February 26, 2018

The most difficult part of any trip for me is the return. I know people care how it went and that’s why they ask, but I always do better sharing slowly, wanting to tell stories as I think of them rather than having to recall a bunch of episodes all at once or brush it away with an “it was great!” This trip was overwhelming in every sense of the word - every experience was intense and consuming. The funny things were hilarious, the sad things were devastating. Even for someone whose baseline communication is hyperbole (if you ask me, it’s never just snowing, it’s a blizzard), everything felt magnified and extreme. This is in no small part due to the backdrop of the trip - a school shooting in my hometown, a school my friends went to, my campers go to and, now, where people I know have died. This is also because, as I have come to learn over the past few years, teens feel everything in an utterly vulnerable, wear-their-hearts-on-their-sleeves way. It is why something that you or I might...

February 25, 2018

As this whirlwind trip comes to an end, our 12 hour plane ride gives me ample time to reflect on the trip overall. After a relaxing free day at the beach and a goodbye party, we departed Haifa for the airport. On the bus ride we all sat together, singing and laughing and recapping our trip. Although a very different Haifa departure than my experience on this delegation two years ago, I still had the same gut feelings and appreciation for why we were there. Israel is a beautiful country with countless activities and adventures to embark on. But, until you live like as an Israeli would or with Israeli peers, you truly are just a tourist. Looking back to the first half of our time in Israel when it was just the Americans, I wasn’t nervous, but incredibly excited. I have already been to Israel twice with this wonderful tour company, Puzzle Israel, so I wasn’t sure how different activities were going to feel. I knew we had a few new experiences lined up, but I was worried about the most imp...

February 24, 2018

This morning we attended school with our friends from Alliance. Shortly after, we all went to the Alon School to visit fifth and sixth graders to discuss helping others. The most meaningful part of the day was when all of us went to the out to courtyard at Alon and danced around outside. This was meaningful because regardless of our grade or what country we were from we were all able to connect and have fun (click on video above to watch). In the afternoon we attended a local temple. While the service was nice, the forced division of men and women separated our group and made the whole experience far less enjoyable. In the evening we returned to the homes of our Israeli hosts and enjoyed nice dinners.

February 23, 2018

Today was a very fun day traveling around Israel with both Americans and Israelis. We began the day with a jeep tour around the Mt. Meron area, and we continued on to the old city of Akko, where we took a tour and learned about the crusaders. The most meaningful part of the day for me came at the end, when we all went out for burgers, fries and milkshakes at a restaurant called Humongous. I loved this experience because it was a great meal and a great bonding experience for everyone. What a great way to end the day! 

February 22, 2018

Today we had many different experiences. First off, we went to the Israeli water company and got a tour of the place. We learned what they do there and why Israel is so efficient with its water. We then went to breakfast at a park followed by a hike. At this hike we went to a beautiful waterfall. After this we went to a site at which there were Israeli bunkers that we explored. We proceeded to drive to the hot springs where we swam in some really warm water. We wrapped up our day by settling at a hostel, had dinner and went to bed. The highlight of the day for me was the hike. I enjoyed it a lot. Goodnight everyone.

February 21, 2018

Today was packed with fun activities! We got an early start at the Carmelite Italian Arab School and got a chance to talk with Arab teens and get a tour of the school. After, we went on an "Amazing Race" around Haifa to explore the city in a cool way! We toured the beautiful Baha'i Gardens--a holy place for the Baha'i religion--and walked down 700 steps while taking many, many pictures. After breaking for lunch, we ate around a campfire and got a glimpse of the "Scouts" program. The day ended with a fun night at "Ballers" with super-sized pool tables! The most meaningful part of the day was connecting with the teens from the school where the setting itself was different, but we realized that our likes and dislikes and hopes and dreams are really similar. No matter how far away we may be or how different our lives are, we are all just people.

February 20, 2018

After a great trip in Tel Aviv we packed up our things in the hotel, got Aroma, and went onto the bus for a long expedition to Haifa.  On the way to Haifa we made a stop at an Arab town to do a basket weaving workshop.  It was very relaxing and we all got to take home something that we made.  At the workshop, we learned that it was a work place where Arab women were allowed to have a job and earn money, which is sometimes hard to find.  After a great meal, which the women cooked for us, we got back on the bus to finish our ride to Haifa.  Upon arrival in Haifa we had a great welcome at the Alliance school and were greeted by our Israeli friends.  We all went back to our host family's homes and got settled in for our week in Haifa.  We enjoyed a welcome activity at a special needs after-school program where we danced, sang, and played the drums.  After a long day, some of the people who had already been in the delegation got to meet up with their old Israeli friends which was nice for e...

February 19, 2018

We started off our day with a fun breakfast; we ate some flavorful eggs. Then, we went to Jaffa. We walked around, admiring the scenic views. We stopped by an art gallery that specialized in making jewelry our of clay. We continued walking and we reached a shuk, so we did a little bit of shopping. Soon after, we went to a person’s house, a man named Ihab lives there. We sat down and drank tea as he told an incredible story about how he met his wife and how it played out. It was almost like Romeo and Juliet. He, a man coming from a family of very religious Muslims, ended up marrying a women who came from a family of very religious Jews. It was love at first sight. They got to know each other for a while and decided to get married. They got married without telling anyone, they did it as just the two of them. Months passed and still no one knew. When Ihab got the courage to tell his family that he had been married it did not go well. He started off by telling them that he got married, his...

February 18, 2018

We woke up in the morning at the hostel, bright and early. We were supposed to climb Masada and go to the Dead Sea, but unfortunately there was a huge storm and flooding. We tried to get to Masada but the roads were closed, so we were told to turn around. On the way to Tel Aviv, we stopped at the bullet factory (Ayalon Institute Museum). The bullet factory was disguised as a kibbutz and the actual factory was underground. It’s not used anymore but it was a big secret when it was in use. We checked into the hotel, which everyone loves! Then we went to Escape The Room. Escape The Room was so fun because it involves lots of team work. Also, because my team won! We were split into two teams to see who could get out the fastest. Then we went to Sarona Market and we had free time to walk around and explore. We got back to the hotel to relax and then we walked to dinner in lots of wind and rain. We returned to the hotel and everyone hung out together. 


February 17, 2018

Today was a roller coaster of emotions. We  had a quick breakfast and headed to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. Rabbi Stern led our tour and told us about his personal experiences. It was amazing to learn from him and learn more about him. Rabbi made Yad Vashem a really meaningful experience. After, we went to a shopping area to get lunch.  We chose from a variety of options for our meal. We finished lunch and then drove into the middle of the desert to meet some IDF soldiers. They took us on a 2 hour hike helping us to navigate while speaking to us about their experiences as soldiers. On the hike we practiced some IDF training techniques (sprints and push-ups) and played fun Israeli games. After we walked to a dinner under the stars and had a nice Shabbat service. Amanda played beautiful music on a guitar as we all sang along.  Our evening ended as we hung out around the bonfire before checking into our hostel.  We had such a fun time.

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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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