Gerda Vogel Marx 8th Grade Israel Experience Class of 2018: Part 2
Levine Academy

Class of 2018: Week Two in Israel

Day Seven: March 18, 2018 - Hiking Mount Tzefachot in Eilat, snorkeling and banana boating in Eilat, and rolling in sand dunes

On Sunday, we went on our longest and hardest hike of the trip called Mount Tzefachot. When we got to the top we were super tired, but the amazing view was totally worth it. The view overlooked the Red Sea, part of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. After that we went to the Red Sea to snorkel. The biodiversity of the Red Sea is very interesting and we saw many cool fish. Then we went banana boating on the Red Sea. It was so much fun and probably one of the best things we've done so far. In one of the groups, Matthew got thrown off the boat and landed twenty feet away. We then got treated to Aroma, Israeli Starbucks, which is absolutely amazing. After that we went to the sand dunes and had so much fun. We all got covered with sand after rolling around. We then went back to Kibbutz Keturah to have a BBQ dinner with a few friends we made at the kibbutz. Then after a long and fun day we crashed in our beds and went to sleep.

Lily G. and Eva L. 

Day Eight: March 19, 2018 - Into the Negev

On Monday, we woke up at six in the morning to go on a 4 mile bike ride right outside of the kibbutz. The weather was perfect since we biked early in the morning while it was beautiful and sunny. We came to a sign that said Jordan was only ten feet away from us. It was so cool to be right on the border of another country. After we got back, we packed our stuff and loaded the bus to leave Kibbutz Keturah. Then we went to a mountain range and went repelling. Repelling is when you go down the side of a mountain. We all got harnessed up and got to walk down the mountain. Then we went to the observatory to look at the view and learn about Ilan Ramon, the first Jewish and Israeli astronaut, who died in the Columbia space shuttle accident in 2003. Then we got back on the bus and headed to the next kibbutz we were staying at.

Lily G. and Eva L. 

Day Nine: March 20, 2018 - Ein Ovdat National Park, David Ben Gurion's Home and Tomb 

To start off the day we drove to Ein Avdat, a national park located in the Negev. It was very beautiful, full of waterfalls and pools. The water is very dirty so no swimming, but Rabbi Katzman's GoPro fell in the water so he had to go for a little "swim" to get it back! The hike was tiring with lots of stairs and ladders, but when we finally made it to the top it was very worth it. The view was amazing and had lots of mountains and bright blue skies. We then headed to Ben Gurion's tomb, located at the Tzin school which we then toured. We had fun meeting the Israeli kids from this school and learning about some of the environmental research taking place on this campus such as experiments with cultivating algae. Ben Gurion loved the desert and his dream was to have a school there from the ages preschool until University. His dream was accomplished and many students attend his school today. After our tour was over we had a yummy Falafel lunch, and headed back onto the bus for the long ride to Jerusalem! When we got close to Jerusalem our tour guide, Kobi, had us close all the blinds on the bus. All the people who have never seen Jerusalem then closed their eyes, and were guided to a ledge overlooking all of Jerusalem. Then they opened their eyes and were amazed at their first site of the beautiful city. We then took pictures and did Kiddush. Shortly after, we arrived for a tour of the biggest synagogue in the world, the home to the Belz Hasidic sect. It was the most amazing synagogue we had all ever seen. The synagogue has 10,000 families and they are under construction to be able to house more. It was so interesting learning about this Hasidic group from an actual member of the Belz community. We then finally arrived at the Kings Hotel, we had an amazing dinner and quiet night.

Hali K. and Kaya H. 

Day Ten: March 21, 2018 - Jerusalem in Bibical and Modern Times

We started off our day with an amazing tour of the Holy City of David. It was complete with a full walk through Hezekiah's tunnel. We then toured one of the most unique cities in all of Israel, Nachlot. It is known as, Lev Ir or "Heart of the City." It is very unique with the number for Lev being 32 and the city is complete with 32 different neighborhoods. We then took the most DELICIOUS tour of all. We took a guided culinary tour of food from all over the world in the Machane Yehuda market or the infamous "Shuk." We then went back to the hotel, and learned the history of Israel through dance. We then walked to Ben Yehuda Street. We had a full night of shopping and eating. It was a great way to end a great day.

Hali K. and Kaya H. 

Day Eleven: March 22, 2018 - Jerusalem in Biblical and Modern Times

Today started with davening at Robinson's Arch. We felt so connected to God when we led shacharit and the Torah service. Instead of just saying the prayers, we went deeper into the meaning of what we were praying to God. On the other side of where we prayed was the Kotel. Most of us put our heads to the wall and talked to Hashem. We thanked Him for everything we have and things we are blessed with. Underneath the wall were tunnels that we toured. It was so amazing to be somewhere that our ancestors have roamed before us. We learned about how the Temple was made and all the changes that occurred overtime. The difference between then and now is incredible and shows how the Jewish people never give up. After, we went to a viewpoint on Aish Hatorah's rooftop that over looked all of Jerusalem. This also made us realize the difference from when Israel was born to what it is now. Next, we needed to give back to the community by packing food for the needy. We went to an organization named Collel Chabad to complete this mitzvah. We had to wear hairnets and gloves that made us look ridiculous, but it was worth every second. To end the day, we went to Mount Herzl Cemetery. The leaders who fought for Israel's existence laid right in front of us. All of the courageous people who have had an impact on everyone in Israel has made this State a better place.

Jordyn B. and Gabbi. B. 

Day Twelve: March 23, 2018 - Remembering at Jerusalem 

On Friday, we woke up at 7:30 AM, but it felt as if it were 6:30 AM because of the time change. We ate breakfast and then had services in the hotel's Shalom room. After praying we hopped onto the bus and had a memorable experience at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. The museum was full of real artifacts from the Shoah. At the end of the museum, in the room of documented Holocaust victims, two students ran into former New York Jets player who won the Super Bowl, Earl Kristi. He was touring the museum and it was his birthday. After the encounter we headed to the children's hall where different names of children were read aloud through a recording. Our tour guide, Kobi, gave us a speech about tying shoes outside the museum. We learned that no one should be forgotten and that sometimes we need to stop and think about our actions. We then headed to the hotel to get ready for Shabbat at Hakotel.

At first arrival at the kotel we knew what we had to do; dance. Although we were shy and nervous we stood together In the middle of the women's section and sang the words of Mordechai Ben David with all of our hearts. Soon enough we had a circle full of people from all around the world eager to share our simcha. One of the best experiences from our Kabbalat Shabbat at the wall was seeing Raphi's head pop up over the women's section mechitza, while dancing on Kobi's shoulders. Even after thirty minutes of screaming our Jewish anthems and dancing with all of our ruach (spirit), we still continued filling the streets of Jerusalem with our voices as we walked to dinner. After our dancing and long walk to dinner was over, we were completely exhausted and ready to relax and eat! When we came to our Shabbat dinner host's house we were informed that we had to walk up ten floors, and so we went. Finally when we reached the tenth floor and were welcomed by the Brauner family. We sang, and then sang some more and truly had the Shabbat of a lifetime.

Sammy L. and Janey D.