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Sunrise on Masada!

Dear Parents,

Yesterday morning, we left Tel Aviv to go to the Beit Guvrim archeological dig. There, we toured ancient caves that had once been the basements of the homes in the city Mareisha. We also dug in caves that hadn’t been fully excavated and looked for artifacts such as pottery shards, charcoal, and shells. We found parts of vessels and dishes. Afterwards, we had lunch and free time at a small mall in Kiriyat Gat. We then drove down to the desert to spend time at a Bedouin Tent. We first prayed the mincha service, and then went on camel rides through the desert. When we returned, we went to the hospitality tent where we drank tea and a Bedouin man spoke to us about his culture. We then went to the dining tent to eat a delicious dinner. We ended the evening with a bonfire and made smores before sleeping in a large tent with the entire grade.

This morning, we woke up at 3:50 am to climb Masada and see the sunrise. We arrived before sunrise and had tefillot before turning around and watching the sun rise which was an amazing experience. One of the fascinating sites we saw was King Herod’s sauna. We climbed down Masada and relaxed before driving to the Dead Sea.

We ate lunch at the Premier Spa and had lots of fun floating in the salty water of the Dead Sea. From there we drove a couple of hours to Mitzpe Ramon, which gave us time to catch up on our sleep.

We’re looking forward to the adventures we’ll have tomorrow, our last day in Israel.

See you soon!

Adina K, Adina S, and Sophie G

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Israel’s Independence, Shopping and a Memorable Dinner Out

Dear 8th grade Parents,

Friday, April 15th, we woke up at 6 am in Jerusalem ready to drive to Tel Aviv. Once we got to our destination we went to Israel’s Independence Hall, and pretended we were there, celebrating the independence of Israel in 1948. We heard a recording of David Ben Gurion reading Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Then we watched a movie summarizing Hertzl’s dream become a reality. After we left the Independence Hall we walked to Nahalat Benyamin and shopped up and down the street, seeing and buying handmade jewelry and crafts. After a couple of hours of shopping and eating we departed to different destinations for our free Shabbat. We spent a lovely Friday night and Saturday at family and friends’ homes, and at night we were dropped off at the Ruth Daniel Hotel, in Old Jaffa.

Today, we had the choice of either planting a tree in a new JNF forest or going shopping for Judaica in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. We had previously been to the Jewish Quarter but some of us felt like we didn’t have enough time there and went back. Later, we took a bus to Har Hertzl where we learned about Theodore Hertzl and his dream of Israel and visited many graves of important Israeli figures as well as soldiers who parished in the many wars.

We returned to the hotel where we met with David Micley, a Schechter alumnus who lives in Tel Aviv and works for an organization called Tamid. David arranges internships for American college students with Israeli start up companies. After that, we ate dinner at a restaurant called Nalaga’at where the waiters are deaf. They taught us some sign language phrases which helped us during the meal, including how to say thank you and please. The food was delicious. At around 10:00 pm, we are going on a safari where we will see animals such as zebras, lions, etc. We are all very excited.

We are having a great time and are sad that our study tour is coming to an end in just a few days.

L’hitraot,

Ava, Samantha, and Jaclyn

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Yad Vashem, Pantry Packers and a Time Elevator

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Dear Parents,

We had an amazing day. This morning we went to Yad Vashem, the Israeli national Holocaust museum. We heard the different stories of individuals such as Irena Sedler and Oscar Shindler and saw many original artifacts from various camps around Europe. One especially meaningful memorial that we visited was the Children’s Memorial, where five candles flickered in mirrors to memorialize the 1.5 million children who perished. While experiencing the powerful image of candles, we also heard a list of names, ages, and countries that described a few individual children chosen at random. Finally, we visited the Hall of Remembrance where we saw 600 pictures of those who did not survive. Behind the pictures, we saw many books filled with names commemorating as many people as Yad Vashem had names.

After leaving Yad Vashem we took a break for lunch at an outdoor mall in Bayit Bagen. Then we got back on the bus and headed to our next stop, Pantry Packers. When we first got there we watched a video about what we were going to be doing and how there are many families that can’t supply themselves with basic necessities like food. After watching the video we were put into smaller groups and began to help those less fortunate than us by packaging food. We packaged both rice and chickpeas and together we packed enough food to feed 160 families for an entire month. Being able to see what an amazing difference we could make for families in need was an incredible experience. Once we finished at Pantry Packers we went to see an interactive movie at the Jerusalem Time Elevator. We learned the history of Jerusalem in a fun and interactive way. Finally after a long day of activities we went to the Malcha Mall and got to hang out and eat dinner. Our final day in Jerusalem was a blast! Can’t wait for Tel Aviv!

L’hitraot,
Zoe D, Jessica, and Gabby

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From Haifa to Jerusalem!

Dear Parents,

Today was an exciting day! After sadly leaving our Reali friends in Haifa, we headed to Jerusalem to discover what made it so important to Judaism and what made it the heart and soul of the Jewish people. Upon arriving at the City of David, we saw a short movie about the history of the City of David, the most ancient part of Jerusalem. We saw ruins where bullae, seals which are wrapped around letters bearing the letter writer’s insignia, were found, and one bore the same name as Jeremiah’s scribe. We visited a house with one of the oldest toilets ever found. We were then shown the ancient Canaanite water system that the Israelites used for much of the First Temple period. This water system lasted until before the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, when King Hezekiah ordered the building of a water tunnel to divert what was then Jerusalem’s main water source, the Gihon Spring, into the city so that the Assyrians couldn’t take away this vital resource from the Israelites. We walked through the very same tunnels where two teams of quarrymen worked day and night from opposite sides to create Hezekiah’s tunnel, proven by the inscription commemorating the joyous occasion of their meeting in the center.

To connect with our past, we went to the Southern Wall of the Kotel and learned about how our ancestors made their pilgrimages to Jerusalem. As a group we walked up the stairs 2 steps at a time to take in all the spiritualness of the holy city. Eventually we made our way to the Kotel and the boys put on tefillin, we all said personal prayers, put in notes to God, and some of us davened mincha.

We came back to the hotel had dinner and played evening activities despite the fact that we were all exhausted. All in all it was a great learning experience about the one place we hold most dear to our hearts as Jews.

Shalom v’Lehitraot,

Dore, Dylan, Ethan

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Underground Visit to the Rambam Hospital

Dear Parents,

Today we saw many great sights. One sight that really¬†stood out was the Rambam Hospital. While the architecture and Children’s Center was very impressive, what was especially impressive was the underground hospital. Designed in case of warfare , the underground hospital is found three stories below ground level and is completely surrounded by water. The space is typically used as a garage, but in case war should break out all patients, staff, and necessary equipment could be moved into this shelter in 72 hours. Once in the underground hospital, the patients and staff have enough resources to stay underground for three days straight at which time more supplies can be brought in. Also, the secondary hospital is equipped with some of the most cutting edge medical technology we have ever seen such as an infectious disease containment area . The underground hospital can also house 2000 patients and a staff of 1500. The hospital took 6 years to build at a cost of 100,000,000 dollars. Rambam Hospital was given the funds and raised money for the hospital after the second¬†Lebanese War, in which 60 rockets fell within a kilometer of the hospital. We were very fortunate to be able to tour the hospital and are very thankful to the Reali parent who worked at Rambam and allowed us to join her. Thank you Inbar!

Afterwards, we traveled north in the pouring rain to Ramat HaGolan. We did a little sight seeing, but since it was raining, we could’t see as much. It was unusual that it rained so much because it usually stops raining earlier in the year. Fortunately, when we arrived to the hot springs at Hamat HaGader, it stopped raining. It was a lot of fun and the water was really warm and relaxing. We are on our way to Reali now to have a final night with our hosting families. We are having a great time.

L’hitraot,

Zach, Sam O., and Adam W.

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Hiking in Har Gilboa

Dear Parents,

Hi! We had a great day today! We started off by praying at Kehillat Moriah, the oldest Conservative synagogue in Haifa. Then we went on the bus to the Elite chocolate factory in Nazareth Elite and we had a tour and learned how gum was made.Then we went to a room and ate tons of chocolate, don’t worry we got some for you.

We then traveled to Har Gilboa and hiked half way down the mountain that was a bit steep and rocky until our guide realized that we should hike back up, that was fun. We saw a beautiful view of the Jezerel Valley. We learned that the final battle of Shaul happened on the mountain making the tanakh come alive for us..

We are on our way to the beach for a party and to eat some falafel for dinner. Can’t wait to see the rest of Haifa.

L’hitraot,

Eliana, Zoe ST and Shoshi

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Shalom From the Holy Land!

Dear Parents,

Shalom from the Holy Land!!!

We arrived in Tel Aviv to delicious Israeli chocolate and rugalach from our tour guides who then escorted us to our hotel in Jerusalem. We changed into Shabbat clothes, went to a park, had a Kabbalat Shabbat, and had a huge Israeli dinner! The next morning, we chose from three local synagogues; the Conservative Synagogue, Shir Chadasha (egalitarian Orthodox), and the Great Synagogue (huge gorgeous temple with a LONG service). Then we ate a Shabbat lunch, had a few hours of free time in the hotel, took a walking tour of Jerusalem, and then made our way to Haifa.

Last night we reunited with our Reali friends who we will spend the next three nights with. Their parents are all super warm and welcoming and feed us a lot of delicious Israeli food- everything from fresh olives to yogurt, grilled cheese, omelets, and the most Bamba and Israeli chocolate you could ever ask for!

Today we went to visit the Reali school where we did many workshops about Israeli identity with the students there. Then we celebrated Eliana’s 14th birthday with an ice cream party with the Reali students and we all sang happy birthday in English and Hebrew; happy birthday Eliana we love you!!!!! We also visited a town near Haifa called Tzipori which is the ruins of an ancient Jewish town with beautiful views and learned about the Roman influence on Jewish culture long ago. Here is an attached a picture so you can see how gorgeous the view was!

PS Now we are on the bus with the Israelis enjoying them and trying to get them say and properly pronounce “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” and “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” and they are teaching us similar phrases in Hebrew.

We’re all having a blast and can’t wait for more adventures!!!!

Lhitraot!
Shira and Haley