Group 6: Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar (2nd Departure)
Thursday, July 14th
This morning the group visited the Bio Bi factory in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, which invented the most advanced technique in the world currently used for biological pest control. They also visited the home of Eyal, their Israeli counselor who grew up on the Kibbutz. 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, all the groups enjoyed a disco party. Tonight they came back to Jerusalem to sleep at the Fuchsberg Center before departing for free weekend tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 13th
This morning the group headed to the Golan Heights. They began their day with a three-hour hike at the beautiful canyon of the Jilabun. They headed to Kibbutz El Rom and visited the “Oz 77” monument on the very battlefield where the tanks clashed in 1973. There they viewed a short film about the heroic Oz 77 Tank Brigade which fought against overwhelming odds to successfully defend the Golan during the Yom Kippur War. This afternoon they went to an overlook from Har Bental where they learned about the importance of the Golan Heights for Israel. Then headed back to the Kibbutz and practiced for the event tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 12th
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 Dan. This afternoon they went shopping at the famous Neot factory where they had fun trying on and buying sandals. The group had a blast kayaking in the Jordan River and from there they returned to Kibbutz for dinner and preparation for the upcoming USY event. They also watched the movie “Bufor.”
Monday, July 11th
Today they spent their morning in the mystical city of Tzfat. Among the many people who came from Tzfat are the prominent kabbalists, Isaac Luria and Moshe Kordovero. Besides the kabbalists, Safed also attracted numerous other Jewish scholars and spiritualists, including Joseph Caro, the author of the Shulchan Aruch and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, composer of the Sabbath hymn Lecha Dodi. The group had a tour of the city and three of the synagogues, and had an opportunity to go shopping at the famous candle factory. 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 ate dinner in Nehariya and had free time to walk around. They returned to Kibbutz and, they started preparing for the USY event, which will take place this coming Thursday.
Sunday, July 10th
The group spent their day around the Kinneret. They hiked down the Arbel, a fortress from the Second Temple Period. From there they visited the cemetery by the Kinneret where the famous poet Rahel is buried, as well as Naomi Shemer, famous for her song “Jerusalem of Gold.” Then they cooled off from the hot day with a swim in the Kinneret! In the afternoon, the group rode donkeys and each had a turn to drive and ride. They dressed up like ancient donkey drivers and learned about the history of Kfar Kedem. Then they returned to Kibbutz for a BBQ and a swim with group 4!
Friday, July 8th
The group left Jerusalem this morning and headed north. They spent the morning around the Carmel. They stopped by the Bahii gardens and had an overlook over Haifa. 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 of the Druze religion and were interested in this small community with unique rules. After that they drove to Kibbutz Hanaton, the Conservative kibbutz in the north of Israel, which will serve as their base for Shabbat and the next few days. They stopped at a super-market to do some pre Shabbat shopping. The group will be spending the Shabbat with group 4. Shabbat Shalom!
Thursday, July 7th
Today Group 6 learned about the First Temple period, and then took a walk through the Jaffa Gate and Old City. They visited the City of David and went through Hezekayah’s Tunnel, a water aqueduct that brought water to the city during the time of King Hezekayah (700 BCE). The USYers had a wonderful time splashing in the water. They then went to the Independence Park were they ate lunch, played ice- breaker games and had an activity made by their staff. The group had some time to rest before dinner. 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.