Israel Journey #1: South to the Negev

We had a relaxing and rejuvenating Shabbat yesterday! We started the day by sleeping in and then going to morning Shabbat services led by Rabbi Silvers. We discussed how people think of God differently and believe in different things, but are still able to come together as a community and a family. We went around the room and rewrote some of the prayers to talk about what we are thankful for.

After services, we went to lunch at the kibbutz followed by free time. Most of us went to the pool for a few hours and took naps under the shade of the nearby trees. Because of Shabbat, we weren’t able to leave the kibbutz until sun down, so we spent the majority of the day getting to know each other. Although we missed the few of us that were with our families during host weekend, we still had a great time together and are happy that they are with us now.

Before Shabbat ended, we had dinner and a beautiful outdoor Havdalah service. It was really cool during our service because some of the kibbutz members came outside and joined us. Once Shabbat had ended, we went to the Azrieli mall. It was interesting to see the mix of Israeli stores with American stores. While at the mall, we were rejoined by our group members that left for the weekend. It felt really nice to be together as a group again.

Today, we woke up early and started to head south towards the Negev Desert. Our first stop of the day was in Tel Maresha. It is an archaeological dig site with over 5000 caves. We got to dig in one of the caves that contains ruins from the Greek Hellenistic period. Along with digging, we went spelunking through some caves that have yet to be dug through and excavated. After the caves, we went to lunch in one of the biggest shopping malls in Israel.

We just left David Ben-Gurion’s tomb. It overlooked the Negev desert. Next, we are going to another viewpoint to look at the Negev. Our tour guide, Eric, says that our next viewpoint is his favorite place in Israel. Tonight, we are going to have a pool party and a barbecue.

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