Israel Journey 4: Update #6

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Jerusalem! We are back where we started and we have had a lot of fun over the past couple days!

On Monday, we snorkeled, banana boated, and kayaked in the Red Sea in Eilat! Everyone had a great time exploring the coral reefs and trying out new water sports. We stopped for lunch at a kibbutz that is famous for its dairy products. We enjoyed fresh ice cream and had time to buy other snacks, too!

Later in the day, we competed in a “Chopped Cookoff” led by one of our teen committees. Everyone was really creative with their dishes! Later we did our “Secret Moses” gift exchange!

After, we introduced our ROMP (Range of Motion Project) fundraiser, which coincided with our Masada hike. Teens registered for our trip’s fundraising page and spread the word to friends and family. BBYO Passport has teamed up with ROMP to raise awareness and funds to provide those with limited resources access to prosthetic care. If you would like to join our teens in this mitzvah, you can still donate here: https://www.crowdrise.com/BBYOPassport-MasadaIsrael

The next morning, we learned all about kibbutz life. Members of our host kibbutz, Ketura, gave us a tour and taught us about kibbutz life, specifically how decisions are made collectively. We thanked them, said our goodbyes and headed to a Bedouin village where we met four Beduin sisters ranging in age from 13-21. They discussed their daily lives and customs with us and taught us a traditional dance! Next we traveled to the Bedouin tents. After being welcomed with tea and coffee, it was time to ride camels! Teens named their camels and enjoyed the desert sunset. We enjoyed a traditional Bedouin dinner and had a bonfire with s’mores. Our awesome guide, Henry, led a meditation under the stars for those who wanted to participate. We then had time to hang out before bed. What a day!

We had an early start the next day at 4:30am!! We climbed Masada just in time to see the sunrise. Teens loved taking pictures as the sun came up and listening for their echo as they screamed “IJ4” off the mountain. We learned about the history of Masada, saw the aqueducts, and the synagogue and then made our way down via the snake path. After a nice breakfast and some AC (!), we headed to Ein Gedi (or as some teens liked to call it, “spaghetti”) for a short walk to a waterfall to cool off on the hot day. Then, we were off to the Dead Sea. Teens had time to purchase Dead Sea lotions and mud, enjoy a float and a swim. We ate lunch and then headed to Jerusalem for showers and naps!

After dinner at the hotel, we heard from speaker and BBYO alumni, Neil Lazarus, who talked to us about  the Arab Israeli conflict. Teens were engaged by his sense of humor, videos, and maps. We had an early night after our long day of being in the sun.

This morning we woke up ready for an educational day in Jerusalem. Our first stop was the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building. After a tour, we enjoyed a pizza picnic in the park nearby and prepared for our visit to Yad Vashem. We discussed teens’ experiences at the various Holocaust museums they had previously visited as well as our personal experiences with anti-semitism.

We then visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center. We learned a lot about the intention that went into the design of the center, in the architecture, design, and flow of the museum. Our museum guides shared personal stories as they took us through the museum giving a holistic discussion starting with the development of Hitler’s ideology and ending our tour with the Children’s Memorial. The last room of the museum contains the names of about 4.5 of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Teens saw that a portion of the bookshelves that held the binders with these names and testimonials were empty, waiting for the names of the other 1.5 million to be sent to Yad Vashem or entered into the database. Unfortunately, our tour guide said they might remain empty as our survivors grow older. This really resonated with our group as we had heard from a survivor this past Shabbat.

After our visit, we went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our evening out. We heard from a speaker who talked about religion and pluralism in the US and Israel and then headed to Ben Yehuda street for a pizur dinner and free time. We celebrated  Cole’s birthday today, too!!

We head into a bittersweet weekend as we enjoy our last Shabbat and say goodbye to this wonderful country we have called home the past three weeks.

Shabbat Shalom!
– Your Israel Journey 4 Staff

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