I know, 2 posts in less than 2 days! There's been a lot to write about, and a lot going on recently, like our class trip to the Galilee and Golan Heights and the beginning of Sukkot (yay for more holidays!) I thought that rather than just writing about our adventures, I'd present a "slideshow" of sorts, so you can see some of the neat things we did. These are also in chronological order, to give you an idea of our itinerary.
The theme of our trip was "The New Jew." This term refers to the groups of people who came to Israel in the late 19th/early 20th centuries who helped create and form the State of Israel. These people were not interested in being the stereotypical, religious Jew who came to Israel at the end of their life to die; they wanted to work in agriculture, spread the ideas of Zionism, and create LIVES in Israel for themselves and others like them.
This first picture comes from the neighborhood of Rosh Pina, which was the first Jewish settlement outside of the 4 "holy" cities in Israel: Jerusalem, Tiberius, Safed, and Chevron. It was built in 1882 by 30 families from Romania. Today, it's a beautiful area with cute restaurants, B&B's and artists' shops.
The next picture is the ark of the synagogue in Rosh Pina. Baron Rothschild helped the settlers of Rosh Pina to finance the settlement and building of new homes and agricultural areas. The settlers demanded that before Rothschild build them new homes, he build them a synagogue. This is the original synagogue that was built around 1900.
After some time exploring and shopping in Rosh Pina, we went rafting on the Jordan River (yes, I, Tracy Leigh Fishbein, went rafting---and it was seriously one of the greatest, most fun things I have ever done. I didn't want my camera to get wet, so sadly I didn't take it) and then went to Karei Deshe, the youth hostel that was hosting us for the duration of the trip.
The next day, we set out on a walk-through/hike around Tel Dan, HUC's archaeological digging site, where it is said that the first temple outside of Jerusalem was found. I guess it was interesting for those who like archeology, but for me the best part was walking around in this wading pool, feeling the cool water between my toes and hearing the birds happily chirping around me. We also saw a lot of avocado trees, and you'll be proud to know that I resisted any urges to pick and eat the avocados. While I wasn't crazy about the historical significance of the site, the scenery was beautiful and it was an easy, fun (gasp!) hike in nature.
After Tel Dan, we went to Har Bental, a lookout site that looks out at the border between Israel and Syria. I'd been there before with Birthright, so it wasn't all that exciting, but the view was beautiful and the clear mountain air felt amazing. We then went to hear a discussion on the Golan Heights with a woman who'd made Aliyah specifically to Northern Israel. She talked about protecting the land from the Syrians who want it badly and why we should fight to keep it. It was interesting, but political discussions aren't really my thing (one of the major reasons I could never been a rabbi) and we were all tired.
That night we had a very fun Israeli style BBQ (greasy chicken kabobs and lots of delicious grilled veggies) and then had an Israeli song sing-a-long, complete with accordion and guitar. We were all up singing and Israeli dancing and having a great time. This picture is of Brad, David, Jorg and Josh after lifting Lyle up in a chair, Hora style. So much fun!
We were lucky that our hostel was right on the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee.) On our last day at Karei Deshe, a few of us went down by the water and took pictures. It was beautiful so early in the morning, with the sun making sparkles on the water.
Me, Aimee, Andrea, Rachel, Nicole and Sara playing around by the water.
Tuesday morning, we drove through the town of Metula, the northernmost city in Israel, right at the Israel/Lebanon border. We had a discussion on Israel/Lebanon politics at this lookout point with our amazing teacher, Paul, who I am currently in love with. The picture shows the very clear difference between Israel (trees and houses) and Lebanon (mountains, dust and small villages.)
After our discussion, we went to Tel Chai, where a group of settlers lost their lives fighting for their land, and then onto Kiryat Shemone, a town in Israel that is continuously attacked by Lebanon whenever there is war or fighting. We met with a resident psychologist who deals with terror victims in bomb shelters. She led a very interesting discussion on the devastating effects of living through war and the dramatic life changes that happen during and after a war occurs. It's very sad to hear the stories of some of these normal people who can hardly function after losing family members, friends, homes, etc, but it was a good discussion for all of us to hear. As Jewish clergy people, we will be dealing with trauma on a regular basis, so learning how a professional handles such situations is helpful for us.
Before we headed back to Jerusalem, we made a stop at the Kinneret Cemetary, where many famous Israelis are buried. Naomi Shemer and the poet Rachel are both buried here, along with Zionist Moshe Hess. We tied up our discussions on the history of the Golan and the New Jew, had a short Mincha service, and headed back to Jerusalem.
So, that's our trip in a nutshell. We're now on our Sukkot break, so we have 10 days off and lots of time to relax. Steph and I, along with a lot of friends, are leaving for a trip to Sinai, Egypt early Sunday morning. We're very excited to lay in the sun, drink fun cocktails, and just relax before our school year really starts October 7. Until we leave, we are unpacking from our first trip and repacking for our second, doing loads and loads of laundry, and watching A LOT of Grey's Anatomy (Steph got me hooked---I'm all caught up on seasons 1&2, and I'm working on season 3...she has the first episode of season 4 downloading onto her computer right now.) Special thanks to my roommate for getting me addicted to Seattle Grace Hospital and Dr. McDreamy, the love of my life :)
And on that note, I will close here. Much love to everyone, and please keep your emails coming...they make me very happy!