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 one example of the diverse economy.
Next we took the bus over to Dialogue in the Dark, a museum for understanding blindness. I thought this was the coolest thing. We were taken into the first small room to adjust to the seemingly endless darkness. The museum was set up as an adventure led by our tour guide who himself has been blind for the past 10 years. The whole idea of the tour was to experience loss of sight and to use our senses of smell, touch and hearing to communicate and navigate through the space. My favorite part was a music room where we all lay down on the floor and silently listened to music. It was extremely relaxing to be able to let go of thoughts, and instead focus on guiding everyone else. Near the end we were able to buy drinks in a completely dark cafeteria and learned a little about the personal life of our guide. Afterwards we went and ate Shawarma in Jaffa. We then headed back to the hotel where some of us went to the gym during our free time there. At 8:00 p.m. we all met in the lobby to light candles and celebrate a small Shabbat service. Our last sit down dinner was at a small place down the street where we all shared dishes from a prix fixe menu. After dinner we headed back to the hotel for 12:00 a.m. curfew and all stayed together to reflect on the trip and share personal experiences we shared on the trip.