Group 7: Italy/Israel Pilgrimage

Sunday, July 24th

After a relaxing Shabbat together, the group headed to Tel Aviv. They visited the Independence Hall, where David Ben Gurion declared Israel an independent country. After lunch they visited the Olympic museum. The museum boasts high-tech imaging and illustrations, audio-visual presentations, holograms, interactive screens, and hands-on trials. The USYers had a chance to learn not only about some of the greater moments in Olympic history but the Israeli achievements as well. From there they went to Kikar Rabin, the site of Yitzchak Rabin’s final hours, where he spoke at a peace rally and was then assassinated. The group learned about this leader of Israel and sang the song “Shir La’shalom,” a song about peace.

Friday, July 22nd

Today the group 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, Tzfat also attracted numerous other Jewish scholars and spiritualists, including Joseph Caro, the author of the Shulchan Aruch and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, composer of the shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi. The group had a tour of the city, synagogues, and had an opportunity to go shopping at the famous candle factory. They then returned to Kibbutz to prepare for Shabbat. The group will be spending Shabbat with group 2. They are excited to have a day for rest and relaxation. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 21st

The group began their day with a fun water hike of the Madrase, one of the streams which flows to the Kinneret. Then 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 had an overlook from Har Bental where they learned about the importance of the Golan Heights for Israel. Group 7 then headed to Tveria where they ate dinner and had free time to shop and walk around before returning to Kibbutz Hannaton.

Wednesday, July 20th

This morning the group visited the Overlook in Metula and the Lebanese border. They went on fun water hike at the Hatzbani River. After lunch they had a blast kayaking in the Jordan River. Next they went shopping at the famous Naot factory where they had fun trying on and buying sandals. On their way back to Kibbutz they stopped at Mitzpe Gadot- an overlook that looks out over the Golan Heights and has a memorial to the fallen members of the Golan Brigade. After dinner they enjoyed a group activity prepared by their staff at Kibbutz Hannaton.

Tuesday, July 19th

This morning the group drove up to Mount Miron, the highest mountain in Israel pre 1967. They took a hike around the summit with a view of the entire north of Israel. They then headed to Rosh Hanikra where they walked through the beautiful grottos created by the water hitting the rock for hundreds of years. Their next stop was the city of Acco. There, they 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. This evening they returned to Kibbutz to have a session with Rich Moline & enjoyed an evening of BBQ and swim.

Monday, July 18th

The group spent the day around the Kinneret. They hiked down the Arbel, a fortress from the Second Temple Period. Then they cooled off from the hot day with a swim in the Kinneret! Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Kinneret cemetery where the famous poet Rachel is buried, as well as Naomi Shemer, famous for her song “Jerusalem of Gold.” In the afternoon, the group rode donkeys and all had a turn to lead the donkey and to ride one as well. They dressed up just like ancient donkey riders and learned about the history of Kfar Kedem. They got off the donkeys and boarded the bus to ride back to Hannaton.

Sunday, July 17th

After a fun and relaxing free weekend, Group 7 departed this morning for their week in the north. They spent the first part of the day around the Carmel. 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 had an overlook over Haifa, and then they hiked down the Muhraka. In the evening they arrived at Kibbutz Hanaton, the Conservative kibbutz in the north of Israel, which will be their base for the next few days.

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