ILSI: Look for Similarities Among the Differences

Wednesday morning we met Muslim students in two different villages in the north. After a brief overview of the conflict in Israel, we saw above any perceived political or religious differences and spoke to the students about things we could relate on. After an incredible conversation, we exchanged Instagrams and headed to a Druze village called Isaffiya 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 there 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 off in Haifa to get a view from another minor religion in Israel, the Baha’i. We saw their magnificent temple and pristine gardens. Today we toured the historic Zichron Yaakov and visited the homes of some of the first residents of this city. They were parts of the earliest aliyahs to Israel and paved the way for the declaration of the state.

Afterwards, we went to Atlit detainee camp, where many Jews were held after escaping the Holocaust and fleeing to the land of Israel, which at the time was under British control. The British officers forcibly removed Jews from their boats and held them in Atlit, where the fences detention camp looked all too familiar. We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the Mediterranean Sea and some falafel.

Tonight we will go to the BBYO B’Yachad event. ILSI plans to go with spirit and excitement and join the other trips that are in the country. We can’t wait to see so much BBYO pride in our homeland!

Tomorrow morning we will wake up and drive to the Holy City of Tzfat. Here, we will meet members of the Tzfat community who will teach us about the mystical power of Kabbalah, art, and focus our attention on our goals. We are excited for our upcoming Shabbat in this holy city and we are excited to share more soon.

Quotes from our participants:

“Rafting on the Jordan River was an experience like no other we’ve had here. It was a perfect middle of the day activity with the water being cool.  Going down the river was very fun and the whole ride was enjoyable!” -Elias Miller, (USA)

“It is truly fascinating how history inspires the future. Gazing up at the Kotel, knowing that each stone block there has held up thousands of years of Jewish tradition, one can only hope to have the impact and strength of a small piece of one of those bottom blocks.”- Liron Karpati (USA)

“Experiencing the majesty of world Jewry with those from all the different sects of Judaism has been truly surreal.” -Sophie Kieffer, (USA) 

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