International Leadership Seminar in Israel: Update #4

ILSI 2017
Update #4

Dear Friends and Families,

Shavuah tov from Israel! As our second full week of ILSI is coming to an end, we wanted to send an update about what your teens have been up to these past few days. We’ve been busy!

Wednesday morning started off with a tour of the Kinneret Cemetery and Courtyard. The cemetery is located at the foot of the Sea of Galilee. Many of the graves were of the first Jewish settlers on the Kinneret including members of farm, the moshava and the Kvutsa. The very famous Israeli poetess, Rachel, is also buried there.

We then traveled to Course Madrichim, a leadership camp of Maccabi Tzair, BBYO’s sister youth movement in Israel. We were greeted by teens from Maccabi Tzair who lead us through team building activities, helped us cook some delicious desserts in the woods and welcomed us to their camp site for the evening. Together, we all went to the Maccabiah 2017 Glow Party where we danced the night away with nearly 5,000 teens and athletes from all over the world. That night we experienced a new adventure in camping outdoors with our new friends and were woken up to songs and dancing at breakfast.

Thursday morning we closed out our time with Maccabi Tzair and each of the teens was officially inducted into their movement! We then traveled south to Jerusalem where we engaged in deep conversations with youth from Kids4Peace, an interfaith organization dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world. Amongst the speakers were Israelis and Palestinians who helped us understand the conflict from their perspective and what they are doing to work toward peace.

We closed out Thursday night by celebrating BBYO’s 60th summer in Israel with 400 teens at BBYO’s Mega Event, B’Yachad. If you saw any of the live video streaming onto BBYO Passport’s Facebook page, you already know we had an absolutely incredible time! If you weren’t able to catch it, don’t worry because the video has been posted online for you to see the fun for yourselves! We enjoyed Israeli food (falafel, shawarma, hummus and pita, Israeli salad and much more), henna tattoos, selfie stations and tons of carnival rides and games for the teens to enjoy; there was even a rollercoaster! We also had an amazing DJ playing music the entire time which turned the place into one big dance party!

Friday we went to Tel Aviv and explored the city and all of its beauty! We participated in the Maccabiah’s Amazing Race Challenge where we completed challenges across the city and learned more about the local favorites like matkot (Israeli paddle ball), dancing and the top songs of summer. We celebrated Shabbat as a community at our hotel in Neve Ilan, where we stayed the first few days of our trip, and were joined by our friends from Maccabi Tzair. We spent the day relaxing and enjoying services and electives led by the teens.

Here is what some teens said of their experience:

“Being in Israel is so surreal. It’s such a different culture and landscape than what I’m used to back home, and it’s one of the most beautiful places a Jew could ever get to experience. Every moment here, especially on Shabbat, I feel overwhelming serenity. It’s incredible.” –Naomi Kopinsky, Illinois

“Shabbat on ILSI is so special because it allows me to step back from our busy weekday schedule, giving me time to appreciate the friends that I have made and the conversations I have with them.” Zoe Halpern, Ohio

Tonight, we explored the Kotel Tunnels in the Old City in Jerusalem, which allowed us to see the segments of the Wall hidden from view, and to touch the original and special stones that tell the story of the our people. Tomorrow we head to the Negev in the south of Israel where we will explore the Bar Kochba Caves and visit Sde Boker to learn about David Ben Gurion before enjoying Bedouin hospitality and camel rides in the Judean Desert.

B’Ahavah (with love),
ILSI Leadership Staff

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