Group 7: Italy/Israel Pilgrimage

Thursday, July 7th

Today Group 7 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. After lunch the group walked back through the new and most beautiful Mamila mall next to the Fuchsberg center. The group had some time to rest before dinner and later on they met with Rabbi Paul Freedman.

Wednesday, July 6th

The group landed safely early this morning and was ecstatic to be in Israel! The group drove to the Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism, their home for the next few days. They had a few hours to sleep before lunch and orientation. In the afternoon, they played some ice- breaker games, and then split up and went on different walking tours of the neighborhood so that they could acclimate a bit. After dinner, they attended a session with Jules Gutin, the director of USY.

Tuesday, July 5th

The group began their last day of touring in Italy at St Peter’s basilica in Vatican City. From there to the famous St Peter’s Square. They stood in line together with thousands of visitors to enter the Sistine Chapel. They walked through and saw the gorgeous Sistine Chapel, which has been frescoed (a special way of painting) by the greatest Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli. After lunch they headed to the Pantheon square the largest dome in the world until 1436. They stood next to the Column of Marcus Aurelius and ended the tour at The Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain, the most famous and the most beautiful fountain in all of Rome. The group had time for shopping, before dinner and a late flight to Israel! What an amazing week.

Monday, July 4th

The group had a wonderful time touring Rome today. They began at the Forum and continued to the Coliseum, the elliptical amphitheater constructed between 70-80 CE under the emperors Vespasian and Titus. The Coliseum was used for gladiator games, executions, and dramas based on classical mythology. From there they went across the street to view the Arch of Titus, named for the emperor. This is particularly well known to Jews because of the pictures of Romans carrying away loot from Jerusalem’s second Temple depicted on it (70 C.E.). They saw the famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo. Then the group walked through the Jewish ghetto, which today houses Kosher restaurants and supermarkets. They went on a tour of piazza Navona and Venezia and had free time at piazza Navona. They visited the gorgeous Great Synagogue of Rome. This synagogue was constructed shortly after the unification of Italy in 1870 when Jews were granted citizenship. It was built from 1901-1904 on the banks of the Tiber River. After dinner at Yotvata restaurant, the group headed back to the hotel.

Sunday, July 3rd

The group had a lovely Shabbat together. Today the group left Florence for Pisa. They arrived in the town and saw one of the wonders of the world… the Leaning Tower of Pisa! They visited a Jewish cemetery at the entrance to Pisa. They then drove to Rome. Once they arrived in the city, they took a bus tour around Rome. After dinner at the Yotvata kosher restaurant, the group checked into their hotel.

Friday, July 1st

The group had a wonderful day in Florence. They began with an overlook of the city, and then went to the Duomo, a beautiful and enormous cathedral. They saw Michelangelo’s famous statue of “David” in the Academia, and then went on a walking tour of the central area of the city. After lunch and some shopping time, the group returned to their hotel to prepare for Shabbat. They will go to davening tonight and tomorrow at the magnificent synagogue in Florence, and after Kiddush eat nearby at the nearby Ruth restaurant. The group is excited to be spending their first Shabbat together. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, June 30th

The group woke up to an orientation, learned about the Jewish community of the city and visited the Ashkenazic and Sephardic synagogues in the “ghetto.” Group 7 then walked across the famous Rialto Bridge and had Pizza lunch in the Jewish Quarter. Then they left Venice for Florence, the capital of Tuscany. They had dinner at “Ruth’s” a kosher restaurant and later in the evening, they had an introduction to the history of the Italian Jews and an evening walk in Florence.


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