February 24, 2015

With the snow in Jerusalem, it was questionable as to whether we would be able to travel there on Saturday from Tel Aviv to spend our final day and evening in what many believe to be the holiest city in the world. We took it a bit easy on Saturday morning in Tel Aviv at the hotel and got everything packed and ready to go for the long day and night ahead. We understood from our bus driver that the roads to Jerusalem were back open, and though there was snow on the ground it is was very cold, it was sunny and clear in Jerusalem. So, we loaded all of our bags and boarded the bus for what turned out to be a fantastic day in Jerusalem. Because it was Shabbat, the only places we were unable to explore were those related to the shops and restaurants and usual goings-on in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. But we did spend the entire day in the Old City exploring the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City -- that is only 1 square kilometer in a...

February 22, 2015

Today we learned the struggles of both setting up the Jewish state and being blind. Although they are unrelated, we explored both of these challenges in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv. AtIndependence Hall, we learned about the ingenious David Ben Gurion, who set up Israel as a Jewish state in 1948. In this historic building, we watched a background video on the difficult situation that the Jews faced in establishing their own state as well as the wars that followed this proclamation. After the film, we sat in the single, bunker-style room, made to seat 250 people, but was packed with more than 400 people when independence was declared. We then ventured to the downtown market called the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. The vendors lined both sides of the alley for a whole mile. These shops were filled with clothes, food and jewelry of all sorts. Of course we as teens thoroughly explored the entire market scouring for the best things to get. It was a great experience and a way to understand on...

February 20, 2015

Wednesday: We slept in this remote, but nice, place on Tuesday night in the desert near Ovdat and woke up to breakfast outside our doors at 8:00 a.m.. By 9:30 a.m., we were all ready to get on the bus and travel to the city of Be'er Sheva where we would go biking in the Negev Desert! For biking we were split into teams and had to try to find different sheets of paper around the area with numbers on them (there were maps to show where they were). While biking, we saw some really amazing desert views. After we finished, we ate a picnic lunch and then walked towards DavidBen Gurion's grave, which was nearby. After that, we headed back onto the bus until we stopped about half way to where we were staying with the Bedouins that evening. We met an Israeli "lone soldier", an IDF soldier who comes from another country. He told us both his story and answered questions about the IDF and lone soldiers. We then did some fun army-like activities such as learning the hand motions for how IDF soldier...

February 18, 2015

Today we visited our partner elementary school in Haifa called the Alon school and spent time with the students in grade 5 and their teachers. Later we visited the beautiful town of Zichron-Ya'akov and saw a very old Roman theatre, as well as a beautiful garden called the Generous Garden.  Generous Garden is the grave site for Baron Rothschild and his wife. We learned the history of how Rothschild helped to establish the Jewish community in the area and donated a lot of money to help Jews living here. Next, we visited an after-school program for people aged 6 to 35.  The program is for people with medium to low retardation and autism. We danced and played drums in an outdoor park with the kids which was amazing. The kids were very eager to get to know us and to have us spend time with them. Even though the Americans don't speak much Hebrew, everyone was still able to interact with the kids. They were able to instantly become comfortable with us and bring us to dance with them. It was g...

February 16, 2015

Happy Sunday! Today we went hiking on Mount Meron, the second highest mountain in Israel. Unfortunately we couldn't escape the snow, but we did enjoy some beautiful views.


  

After we finished our hike, we headed further up the mountain into the ancient holy city of Tsefat (Safed). The history and the architecture of the city was spectacular. The buildings and roads were made out of stone and many of the buildings had been there for a long time. We visited a synagogue where a great miracle had taken place.  A long time ago there were people were praying inside this very synagogue when a man wanted to harm them.  The man threw a missile at the synagogue. Incredibly, at the moment the missile hit the synagogue, everyone was bowing down for the Barchu so no one was hurt!  During our visit today we saw the spot where the missile punctured the synagogue wall.

February 16, 2015

Happy Sunday! Today we went hiking on Mount Meron, the second highest mountain in Israel. Unfortunately we couldn't escape the snow, but we did enjoy some beautiful views.



  



After we finished our hike, we headed further up the mountain into the ancient holy city of Tsefat (Safed). The history and the architecture of the city was spectacular. The buildings and roads were made out of stone and many of the buildings had been there for a long time. We visited a synagogue where a great miracle had taken place.  A long time ago there were people were praying inside this very synagogue when a man wanted to harm them.  The man threw a missile at the synagogue. Incredibly, at the moment the missile hit the synagogue, everyone was bowing down for the Barchu so no one was hurt!  During our visit today we saw the spot where the missile punctured the synagogue wall.

- Jessica Ayer

February 15, 2015

We all had a restful and wonderful Shabbat in Haifa, relaxing and traveling with host families in and around Haifa and the north. Beginning today, we will have a student blogger each day to accompany the photos who will write from his or her perspective about what we have seen and done the previous day.
~ Rabbi Lisa Eiduson


Happy Valentine's Day!  Today we had the opportunity to spend the day with our host families, and travel around Haifa. I went to Akko, a city on the sea where Napoleon came many years ago. Jessica (Ayer) and I went together with both of our host families to tour Akko and its ancient crusader sites and shop around the fantastic Arab shuk (marketplace). After Akko, we went together to a Druze Village and visited with one of the friends of my host family who live in the village. We had a great time learning about the special role that the Druze have played in Israel for many centuries. Finally, we spent some time with some of Noa's (Israeli student host) cousins. Tod...

February 14, 2015




Our day began with our partners at the Alliance School.  When you entered the room it was impossible to distinguish the Americans from the Israelis.   We worked in groups and explored together our views of Israel.  
  
The remainder of the morning and early afternoon was spent learning about and touring Haifa.  We learned about the history and made stops along the way in between jolts of thunder, lightning and hail storms.  Even so, we know the weather is much better here than back at home!

Highlights included:  Stella Maris (the Carmelite Catholic Church and Monastery at the top of the Carmel Mountain), Elijah's Cave, the German Colony of Haifa and View of Baha'i Garden.

Despite the soaking cold rain there was nothing but warmth with this special group.

Beginning tomorrow, you will hear from each of our students who will be blogging on a daily basis for you! 

Heidi Baker

February 13, 2015

I'm happy to report that we are all here with all baggage.... which is a great thing. We arrived on time to the airport in Tel Aviv and were met by a Puzzle Israel representative named Tamar. She took us to our touring bus, helped us load the bags, introduced us to our driver Tzachi, and we got on the road to go to Haifa.  Because we arrived at the afternoon rush hour, it took us about 2 hours to get to Haifa. But no worries, Tamar brought plenty of special Israeli snacks for us including dates, halvah, fresh fruit and even pastry.  Most people fell asleep more

February 12, 2015

Theodor Herzl, one of the most surprisingly prescient men who ever lived, called the land of Israel the Altneuland: the Old New Land. What a perfect name for this amazing, beautiful nation! Look on the right. There's a start up incubator with 15 offices producing radical ideas that will change the world. Look on the left and across the street: an 11th century Crusader castle. Everywhere one looks there are signs of this curious co-existence between the past vs the future.

This fundamental struggle seems to find its way into every conceivable conversation about politics or cultural shifts or power or religion, and so forth. I suppose most international conflicts these days have something to do with the values of the past colliding with the forces that seek to limit, change, or utterly extirpate them. It's just that in Israel the dialectic sometimes seem so big.

Today our Israel group set out for the Hula Valley. This is the remarkable area that was once swampy land filled with malarial mo...

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Temple Beth Avodah, a member of the reform movement, is led by Rabbi Keith Stern.  Learn more about our soulful services, including Jazz Shabbat, Early Learning Center's Jewish preschool, truly unique Religious School experience, vibrant Men's and Women's groups, meaningful adult learning and so much more! All are welcome here.TBA’s doors are open to all. We welcome participation of people of all races, ethnic identities, gender identities, sexual orientations, physical and mental abilities, ages, and religious backgrounds.

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