By Matt Mcoy
Day 5... Half way there :( We started off the day with the most important meal of the day... Just kidding I didn't make it to breakfast. I'm assuming it was solid. This day was pretty serious so I'm gonna have to lay off the jokes a little.
We were off to Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum) and we had a tour guide named Larry. Now Larry was a man from New Jersey and reminds you of the guy whose at Einstein Bagels at 8 on a Sunday morning. However, he led us on an incredible tour where we got to observe and experience the realm of what those that went through the Holocaust lived in. The design of the museum was that to mimic the experience, it was cramped and you started off with Jews in Eastern Europe, to the rise of the Nazi party, to the relocation to the ghettos, To the death camps, and lastly to liberation. It was really a site to see. I will keep these memories and stories with me forever! We must never forget!
We were then off to the Shuk. We were told to buy a certain item for a picnic the next day and to buy a secret Moses (secret Santa) gift. I got to try the schwarma, it was dank. The Shuk was so crowded since it was Friday afternoon and people where getting items for Shabbat. I didn't even understand what what the sellers were saying (it made it really hard to put our Jewish bargaining power to use)... I never felt more like a tourist in my life.
We came back and changed for Shabbat. We looked so fresh and so clean as we walked to the Western Wall. I don't think Trump built this one. Going to the Western Wall for Shabbat services was truly inspiring! To be there with many other Birthright groups singing and dancing together was very memorable, and we were all excited to hear we would be coming back again on Sunday. #SundayFunday
Afterwords we walked back and had Shabbat dinner. We had chicken for dinner and this was so fire 🔥🔥🔥. We then had a farbrengen (don't worry I don't know what that means either) and we played a quick game and then exchanged secret Moses presents (guess what mine was...🍻)it was a great time just to hang out with staff and the Rabbi.
Then it was Layla tov time...
Sent from my iPhone
Day four... We're back. Sorry about the hiatus, Shabbat got the best of us. #TeamNoPhone. Also rabbi tried to replace me, but to no avail! #CantStopWontStop
Again our day started off with breakfast, however I slept in too long (you could probably guess why) and didn't make it. I heard it was pretty good.
We were off to the Mikvahs. Woot. The men and women were separated. For the men, we had an overly enthusiastic Jew in Tzvat explain the meaning and significance behind using the Mikvahs. In In the most simplest sense, it's used as a way to refresh and restart, physically and spiritually.
The women (not that I would know) had a similar experience, however theirs was geared more towards the function of a mikvah for a woman and for family purity. We learned something very interesting... If a community only has enough money to build a synagogue, buy a Torah, or build a mikvah, they should build a mikvah before the others. They also had an opportunity to meditate.
Afterward, we hiked to the top of Tzvat. I then realized I did not need to go to Israel for the Israel experience, all I had to do was use a stair master machine. Literally, the stairs never ended.
We were going to get lunch once we were at the top of tzfat, but then we realized everything was closed due to Israel's Independence Day. So we got burgers (Very Israeli Cuisine)
To the Jordan river we went. We were put into groups and got to ride the Kayaks on the river... It was lit. Many of us attacked each other and many of us went overboard (some more than others). I didn't know how to row the boat and we kept crashing into trees. Ouch.
After nearly dying in the Rapids (not really) we had a guest speaker talk to us about terrorism in the Middle East. He was very enthusiastic, but all he did was compare politics to food. I mean it was 7:00, and we were very hungry. Probably not the nicest thing to do to college students.
We had another buffet dinner (which was fire) and we all hung out at the hotel because we had to get up early the next morning for the Holocaust Museum. Tune in next time. #McCoyReturned
By: Matt McCoy,
Day 3. It's still lit. Thank Hashem Rabbi is such a cavalier and let us sleep in until 7:30 because we were really tired. Parents you ought to be impressed, we actually woke up early.
After our buffet breakfast, we went to the Mitzpeh Gadot Valley and learned about the geography of Israel. Afterword visiting a second lookout, we went to the Syrian Border. Our tour guide went over the threats of ISIS and the impact of the war in Syria on Israel. It was very informative, and the perspective was far different from what the media typically portrays.
At the Syrian border there were old bunkers that we were able to enter. I went in with a group of ten plus a flashlight. It was tight, dark, and it felt like something out of Scooby-Doo.
Afterword, we took a long bus ride to lunch. However, we totally forgot it was Memorial Day, and that most shops and restaurants were closed. But everything turned out okay, because we found a plaza with several options from shwarma to burgers, and I had some delicious sushi for about 6 dollars or roughly 20 shekles.
Back on the bus! We still had access to our "default" wifi! We drove all the way up a mountain and got to see another lookout against Lebanon and learned about the threats of Hizbollah. We had a leader in a kibbutz by the border of Israel before Syria and Lebanon. He spoke about the situation from his perspective, sharing his views bluntly with no political correctness. The wind was blowing hard and the ceiling tiles were moving throughout the building. His kibbutz had a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding land. Being elevated at the border of Israel, the kibbutz has the unique feature of being the only place you can simultaneously see Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Night rolled around and it was nice to celebrate Israel's Independence Day. You know what that means... 🍻! There was a concert in the center of the city, people everywhere spraying silly string and foam. We went to a club at the end of the night, which was reserved for only Birthright-ees.
I'm stoked for what tomorrow has in store!
By Matt McCoy,
*Alarm rings* It's only 6 am and time for breakfast. Good thing we all made it after all we are college students waking up early is not our strong point!
The bus was filled with glee when we discovered the free bus WiFi, which was appropriately named "default."
Jokes aside, in the morning we went to an Air Force base, the First Wing of Ramah David. We experienced a brilliant and memorable ceremony for Yom Haatzmeut (Israel's Memorial Day), for those who have fallen since Israel gained its independence.
Jokes are back. We drove for what seemed like an eternity to Mount Gilboa. On the bus, many of us were given the opportunity to put on Tefilin. It was lit. On the mountain, we heard an analogy comparing foam in a beer glass to perspectives on Israel. It made me crave a cold one... To be continued.
We're back! We just just visited an olive press and got to see various ways to use olives. They had everything from bread and flavored olive oils to cosmetic products. We also all got to try an exfoliating olive based soap that made our hands softer than a baby's bottom. Olive-it was great. (See what I did there?) Okay I can't lie, I didn't come up with that pun... I'm not that funny. Lunch was delicious, we had some solid Israeli food (falafel, schnitzel, shawarma) and coffee.
Now for the highlight of the day.... we climbed what seemed like four Grand Canyons mixed with the Rocky Mountains in a matter of a couple hours. Some fell, some hurt their ankles, others (well, really just myself) went completely off course to take pictures in a cave. Luckily, we all survived...
At nightfall, there was a very unique moment as we drove back to our hotel. I'll explain in a moment, but first let me give some background. Unlike America's Memorial Day, which is celebrated with sales and shopping sprees, Israel's Memorial Day is a very serious and somber time. Since almost all Israeli citizens serve in the IDF, unfortunately most everyone has some personal experience with losing loved ones in the fight for Israel's safety, be it friends or family. In commemoration for those who have fallen, people wear a sticker with a symbolic flower over their shirt pockets all day, and sirens are simultaneously blared throughout the state at 11 am and 8 pm. On our way back that night to our hotel in Tiverias, the sirens went off. At this moment everything in the country froze. People stopped their cars where they were, got out, and stood in silence. Likewise, our bus pulled over and we all got out and stood in silence. It was a chilling moment. The siren at night was one minute, and the siren the following morning was two minutes, as holidays in Israel progress from sundown to sundown just as Jewish holidays.
Once we got to our hotel, we took long needed showers and had a phenomenal buffet style dinner with an incredible desert selection. After dinner we did a few activities and then had some time to schmooze at the hotel bar.
What a day! On our way to day 3.
By Matt McCoy
We began our journey with a long flight on our luxurious Lufthansa airline! After what seemed like traveling forever, a layover in Germany, and a few funky frozen airplane meals, we finally arrived home to Israel.
We met our lovely Israeli staff and the eight Israeli soldiers who will be joining us for the rest of our trip. We are still trying to understand what they are saying.
We then drove two hours North to our hotel in Tiberius to have a delicious dinner with many options. Afterward, we did some ice breakers to get to know each other better. Finally, we headed to our rooms and got some much needed sleep-- or alternatively stayed up until 5 am watching the Miami Heat game.
We are super excited to begin our tours and can't wait for what's in store!
Mayanot 415 meets up at MIA
As we are sitting in the airport anxiously waiting to board out flight to Frankfurt and then to Israel ;) Students are mingling and getting to know each other everyone is excited to embark on their "Birthright" journey and see what all their friends have been talking about!
We gathered at the gate for a quick orientation and icebraker and got to know each other a bit better.
Seems like we have a well traveled group as we each shared our most exciting adventures up to this point. Birthright is sure to surpass them all!
Oh wait we gotta board the plane! Talk to you later ;)
By Chaim Lipskier (Rabbi)
In preparation of our awesome 10 day trip we held a pre trip orientation. We got a glimpse into the daily schedule, met fellow trip participants and asked all the questions we had in anticipation of the trip.
If you didn't get a chance to make it to the orientation you can still check out the powerpoint & booklet we gave out by clicking on the images below. You can also view a short video about the trip.
Looking forward to the best 10 days of our lives :)
By: Chaim Lipskier (Rabbi)
As we get ready for the trip of a lifetime that is Taglit-Birthright Israel, we know that there are many of you that would have loved to be on this trip, so we decided to keep an updated blog of our trip and to let you enjoy the journey with us.
Please check back daily for updates and hopefully soon you might be able to go to Israel on your own!
Are you on the trip? Please let your friends & family know that they can follow our trip! Just tell them to visit www.jewishucf.com/israelblog
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