connections. We began our morning at Lifeline for the Old, an organization which provides elderly Israelis with the opportunity to create various crafts - everything from metalwork to embroidery - in order to earn a supplemental income. As we wandered through their facilities, we observed the artists at work. Many were more than happy to show us their beautiful work, and even pose for pictures. After a much anticipated visit to the gift shop, where all the crafts are eventually sold, we got back on our bus. 

  7. 2015

    Summer 2015 — Day 2: Yerushalayim Shel Zahav

    Today we started off with a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. Then, on our first adventure of the morning, we walked along the outer wall of the old city of Jerusalem. After lots of walking and pictures we reached the Western Wall. We were led by guides through underground arches and tunnels excavated near the wall and and we were able to learn the history and spiritual importance as we touched the ancient stone. Once the tour was finished, we split up in order to put our notes in the wall. Then, so we could see the wall together as a community we congregated at a different section of the wall. Although amazing, the day's excursion was already quite exhausting so the group stopped for a quick lunch of sandwiches and muffins. Next we walked to the market place and everyone walked around exploring the stalls. Then we continued walking through the different quarters of the city. We encountered a mix of different smells, goods, foods, and religions. As soon as this was over we went back to the hotel for a well deserved dinner and some trip bonding. 'Twas a good day in the land of milk and honey!

  8. 2015

    Summer 2015 — So Glad We Made It!

    After a wild start, No'ar Hadash arrived in Israel safely meeting with our awesome Israeli guide Anat and medic Shai. Tired and bleary eyed, we took the day head on heading from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem. Along the way we stopped at Ne'ot Kedumim biblical nature park to appreciate the beauty of nature as well as trying our hand at herding sheep, drawing water from a cistern and crushing hysop using a mortar and pestle. We learned about what makes a good leader by taking ideas from the bible and applying them to ideas of modern community. We had lunch and then finished the trip to Jerusalem.