Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 10: April 24, 2012

Day 10: April 24, 2012
Posted by Rabbi Shena 

After a short overnight flight from Poland, we landed in Tel Aviv Sunday morning and and have been sprinting around Israel ever since.

Our group has been wonderfully supportive of one another and in great spirits throughout.  Since landing at 5 AM Sunday, we have:

  • Prayed the Shechianyu prayer from Mount Scopus in Jerusalem from where we could see the Old City, Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock.

  • Toured Jerusalem and visited the Kotel (Western Wall).

  • Explored the Jerusalem market (Machane Yehuda), where we ate falafel and shwarma and haggled for deals.

  • Spent the night near Arad in the Judean Desert where we rode camels and learned about the Bedouin way of life.

  • Slept in a Bedouin Tent

  • Rose at 4:30 AM to climb Masada and watch the sunrise.

  • Hiked through David's Stream and swam in a natural spring.

  • Descend to the lowest point on earth to float in the Dead Sea.

  • Relaxed overnight at a Kibbutz near the Kineret (Sea of Galilee).

Today, we spent the morning exploring the mystical city of Tzfat.  Tzfat is one of the four Holy Cities of Israel.  It is a beautiful, small town in the northern part of the country.  Since the 16th century, it has been a center of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah.  
It was really wonderful learning about the history of Tzfat and exploring various mystical ideas.  While sitting on a staircase in Tzfat, the participants discussed some deep concepts regarding tikkun olam, repairing the world, and how we first must focus on repairing ourselves.  

After such deep conversations, it was time for lunch and shopping. Tzfat is home to hundreds of artisans who make beautiful jewelry and Jewish ritual objects.  I think we did our part to support Israel's economy this afternoon.

Later in the day, we went for a bike ride in the Hula Valley, where we learned about this special place where 700 million birds fly through while migrating between continents.

Israel's Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror began tonight.  This evening we drove to Netanya, Cincinnati's Sister City, where the participants met their Israeli hosts.  Then the MOTL participants and hosts met in Netanya's town square for a community wide Yom Ha Zikaron ceremony.  Our very own Lily helped lay a wreath in honor of the fallen, as part of the public ceremony.  Nice job, Lily!  The ceremony ended with a communal singing of Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah.  I got chills remembering that less than a week ago, we participated in another communal singing of Hatikvah at the conclusion of the ceremony at Auschwitz.  The experience was at once incredibly similar to the previous week, and entirely different as it was being sung tonight on Israeli soil in the Jewish homeland.

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