By: Coralie Morin
Waking up at 4 am is never easy but hiking up the Masada made it all worth it. Before dawn, Mayonat 338 packed up the buses and drove our way over to the ancient heights of the MAsada. We made our way up the steep steps and rock paths and finally made it to the top! The group gathered as we learned about the history of this amazing Israeli landmark and watched the sun rise. Later that day we ate lunch and drove to the salty waters of the Dead Sea. Everyone walked down to shore and floated about in the water. It was fun to cover ourselves in the Dead Sea mud and hang out by the water. This was a great end to the trip and I know I'll have to come back to this country and experience even more! Thank you to Mayanot and Birthright Israel for this incredible gift!
By: Carly Steiner
Mayonot 338 had an amazing time experiencing the coasts of Israel. We started our day off with a long walk from Jaffa to the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv and headed into the city to learn about its origin. It was so interesting to learn about Tel Aviv's history right in same room where it all started. Later that day we drove into the Bedouin settlement where a local taught us about their way of life which is based off of hospitality and minimalism. That night we slept in a genuine Bedouin tent and roasted marshmallows around a bonfire. We woke up to amazing activity that morning. Camels were waiting by the dozen in the desert and each one of us went for a camel ride as the sun rose. Overall this day was filled with new cultural knowledge and the amazing sights that the city of Tel Aviv had to offer.
By: David Raza
Today we experienced Mt. Hertzel, I got the privilege to see the tombstones of many great Israeli heroes and also got to leave my birthright wristband on Micheal Levines grave. Michael was a lone soldier from Pennsylvania who died in the second Lebanon War. That was a huge honor! After that we went to the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial museum, which was a sad but enlightening experience which I learned a lot at and appreciated greatly.
We are now headed for a great night out in Tel Aviv and I look forward to the Israeli night life.
By: Carley Booth
I've spent plenty of Shabbat nights at Chabad and in my hometown, but having Shabbat in Israel was a completely different experience. Everything about it was incredible. The fact that you're in the heart and soul of Judaism makes it that much special. We lit candles at the hotel and walked as a group to a synagogue in Jerusalem. The energy in the synagogue was very different to what I'm used to. The boys were separated from the girls as everyone engaged in prayer and song. When I walked in, women all around were dancing and praying with smiles on their faces. There were babies and other young children at the Shabbat service as well. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced. We walked back to the hotel on the holy streets of Jerusalem and had Shabbat dinner with each other. It was a Shabbat I'll never forget!
By: Andrew Adler
Admittedly, I'm not a very religious person. I never felt connected but through this birthright trip, I've learned so much about Judaism. One of my greatest experiences was having the opportunity to go to Western Wall for my bar mitzvah. I was able to share the moment with the friends I made on the trip and with other people on birthright. The moment my bar mitzvah was over, I felt closer to my friends and also my faith.
We explored the city of Jerusalem and it was interesting to see that while it is a historical city, it also has a lot of similarities back home. For instance, as we were walking around, we ended up by a school yard with young children playing games and having fun. At night we attended a traditional Shabbat that was an experience like no other. As soon as we got to the Synagogue, we were welcomed and engaged in the festivities. The loud drumming along with the members singing built excitement for myself as well as everyone else in my group. Afterwards, a couple of the members approached us and started singing to us and wished us good travels. It was truly a remarkable experience.
By: Carley Booth and Kadie Pearlson
Today we visited the old city in Israel, Tzfat. We walked the holy streets that are filled with history and sacred attributes that pull at your heartstrings. The crisp, cold, and fresh air from the mountain top was simply glorifying. The connection we felt to Judaism was extremely strong today. The locals opened up their small, enchanting city to us and made us feel welcomed. We walked around the old city with mesmerized eyes at the peaceful life that the locals live. When walking through the alleys in the city, we saw the magnificent view of the mountains that were ahead. Throughout our tour, we saw young girls playing guitar whilst singing familiar American songs.
As a group, we separated the boys from the girls and learned about the mikvah, a religious practice in which one releases fears, filth, and negativity. Speaking for all of us, this was extremely gratifying. For the girls, our speaker was a woman named Sarah who shared her beautiful story of why the mikvah is so meaningful and necessary in her life. I can't put into words how moving and spiritually magical our day was in Tzfat. After our city tour, we went on the bus for three hours and arrived at our next destination; Jerusalem. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
By: Ryan Firestone
Today we met members of the IDF! It was cool to get to learn about them on a personal level and see how they treated us like family right away. Later on we rode in Jeeps, hiked the Banyas, and visited the misgav am Kibbutz that overlooks Syria, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean Sea which were just as beautiful as the pictures. However, I learned that pictures don't do Israel justice. It doesn't capture the Jewish pride, companionship, cohesiveness and especially our indomitable spirit.
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