What a wonderful day it was! We started the morning with a long drive south to Sdot Yam for some Tornado Boats in the Mediterranean Sea, which was terrifying but so fun! Later we went to The Kiryon Mall for a great lunch and plenty of shopping time. After lunch we drove to the pool in Kibbutz Hanaton, played good dancing songs and had a laid back afternoon. After the pool we had a tour in the Kibbutz, we learned about the area, went to their synagogue, and saw a beautiful view of the surrounding villages. We came back for dinner in the hotel and had activities because it’s our last night together in Israel!!!! (Can you believe it’s already over?)
Today, we started our morning at a late 9 AM (cheeeeeeers)! Thus began our drive to Haifa, stopping to herd some sheep and goats along the way. There was a huge challenge to be able to round up the animals, but a few of us managed to get them moving in a direction. After saying goodbye to muffin, we hopped back on the bus to finish our drive North. We took a few hours to eat lunch and shop at the “Grand Canyon” of malls in Israel. To continue our day, we listened to a beautiful talk from our very own counselor, Idan, who talked about his life as an Israeli, his connection to Judaism , and how his story could relate to us. We finished out our day by eating dinner at a local restaurant, which was founded and continues to be a leading start up to help the community. As we settle into bed, we look forward to spending our last couple days together in Acco/Haifa!
What an intelcual day we had! We started at Binah, the first secular Yeshiva in Israel, where we got a chance to reconnect with some old Havaya staff! Since it was very hot out, we continued our day at the Sarona Market where we had some time to grab lunch from the dozens of restaurants in the mall area. The group then made the short drive over to Anu, the Jewish People’s Museum, where we started with a quick coffee break! We got to learn all about Jewish heritage and history while seeing a fun surprise at the museum – JOshins and Rabbi Isaac pictured in an exhibit about reconstructionism! We ended the day by coming back to the hotel where we celebrated SHOSHANA’S 17TH BIRTHDAY! After, some of us went out with family and friends and some of us had dinner at the hotel and went out on the town! We got some delicious ice cream at one of our fav spots golda, and came back to get ready for another amazing day in the holy land!
The unusual weather was a challenge today, but we managed to beat the heat! Instead of biking around the city as we originally planned, we explored the history of Rothschild avenue. After a walk to the market for chachkis and lunch, we went on a tour of the beautiful graffiti of Florentin, and the LGBTQIA+ community in Tel Aviv. We then walked back to the hotel for some much-needed R&R. Later in the day, we walked to the Battae Ethiopian Israeli heritage center. Once there, we heard Ashager Araro, an activist and Ethiopian Israeli, tell us about the history, courage and perseverance of Ethiopian Jews. We also ate Ethiopian food and learned Ethiopian cultural dances. We returned to the hotel just in time to watch the PSG vs FC Nantes game that was happening on the stadium just feet from our hotel! It was so cool to be able to hear the stadium’s cheers as Messi and the rest of PSG kept scoring. Looking forward to another amazing day Monday!
Today we started our day with a walking tour of Jaffa. We learned about the history here as well as seeing a beautiful lookout over old Jaffa as well as Tel Aviv. Everyone then got a chance to gain a little more rest before getting back together to have our final Shabbat services! Our amazing counselors then surprised us with some ice cream to finish up services and help us cool off from the heat. After a little free time at the hotel, the group got on the way to the beach where we all got to swim, make sandcastles, body surf and play football and ultimate frisbee. After showering off the ocean water we gathered outside for havdallah, and then walked back over to the flea market from yesterday’s lunch. While at the flea market, we got some delicious food, a chance to go shopping, and even danced in the streets! Some hiccups with the elevator at the hotel delayed a few people’s rest but eventually were all happy to see our rooms again.
With our bags already packed for the long drive north, a small part of the group made another sunrise hike up Mount Zfahot early Friday for an incredible view of the Red Sea and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Once everyone else was up, we began the 4 hour drive north to Tel Aviv Yaffo for our final Shabbat in Israel. We had been invited to the boardwalk in Tel Aviv for Kabbalat Shabbat which was accompanied by a beautiful sunset. Dinner, prayers, dancing, singing, and a story from Rabbi Isaac made our final Friday night extra special. We are so excited for the week ahead of us but also so sad to know that it is all coming to an end soon.
Today began a little different than we had anticipated due to the heat. Instead of the planned kite flying, we started by going on a safari, and we were lucky enough to see some rare animals like ostriches, rams, and gazelles. On our way to our next activity we took a pit stop at Yotveta for a yummy ice-cream snack. Then we countined by going to Kibbutz Yotan and learned about the environment of the desert and how this kibbutz has been able to grow food and sustain itself in such harsh conditions. The group finished up at Lotan with a delicious home made pizza lunch! Then we headed to snorkeling where we saw some amazing fish and coral reefs! To end our day, we had dinner and shopping time at the board walk as well as a birthday celebration for Chelsea’s 17th!
We stared our day in the desert with an early morning hike up the Roman Ramp to Masada Fortress! After we made our way back down, the group headed back to the Bedouin tents for a delicious breakfast. Once everybody was done eating, we got a chance to take a ride on the camels! We then drove back down the valley to the Dead Sea. Everyone had a blast floating and covering our bodies in mud. After dipping our dogs, we got lunch at a hostel. To relieve the lengthy drive to Eilat, we stopped and picked up our tour guide’s favorite ice cream in all of Israel. We then settled into our new youth hostel and ate dinner. To end the night we played a game together and finished another successful day in Israel.
Today was a hot one! It began with breakfast at the hotel and a short bus ride over to the beginning of our hike of Ein Ovdat in the Zin Valley. The heat was felt along the way, but the view at the end made it all worth it! Another short ride later, we got the chance to see David Ben Gurion’s grave where we discussed the importance of leadership in early Israel and the impact that his ideas about transforming the desert have had on the people if Israel over time. We got a chance to pick up lunch near Sde Boker before heading back to the hostel for a little siesta. Our evening began with a Jeep tour of Makhtesh Ramon – a geological feature originally discovered in Israel where you can see a ring of steep cliffs surrounding an arid valley with only one ”drain” 30 miles in the distance near the Dead Sea. The view was stunning and the Jeeps were tumbling! The excellent drivers dropped is back at the Hostel for dinner, and now we are all packing again!
Today began our southern swing through Israel! We packed the bus nice and early to head Southwest to a kibbutz just a mile from the Gaza border. Along the way, Barak explained the complexity of the situation with in the territory and how the communities surrounding it in Israel have been able to stay safe and grow over the years. Our kibbutz tour was followed by a look out point which gave us a better view at the whole of Gaza, only 10 miles long from top to bottom. After a heavy morning, everyone got the chance to decompress as we grabbed lunch on the streets of Sderot. Lunch gave way to a very fun afternoon beginning with a tour of the ”Salad Trail”; a Moshav in the desert which finds a way to grow countless types of vegetables and fruits despite the heat and lack of water. We tried some really hot peppers, various tomato types, and some funky colored carrots. The day ended with us getting the chance to surf down a sand dune! The group surfed, rolled, sledded, and ultimately fell down the soft sandy dunes for a couple hours while we waited for the dinner to finish on the fire. Finally, we packed up the bus again to make it over to our next stay in Mitzpeh Ramon. All have settled in now for a much needed night of rest, so we will update you all again tomorrow!