Group 7: Italy/Israel Pilgrimage

Monday, August 1st

Last night the group enjoyed their final banquet. During the banquet, they gave out awards and gave presents to the staff. They received their group t-shirts and group photo and then spent their last night together bonding and sharing memories. Early this morning they loaded the buses and left for the airport. We know that Group 7 had an amazing summer and look forward to seeing them in Israel again soon!

Sunday, July 31st

Today Group 7 explored “New Jerusalem.” They first went to the Armon Hanatziv promenade which overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem and offers beautiful views of the city. They then visited the Ammunition Hill, walking through the trenches that used to be part of a Jordanian bunker that was the center of battle in 1967. Later, the group did some last minute shopping time at Shuk Machaneh Yehuda. They then headed back to the Fuchsberg center to pack and prepare for their banquet dinner and final programs. In the evening, the group came together to hang out and share memories of everything they have done and accomplished on their incredible journey this past summer.

Friday, July 29th

Group 7 spent the day at the beach in Ashdod, relaxing, swimming and enjoying the nice breeze. On the way back to Jerusalem they stopped at the Harel Mall in Mevaseret Tzion that is famous for its kosher “McDonalds” and where many of the USYers feasted on their lunch. When they got back to the Fuchsberg center, they had time to prepare for their final Shabbat in Israel which will be spent together with groups 2, 3, and 6.

Thursday, July 28th

The group started their day at Yad Lekashish, a non-profit based in Jerusalem that provides employment and social services to over 300 elderly artisans. Then, Group 7 headed to Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Holocaust Museum, where they had a very moving tour. Next, the USYers visited Mount Herzl. This mountain serves not only the Israel Defense Forces’ official military cemetery but also as the burial site for prominent Zionists, Israeli politicians and those figures who greatly influenced the development of the state. They stopped at the graves of Herzl, Yoni Netanyahu and Michael Levin among others. They then planted trees at JNF Forest Yaar Aminadav and each USYer dedicated their tree to someone special in their lives.  After dinner they played drama games, which gave them a chance to reflect on their journey in a fun and active way. The group then ended their day by going out for a fun and relaxing night out on the town.

Wednesday, July 27th

The group spent their day learning about Mitzvah and Tikun Olam work with Danny Siegel. They volunteered at Leket Yisrael, an organization which donates food to families in need around Israel. The USYers picked onions which will be transported to organizations serving those in need throughout the country. The next stop was the city of Sderot. There, they cleaned and painted a playground. They met with local residents who shared their experiences. They ended the day in Jerusalem learning from Danny Siegel about other “mitzvah heroes” as well as volunteer opportunities in their home communities. After dinner they heard Neil Lazarus give a fascinating lecture on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tuesday, July 26th

This morning the group woke up super early and climbed to the top of Masada to watch a beautiful sunrise and daven Shacharit at the remains of one of the world’s most ancient synagogues- 2000 years old. They had a tour of the fortress guided by their Israeli counselors then took the cable car down. They went to one of the most stunning places on earth, Ein Gedi and walked through Nachal David and saw the gorgeous waterfall. The group then continued down to the lowest spot on earth, the dead sea, where they enjoyed floating in the water and putting on the famous dead sea mud. The group then had a short stop at the AHAVA factory for some shopping time. They returned to Jerusalem to their base on Agron St. where they will be staying until their departure.

Monday, July 25th

After a late breakfast the group headed to Holon to visit the “Dialogue in the dark” Museum – a unique exhibit in which blind guides led them in small groups through different settings in absolute darkness. The group learned how to interact without sight by using their other senses. Next on the itinerary was the Ayalon Institute, an underground bullet factory used by the “haganah,” located on Kibbutz Hill in Rehovot and 25 feet underground. Not minding the heat, the group headed South to Roded for a true Israeli experience of riding camels and being hosted in a Bedouin tent, including a feast and the traditional sour coffee and very sweet tea. They then spent the night in the tent, getting ready for an early wakeup to climb Masada tomorrow.

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