ILSI: A Little History… A Lot of Fun

We arrived safely in the north to our beautiful home for three nights at Kibbutz Ein Zivan. It is located in the Golan Heights, an area conquered by Israel during the Six-Day War. Upon arrival, one of the members of the kibbutz gave us a tour, pointing out old army bases used in the war, as well as educating us on kibbutz life in Israel. That night we enjoyed a presentation from our AJT teens, as they educated us on Jewish life in their respective countries and taught us new dances.

Monday morning we visited mount Ben Tal in the Golan Heights. We had a clear outlook on the Syrian border and learned the history of this strategic point during the Yom Kippur war. We were challenged to understand the political instability that threatens Israel’s borders in Syria, while also discussing the importance of helping those who have fled from the war, just as Israel has set up hospitals at the border. We cooled off in the Jordan River on rafts before we traveled to Dan Ranch, one of the most northern points on the map just a few miles from the Lebanese border. There, we met HaShomer HaHadash, an organization committed to helping farmers in Israel safeguard their land. We cooked our own meals and learned about the dangers that that exist across one of Israel’s more hostile borders.

Tuesday we visited the Kinneret cemetery and saw the graves of some of Israel’s earliest Zionist pioneers. We continued to Aqua Kef, a water park on the Kinneret, where we cooled down for a few hours. Tomorrow we head to Haifa for an exciting day of meeting with other communities that live in Israel! 

Quotes from our participants:

“There were so many explore Israeli trips that I could have embarked on, but ILSI has been so unique in that it intersects leadership based reflection, new and old BBYO summer experience members, and interactive learning on both current and historic Israel. Every place we have been to has been accompanied by incredible anecdotes, thorough explanations, and ample opportunities for both personal and communal growth. To be in Israel is a remarkable experience, but to live through history with your closer companions and passionate tour guides is one that stands apart from the rest.” – Rebecca Bernstein (USA)

“So far ISLI has been amazing. Everyone’s super cool and I’ve really enjoyed getting to go on this journey with everyone. Looking at the country completely shut down on Shabbat was breathtaking, watching a street vendor put on a show throwing falafel and chips into pita was insane, and just taking in the sights on every bus ride brings something new and exciting.”- Eitan Weinbaum (USA)

“ILSI has been so much more than I could have ever imagined. The community we built as we see and learn about our history is amazing. Everyone is pushed out of their comfort zone, which allows us to grow and prosper.” -Ali Stern (USA)

“My favorite part of Israel so far has definitely been rafting down the Jordan River because when you see all different types of people from all various nationalities rafting down the river together, you feel a sense of community that is so special to Israel. It was so much fun.” -Shira Cohen, Connecticut Valley Region   

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