Group 8: Eastern Europe/Israel Pilgrimage

Friday, July 22nd

Today, the group learned about “New Jerusalem,” which basically traces the line that was Israel’s border with Jordan before 1967. They first went to the Ramat Rachel promenade. They visited Ammunition Hill, walking through the trenches that used to be part of a Jordanian bunker that was the center of battle in 1967. They then went to Shuk Mahane Yehuda to buy goodies for Shabbat and headed back to their home in Jerusalem, the Fuchsberg center, to prepare things for Shabbat. They will be spending Shabbat with groups 1, 4 and 6. Tomorrow they will spend the day resting, learning Pirkei Avot, and hanging out. Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 21st

This morning the group drove to Jerusalem from Arad. Once in Jerusalem, they visited Yad Vashem, the national holocaust museum, and after lunch they visited Mount Herzl where they visited the graves of the founders of Zionism, Yitzchak Rabin, Hannah Senesh, and Michael Levin z”l, a Nativ and Camp Ramah alum who fell in battle during the War in Lebanon in 2006. Then headed back to the Fuchsberg center for a BBQ, a lecture with Neil Lazarus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finally, the group finished the day with stand-up comedy show with Joel Chasnoff.

Wednesday, July 20th

Today the group began their day at sunrise in the desert. They davened Shacharit separately, each finding their own space among the sand dunes and rocks. Later they learned to navigate their way through the desert with a hike. Once they concluded their Desert experience they travelled 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. Then they visited his grave, which is alongside his wife Paula’s grave. They discussed the importance of the Negev desert to Israel. They then did a short hike to Ein Ovdat. Group 8 then headed to Arad were they are spending the night.

Tuesday, July 19th

The group spent the morning in Eilat. They then drove to Yerucham to learn about Nativ, USY’s college leadership program in Israel. They met with Yerucham’s mayor, Michael Biton, and heard stories from their American staff who were on the Nativ program there. After lunch they drove to Mitzpe Ramon, were they began a 24-hour outdoor desert experience. They went repelling down the side of a cliff, and encouraged each other to challenge themselves. This evening they went on a short hike, prepared their own dinner, and went stargazing before going to sleep under the stars.

Monday, July 18th

Today the group spent a fun and relaxing day in Eilat! 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 in fact blue). They had a delicious lunch in the Halleluyah restaurant and then 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 dinner they went on a disco boat ride with groups 1 and 6.

Sunday, July 17th

After a fun and relaxing free weekend, the group headed south for the week. Their first stop was at the Alpaca Ranch- The Alpaca Farm is the only farm in the world where over 400 exotic alpacas & llamas are raised and where the entire process of growing and spinning them can be observed. Then they headed to Eilat, the most southern tip of Israel.

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!

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