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August 8, 2014

Today the group spent some time on Ben Yehuda Street, a lively street in the heart of Jerusalem. They bought delicious treats for Shabbat as well as some last minute presents. They will be spending their final Shabbat in Jerusalem at the Fuchsberg Center. They are all extremely sad that this is their last Shabbat together but excited to be spending another beautiful and spiritual Shabbat singing, davening, learning and hanging out with each other for their last few days.

After Shabbat they will enjoy a traditional banquet dinner (Burgers Bar, a Group 6 favorite!!) where they come together to share memories of everything they have accomplished and all the places they have explored together this summer on their incredible journey. They will then load the bus and head to the airport. We know that Group 6 has had an unbelievable time this summer and we look forward to seeing them again soon in the Holy Land!

Shabbat Shalom!

August 7, 2014

The group began their morning with a visit to Mount Tzion, which is just outside the walls of the Old City. They visited the tomb of King David and the site of the last supper. Then they embarked on a tour of the Old City, and  continued to the Herodian Mansions, remains of a house of priests from the Second Temple period. They made a special last visit to the Kotel and were given time to daven and reflect on their meaningful summer. This was followed by a delicious lunch and some shopping in the Jewish Quarter. Next was a visit to Mount Hertzl, which serves not only as the Israel Defense Forces’ official military cemetery, but also as the burial site for prominent Zionists, Israeli politicians, and public figures who have greatly influenced the development of the state. They stopped at the graves of Herzl, Yoni Netanyahu, Michael Levin and other well-known soldiers and they heard personal stories from their Israeli staff. This had an extremely profound impact on the USYers and many of them were very emotional. After a long day they returned to base to unwind, and were treated to an exciting evening of Drama Games.

August 6, 2014

Group 6’s first stop today was Yad Lekashish, a non-profit based in Jerusalem that provides employment and social services to over 300 elderly artisans. Afterwards, they continued to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. This was an extremely interesting and emotional tour. They returned to base and had a fascinating talk by Neil Lazaraus on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This was especially interesting in light  of recent events. This was followed by some free time and preparation time for their upcoming banquet and then had an early bed time.

August 5, 2014

This morning was a little different than other mornings. We did the tisha b’av shacharit which has a much slower and sad melody to set the tone for the day of mourning. We then had a discussion about hopeful mourning and each wheelnik had a chance to share a song they believed showed that. We also each had time to meditate and relax before our long day of fasting and traveling. We then packed up the bus and headed to Hershey’s Chocolate World where we got to learn how their famous chocolate is made and bought a LOT of chocolate for our break fast later tonight. We then headed for a tour of Amish Country. We saw a video about the history of the Amish and how they have the choice to join the church or not and how difficult these types of choices can be, especially at such a young age. We then had a guided tour through the country with our tour guide, Sue. She taught us a lot about how they live their lives and about their culture. We even got to stop at a few shops and a farm to see some animals! It was definitely very eye opening to see how other people live and why. After our tour we gathered together as our own community to daven mincha. It was really cool to learn about another religion and culture and then come together to celebrate our own. We ended our touring by driving to Philadelphia and had the chance to run up the rocky steps. Although many of us were tired from not eating all day, it was a great way to wake us up and get up on our feet. It was so fulfilling to say we made it to the top with the sound of the Rocky theme song playing in the background. We then headed to Beth Zion Beth Israel synangogue for our last sicha of the summer. It was a great end to tisha b’av before davening maariv and having a breakfast for dinner break fast. The bagels, French toast, eggs, fruit, and tater tots really hit the spot! We then headed to our final host homes for the summer and are both very sad to have our last day tomorrow but getting excited to spend another day with our friends and for our banquet tomorrow night!

August 4, 2014

We woke up this morning very exited for the last few days we have together. After shacharit and a beautiful Torah service we headed on our way around Cleveland. Going with the theme of our summer of crossing things off our bucket list, inspired by MTV’s show The Buried Life, we stopped by the “Before I Die” wall in Cleveland. We each had some time to write what we want to do or accomplish both before the summer is over and for the rest of our lives. Everyone wrote inspiring and moving things which really showed how special and goal oriented this group is. We then continued on our journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had a chance to walk around and see memorabilia from hundreds of bands and artists and got to listen to some of the greatest songs throughout history. After our musical morning, we headed on our way to Harrisburg for the night. We stopped at Beth El Temple for davening, a discussion about Tisha b’av and dinner before our fast tomorrow. We have all been practicing to read a part of Eicha for the group and congregation and we had the chance to finally show off what we had learned. It was very moving and emotion filled and definitely brought us into the fast in a very special way. We then headed off to the hotel to go to sleep.

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