Our 9th grade teens spent their December vacation traveling by bus together across Israel from Haifa to the Negev desert and everywhere in between. Other highlights of the trip included visits to the Dead Sea, Masada, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and an overnight stay in the Bedouin tents which is a great experience. During their travels the teens bonded with one another, the full-time TE youth chaperones and Israel in a special and unforgettable way.
Shalom from Haifa! 12/24/2016
Although the plane was delayed we arrived safely in Haifa, and even did Kabbalat Shabbat on the bus ride to Haifa.
We got to the hotel and had a lovely Shabbat dinner and ended the night with introductions to Israel by our tour guide Lior and getting to know each other better.
Shabbat morning we began with late wake up, breakfast, and a participatory Shabbat service lead by Aliza. After lunch we had a wonderful walk through Haifa, stopping at the Baha’i gardens (we even got to enter the gardens which is unusual). We also were able to enjoy the celebration of the many religions represented in Haifa through a parade celebrating the holidays. Haifa was lively, crowded, and a lot of fun.
Tonight we celebrated Havdalah and light the first candle for Hanukkah! Due to the possibility of rain we changed the itinerary and are going to the Haifa mall, which kids are excited about.
Tomorrow we have an early start to head north to Tsfat and the Golan.
Visit to Zichron Yosef School in Haifa – 12/25/2016
When we arrived at the school we were greeted by 14 9th graders, who were pen pals with Temple Emanuel when they were in 5th and 6th grade. We spent some time singing Hanukkah songs and enjoying some sufganiot! The 9th graders then spent about 45 minutes getting to know each other and learning about the differences in the school systems. (First photo attached below is all of the 9th graders together)
Then we joined the rest of the school for a very creative performance from two professional dancers (I am sure your teen will tell you all about it). Later we met the 5th graders who are now pen pals of 5th graders in the Temple Emanuel Religious School, which was a very enriching experience. (Second picture is the 9th graders with the 5th graders)
It was such a beautiful way to spend our morning!
Some of you might have heard about the petroleum refinery where a fire started this morning. We want to let you know that we are safe and are making our way up north away from the fire. On our bus ride we saw the fire from a far and discussed the implications. After looking in the news we found out there were no injuries.
Boker Tov from Sunny Tel Aviv! 12/27/2016
Wow! Yesterday was packed full of fun and adventure (including celebrating Shira Mcginity’s birthday). We started out our day with an exciting jeep tour through the Golan Heights, learning about its history and the IDF during the 6 day war.The teens loved it-laughing and singing over every bump in the road (see picture below). They engaged in conversations about the history of the Golan, asking many questions.
Heading further south we saw the many borders that Israel shares with other countries.
We relaxed at Hamat Gader, a large outdoor sulfur hot springs. The teens had so much fun swimming as the pungent smell filled their noses (see second picture below).
Tel Aviv was our next stop! After dinner at our beautiful hotel, the Metropolitan, we went to do some night shopping at the Train Station Zone. Then to bed for our very early bus ride to the south.
Today we are repelling down the Ramon Crater and visiting Sde Boker where David Ben Gurion lived and is buried. Later, we will ride camels and learn about the Bedouins and have an excellent meal prepared by our hosts. After a long day we will be sleeping (hopefully!) in tents underneath the clear starry ski. Should be quite an experience.
Shalom from the road to Jerusalem – 12/28/2016
We had the most wonderful time in the Negev. We started by repelling down the Ramon crater (can’t wait to show you pics of everyone–it was so much fun!)
After the crater, we had a delicious farm-fresh meal overlooking the crater and then drove to David and Paula Ben Gurion’s grave in Sde Boker.
Last night we enjoyed camel rides in the windy rain, a yummy hafla meal, and Bedouin hospitality. The teens had an especially good time camping out in the tents. They were warm and safe from the rain.
Today we had an early start, climbed Masada for a rocking shacharit and then explored the mountain and talked about the history of that stronghold.
While we were on Masada, the clouds parted and the sun appeared right in time for our Dead Sea excursion. Almost everyone enjoyed floating in the water and everyone liked soaking up the sunshine on the beach.
Now we are heading up to Jerusalem where we will be having dinner on Ben Yehuda street and a late night visit to the Western Wall and tunnels.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – 12/30/2016
We made it safely to Jerusalem on Wednesday night after the incredibly long day.
On Thursday we started our day by meeting some Arab Israeli students at Yad b’ Yad school. The teens had amazing conversations that lead to deep thought provoking comments about the conflict. After our visit we went to the Temple Mount sifting operation and a short stop at Aroma for coffee. We spent the afternoon at the Ayalon Institute for a tour of the secret bullet factory during the British mandate.
That evening we went to the crowded yet energetic Mamilla Mall for shopping and dinner.
Today we went on a thought provoking tour of Yad Vashem and spoke about its implications for us today. For lunch we had pizza at the Kraft Family Stadium and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Before Shabbat began we witnessed the hustle and bustle of preparing for Shabbat at Machaneh Yehuda market, where we all bought last minute gifts and snacks.
It had been amazing week and we are very excited to welcome in Shabbat and celebrate the seventh day of Hanukkah. Tomorrow we will be attending the Great Synagogue for services together.