Friday, August 7, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Today was a very interesting day because it ran into two days due to the fact that the flight was so long. First I flew to New York at JFK Airport, and then to Switzerland after meeting up with the group. It was hard to tell what day it was or even what time it was. This made me both nervous and excited. I really felt for once in my life I was going on an adventure. After the Switzerland trip I knew Israel was just around the corner, I was even more excited! We arrived in Israel at 4:30 pm Israel time, but to my body, it felt like nighttime. At times I felt like I was pulling an all nighter. Once we got there I couldn’t believe the beauty I saw before my eyes. People had always told me Israel was beautiful, but until I saw it, I didn’t believe it. We arrived as a group and a bunch of people welcomed us with a sign and flowers, which made me excited and comfortable to be in this unfamiliar place. I had finally arrived in the place of my dreams!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
On the first day of exploring this country, we started out by going to Mt. Arbel, a famous mountain in Israel. It looked like a huge Grand Canyon with lots of rocks added to it. I took many pictures to capture the beauty. Then we continued our journey by making our own pitas at K’far Kedem and really feeling like Israelis by riding donkeys and dressing up as old fashion Israelis. We also enjoyed a real Israeli lunch at K’far Kedem before going on a boat ride where we danced to Israeli music and when I experienced a drum circle for my very first time. My question of the day was if Menachem really got the pigeon or if it was just for show. We ended the day with a great meal and a chance to explore Israeli market places and shops before heading back to the hotel. By the way, Israeli money is really cool. My favorite activity of the day was the boat ride.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
On our second day of the journey we saw a beautiful view of which I took many pictures again. It was called the Tel Dan. When we were done enjoying its beauty and going up and seeing what it had to offer, we went back up to the bus to go to my favorite place of the day; an Israeli chocolate factory where we saw how their chocolate was made and got to taste it. Then we got into Jeeps and got to see many different parts of Israel, including the Jordan River. When we were about half way into the jeep tour, we stopped at the Jordan River where we got to enjoy sitting on rocks like biblical people. The counselors made me a thrown out of rocks and made me feel like a queen. Before we went back to the hotel we celebrated Jonathan’s birthday, a fellow participant with cake and watermelon. The river was amazing.
Friday, June 12, 2009
On the 3rd day of our journey, on the beginning of Shabbat, we went to the Kineret which is Israel’s main water source which was actually near our hotel. We went swimming there. After enjoying the Kineret we got ready to have an authentic Shabbat with dinner and dancing right in the center of Jerusalem, not far from the old city. This was a very moving experience especially because we were here for Shabbat. Praying and dancing in that environment made me feel very grateful to be where I was. And something I’ll never forget, it made Shabbat seem very special, more than just a weekly holiday that comes and goes.
Shabbat, Saturday, June 13, 2009
On the 4th day of the journey after Shabbat concluded, we had a Havdalah ceremony outside of our hotel looking out towards Jerusalem. That experience was very powerful and inspiring because after the light was illuminated everyone held hands and very slowly started singing songs and eventually we got much louder. After the ceremony we had an army night coordinated by the IDF soldiers who joined our trip in the 2nd day. With the help of my new friend, the medic Dovi, I did the army crawl through the obstacle course. It was really awesome, that was my favorite part of the day. PS we also learned about a soldier and what he went through to help other people and that was only one example. There are plenty of soldiers who everyday help the people of Israel stay strong. I was very fortunate to meet and come close with real Israeli soldiers.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
On the 5th day of the journey we went to what’s absolutely one of my favorite places in Israel the Kotel, otherwise known as the Wailing Wall. I felt so fortunate to be able to speak to G-d in this very holy place, an experience I’ll never forget. Just like when I arrived in Jerusalem I didn’t yet realize how big of an impact it would make on me as a person, especially a Jewish person. Like one of the participants and later what one of my friends said, “You feel like your in G-d’s office.” It’s an experience you have to partake for yourself because there are not enough words to express how special and powerful it is. Before heading to the Bedouin Tents for dinner and campfire and sleepover, we toured Jerusalem the rest of the day. The sleepover was a neat experience to see how Bedouins live.
Monday, June 15, 2009
On the 6th day of the trip we went to Masada, which was the hottest day. It was almost unbearable for me, but it was an amazing site to see at the same time. Then we cooled off by going to the Dead Sea. This was my favorite part of the day and one of my favorite parts of the trip as well because I felt free, especially for someone who uses a wheelchair this is very hard to come by. I floated on my own with no help, during this brief and precious time. Because it was so salty, I could pray and meditate as well as be comfortable without a worry in the world.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
On our 7th day of the journey, we went to do a mitzvah, or a good deed for the rehabilitation center in Israel, similar to Shriners Hospital in downtown Chicago. The experience was kind of boring because we had to shred paper but also important cause I got a free trip to Israel, and it was only right to give back for this trip. After we did the charity work, we got to try out some of the equipment. My favorite part of the day was trying out the scooters. I took a lot of pictures and felt like a kid again. I liked it because it supported me more than a regular scooter, sometimes its good to feel like a little kid in the right environment. Then we went to one of the next important places in Israel, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. If you’ve never been there, I recommend you go because it’s a powerful experience even though it may be emotional. Some of the exhibits are hard to explain, but have helped me understand the Holocaust more than taking a semester course. Finally we briefly walked through an illuminated room saying children’s names and ages that perished in the Holocaust. I felt like their spirits were with me. Even though I didn’t know them, this was very emotional and powerful for me.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I’m sad to say that this was essentially our groups last day in Israel but on the upside, I believe it was one of the most powerful and special days of the whole trip, because I was able to plant my roots in the Holy Land of Israel, and dedicate a tree to anyone I want. The person who I dedicated the tree to, my uncle Steve, would get better, due to the fact that I prayed and planted the tree in such a beautiful and holy place. I was proud to leave a piece of me in Israel before concluding our trip. The last tourist attraction was Independence Hall where Israel was born and declared a state. This made me proud to be a Jew and thankful for being able to experience this trip. Before heading in the plane, we had a final banquet and awards, kind of like in camp. Some of the experiences both with people and the places we saw weren’t always easy, but I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I’m so proud to be Jewish. I hope all the best for all of you as I return from my journey. No matter where I am in the world, you are all important to me.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the wonderful staff that made it possible for me to experience Israel like my peers.
Also a big Thanks to Lindsy because with out her there is a big chance I wouldn’t have been able to go on a trip like this. As a result of the trip I believe our friendship has gotten stronger and I am so grateful for the new people I met there.
Something else that I feel so grateful for was to have the opportunity to have Witness and celebrate Brent and Kristina’s wedding with them. They are perfect for each other. Before I end this post, I have some sad news. Unfortunately Norine has decided to move out at the end of August. Yes I am disappointed but I know not everything is easy when you move out and the bumps in the road, is what makes us stronger.
To end on a happy note you can go to my face book to see my Israel pictures, the wedding pictures, Matt and Andrew’s Graduation, what Total Link has been up to and more summer fun! Yes I just got a face book and I love it. Thank you Jamie and Lindsy for helping me with this!
PS Good luck Matt and Andrew!