A Meaningful Tisha B’Av
Yesterday was Tisha B’Av and we started with a very powerful Eichah reading and kumzitz at Herodim, the site where the final Jews remaining in Eretz Yisroel stood and watched the Churban, unable to help. It was really special because usually I am at home in Teaneck and I don’t feel as connected to what happened. But this year when I was in Israel, I felt the connection to the Jewish people and what we lost as a nation. Only 40 minutes away from the Kotel the holiest place in the world, it really affected me and made me feel part of the Jewish nation. The next morning we had a beautiful shacharit and kinot, made even more meaningful thanks to the English translations from Rabbi Weinberg that really allowed us to understand what we were saying and connect to the words even more. After a short break, we got to hear from a speaker who talked to us about Bnei Yisroel’s transition from the desert to Israel and tied it in to how we can step up and be leaders. Then we had mincha and some down time to nap or watch a movie. I ended up staying for the movie and we watched “Defiance” which was based on a true story about a group of brothers hiding from the Nazis in a forest where they manage to fight back and build a village for other refugees. We had the privilege to spend the rest of Tisha B’Av at the kotel. It was incredible to see the size of the crowd gathered there davening and singing. When the fast was over we all got back to the bus to go to Gush Etzion to break our fast on a delicious dinner. Not only was it one of the best meals I had while I was in Israel it was also a chessed to help support the Jewish community in the gush region. It was really a once in a lifetime experience and one that I won’t ever forget.
DIGGIN’ Mea Shearim
After a late wake up and a delicious breakfast, we loaded the buses and head out to an artifact dig in Emek Tzurim. We had a brief introduction by an amazing instructor, Frankie, who gave us the history of the dirt we would be sifting through. Since we are currently in the 3 weeks, we looked through dirt from a tunnel that went from the City of David to the Gichon water pool that was used as an escape route for the Jews as the Romans were invading Jerusalem. It was incredibly fascinating to be able to find pottery, glass, bones and metal from over 2,000 years ago, and help us understand this story on a more personal level. My group even found a coin from the Hasmonean time period!! Following the sifting, we all enjoyed our lunch in a beautiful park next to Yamin Moshe. Then, we loaded the buses and went to my favorite activity of the day- StandWithUs. There, we learned how to properly advocate for the state of Israel. This is incredibly important, especially as leaders, to know the importance of defending our homeland. It was an incredibly fascinating experience that we all enjoyed. Afterwards, we spent time in Me’a She’arim, starting with Manny’s book store, where we were all given the opportunity to select one Sefer of our choice, up to 60 Shekel, as a gift. We were also given 2 hours of free time to walk around and go into the different stores in the area. Some of us enjoyed the best potato kugel and chulent in Geula, while others ate pizza and french fries nearby. We ended this busy day in a perfect way- a chill and relaxing movie night. Overall, today was absolutely amazing, each activity better than the next. I’m looking forward to spending Shabbat in Jerusalem!
Today was totally eye opening. Every single part was jam packed with fun and new experiences. We started off early with 6:30 shacharit and had a beautiful davening. We then had an amazing breakfast which was a great start to our day. For our first activity, we drove to Tel Shiloh. We walked around the site and learned about the mishkan and how it relates to archaeological findings in that area. Then we learned about tefillat chana in the place where it actually happened. The girls had some time of reflection in the inspiring location while the boys had an uplifting kumzitz. On my way out of Tel Shiloh my cousin Maya and I met up with our mutual cousins who live in the area. We then drove to a makolet to buy snacks and drinks for soldiers who we knew we would see on our route. When we gave soldiers the snacks and cold drinks it was obvious that we made there day and it was inspiring to see large smiles from what seemed to us to be such a small act. We then stopped at a place to eat a variety of noodles and salads for lunch. Next we went to Shomron to hear the Samaritan “Kohen Gadol”. He taught us about the Samaritan culture and Ancient Hebrew. It was fascinating when he started to recite shema in Ancient Hebrew. We stopped at a lookout point overlooking Schem and Kever Yosef. It was really pretty and cool to look at. We then went sheep herding in Itamar. We as a whole family helped the sheep down a trail full of olive trees and thorn bushes. It was a hilarious and memorable experience which brought us closer together as a team and one big mishpacha. We came back to the hotel and had a beautiful dinner. We had chabura time with our learning groups and learned more ways to improve our leadership skills. Overall today was a great day filled with new experiences and I can’t wait to see what we are going to do in these next upcoming days!
Working The Land!
Today was incredible. It wasn’t just a day filled with physical fun such as waterskiing or hiking, rather it was a day that was spiritually uplifting. We began our day in Chevron where we visited our Avot at Maarat Hamachpela, and had the chance to say tehillim. While we were there we had the privilege of attending a Bris, it was really a special experience. Following Chevron, Rabbi Weinberg’s cousin, Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, educated us about Chevron and its beauty. We then proceeded to the Gush where we bare handedly cleared a plot of land for olive trees to be planted. It was amazing to be able to contribute to the land of Israel in this way. Every single person made a difference, and every person cheered on his/her friends. I left that field feeling accomplished that I had contributed to settling the land of Israel. After that, we went to Yeshivat Torat Shraga to hear Rav Schachter speak. We were able to ask him anything we wanted. At the end of the day, we had an amazing dinner in Ramat Rachel. The day as whole was really amazing, and I am so excited for another action packed day tomorrow on JOLT Israel.
A Rockin’ Day!!
This morning we woke up bright and early in our yurt at 5:15. We some how managed to get all 45 of us ready using only 5 stalls and 2 sinks. We had a quick shacharit and breakfast before heading to keshet for some rappelling. After a two hour drive we were so happy to get there. Some of us were excited and others were a little nervous but in the end we all repelled 100m down the cliff. Personally I was kinda nervous but with the support and encouragement from my friends and one of a kind advisors I did it. I’m so happy I was able to get my feet over the big rocks and reach the beautiful view. Going down was exhilarating, hanging there in the air hearing my friends cheering me on from down below. Once we reached the bottom we took the opportunity to take a picture with every rock we saw. We then hiked up the cliff. The hike up was hard and tiring but the feeling of accomplishment when we got to the top made it all worth it. We then had another delicious lunch of, guess what…. schnitzel sandwiches!!! After drinking tons of water we headed back to the bus to depart for our free shabbos. The six hour bus ride was a real bonding time for us all. We are looking forward to catching up on sleep this weekend, we will see you when we wake up on Sunday.
It just gets better every day here at מחנה הכי אחי. After davening in the morning, everyone was completely energized and ready for a full day of cheering, song and fun. We ate a delicious breakfast, and then went straight to the water hike. We walked through water while splashing water at each other and singing many zam zam cheers. I bonded with Maor throughout our entire time together. However today really brought it home. We were able to spend the whole day together bonding. While walking through the water he didn’t feel comfortable with the slippery rocks so he was holding onto me and I supported him which really helped us create a stronger connection and become closer friends. At the end of the water hike, there was a huge pool of water where we all stopped and had a crazy water fight. Even the rabbis got involved with splashing the zam zam kids and jolters. Everyone was involved and had huge smiles and lots of fun. We were all able to bond through the water fights. Everyone was laughing and having an awesome time together. Afterwards we went to the picnic area and had many different choices of sandwiches. There were even fresh apples for everyone!!! Everyone loved the food, and went to the buses feeling tired and satisfied. Then we came back so that everyone could have time to shower and change into clean, dry clothing in order to get ready for the party cruise. After showering, we got back on the buses and drove to the kineret where we split into one group of boys and one group of girls. We loaded the boat and upon entering the boat there was music playing and a simcha atmosphere. Everyone danced and sang along and had an amazing time!! Then we got off the boat and walked for a few minutes to the restaurant where we had dinner. There was a variety of food none of which was schnitzel!! The highlight was the dessert of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. We then got back onto the busses to come back to hispin for a special optional night activity with the zam zam kids. Although it was optional, the turnout was tremendous. We played gaga and dodgeball, and all the while we had a dance party and listened to some great Israeli music. Everyone was dancing and was clearly enjoying themselves. Even the rabbis got involved and we’re playing along with us. Everyone had so much fun and can’t wait for another amazing day tomorrow iy”h!!
Another Amazingly Successful Day of מחנה הכי אחי!!
Another amazing day with מחנה הכי אחי. After davening in the morning, everyone was completely energized and ready for a full day of cheering, singing, and fun. We ate a delicious breakfast, and then went straight to Tel Dan. We spent about an hour playing and splashing around in the super fun (although freezing) water. Even though the language barrier is strong, many Jolt Israelers who can’t speak Hebrew were able to connect to the Zam Zam kids on a powerful level by having water fights and splashing each other. When we were done in the water, we got back on the busses and went to Kfar Blum for rafting down the Jordan River. Before we got on the rafts, we had a delicious lunch of hamburgers and French fries (or chips in Israel). The rafts were split up into groups of 6, which helped initiate friendships in smaller groups. I feel like I was able to become closer with certain Zam Zam kids while in the rafts, trying to figure out how to move our boat. While we all started in the boats, the rafting soon turned to an amazing swimming time. We all jumped out and had so much fun swimming together. While on the way back to the hotel we were all exhausted, but we just had to keep singing all our cheers. After dinner, we had a fabulous talent show with a mix of performances from the Jolt Israelers and Zam Zam kids and madrichim. There were people singing, dancing, and I personally juggled. Since I couldn’t find any balls, I was resourceful and used rocks from the grounds of the hotel. Everyone had so much fun on another amazingly successful day of מחנה הכי אחי.
Awesome second day with the ZAM ZAM kids!!
Awesome second day with the ZAM ZAM kids!!
It started off with breakfast, which of course had cheering in it (can you call it a day with ZAM ZAM without cheering? I think not.) Afterwards we had a fun round of icebreakers to get to know everyone. First we went around and learned everyone’s name and ice cream flavor. Our group name is glidah (meaning ice cream) so it was necessary that we found out everyone’s favorite flavor. We then continued to play a few other games like “every 30 seconds” and “where the wind blows.” As well as we TRIED to improve our Hebrew, emphasis on the “tried.” Then it was off to the De Kerina factory where we made chocolate, however most of it ended up on our faces and not our plates. After we cleaned off our faces and got our yummy chocolates, we headed over to a park where we had a delicious lunch of pizza, pasta and salads. In camp Macheneh הכי אחי it’s a nonstop party. So right after lunch we made our way to tie dye where everyone had a great time and bonded over the heat. After this fun activity, we went to Mount Ben Tal. Here, we got to take in the scenic view as well as learn more about this beautiful country. Finally, we made our way back to Chispin where we had an awesome dance party followed by dinner and a movie. These past two days have been some of the best days of my life making connections with the kids and having an overall great time, what more could you ask for?!
ZAM ZAM HAS ARRIVED
Today I had the greatest experience of my life, so great that I couldn’t even keep track of time. In the morning, Jolt Israel davened, had breakfast, and then prepared for the arrival of Zichron Menachem. When Zichron Menachem arrived we made a tunnel that the kids had to run through to get them pumped for the exciting week ahead. While the buses pulled in, we listened to great music and all just had a great time together. Afterwards we started dancing with the kids and everyone was having a blast, while enjoying some cotton candy. Later in the day, Jolt Israel and Zichron Menachem went jeeping. All the kids were so happy to be with us. It was really so special to see. I became very close with an Israeli boy named Maor. We were dancing and enjoying ourselves, and I even showed him some of my own American dance moves like the whip and dab. Maor and I hung out the whole entire day and had a blast. That was my experience for today can’t wait for the rest of the weeks.
Its getting Tzfat in here!
At 5:30 am, my alarm rang. It was quite an early start to the day, but it was well worth it. We boarded the busses at 7ish and arrived at the hike by 7:45. When we arrived, we had an outdoor breakfast with granola, eggs, and veggies. After breakfast, we got ready to hike Har Arbel. At first, it seemed intimidating to climb such a big and steep mountain. I was nervous that my footing would be off, but I was wrong! It went great! It was awesome to hike with everyone, talk, and just bond. Let’s not forget about that view! We learned about some of the history also, from our tour guide Yoel. After the hike, we headed over to Tzfat. It was my first time there! It was very hot, but don’t worry mom because I drank a lot of water. We went to a park area and heard again from Yoel about the history of the area. Then we had a short free time where we could buy water, smoothies, chips, etc. Then we headed back to the park where we hung out and got filling schnitzel sandwiches. Then we had a longer free time in the Artist Colony. We walked around, looked at jewelry, saw cool glass sculptures. It was really awesome to be able to see this very funky culture; it was a different way of life. Then we headed over to the army training, it was tough but definitely worth it. Before we began, our Commander gave us an introduction that discussed what it means to be part of the IDF and the importance of it. After that we went into the bunkers, it was kind of like Escape the Room. We had to solve puzzles to get out of the bunker. It was really dark, I was holding onto someone’s hand the whole time! But, we all really came together as a team in order to finally solve the puzzle. Then the really intense part started, the training. We had just a small taste of what it’s like to be in the IDF. We did a lot of physical activites that were hard, but taught us to use our strength and never give up. For example, we had to fill sandbags and then transport them to a gurney that we all carried together as one unit. At the end of the hard training, fresh watermelon awaited us. We davened mincha with a beautiful view. Then we headed over to the hotel for a delicious BBQ. Next we had our chaburas. My advisor taught us about the importance of our speech and the effect that each word can have. She even brought in a small shampoo bottle. This might sound weird but it taught us an important lesson; one person squeezed all of the shampoo out and then I had to try and put the shampoo back in the bottle using only a Q-tip! Obviously, this was not possible, it taught us that we must be careful with our words because once we say something, it is not possible to completely take it back.
Wish me luck on my fast tomorrow!