Live! from Ben Gurion Airport it’s Wednesday night!

Hey this is Eva and Viola! Right now we are in the airport waiting for our plane while half of the grade is asleep on the floor. We just bought a ton of food to get us through the flight. If you know us, you know we love food ūüėČ Throughout these two weeks we’ve gone swimming, hiking, been to museums and to the other important landmarks that we’ve learned about in our many many years at Tehiyah. It was cool to see things like the Kotel which before this had only been in pictures and movies to us. ¬†We got to eat a lot of delicious Mediterranean¬†food which of course we had been looking forward to. So many memories were made we both know we’ll never forget this trip. t’was lit.

See everyone soonish,

Eva and Viola

Last hours in the airport.

This is Aaron, and I’m writing here from Ben Gurion Airport. All the kids are doing our last shopping before we board the plane, and the anxiety is starting. The teachers are, for the most part, focused on getting us onto the flight on time. The kids are focused on buying that one last bag of Bisli, Bamba, or other candies. As we prepare to board we’ve all been thinking back on our time in Israel. Our time in Israel truly has been a historical, and very emotional rollercoaster, taking us from the ancient history of Israel, through the Land of Israel’s establishment all the way up to modern times. We’ve gone through the saddest days in Israel, with Yom HaZikaron and Yad Va’Shem, and back up to the happiest moments with Yom¬†Ha’atzmaut and Shabbat at the Kotel. The saying our guide told us,¬†that stuck with me the most throughout in Israel, was that Israel is a bipolar society; mourning the loss of their loved ones one night, and celebrating their country in the streets the night after. For the last time, from Israel. -Aaron

 

Desert Photos

Hi all,

Thanks to Roie, you got to hear a bit of the student’s voice in this blog about our very long day today. Yesterday we had no wifi at the Bedouin Tent, so we weren’t able to post. So today’s post will include more photos than words. We started in Sdeh Boker (group photos) and home of David Ben Gurion. We continued on to our jeep ride and then we hopped on camels a few hours later. We had a delicious “hafla” dinner and experienced Bedouin hospitality before falling asleep in the Bedouin tent for our nap. (We woke up at 4am!) Quick biscuits and tea, and then we hopped on the bus so that we could hike the Roman Ramp before the sun arose on Masada. We then continued to the Dead Sea for a spa treatment of floating and mud masks, before returning to Jerusalem. We are now on our 24 hour countdown before we head to the airport and will be home before you know it!

Surprise visit by Nirko!

 

Early Morning. A Really Early Morning.

Hey there. It’s the half sleeping Roie Arnold and the tired Ben Zell. At 4:30 AM we hurried to the bus to watch the sunrise on Masada. Masada’s history starts with King Herod’s huge palace and continues all the way to the terrible death of dozens of families. Today, Masada serves as a history sight, a tourist center, and a great place to watch a sunrise. After the sun was up, we continued with a tour of the mountain. The tour included a great T’efilah in the old synagogue. There are three ways to get to Masada: The Gondola, The Ramp (build by the Romans), and the Snake Trail (a very steep and windy trail). We went up through the ramp and went down on the Snake Trail. After being in Masada for three hours, we went to eat breakfast and continued our adventurous day. Our next stop was the Dead Sea! Rubbing mud on our bodies and floating was the best part. In fact, after that when we got into the pool it was quite disappointing that it actually took energy to float. Now we are heading out to Ben Yehuda shopping center!

May 6, 2017

My apologies…I have started this blog entry several times, but I am having problems uploading the photos. It seems to be fixed now!

So– where did we leave off? We spent Thursday morning meeting teens from an Arab town in the Lower Galilee called Deir el Asad. The teens were excited to practice their English and we spend several hours at the school getting to know them, and how we are all so similar in many ways. I was impressed with their ethics painted on the staircase, while Rabbi Tsipi is advocating for us to adopt their uniforms. Needless to say, we all had a nice morning connecting to these teens.

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Following the “mifgash”, we had lunch in a Druze Village and had a chance to learn more about the Druze religion and culture, plus their amazing food. We didn’t eat till 2pm, so needless to say, everyone’s plate was clean!!

After lunch, we got back on the bus and ascended the hills of Jerusalem. Everyone was excited as we entered this holy city. But before we got to enjoy the holy cites, we went to the Jerusalem “shuk”- Mahane Yehudah. There everyone got to taste different foods (we weren’t even hungry!) and to try our hand at bargaining. For anyone who has been to Mahane Yehudah in the past, you would be surprised to see how many nice restaurants there are no

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The next day was Friday and we got to tour the old city- first by walking the rampart walls and then by seeing the Jewish quarter up close. Here is our first FULL group photo in the Old City!

We went back to our hotel to get ready for Shabbat, and then returned to the Old City to welcome Shabbat at the Kotel. What an amazing feeling it was to connect with Jews from all over the world- to sing and dance together- united in welcoming Shabbat. It was a very emotional and powerful evening for many of us!

Saturday morning we attended the Conservative Center services (boy…who knew how quickly the service could be!) and by 11am, the services were over. We spent some time hanging out in the park in Jerusalem, with many of the locals. Lucky for us, one of them had a few frisbees so our group was easily entertained!

We returned to our hotel for lunch and some rest time, before heading off to the Israel Museum, where we got to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. After some more resting, we had dinner and havdallah then went out to see the Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David.

Sunday morning started in Jerusalem at Yad V’shem Museum in memory of the Holocaust. We had an incredible guide who shared stories and kept us all engaged. It was a very moving and important morning.

We then went south to Beit Guvrin, where we had the opportunity to dig in the caves there. We were lucky to make some exciting finds. Just look at this piece of jewelry that was discovered by several of our students!

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Upon completing our dig, we continued further south into the desert to Yerucham, where we are staying in a new and fabulous hotel! (who knew!?) We are getting some rest, for tomorrow we have jeep rides, camel rides and some hikes ahead as we explore the Negev! ¬†Signing off from Yerucham….

May 3, 2017

We have had a busy few days! As you could see in yesterday’s post, we commemorated Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) with students from the ORT School in Ma’alot. We did some ice breakers, played games, watched the Yom Hazikaron Ceremony and enjoyed lunch together. The students quickly connected with their colleagues from Israel and before we knew it, the roots of new friendships had been planted. After traveling north to see the grottos of Rosh Hanikra, we settled into Kibbutz Yehiyam for the evening. We had a celebratory Yom Ha’atzmaut dinner, and then went “to town” at the Ma’alot Yom Ha’atmzaut celebration, where most of the¬†ORT students were to reunite with our students.

The next morning, May 2, we travelled north and enjoyed an incredible hike down the Arbel mountain. For some reason, I don’t have any pictures from this hike (perhaps because it was incredibly steep and I decided to hold on for dear life.) The kids were great and helped/cheered each other along the way. After the Arbel, we travelled to see the Hamat Tiveria Mosaic, a beautifully preserved mosaic near Tiberias, and then continued on to the Golan Heights. We checked into the Kibbutz Hotel Gonen, and were pleased to see a basketball court and large pool that we are able to use. (Basketball court was a must).

Today, we headed out at a more relaxed pace (7:30 wake up/9:00 departure) for the mystical city of Tzfat. We toured several synagogues and talked about the origins of Kabalah. After lunch in Tsfat, we got to rafting on the Jordan River, which is not nearly as fast and furious as the Rogue River is in Ashland!

Tomorrow afternoon we head to Jerusalem. In the words of Sammy Packer after hearing we are going to Jerusalem, “Hallelujah!”

Rosh Hanikrah- Monday afternoon      

 

April 30, 2017- Yom Hazikaron

This will be a relatively quick post, as we have an early morning tomorrow and time on the bus to add more stories and photos. Our morning began in Ramat Gan, helping in a center for the blind. We got to sit with them in small groups and to help them assemble screws for an electrical device (sorry I can’t be more specific about the actual task) and to chat with the blind individuals. We all got to practice our Hebrew as we heard their stories and after an hour, we were singing songs with them. And after an hour of repetitive manual work, the group also realized the value of education and vowed to stay in school.

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Our next stop was Machon Ayalon, the Ayalon Institute, next to Rechovot. This was the site of kibbutz which housed an underground ammunition factory before the War of Independence. Below you see how the washing machine hid one entrance to the factory, and then we got to go down into the factory and see models of how the bullets were manufactured. They literally had to steal the machinery from Poland in 1938 and smuggle it into Palestine. The insight that the Hagana had at this time to do this is absolutely remarkable, and can certainly be one of the reasons that Israel is a state today. (along with warm beer…ask your students about that!)

 

From Machon Ayalon, we went to Yafo (Jaffa) for lunch and some shopping, followed by a walking tour of the old city of Yafo. (see group photo below). We returned to the hotel to get ready for an early dinner and a Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) ceremony in Petach Tikvah at a local school. Rabbi Tsipi was invited to speak in front of the whole community- we were very honored to be included in the ceremony (even if it was all in Hebrew and a little hard to follow). It was extremely moving to see the community come together and remember the names and faces that have been lost in defending Israel over the years. Tomorrow we head up to Ma’alot, the town in the north where Tsipi is from, and where we will connect with local teens for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day).

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April 29, 2017

Boker Tov Tel Aviv!

We awoke yesterday morning to this beautiful view- Yafo (Jaffa) to the south, the hotels of Tel Aviv and the port to the North. The weather was just perfect and after a few hours of sleep, everyone was ready to see Israel for the first time as a group. We boarded the bus and our driver, Eli, took us to Independence Hall, on Rothchild Street in Tel Aviv. Here we heard the story of Israel’s declaring independence 69 years ago, in this very room. The docent shared pictures, stories, maps and the actual Declaration of Independence. While facing the picture of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, we listened to the recording of David Ben Gurion declaring Israel a state.

After Independence Hall, we continued on a walking tour of Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv outside of Yafo.

 

It was hard to focus on the tour through Neve Tzedek, as there were planes practicing for the Air Show in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut. Every time our guide, Ehud, began to tell a story, the planes would interrupt with a fantastic display of flight. At our last stop of the tour, we hearing a wonderful story about Shai Agnon, only to discover we were standing in front of Lael’s aunt’s house! She pulled up on her scooter while we were standing there (completely unplanned) ¬†and surprised Lael, as well as all of us in the group!

We continued our walking tour to Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) and Nahalat Binyamin (weekly art festival). Each student was given 40 shekel for lunch as their first taste of Israeli food. Lots of delicious food was enjoyed (a few of them ended up with a plethora of bread thanks to an overly pushy vendor in the market), and fun was had by all. I enjoyed hummus and pita while writing the weekly Kol Tehiyah entry. (see photo below) With purchases in hand, we then all got on the bus and headed back to Hotel Devorah to prepare for Shabbat.

                

 

Everyone put on their Shabbat clothes, and as the sun set, we walked down the street to the sea and created our own Kabbalat Shabbat together. With Rabbi Tsipi in the lead, we sang the familiar tunes we know so well from Tehiyah while overlooking the shore of Tel Aviv.¬†¬†Click here for a short video of L’cha Dodi. Some people passing by¬†joined us in song, others smiled and wished us Shabbat Shalom. (Ironically, the man who sat next to Sammy on the plane walked by during our service!) After welcoming Shabbat, we enjoyed a delicious Shabbat dinner at the hotel, followed by an evening of playing on the beach. What a great first day in Israel!

We woke up on Shabbat morning and headed to Kehillah Sinai– a small, progressive synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv to experience services at an Israeli synagogue. The sanctuary was small, and we filled it up, along with another Jewish Day School from Florida. Some of the tunes were familiar to what we know, others less so. Luckily, the woman who gave the d’var Torah¬†had made aliyah, and spoke perfect English. ¬†This week’s parsha (Tazria/Metzora) can be a difficult parsha to understand, but she connected it beautifully to lashon hara (the evil tongue/gossip) ¬†and the importance of watching what we are saying. ¬†She gave us a copy of both her drash and the Normal Rockwell picture (The Gossip) which she used as an illustration of how easy it is for gossip to get passed on and how hurtful it can be. We will keep these words in mind as we move into the week ahead.

After services, we walked back to the hotel for lunch and had a short program on Jewish identity. We then enjoyed the rest of the day at the Tel Aviv beach, swimming and relaxing. After dinner, we walked to the beach for Havdallah and ice cream. To her great surprise, Shir’s family surprised her with a Bat Mitzvah party in our hotel! We met her family from Israel and enjoyed a DJ party with food, music and a slideshow. What a memorable¬†way to end our Shabbat in Tel Aviv. Laila Tov for now…we have an early wake up tomorrow!

April 26 AND 27, 2017

We have arrived in Israel!

The group gathered to leave from SFO Wednesday evening and everything went smoothly! Twenty students travelled together, and were reunited with seven of their classmates here in Tel Aviv. We had the privilege of being the FIRST Tehiyah class to fly non-stop from San Francisco…what a treat! We had an on-time arrival into Tel Aviv and were reunited with the classmates who spent Passover in Israel, plus Rabbi Tsipi and Keren Asayag. The group is excited to begin their adventures in Tel Aviv tomorrow, and to welcome Shabbat on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

If you have family who is planning to meet up with us, please make sure they call Rabbi Tsipi BEFORE Shabbat in Israel so that we can arrange to see them on Saturday afternoon between 2:00-4:00 at the Devorah Hotel.

More soon!

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