ILSI Update #2

Shavuah Tov from the North of Israel!

After an exciting first day in Jerusalem we traveled towards the north to an archeological site called Tel Meggido. Mentioned in both Jewish and Christian texts, the mountain of Meggido housed an ancient city, and it once guarded a narrow trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria, it was the site of many historical battles. In the New Testament, Tel Meggido is the site of Armageddon, the final apocalyptic between good and evil. It was at this site that we discussed our drivers as young leaders. Are we driven by the internal – our values – or by our legacies and the hope that our memory lives on. We pushed each other to think deeper and spend time on things we can control, like the work that inspires us to be leaders.

We continued on to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat. Looking our best, we welcomed Shabbat in song and prayer, outside with the rolling hills in the north in front of us. Led by our friend, Yasha Shamrin from Russia, we danced to some of our favorite Shabbat songs before dinner. The next morning, our prayer services focused on showcasing various styles of Jewish prayer, including hitbodedut (literally, self-seclusion, kabbalistic yoga, and many more. Following lunch we participate in elective sessions on a variety of topics. Our Shabbat concluding with the meeting of our Mishpachot, our reflection groups, dinner and havdallah!

After Shabbat, we boarded our buses and drove to the city of Tiberias for a little shopping and to explore the boardwalk. We left the port on a boat cruise around the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. We had a lot of fun sharing different dances, music and we danced the night away!

We started the next day at Beit Shearim, a national park and former Mishnaic and Talmudic village. Today, this site is known for its sarcophagi and catacombs of famous rabbis and their families. In fact, it is believed that Yehuda Ha-Nasi, the editor of the Mishnah, was burying in there. There we learned about the area, the Jewish factions that existed during the Mishnaic Period and the struggle for power during that time.

We had lunch in Ussafiya, a Druze village and spoke with them about their culture and religion. Shrouded in much mystery, we learned about their belief in reincarnation, their religions garb, and their nationalistic pride. While their are many difference between us, we also found similarities in daily life, the struggle between secular and religious communities, and even how our histories intertwine – their prophet, Jethro, was Moses’ father-in-law. We stopped of in Haifa to get a view from another minor religion in Israel, the Baha’i. We saw their magnificent temple and pristine gardens.

To close the day, we met members of the Aharai youth movement and participated in training exercises to prepare them for the army. Aharai, similar to BBYO, is an organization dedicated to youth leadership. They encourage their members to contribute to Israeli society and to join the Israeli army. We said goodbye to our new friends before returning to our hotel.

We have an exciting next few days ahead of us, and we cannot wait to share them with you.

“Shabbat in Israel is truly a powerful event that signified how important this land is to their Jewish people. The stores close, the streets are empty, and the nation as a whole comes to rest. Shabbat in BBYO is always special, but in Israel we experience the only place in the world where the country celebrates together and we are surrounded by our family, in our true home.
-Josh Dornfeld, BBYO Northern Region East: Northern Virginia Council

“I am loving all of the activities that we’ve been doing and things we’ve been seeing. A highlight today was the gorgeous view of a garden in Haifa. It was so pretty and made me fall in love with Israel even more.”
-Ali Randel, BBYO Michigan Region

International Leadership Seminar in Israel 2018

More updates soon!

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