Group 8: Italy/Israel Pilgrimage

August 3, 2014

After a beautiful final Shabbat together, Group 8 packed their bags, and got ready for their final banquet. The group came together to share memories of all the things they have accomplished and experienced during their incredible journey this summer. Early this morning, they loaded the buses and headed to the airport. We know that they all had an amazing and enlightening summer and look forward to returning to Israel again soon!

July 31, 2014

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. They then visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The group also visited the memorial for the Righteous Among the Nation, which commemorates those courageous non-Jews who, despite what was going on in the world around them, played an important role in saving Jewish lives during that terrible time in history. This was an extremely profound tour. They returned to base, and heard from the brother of the Group 8 leader Avital, a former IDF soldier who was injured in a military operation a year ago. He spoke to the USYers of his experiences and what he has learned from it. After an intense day, the group had time to unwind and then enjoyed an exciting activity of Drama Games. To end off the day, they were taken to the new Cinema City in Jerusalem and were treated to a movie.

Here are some pictures from the last few days!

July 30, 2014

Group 8 spent the day volunteering with USY Mitzvah Hero Danny Siegal.  After a quick introduction about the day they were introduced to Suzie and Phyllis, representatives from an organization that provides support and counseling for the girlfriends of fallen IDF soldiers.  They spent some time writing cards and letters to the soldiers serving in the south.  The letters were really touching and heartfelt.  The letters will be delivered to the soldiers in the coming days.  Afterwards, they spent some time with Danny talking about hte many different Tikun Olam programs they can get involved with once they return home.  After a busy day of mitzvot, group 8 got to spend some free time exploring Emek Refaim, a beautiful neighborhood in Jerusalem filled with boutiques and restaurants.  They returned to the Fuchsberg Center for a relaxed bonding program then went off to bed!


July 29, 2014

Group 8 started their morning with an exploration of the City of David. They visited Hezekiya’s Tunnels, which was dug underneath the City of David in Jerusalem during ancient times. They were then treated to a refreshing swim in the Jerusalem Pool and had loads of fun swimming and relaxing together. Next, was a visit to the Mamilla Mall, a beautiful new outdoor promenade, for some shopping, ice coffee and other fun treats. Later in the evening they joined Group 6 to see the wonderful one woman play “The Four Faces of Israel.”


July 28, 2014

Group 8 began their morning at a center which helps  develop High Tech start up companies.   They were given a  tour to learn about these innovations and understand why Israel is called a “start up nation”. This was followed by a stop at the First Train Station, Jerusalem’s original railway station first built in the 19th century.  This is now a very trendy outdoor center filled with many restaurants, stands and stores. Afterwards they participated in an entrepreneurial panel where they discussed social entrepreneurship. Next, they spent some time touring the famous biblical  zoo and looking at the many different types of animals. After a fun day they returned to the Fuchsberg Center and had an exciting evening activity called “Café Dilemas”.

July 27, 2014

The group began their morning in Talpiyot in Jerusalem where they did a volunteer project, along with Group 6, packing and sending parcels and letters to the soldiers and children in the south of Israel. This was an incredible opportunity for the USYers to become active members of Israeli society and they truly felt a sense of fulfillment. This was followed by a cool martial arts lesson where they had fun learning a few basic martial arts techniques. Afterwards, they continued to the Herzl Museum and spent some time walking through Mount Herzl, which serves not only as the Israel Defense Forces’ official military cemetery, but also as the burial site for prominent Zionists, Israeli politicians, and figures who have greatly influenced the development of the state. They stopped at the graves of Herzl, Yoni Netanyahu, and Michael Levin . They also  heard personal stories from their Israeli staff. This was a very emotional experience for the USYers. The group returned to their hotel for a light-hearted evening activity and then had an extremely interesting talk by Neil Lazaraus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

July 25, 2014

Group 8 started their morning with a refreshing and pleasant hike through Nachal David and spent some time in the fresh water springs of Ein Gedi. They had a wonderful time there and then began their journey to Jerusalem.  They visited Ben Yehuda Street where they ate delicious ice cream and bought treats for Shabbat, before making their way to the Park Hotel, where they will be staying over Shabbat. After a successful and busy week, the group is excited for another Shabbat together where they will be relaxing, hanging out, singing, learning and davening.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!

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