by Dahlia Lehman '17
After a beautiful Shabbat at Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava region of the Negev, this week started the best way possible: with ice cream! After Shabbat ended, our madrichim took us out to the kibbutz that famously houses the best creamery in all of Israel. Even the most lactose-intolerant members of the group indulged, and I must admit that it was a delicious start to an amazing and packed week.
Sunday began with two hiking options, Har Tzfachot and Har Shlomo, both of which ended with beautiful views of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt. After trekking up, we dove down, snorkeling in the Red Sea. Some of the group's boldest members even opted to upgrade to an entry-level scuba dive. But the day had only just begun. We traveled to the Eilat boardwalk and were given a full afternoon of free time during which people chilled on the beach, went boating and parasailing, and shopped. I personally took the opportunity to get a fish pedicure at a not-at-all sketchy kiosk in the Eilat mall with some friends, which wasn't quite as glamorous as they made it out to be on Teen Nick. The day ended with a disco boat party on the water -- think bar mitzvah meets cruise ship -- which was a blast.
On Monday and Tuesday we continued to explore the Negev region, visiting the Red Canyon, Ben Gurion's house in Sde Boker, a Bedouin tent (yay camel riding!), and the "salad trail" where we tasted all sorts of freshly grown produce. Gotta make up for all of that kibbutz ice cream somehow!
After returning to campus in Hod Hasharon, on Wednesday and Thursday we took a different kind of trek. We explored the extremely complicated topic of geopolitical borders in Jerusalem, learning about the topic inside the classroom on Wednesday and then going out to the physical places about which we had learned on Thursday. And of course, we couldn't go to Jerusalem without visiting the site of an even more charged conflict, the basketball rivalry between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabee Haifa. The game was an absolute blast, and we all left cheering, "Yalla Hapoel" like born-and-bred fans.
On Friday we chilled on the beach in Herzliyya and got ready for a much needed restful Shabbat before Yam el Yam, the cross-country hike that looms ahead. Fittingly, our grade decided to have a pajama-themed Shabbat where everyone sported their favorite and most comfortable PJs. As my roommates and I got out our elephant pants, however, it was hard to ignore the elephant in the room (no pun intended). "Can you believe that we only have ten days left here?" one of my friends finally said. And it's true, the end of this incredible journey is finally nearing. But given the amount of adventures that we've been able to fit into just one day--**cough cough** this past Sunday--I have no doubt that these last ten days will be nothing short of remarkable.