Israel Journey 5A: Update #3

Today’s update comes from Sarah Kaplan. Enjoy!

It’s been another incredible few days in Israel!

On Monday we headed to Tzfat for some shopping and everyone’s favorite… pizur lunch. After the group filled up on handmade jewelry, candles, and Israeli t-shirts, we headed for a short session with Avraham Lowenthal in his art gallery. Avraham provided us with some fascinating information on Kabbalah and explained a little bit about his artwork. We then traveled a little further to the Jordan River and rafted on some small rapids. Although we got stuck more than a few times, it was a lot of fun!

Tuesday consisted of volunteering with the Jewish National Foundation’s Hashomer Hadash organization where we helped to prevent forest fires by cutting down on the concentration of trees in small, dry areas. We cooked our own delicious pizza outside in the blazing heat and then headed to the Sachne natural springs. It was very rewarding to cool off in the pools, caves, and waterfalls there after a long day!

Yesterday was definitely one of the most interesting days of the trip; we headed to the Golan Heights for a “brisk walk” (or strenuous hike!) in the morning. Everyone was pretty exhausted after that, so lunch at a local kibbutz felt pretty great.  From lunch we set out on an off-road jeep tour of the Golan Heights. With loud music and a bumpy ride, it was an incredibly fun time. On this tour, we were able to see smoke in the sky above a small Syrian town. This was a devastating sight and we took time to discuss the geopolitical happenings of the war and take in the moment. We finished the day on the beach in the Kinneret. After a very refreshing swim in the Sea of Galilee, we had a delicious Israeli barbecue dinner by the beach.

Thursday was centered around seeing and experiencing the minority populations in Israel. For most of this trip, we’ve been experiencing the Jewish sites and people, so it was very interesting to hear about the other populations present here. We started by traveling to an Arab-Israeli town where we learned about its history and nationalism. Then we had a panel and played games with thjree local Arab teens to learn more about their day-to-day lives. We then traveled to a Druze village near Haifa where we learned about the Druze religion and culture. Most of us did not know much, if anything, about this culture and we asked many questions that our Druze guide answered thoroughly, leaving us with some unique newfound knowledge. Our lunch there was Delicious (with a capital “D!”) and we were all very happy to have these experiences!

Now, as we head into host weekend, some of our group has left to be with their generous friends and relatives. The rest of us are excited to spend some time in Tel Aviv and enjoy a restful Shabbat!

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