Group 7: Italy/Israel Pilgrimage

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

The group started their day with a short hike to Ein Ovdat- a canyon in the Negev Desert. 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. In the evening they enjoyed a disco party were all the groups danced together. Tonight they came back to Jerusalem to sleep at the Fuchsberg Center before departing for free weekend tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13th

Today Group 7 began their day at 5:30 am when they woke up in the desert. They davened Shacharit separately, each finding their own space among the sand dunes and rocks. Then they learned to navigate their way through the desert with a hike. Once they concluded their Desert experience they drove to Mitzpeh Ramon’s visiting center for an explanation about the place. There they visited the Alpaca farm. Then they drove 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 before finishing the day.

Tuesday, July 12th

Today, the group began a 24 hour outdoor desert experience. On their way, the group stopped at Kibbutz Yotvata, famous for its delicious dairy products. After a long drive to Mitzpe Ramon, they went repelling down the side of a cliff, and encouraged each other to challenge themselves. Then they went on a short hike, made their own dinner, and went stargazing before going to sleep under the stars.

Monday, July 11th

Today Group 7 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. After lunch they 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, of course, blue). They got back to the hotel, had free time and after dinner they went on a Disco Boat Ride on the sea with group 2, where they danced and enjoyed a pretty view of the coast.

Sunday, July 10th

After a relaxing Shabbat, the group departed for their week in the south. 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 swimming pool! Then they headed to Eilat -the southernmost tip of Israel.

Friday, July 8th

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 enjoyed splashing the water on each other! They headed back to prepare for their first Shabbat in Jerusalem and went to the well known Mahne Yehuda Shuk to buy some stuff for Shabbat. 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!

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