Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The end of our amazing journey

Yes yes y’all. Reppin’ back of the bu$$ c r e w. It’s 6 in the morning and we’re heading to the airport in tel aviv after a festive evening remembering all that’s happened over the past ten days.

We began the morning at Har Herzl, the large military cemetery in Jerusalem. We walked past the tombs and memorials, stopping at particular sites of interest and reflecting on the role of the IDF in Israel. Of particular interest was the Dakar submarine memorial, one of the more interestingly designed areas of the cemetery. Or, one of our soldiers who is in the navy, gave us insight into life on a submarine.

After har herzl, we moved on to ben yehuda street, a bustling shopping area, and the machneh yehuda, jerusalem’s central market. Perusing fruits and vegetables, we refleted on daily life in this city.

The day ended with a concert from rock musician Udi Krauss and a discussion about the past ten days. It seems like everybody had an awesome experience, myself included. Not surprising. We had a tearful goodbye at the airport with our Israelis - we are going to miss them so much. 

- Luke Pyenson

Monday, January 16, 2012

Camel Riding and Mountain Climbing

Today we got up at 4:30 in the morning to prepare for the hike up Masada, the site of the Jewish rebellion against the Roman army.  We rose out of our Bedoian shelters cold but eager to start the day.  We all hopped onto the bus for a twenty minute ride and soon started our hike.  After about fifteen minutes or so, we reached the top of Masada.  The scenery was beautiful: we were taken aback by the golden sunlight slowly rising from behind the mountains in the distance.  After taking in the sunrise, we toured the ancient ruins of Masada, learning about King Herod’s reign and the ancient synagogue that once stood there.  We soon descended from Masada, and began our short journey to the Dead Sea.  We all covered ourselves in the dark mud of the sea and floated in the salty water (don’t drink it!) as we took in the view of the cliffs nearby.  From the Dead Sea we made our way back to Jerusalem, where we checked in at the comfy Caesar Hotel (for your Hangover fans out there, no, Caesar never lived there).  We took a few hours to relax and have dinner, and then proceeded to our discussion of the day: the issues surrounding the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.  It was interesting to see that while nearly all of the Israeli soldiers on our trip expressed support for the prisoner exchange, opinion amongst the Americans on our group seemed more mixed.  We all grew tired as the day came to a close, and we soon went to sleep, eager for our last twenty four hours in Israel.  Just another amazing day for Swaglit Winter 2012.

Dan Frey A14

Shabbat and more!

As we embark on our nights in the Bedouin tents, having had a full week of Israeli adventures and a relaxing Shabbat, we reflect on the moments in Israel that have left a lasting impression.

Our Shabbat service on Kibbutz Almog was a non-traditional and unique service that left us all feeling like our own family. Even as some of us were not as religious as others, and came from different backgrounds, we all came together and contributed in our own way. In honor of Shabbat, on Saturday, we had a relaxing day and the opportunity to do anything from hiking in the nearby desert to competing against Brown in an intense birthright soccer face-off. We concluded Shabbat with candle-lit Havdallah services and a discussion about our Jewish identities. We all found this to be a very open and thus powerful discussion as a result of both the Israelis and the Americans openly sharing our diverse opinions and personal stories. 

Today we reentered the bus and recommenced our jam-packed trek across Israel. Among our favorite experiences of this trip is going to Shvil Hasalat farm. From eating kumquats off trees, to sending messages with homing pigeons, to picking fresh basil or tomatoes to eat right off the vine, many of us fell in love with Israel. After our taste-testing quest across the fields, we frolicked over to the picnic tables and prepared for the most amazing meal yet – delicious salad, ripe vegetables, and delectable baguette stuffed with the freshest ingredients from the vines surrounding us. With full stomachs and ear-to-ear grins, none of us wanted to leave this beautiful fantasy.

As we sit in our Bedouin tent and think back on such a memorable experience, it is hard to imagine that we only have two days left on our journey. Yet we are all counting down the minutes until we wake at 4:30am, get set to climb Masada and see the sun rise, and experience the purifying and rejuvenating Dead Sea. Stay tuned for more to come!

Xoxo Bus 392.