Jordan has a strange, haunting beauty and a sense of timelessness. Dotted with the ruins of empires once great, it is the last resort of yesterday in the world of tomorrow.
King Hussein I
Jordan has a strange, haunting beauty and a sense of timelessness. Dotted with the ruins of empires once great, it is the last resort of yesterday in the world of tomorrow.
King Hussein I
David and I were up early to get ready to cross the border into Jordan. We were given adorable to-go breakfasts and our driver was right on time at 7am. We drove to Israel’s southernmost border with Jordan and waited to cross. While we were waiting we chatted with some Israelis inquiring about birthright and at 8am we were let in the gates.
The passport guy took one look at my passport and screamed “that smile!” He cracked up and showed the other person in the room with him who started laughing. He told me it was a great photo and let us through immediately. There were many different security checkpoints like at an airport. In one of the lines we were talking to the people in front of us who said they’re from NYC and I asked where. One of them said she lived in Chelsea and I mentioned that I used to do trapeze over there. To make a long story short, I knew their daughter and we knew some mutual friends involved with flying trapeze. It really is a small world. After a bit of time we finally crossed the border into Jordan!
We met up with our guide, Mohammed, and bussed for 2.5 hours to Petra. I was exhausted and it was really tough to stay awake during the drive. We pit stopped at a great lookout point and were first exposed to the Arabian feel of Jordan from the clothes to the jewelry to the tchotchkes.
The journey to Petra begins in the Bab as-Siq, a gravel road running alongside Wadi Musa. There are some major monuments on this path, as it is all part of the necropolis, with the two most well-known being the The Obelisk Tomb and Bab as-Siq Triclinium. The Obelisk Tomb (upper half), naturally, contains burial sites. The Bab as-Siq Triclinium (lower half), was used as a dining room where feats were held in honor of the dead.
To reach Petra, you have to walk through the Siq, an immense, breathtaking gorge that make you feel so small and insignificant. It’s insane to think that tectonic forces caused the dramatic split in these rocks. After the split, the waters of Wadi Musa flowed in, which gradually rounded the sharp rock edges into smooth curves. We hopped from shady spot to shady spot all while trying to avoid the horse poop and all the nasty flies that surrounded it.
At one point, Mohammad told us to look up at a tree wedged between the rocks, way high up. We couldn’t see it so he told us to back up. We all backed up and couldn’t see it. Then he told us to look to our left – and there was the Treasury. We gasped. He did such an amazing job of surprising us with that view.
The treasury was built 2000 years ago, and when it was found, it was in perfect shape with the exception of the third pillar. Pretty remarkable.
We continued to walk around Petra, viewing family plots and royal plots. It was all unbelievable. We walked down the beautiful Cardo Maximus on our way to the 900-stair Monastery climb. Keep in mind, it was 108 degrees (42.2 C). We were drenched and dehydrated. I was a bit nauseous from lunch and lack of water, so half of the climb up was pretty miserable. Halfway up I bought another liter and a half of water and felt much better. Our poor legs were getting such a workout.
We made it to the Monastery and were in awe – no one was there, it was just us and this ginormous monument. We were able to climb inside the monastery – David climbed up first to pull me up and John, our new American friend, lifted me up. The inside was really cool – both in the sense of “wow this is neat” and “wow a break from the sun.” To be somewhere so isolated, alone with this gigantic Monastery that was 200 years older than the Treasury, was remarkable. I was in awe.
We decided to climb up to the very top breathtaking viewpoint. We could see the preserved city in broad daylight with the Jordanian flag swaying above us. It was truly amazing.
After completing the Monastery steps, we started on another path to the royal burial site – the site of the most important king after Mohammad. By then it was about 18:00 and starting to get a little shadier, which was a much needed break after 6.5 hours in the sweltering heat. Petra had completely emptied out and we felt like the only people there. We trudged along back to the Treasury to find no one in front of it! It was that much more unbelievable – truly an incredible piece of architecture.
We took off back through the tourist-less gorges and finally made it to our hotel. We were so exhausted, we barely made it to dinner. Halfway through our meal we heard the nightly call to prayers come on the loudspeakers all over the whole city; it was absolutely fascinating.Petra, Jordan David and I were up early to get ready to cross the border into Jordan. We were given adorable to-go breakfasts and our driver was right on time at 7am.
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Our last morning with Birthright. After breakfast, we threw a red ball of yarn around our circle while sharing our most prominent moment from the trip. It was very emotional and it connected us both figuratively and literally. We were such a unique, likeminded group of individuals and the yarn signified that not only are we rooted together, but that our actions affect everyone else. It was really quite moving, and we partook in one last group hug.
We boarded the bus, took our last look at the Sea of Galilee, and began driving to Ben Gurion airport. As we approached the airport, we tearfully sang “Leaving on a Jetplane.” I knew that our Israeli soldiers would be meeting us, so when we walked through the doors I looked all around. I saw no one. Then out of nowhere I heard them yelling and running towards us and somehow got tackled in one (final) big Taglit bear hug. Day = Made. We said our sad goodbyes to the group. It was weird to be at the airport with luggage and not boarding a plane. David and I had to make our way to Eilat somehow, and luckily we were able to get on a train with our Israeli friends who guided us in the right direction.
Unfortunately, by the time we made it to the bus station, we had to wait two hours for our bus to Eilat. David and I wandered around, reflecting on the incredible journey that we’d had thus far. For some reason, we were some of the only non-military people on the bus, which was interesting. If I were anywhere else in the world, I’d be uncomfortable being surrounded by so many guns in such a close vicinity in a country where I didn’t speak the language. That’s not what we are accustomed to in the US but, in Israel, it put me at ease.
We finally got on the bus for our three-hour journey South. It was smooth as could be. During a fifteen minute rest stop this old Israeli lady asked if she could practice her English with me. She told me about how her whole family had been in Israel for as long as they knew. She wanted to tell me her story and explained that when she was a teenager the South was just a land of dirt, and so she mapped out what she wanted her house to look like, laid it in the sand, and put rocks on the corners so that it wouldn’t blow away. She then built that house on the same spot of land and has been there ever since. A pretty touching story indeed. At last, we arrived in Eilat at 23:00 and were thrilled that we were actually able to find our hostel.Our last morning with Birthright. After breakfast, we threw a red ball of yarn around our circle… Our last morning with Birthright. After breakfast, we threw a red ball of yarn around our circle while sharing our most prominent moment from the trip.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
We began the day at Rosh Hanikra, the ocean swept caves of the Mediterranean. The view was absolutely breathtaking. The Bridge and Railway tunnels at Rosh Hanikra are part of the rail tracks Haifa – Beirut – Tripoli that were established by the British Mandate Government during the Second World War. This was done to connect the Israeli and Lebanese rail networks and to establish a continuous rail network from Egypt via Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey to Europe. Today, the tunnels leading have been sealed for fear of intruders.
The big difference between our birthright experience and other groups was that we had the opportunity to complete the Sea to Sea (Yam l’Yam) trek after finishing up the traditional 10-day experience; we hiked from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. Upon arriving at Achziv Beach, we were told to choose a rock that we were to carry with us throughout the trek. This rock was meant to remind us why we were setting out on the path – a spiritual journey, a physical journey, a pilgrimage – whatever it may be, this rock was to be our tangible reminder.
The beginning of our hike was beautiful, from Nahal Kziv to Goren Park to Montfort Castle. The hiking was easy enough, but the heat was a killer. Upon arriving at Goren Park we found ourselves trekking up a cliffside then perching ourselves on cliffs overlooking gorgeous forestry.
We went to our campsite and all took part in making dinner. We had a vast array of food – salads, hotdogs, hamburgers, veggies, potatoes, hummus, tahini. After a spectacular sunset, we set up our “beds,” aka a yoga mat and a thin sleeping bag without a pillow, and passed out under the stars. I woke up at 3am to a pack of howling jackals but was so exhausted that I was able to fall right back to sleep.
I awoke with a spider in my hair. Yes, a spider. I was beginning to embrace this new outdoorsy me, although I could do without the spiders. After a nutella-packed breakfast, we visited Hurfesh, a Druze village. We spoke with a member of the community, and he explained that the Druze “believe in all the prophets – Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad.” That days hike was less exciting than the previous day, but fulfilling nonetheless.
The highlight was definitely our visit to the Circassian Village in Rehaniya. While the majority of us unintentionally zoned out (due to fatigue) through the history of the Circassians, we had a delicious homemade meal. We sat down, drank some sweet ginger lemonade, and then an array of food was put in front of us – spicy beets, potato salad, eggplants, carrots, corn salad, warm bread, and noodle soup. We devoured the food, and then learned that that was only our first course. Then they brought out our (entirely dairy-filled) meal – bread stuffed with ricotta (similar to empanadas), something similar to pierogis dipped in a yogurt sauce, and a cheese plate. We could barely move we were so full. But then they brought out some juicy watermelon and we just couldn’t resist.
Stuffed and exhausted, we made our way back to the campsite. By the time we arrived it was pitch black and we had to set up our sleeping areas in the dark. Thanks to Drew, I somehow ended up with a perfectly rockless spot to sleep on. That night was exceptionally cold and, even though I had on sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a buff wrapped around my neck, I could not get warm. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep, however, the view of the stars above me while I was drifting in and out of consciousness was remarkable.
David and I were some of the first up that morning, and the first thing I saw was someone’s very empty food bags spewed across the entire campsite. Turns out, my darling Casey forgot to tightly secure her food before passing out, so a wild boar got into her food. David then went on to tell me that he heard the wild boar growling next to him while he was trying to sleep; he just went deeper into his sleeping bag and tried not to move until the boar went away.
We left to climb Mt. Meron from our campsite at 7:30am and we were climbing straight uphill from the get-go. A very good morning to us all. It was truly a beautiful hike. When we reached the peak, we had a Hebrew naming ceremony for those that didn’t already have one. I chose “Ezraela” which means “God is my help” and David chose “Raphael” meaning “God has healed.” We, as a group, chanted our names in the direction of Tzfat (remember, it’s one of the four holiest cities).
It was a long path down, and an even longer path to our next campsite. With painful shin splints, parts of the rocky path were tough but manageable. After 9.5 hours of hiking, we finally reached our campsite for the night.
We were greeted with watermelon and more importantly…bathrooms! We had a scrumptious pasta dinner and made s’mores by the fire before passing out early.
David woke me up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise on the final day of our trek. As he nudged me awake, I sleepily sat up and felt something itching my chest. I looked down to find a huge creepy-crawly nuzzled between my boobs! Within seconds I ripped off my sweatshirt and stood there topless laughing at myself (covering myself as much as possible, of course). We got ready, ate breakfast and took off for our fourth, and final, hike.
It was straight downhill for a while, so we moved pretty quickly before coming to a pretty little lake surrounded by some cliffs and ruins. We kept on trudging, entered a valley, and continued our trek. It was uphill for a while, and then we were virtually scaling the rocks which was just incredible. I was loving every second of it. It was brutally hot, to the point where all of the trails got shut down due to the intense heat.
Lucky us, we were stuck in the middle of the trail already and, thus, had to complete it no matter the heat index. We were drenched in sweat, bodies aching, and soaked in the view. When the end was finally in site, some of the group jogged there … until we realized there was a barbed wire fence blocking us in. We couldn’t figure out how to exit the trail. We looked around and realized that the only way out was straight up. So straight up we went. Another fence. This time, the barbed wired fence had a very small hole in it. Well, there was our solution. We crouched down, one by one, and slid through the tiny gap in the barbed wire fence.
We ended at the Sea of Galilee. Remember the rock that we chose four days prior? Here, we threw it in the water. Despite the heatwave, we completed Yam l’Yam and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
We then relaxed in the hot springs in Tiberias. We immediately went into the mineral water pool, which stung our scrapes from the hike but felt so lovely. From there we jumped in the main pool and ultimately settled in the outdoor mineral pool, which felt like a hot tub. After a relaxing evening, and another great meal, we sat outside to discuss the trek.
Before doing so, we realized it was our guide, Itay’s, 13th birthright trip, so we gave him a Birthright Bar Mitzvah; it was so heartwarming. After a beautiful goodbye sunset, we took off for the hotel and were so excited for our first post-trek shower.Sea to Sea (Yam l’Yam) We began the day at Rosh Hanikra, the ocean swept caves of the Mediterranean. The view was absolutely breathtaking.
The longest journey begins with a single step, not with the turn of an ignition key. That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t much matter whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.
We awoke early to go to Tzfat, the place from which Jewish Mysticism emerged. Tzfat sits on a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee and is considered one of the four “holy” cities in Israel (along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias). The city was breathtaking with little cobblestone streets and alleyways. In a way, I felt transported back in time.
We had a talk about the Kabbalah, walked through markets, attempted to visit the Ashkenazi Synagogue (which was closed), and finally recouped at The Ascent of Tzfat – a place for people seeking Jewish spirituality and enlightenment. Here, we were taken to the “Kabbalah Cave” where we discussed various dilemmas the state of Israel faces (ie. the story of Gilad Shalid).
It was a relaxing day, and an early night, as it was Shabbat.
Saturday proved to be just as relaxing. We slept in, ate lunch, and walked to the tomb of RaMBaM – a Spanish, Sephardic Jewish philosopher, astronomer, and influential Torah scholar of the Middle Ages. Men and women were separated when viewing the tomb, as it was a site of prayer. From there, we went to the Leonardo Hotel to hang out by the Sea of Galilee. We soaked up the sun and rested our legs, knowing that the next few days were going to be tough on the body.Tzfat http://wp.me/s4eWRt-tzfat We awoke early to go to Tzfat, the place from which Jewish Mysticism emerged. Tzfat sits on a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee and is considered one of the four “holy” cities in Israel (along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias).
In Israel, free men and women are every day demonstrating the power of courage and faith. Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that. Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tyranny and unrest.
The next morning we went to the Gadot Lookout and Memorial, which was the site of a Syrian military base until 1967. We learned that Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy that infiltrated the Syrian government under the name of Kamel Amin Thaabet, helped enable Israel to easily capture the Golan Heights during the Six Day War. Feigning sympathy, Cohen convinced the Syrian military generals to plant Eucalyptus trees around their bases in order to provide shade from the blazing sun for the soldiers – those huge trees were then used as a target so that, during the Six Day War, the Israeli army knew exactly where the Syrian military bases were when they carried out their air strikes. The Golan was captured within two days. Syrian intelligence eventually caught onto Cohen by tracing his radio transmissions into Israel. He was found guilty of espionage and publicly hanged in the Marjeh Square in Damascus on May 18, 1965; his remains have yet to return to Israel.
The experience of being at the Gadot Lookout, a base that was also surrounded by mines, was really neat. It was strange knowing that we were standing on what used to be Syrian soil, all while looking down into an Israeli valley and left to the mountains of Lebanon.
Following the lookout, we hiked through a canyon to Nahal Zavitan. The hike began on a flat path with non-descript surroundings. All of a sudden we reached a canyon that was so green and beautiful; the vegetation was amazing. After virtually scaling rocks and walking in little caves, we reached a beautiful oasis with a waterfall and pretty pink flowers. It was hot. We jumped into the river and swam to the waterfall. So refreshing.
Before we were to hang out by the Sea of Galilee, we went to Mount Bental (an inactive volcano) for a panoramic view of the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon. The view was stunning as we looked out into three separate countries: Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. On certain days, one can see and hear explosions happening in Damascus during this horrid civil war. Mount Bental was the site of one of the largest tank battles in history during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and a key strategic point for the IDF due to its advantageous viewpoint. It was during this war that the Syrians attacked the Golan Heights with 1,500 tanks and 1,000 artillery pieces. Israel only had 160 tanks and 60 artillery pieces. It was the Syrians who retreated in the end; Israel won the Golan. The expansive valley stretching between Mount Bental and Mount Hermon became known as the Valley of Tears, as it was the major battle site during the Yom Kippur War.
That afternoon we were taken to the Cocohut Beach Resort in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee to go tubing and relax for a while.
Our evening ended with a guest musician – Gilad Vital of Shotei Ha’nevu’ah and Pshutei Ha’am – who told a fascinating story of his youth. Through his music, he discussed his family story. We learned that his grandparents were separately taken to Auschwitz (and killed) during the Holocaust, leaving behind two young children: his father and his aunt. Their babysitter went on to put the two children in a covenant so that they would be saved. They were saved, and Vital was born. His songs were emotional, full of both sorrow and passion.The Golan Heights The next morning we went to the Gadot Lookout and Memorial, which was the site of a Syrian military base until 1967.
Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.
I was up with the sun after a short but deep sleep in the tent, despite virtually sleeping on the ground. We had a quick breakfast and went to our canyon hike at Ein Ovdat. The gorges of the canyon were a different, and welcomed, change of scenery from the desert that surrounds Masada. We had assumed that we were walking through the canyon. And we did…until it was time to go straight up. Through a series of ladders and stairs, we made it to the very top of the canyon and looked down from where we came. It was stunning.
We headed back to the Bedouin tents for our camel trek. The “Four Humps” rocked the caboose of our camel-chain. We trotted along, laughing and joking around for a bit before riding back to the tents.
Can’t say camel riding is the most comfortable experience in the world, but it’s an experience nonetheless. Naturally, I had to take a selfie…
We departed from the Bedouin village and went to Midreshet Sde Boker, the site of Ben Gurion’s grave. He and his wife are buried on the cliff overlooking the Zin Valley. David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first Prime Minister and is commonly known as Israel’s founding father. On May 14, 1948 it was Ben Gurion who officially proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel and was the first to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence. What’s most interesting though is that after retiring from political life in 1970 Ben Gurion moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev Desert, and spent his final years there trying to fulfill his vision of cultivating the Negev.
After a quick falafel for lunch, and the discovery of guaraná in Israel (!!!), we stopped by a goat farm in the Negev, held baby goats, tasted delicious goat cheese, and reflected with the Israelis (as it was our last time gathered as a group).
Honestly, it sucked. It sucked knowing that seven members of our newfound family were leaving, and I felt like the dynamic just wouldn’t be the same after their departure – their presence, smiles, laughs, and viewpoints would all be sorely missed. We hugged them goodbye and waved to them from the bus as we watched them walk away.
We made it to Netanya, and as soon as we arrived we were greeted with an outstanding sunset right outside my bedroom window. I took in the beauty as I reflected on how I already missed my new Israeli friends.
That night we went out in Tel Aviv, and the Israelis just “happened” to show up in the same place at the same time. Hmmm, I wonder how that happened?! J We all sat around a large table drinking, chatting, and enjoying each others company for what we knew would actually be our last time hanging out together. There was a lot of love and respect going around that table.
We spent the following day in Tel Aviv. We began in Rabin Square, where Yitzhak Rabin, the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated in 1995; he was assassinated by a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who was against the creation and signing of the Oslo Accords (to which he won the Nobel Peace Prize).
We spent the morning wandering around Tel Aviv before ultimately entering Independence Hall – it was at this site that Ben Gurion officially declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (despite being in the midst of a Civil War). The following day began the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Armies from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria all attacked the newly-deemed land of Israel. It wasn’t until 1949 that Israel signed armistices with everyone (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria) except Iraq and Palestine.
After learning quite a bit about the creation of the State of Israel, we headed to Jerusalem Beach to relax on the Mediterranean. The water was beautiful and the sun was shining; it was some much-needed downtime.
We boarded the bus to Tiberias, ate, and had a fascinating talk about the West Bank. As I crawled into bed, exhausted, I rolled over to check the time and saw an urgent email from NYU Buenos Aires. I quickly opened it to discover that my tango buddy from my Buenos Aires program, Zake Morgan, had passed away during his travels in Nicaragua; it’s amazing how truly fragile life is. Zake brought laughter and smiles to everyone he interacted with and will be forever missed. I pray that his parents find peace and comfort in these difficult times.The Four Humps I was up with the sun after a short but deep sleep in the tent, despite virtually sleeping on the ground.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
At breakfast the following morning, David had told me that there was an airstrike 9 miles from our kibbutz – I suppose I sleep like a rock while traveling, as I somehow slept through it. We boarded the bus and headed toward Masada, an ancient fortress in the middle of the desert. It was gruelingly hot as we ascended Masada via the Roman Ramp; we joked about how great our glutes would look after this straight-up climb. Once at the top, the views of the Dead Sea were remarkable.
Masada is considered the place where the last Jewish stronghold against the Roman invasion took place. Herod the Great fortified Masada from 37 to 31 BCE. About 75 years after Herod’s death, with the destruction of the 2nd Temple, a group of Sacarii Jews overtook Masada at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans (around 66 CE). Needless to say, the Romans surrounded Masada and, thus, began a three-year siege of the fortress. As the Roman forces were in the midst of building a ramp up the face of Masada, thereby making capture possible, the Sacarii held their own despite being vastly outnumered. In the year 73 CE, when the ramp was almost complete, the Jews realized that they would no longer be able to defend themselves from the Romans. Elazar ben Yair, one of the leaders of the Sacarii, then decided that they would not let themselves be defeated and enslaved by the Romans. The solution? They decided to commit suicide. Ultimately, the men slit the throats of their wives and children, then the men killed each other so that only one man would have to take his own life. In committing suicide, the Sacarii were unable to give the Romans the gratification of killing and/or enslaving them. According to some, it is said that the Jews even left all of the food and water that they had so that the Romans knew that they didn’t starve and willingly took their own lives rather than being captured.
After learning the history of Masada and exploring the ancient ruins, we descended via the Snake Path. The never-ending Snake Path. It was great on the thighs, tough on the knees, and imprinted on the mind. The Snake Path offered breathtaking views, which made the descent far more bearable.
Next Stop? The Dead Sea at Ein Bokek Beach. It is said that the Sea stings due to such a high salinity content, so I walked in slowly. It didn’t sting. Or so I thought. About one minute in, it started burning like no other. For the ladies that have been, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I looked around to realize that it hit each and every one of us girls at the same time based on the looks on each other’s faces. We thought we would be fine– we’d followed the suggested “no shaving for 24 hours” rule – but no one cared to tell us just how much it would burn. Ouch. We toughed it out and enjoyed the unique experience. I instantly floated, and I found it far more difficult to attempt to stand (which was impossible due to the buoyancy) than to give into floating. Somehow, I was far less graceful than usual and began rolling around in circles uncontrollably until one of the boys stopped me. It was too funny.
After a little over an hour of floating (or, in my case, rolling), we covered ourselves in Dead Sea mud and it felt amazing. Our skin was officially soft as a baby’s butt.
That night, we were to sleep in a Bedouin tent in the Negev Desert! As soon as we pulled up to the site, I knew that it would be quite an exceptional experience, albeit sad because it was our last night with the Israelis.
We tried some Bedouin tea and coffee as a man explained to us what it’s like to grow up a Bedouin – they teach morals (like leadership) through various different acts at various different ages (ie. herding camels for four years, learning how to provide for yourself, etc). After learning about the Bedouin way of life, it was time to eat like one. We entered the tent and sat on the floor in groups of four. A man brought out a huge tray of assorted hummus, salad, rice, chicken, and potatoes. There were, however, no plates or utensils. Instead, we ate with our hands cross-legged on the floor; it was so authentic, hilarious, and fantastic and I’m thrilled that I got to share it with good friends by my side.
After dinner, we had an activity about important Jewish ideals – we were to determine which were most important to our group and shared them to see how they differed from other groups (ie. participating in the Jewish community, believing in God, having a mezuzah, learning Jewish history, etc.). Post-activity our Israeli soldiers put on a skit – “What it’s like to be an Israeli” – and it was just adorable and hysterical, and so fitting. We did a round of trust falls, then moved outside to the bonfire.
We sat, we talked, we sang, we enjoyed each other’s company. We bonded at the bonfire and grew even closer than we already were. By the time I crawled into my sleeping bag at 3am, I was exhausted and passed out despite being in a tent with 40 other people.At breakfast the following morning, David had told me that there was an airstrike 9 miles from our… At breakfast the following morning, David had told me that there was an airstrike 9 miles from our kibbutz – I suppose I sleep like a rock while traveling, as I somehow slept through it.
The IDF is the only thing that separates us from the massacres that our people knew in the past.