Saturday, March 29, 2014

Travel: Class Trip to Israel

Right after a 14 hour flight from SFO to LAX to TLV Ben Gurion Airport, we climbed on to our tour bus to our first destination, Caesaria. We started our first day admiring the beach and beautiful sunset. 

Our first day in Israel was jampacked with physical activities. After staying in Tiberias for the night, we drove up North for an intense hike (for me) up Jilabun in the Golan Heights. We then visited Katzrin, a village from the Messianic Period and then we drove to the second highest point in the Golan Heights. We were able to see past the border between Israel and Syria. It was the perfect opportunity for a selfie. 

The next was one of the best. We met with students that are part of a mechina program in Kfar HaNassi. A mechina program is for Israeli girls and boys that are suppose to begin their required service in the IDF, but instead they choose a year of study before going into the Israeli army. During this year they study philosophy, political science, democratic values, and community service. The goal of the mechina is to develop a group of young leaders dedicated to national service. Throughout the day we spoke with them about how it was to be a teen living in Israel or in the US and what our ideas of zionism is. We had time to just hang out and have fun with them. It was one of the best experiences I had in Israel. 

 Shabbat and Purim in Tel Aviv is legit such a blast. We had so much fun dressing up (my friend Sophie and I were witches from American Horror Story) and partying. We went to beach Saturday in the afternoon and then once Shabbat ended we had our own Purim party at the hotel in Tel Aviv. On Sunday we went to a hospital to give out food packages for the patients as community service, then went to Yaffo for a Purim parade. 

Also while in Tel Aviv, my classmates went on a bike ride tour around the city, while a couple of my friends and I went on a paddle boat ride (because we don't know how to ride bikes...) A lot of my classmates also went out to meet family and the rest of us went to a restaurant called Nalaga'at. It is a center managed and staffed by people who are either deaf or blind. It was really interesting to learn a couple of words in sign language and ask them questions. 

Man oh man guys, I am so out of shape. We took the 700 step path up Masada and tt was such a struggle. By the end though, we had a lot of fun learning about the history of the giant rock we just climbed up. 

We spent the next week in Jerusalem. My favorite place in the world. Its a magical place and I was so excited to be there with my class. We toured the old city, spent nights out on Ben Yehudah, cheered for Yair, our medic while running the Jerusalem Marathon, and had Shabbat at the Western Wall. 

Then it was time to say good bye. It was strange how fast 2 weeks had gone by and saying goodbye was hard for many of us. It was a beautiful journey filled with laughs, tears, history, friendships, food, and selfies. I feel so lucky to have spent those 2 weeks with such amazing friends, teachers and tour guides in such an inspiring place. 

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