Group 2: Israel Adventure PLUS
Friday, July 15th
Yesterday, the group had a great time hanging out with the other USYers at the USY event. Today the USYers left for Free Weekend. Some went to relatives and others stayed on base, but all were excited for time to sleep and get refreshed for the week ahead. Shabbat Shalom!
Thursday, July 14th
This morning the group spent time at Machon Ayalon in Rehovot- a munitions factory. The Hagganah dug out an enormous underground hole in just weeks, while the British thought they were building a kibbutz. Forty people went underground daily to make bullets. The ersatz-kibbutz took in laundry as its source of income, and the access to the munitions factory was under a washing machine that slid to the side to reveal a ladder. Visitors walk down the ladder and view the machinery while listening to the story told by kibbutzniks. After lunch they drove to the Ben Shemen forest for the annual USY Event! Each year at this event, all USY groups come together for an afternoon of competition, cheers, and fun! They do ropes course activities, learn about Israel through games, and bond as a group, each with their own color t-shirt! After a delicious BBQ dinner each group performed a cheer or dance and then enjoyed a disco party all together. They came back to Jerusalem tonight before departing for free weekend tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, July 13th
The group drove from Eilat to Sde Boker, once the home of David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. They visited the hut in which he lived, and learned about his life and his brand of Zionism. Then they visited his grave, which is alongside his wife Paula’s grave. They discussed the importance of the Negev desert to Israel and then had a short hike in Ein Ovdat. Then they headed to a Bedouin tent and just before sunset they went on a camel ride. At the tent they were hosted to Bedouin hospitality with coffee, tea, and a delicious dinner. They did an evening activity and slept under the stars in the Bedouin tents.
Tuesday, July 12th
Today the group spent a fun and relaxing day in Eilat! They got a taste of the water as they went snorkeling in small groups, and learned about the coral reef found right off the shore of Eilat. They had a delicious lunch in the Halleluyah restaurant and then went to the underwater observatory where they saw sharks, tortoises, and an assortment of fish, as well as a view of the gorgeous Red Sea (which is in fact blue). After dinner they then had time to walk on the Promenade.
Monday, July 11th
Today the group began their day at sunrise at the desert. They davened Shacharit separately, each finding their own space among the sand dunes and rocks. Later they learned to navigate their way through the desert with a hike. In the afternoon the group travelled to Eilat, the southernmost tip of Israel. After dinner they went on a disco boat ride with group 7.
Sunday, July 10th
After a great Shabbat together, the group left Jerusalem this morning and headed for a few days in the south. They drove to Kibbutz Saad where they met Israeli teens their age. The played icebreaker games and had a chance to hear about the life of teen on Kibbutz. Their second stop was at Mitzpe Ramon. There they visited the Alpaca farm and began a 24 hour outdoor desert experience. After lunch, the group went on a hike and began to learn about desert life. Tonight they made their own dinner and went stargazing before sleeping under the stars.
Friday, July 8th
This morning the group woke up at 4 am and headed to Masada. They climbed to the top of Masada, watched a beautiful sunrise and davened Shacharit. Then they had a tour of the ruins at the top. After hiking down the mountain, they ate breakfast at Masada youth hostel. The next stops were the Ein Gedi springs, where they had a nice hike to a waterfall, and then the Dead Sea. They returned to Jerusalem for a relaxing Shabbat after the week of Gadna. Shabbat shalom!