My Israel Experience!
3 years ago Sarah Strent 0
All my life, I have heard stories of how inspiring and life-changing a trip to Israel was. Little did I know how accurate they were. My family has waited years to travel to Israel, mostly because my sister was too young. This year, we decided to visit for two reasons. One being my sister’s bat mitzvah and two being a group from my shul was organizing a tour to Israel. One of the reasons why this trip was so special was because I had my shul friends, who I have grown up with and are extremely close with. My family arrived in Israel a few days early, so we could visit Tel Aviv. I was blown away by how beautiful the city was and how blue the sea looked. A few days later, we headed to Jerusalem to meet up with the rest of our tour. From the first activity at Mt. Scopus, I knew that this would be the trip of a lifetime. Words cannot describe how proud I felt to be Jewish! That day, we went to King David’s tomb, a place where people of all faiths believe to be a holy site. The Kotel was a sight that made our emotions run wild. For many including me, it was our first time. For others, they hadn’t been to Israel in over 40 years. I couldn’t believe that after all the years I spent in Hebrew School learning about Jerusalem and the Kotel, I was standing here. Jerusalem has so much history which goes back hundreds of thousands of years. It is the birthplace of the Torah. It is where the Matriarchs, Kings, and Shepard’s originated from. It is our Holy Land. It made me feel a strong sense of unity. Jews regardless of their background came together to pray. It is a sight and feeling I will never forget. Throughout our time in Jerusalem, we visited many places including the City of David, tunnels from the Old City, Ammunition Hill, Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea, Eretz Bereshit (camel riding), Chevron, Morat Hamachpaila, ziplining, and Yad Vashem (Holocaust museum). I really enjoyed riding camels, walking in hip-high water tunnels, swimming in gorgeous waterfalls, ziplining on the longest zip in the Middle East, walking around Masada and celebrating my sister’s bat mitzvah, and experiencing the chaos of the Shuk (marketplace).
One activity that really stuck out to me was visiting the town of Sderot. At first, I was nervous because I knew it wasn’t the safest town in Israel. Once we walked to the Chabad, however, I felt so safe. We learned that the people in Sderot have adapted to running into bomb shelters in a matter of 15 seconds, any time of the day. Although it sounds very scary, we learned that more and more Jews are moving into the town because they want to show Gaza that us, the Jewish people, can overcome challenges and will never give up Israel. Visiting Sderot made me extremely grateful for all that I have, like a safe community where we never have to worry about bomb threats or terror. I feel connected to Sderot in a way and will always have a special place for the community and Chabad of Sderot.
I have never experienced a Shabbos as inspiring as the one we shared in Jerusalem. We went to the Kotel to find hundreds of Jews singing and dancing. We were so grateful to have a delicious Shabbos meal at the Tzemach Tzedek shul in the old city. Saturday was a very relaxing day, yet so powerful. We were in Jerusalem, the holiest place in the world on Shabbos. Once Shabbos ended, my friends and I went to Ben Yehuda Street, where we bought souvenirs and ate amazing falafel and shawarma!
We spent our last three nights up North. We stayed at a hotel located at Kfar Blum, located on a running Kibbutz. We first traveled to the ancient mystical city of Tzfat. There, we learned how a Sefer Torah, Teffilin, and Mezuzot are made. We then headed to one of the highest points in Israel, Crusaders Hill. In addition, we visited Rabbi Akiva’s grave in Tiberius, went on a boat ride along the Kineret, swam in Tel Dan, rode jeeps along the Syrian border, visited a chocolate factory, walked in the ancient grottoes at Rosh HaNikra, where we saw the border between Israel and Lebanon, dressed up as people that lived during the days of the Mishana, milked goats and made cheese, rode donkeys, and visited the ancient city of Caesarea.
This trip would not be as wonderful as it was without our intelligent and funny tour guide, Asaf and courageous bus driver, Boaz. A huge thank you to Rabbi Dovid and Mirel for planning and making this trip possible. Thank you to my new and old friends, that always made me laugh and kept me entertained.
I will never forget this trip and all the memories my family and friends shared! I hope I will be back soon to see more and connect with my roots… L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim!