Group 1: Israel Adventure

Monday, July 11th

Group 1 woke up at 4 am and headed to Masada. They climbed to the top of Masada to watch a beautiful sunrise and daven Shacharit. They had a tour of the ruins at the top, guided by their Israeli councilors. After hiking down the mountain, they ate breakfast at Masada youth hostel. The next stop was the Ein Gedi springs, where they had a nice hike to a waterfall, and then floated in the Dead Sea. They returned to Arad were they had some free time and after dinner they had group bonding time.

Sunday, July 10th

After a relaxing Shabbat, Group 1 departed to the South. First they headed to the Archaeological Dig Seminar where they dug to try and find artifacts from the Second Temple period. They then crawled through Bar Kochba’s secret caves, which were used to plan the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE, against the Roman Empire. After lunch the group spent time at the beautiful swimming pool at Kibbutz Tal Shahar!  They then drove down to the youth hostel in Arad for the night.

Friday, July 8th

Today the group spent their morning learning about the First Temple period. Their first stop was the City of David, where they went through Hezekayah’s Tunnel, a water aqueduct that brought water to the city during the time of King Hezekayah. The USYers had a wonderful time splashing in the water! Then they headed to the well known Mahne Yehuda Shuk / open market for some pre Shabbat shopping and then headed back to prepare for their first Shabbat in Jerusalem. Tonight they will daven Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and tomorrow they will have the opportunity to go to different synagogues in the area. The rest of the day will be spent resting, learning Pirkei Avot, and hanging out. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 7th

Today Group 1 spent the first part of their day learning about the Second Temple period in Jerusalem. They began at the Israel Museum where they saw a large and intricate model of Jerusalem from the period before 70 C.E. They drove to the Old City, walked through the Roman Cardo in the Jewish Quarter, and toured the Herodian Mansion – the remains of a house which once belonged to the high priest in the first century. After lunch they went to the Kotel, the Western Wall, where many of the USYers put in notes of prayers and thoughts. The group continued to Robinson’s Arch where the marketplace next to the Temple stood and where people would be able to buy food and animals during their stay on Pilgrimage Festivals. They concluded the tour of the south wall excavation walking up the original steps leading to the gates of the Second Temple. They returned to the Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism, were they studied with Jules Gutin, director of USY. After dinner they went out to the opening of the Jerusalem movie festival and watched a movie at the open concert theater overlooking the walls of the Old city.

Wednesday, July 6th

The group spent the day around the Carmel. They went into the Bahii gardens and had an overlook over Haifa. Then they hiked down the Muhraka. They ate lunch at the Usafia Druze Village where they were hosted to a delicious kosher Druze meal. It is in fact one of the food highlights of the summer. They heard an explanation about the Druze religion and were interested in this small community with unique rules. They then headed to Jerusalem and held a welcome ceremony at the promenade overlooking the old city. From there they went to the Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism, their home for the next few days.

Tuesday, July 5th

The group spent the day in the Western Galilee. They began with a three-hour hike at Nachal Kziv one of the nicest canyons in the Galilee. They continued to Rosh Hanikra where they walked through the beautiful grottos created by the water hitting the rock for hundreds of years. The group then went to Acco and visited the Templar Knights tunnels. The Templar Knights built a fortress in Akko in the 12th century BCE, after the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin. The fortress was built on the southwest corner of the city, so the Knights built a 350 meter long tunnel connecting the fortress to the port on the southeast side of the city. They returned to Kibbutz and, after dinner, they enjoyed an evening program prepared by their staff.

Monday, July 4th

The group spent the day in the Upper Galilee. They began at an overlook at Metula, and then went on a water hike in Nahal Snir. This afternoon the group had a blast kayaking in the Jordan River. From there they went shopping at the famous Naot factory in Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, where they had fun trying on and buying sandals.. The group went out in Tiberius for dinner and headed back to Hanaton for a quiet evening.

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