Shabbat was a blast in Jerusalem! Yesterday morning we woke up at 6:15 and headed to the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. To most of us who had never been there, it was an extremely powerful experience. To see pictures of the Holocaust was more powerful than any of us had imagined. When we walked through the children’s memorial, we were asked to memorize the name of one of the children who had perished there were a lot of tears. After that we went to the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles and each of us spoke about the amazing people who had risked their lives to save the Jews.
Afterwards, we hiked up Mount Herzl and stopped at each notable grave in the Israeli National Cemetery. We began with Golda Meir, the first woman prime minister, learned about Yonatan Netanyahu. We then heard an empowering story about Michael Levine, a lone soldier from Philadelphia who volunteered for a specialty unit in the IDF and lost his life.
Then we had a very exciting experience at Shuk Machaneh Yehuda. We breathed in the yummy scent of fresh baked good, shawarma, fresh fruit and vegetables. We tried on countless pairs of elephant pants and made many purchases. When we had finished walking around, we hopped on the bus and went to the hotel to change into our Shabbat attire. We walked to the Kotel, lit candles in King David’s Tomb and had a quick and festive Kabbalat Shabbat service on a roof over looking Jerusalem. After the service, we went to the Western Wall for Maariv. The women in our group prayed and then danced in a circle. The men stood by the wall and prayed to themselves. We headed back to hotel, ate dinner, and then sang fun songs. After a long, tiring and meaningful day we went to sleep.
And that was just Friday.
This morning we were excited to sleep until 8:30, and went to the synagogue of our choice for services. Some of us went to an Orthodox synagogue named The Great Synagogue, and others went to the Conservative Synagogue. On the walk back we shared our differing experiences. Praying in Jerusalem moved some of us to tears. We went back to the hotel, ate lunch, rested, and then went to the park. While some of us sat in the shade enjoying the weather, others participated in a heated game against the Panamanians. We won! Then we went back to the hotel, ate dinner followed by a ruach filled song session organized by Noam, Aaron and Eviatar and Havdalah. After Shabbat we walked to Ben Yehuda Street! We bought gifts for family members, tried new foods (Israeli Kosher McDonalds), and saw countless Judaic stores. We walked back and are now going to sleep. Laila tov.
End of week one!!!
Sam, Aaron, Morah Amalya, Nurse Carolyn and the rest of the OBM (One Big Mishpuchah)