Senior Capstone Trip Blog

Week 6 Reflections
Sela Wertlieb '24, Sasha Karasik '24, and Darya Dayanim '24

We all made sure to get a good night’s sleep in anticipation for the start of the 3-day intense Your Way experience. From the three choices, Sasha and Darya chose to attend the outdoor experience, Sela to the Arts and Culture, and the third untouched option was entrepreneurship.

Sunday, March 31


After a late night back from our exciting weekend in Eilat, we were very grateful for the late wakeup time for our brunch with a representative from Yavneh. While it’s not the summer camp we all know and love in New Hampshire, the representative was an alumnus of this camp. His organization helps foster Jewish leaders on college campuses across the US. We started off learning about what it means to be a leader and the added characteristics of a Jewish leader. We were then introduced to a very exciting fellowship offered by Yavneh where we would be given the tools and resources to lead Jewish life on our given campuses. As first year students, we would be able to organize events and have access to mentors to curate the Jewish life we desire as our first step as Jewish individuals. I am sure many of our students will be Yavneh Fellows, especially with the application shortcut we received for being part of the brunch!


Right about now, we found ourselves fascinated by Lt. Col. Avi Shalev’s presentation. He started off by introducing himself and his background. After serving 24 years in the IDF Intelligence Division and Government Activities in the Territories, a unit operating in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, he attended The Al-Qasemi Academic College of Education in Haifa. Not only was he the only Jew and man in his class, he was also the very first Jew to ever enroll in the Islamic college.

To document his time in the class, he wrote the book, The Only Jew In The Room: Searching For Understanding In An Arab Islamic College. Rather than learning about Arab culture in an institution somewhere in Europe, he was able to experience the culture first hand, which he believes gave him a much better understanding of the people. He then went on to give us very interesting incites into Israel’s intelligence failures on October 7. He gave two main points that stuck with us. The first was that Hamas was able to beat us because of our sophistication. Instead of trying to top us, their tactics were simple. The second, and arguably more interesting, point was that Israel’s intelligence failed because of the lack of understanding of Arab culture. During his time in the Islamic college, he learned the importance of poetry for Arabs. He claimed that when Arabs speak their truth, they say it out loud. To Israel, this seems outrageous, which is why we missed a crucial clue.

He explained that Ramadan TV series are a staple of a Muslim family’s Iftar routine, a modern replacement of poetry. The 2022 Ramadan series The Fist of Freemen was given special awards by Yahya Sinwar, who praised the show and said it would be emulated by Hamas. The craziest part was that the show nearly depicted the atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7. Shalev showed us the great importance of understanding cultures through experience and brought light to a detrimental flaw within Israel’s intelligence.


An exciting end to a relaxed day was the cake baking contest. We felt like we were on our grade’s favorite show, Kids Baking Championship. We were first separated into groups: Sela and Darya in one, and Sasha in another. Each group was given 50 NIS to buy supplies other than the basics provided. We ran to the nearest grocery store, raiding the shelves with the ingredients we needed. Once we were back, we were off to the races. We followed the recipes we found online. We baked our cakes and decorated them. Although it sounds simple, our teams ran into many obstacles. Sela and Darya’s cake came out raw in the middle, so changes were made to accommodate the unexpected. Regardless, they were still able to present a beautiful red- and black-layered cake in honor of Ari Werbin-Gradel’s little brother’s 10th birthday (Happy Belated Birthday!!). Sasha's team, on the other hand, faced only minor snags, such as picking up sour cream and yeast instead of milk and baking soda—ingredients that definitely aren't crucial for baking, so it was totally okay! In the end, neither of our cakes won, but we had a lot of fun. Needless to say, we all came to the consensus that none of us are cut out to be on Cake Boss.

A side-by-side comparison of Sela’s/Darya’s cake and Sasha’s cake. Text in the infamous groupchat which you think is best.

We all made sure to get a good night’s sleep in anticipation for the start of the 3-day intense Your Way experience. From the three choices, Sasha and Darya chose to attend the outdoor experience, Sela to the Arts and Culture, and the third untouched option was entrepreneurship (shoutout to Gili for the female representation!).

Monday, April 1


As Darya and Sasha ventured into the outdoors for 3 days, their first task was traveling to Etgarim headquarters, an organization based in leading workshops to improve the quality of life and health of people with and without disabilities using tools from the world of sport. There, they had the honor of listening to employee Nati Bruner’s incredible life story. From riding motorcycles to getting flesh eating bacteria to going to the Olympics twice all while having three children, Nati has truly been through it all.

After hearing Nati's whirlwind of a life story, he spurred us all on to embrace the challenge and hop on tandem bikes for an exhilarating ride. The task was quite daunting, but not impossible! With some adjusting, (our eager shorter companions sadly physically could not reach the ground in the front seat) we set off for our beautiful ride to the beach and back. No injuries reported - success! After our relaxing bike ride, we ate a light lunch in preparation of our highly anticipated “physical escape room,” which we had been warned to not have a full stomach going in. In hindsight, we definitely could have eaten lunch later, even a large one, and still been completely fine in the escape room, but it was fun nonetheless!


On the first day of the Your Way experience, Sela was a part of the arts and culture group and the group took a trip to Tel Aviv. In the morning, the group participated in a silent disco throughout the streets of Tel Aviv. They put on headphones, turned up the funky music, and showed off their best dance moves to all the people who they passed by throughout their morning. The instructor had the group play games, sing to one another, and she taught them a few pieces of history throughout the tour. The ultimate goal of this activity wasn’t for the group to just dance and have fun, rather it was for us to spread joy to the greater community during this time of hardship. Everybody had a great time dancing and singing, and even though they all looked a bit goofy, everyone got into it and made an impact on others' day.


Sela and the arts and culture group went on a food tour through Shuk HaCarmel. Three of the stops were Yeminite food and the other three were classic Israeli street food. The first stop was a place where a woman named Irit prepared for us her famous bread wrapped with a fried egg more commonly referred to as “lachuch”. She was so excited to meet us and share a little part of her culture with us and we will never forget our experience with her. Afterwards, we took two quick pit stops, first at a spice store, and second at a cookie stand. The radiant smell of the spices and the sweet taste of the cookies got us even more excited for the rest of the tour. Our fourth stop was at Shlomo and Doron Chickpea Art, where we indulged in five different types of hummus bowls. The purpose of this particular hummus place is to expand the idea of hummus past just a classic spread with olive oil and spices to incorporate a variety of other cultures around the world. We got to try a Mexican inspired hummus, a curry flavored hummus, a falafel, a hummus with meat, and one with sauteed onions and radishes. We devoured these bowls in less than 10 minutes and walked away feeling more than satisfied. However, the tour was not over and we went to a popular falafel stand right in the center of the shuk. Each one of us got a quarter of falafel and pita and the option to have another quarter of pita with either meat, chicken, cauliflower, or another falafel. Sela decided to take a risk and try the cauliflower option and she did not regret her decision. The last stop on the food tour was an ice cream place in the fabric district of the shuk which was a necessity after all the savory food and hot sun we were absorbing all day.


Right now, Sasha and Darya were deep in concentration as they went traversing the escape room. But it’s not the escape room you would expect…it was one that required helmets and knee pads. With obstacle courses and memory tests to escape a total of 7 rooms, Darya’s team demolished all the four other teams, including Sasha’s, which she rubs in her face. We all had a great time using our speed, intelligence, strength, and teamwork skills. We highly recommend TLV 2048!!


The last stop on Monday for Sela and the arts and culture group was a graffiti tour around the southern neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. We walked around and made a few different stops to look at different pieces while our teacher Tom told us different connections he had to the graffiti and the stories behind them. We learned about Inbar Haiman, a famous graffiti artist who goes by the name “Pink”, who was taken hostage on October 7. It became a trend for other graffiti artists in Israel to put the tag line “FreePink” on almost every building throughout the country. However, it was revealed in December that Pink was killed and a new trend “RIP Pink” surfaced to continue her legacy and remember all that her graffiti represented in Israel. After learning about Pink’s impact on the greater Israeli society, Tom told us a personal story and how it inspired him to start using his graffiti to try and raise awareness about different types of cancer. His story and impact on his community are truly inspiring and we are so grateful to have heard his story and how graffiti isn’t just something people do for fun, but people can use it in ways that influence their immediate community and beyond.

Tuesday, April 2


Once again, Sasha and Darya are told to eat breakfast early and make sure it’s light, as they’re about to embark on a crazy intense Krav Maga lesson that will truly whip their butts. Of course, the hour and a half sparring session turned out to be a pretty laid back and fun lesson of basic Krav Maga skills - but still from famed judoka and highly trained sensei Yona Melnik. We learned how to protect ourselves from attackers and escape dangerous situations, such as chokeholds, stabbings, and grabbings. All extremely useful skills that we practice every night now that we hopefully never have to use!


The morning of the second day of the Your Way experience, Tom arranged for the arts and culture group to have an author named Roy Michael Shefy come speak to us about his extraordinary writing and how his books reach a different, less targeted audience, the portion of the population that typically doesn’t read books. He explained to us that throughout his childhood, his teachers thought there was something wrong with him because he didn’t do any of his work and would never pay attention in class, so everyone automatically thought he was stupid. However, it wasn’t until Roy was in fifth grade that he took an IQ test and scored on a genius level, proving everyone wrong. Unfortunately, that didn’t change anything in his habits as a student as he didn’t finish high school and just found no interest in learning. This is where Roy’s inspiration to write a book for those who don’t typically read books came from. Having not been a studious person himself, he thought it was important to show the world that you don’t need to be good at reading and writing to write a book, anyone can do it. Now Roy is a best selling author who inspires people with his unique journey and paves the way for literature to become a more diverse industry that caters to many different demographics.


Following Sasha and Darya’s early morning Krav Maga session, the girls headed out to climb Mount Carmel, a beautiful hike located in the north.

While hiking, we got to see and learn about different types of Israeli ecosystems, and during lunch we played an Israeli take on ring around the rosie- but this version took far more effort and hurt much more. After lunch, we got back on the trail and bumped into what seemed like a thousand other groups of Israeli kids hiking. The words “Where are you from,” and מאיפה אתם?״” followed us around for kilometers (we have adopted the metric system’s superiority).

Finally, when we thought we had reached the end of our hike, our tour educator Danny surprises us with a rappelling session! Who knew falling off a cliff could be so fun!

When everyone finished rappelling, going to the bathroom, and going back for everything they forgot, we finally headed to our last destination on Mount Carmel - The Carmel Fire Memorial - to learn a little history. The Carmel Fire Memorial is a monument that marks the “Carmel Disaster” (אסון הכרמל) which took place on December 2, 2010. This was the biggest forest fire ever in Israel. The fire caused 17,000 people to be evacuated from their homes and claimed 44 lives.

And after a lot of debate in Darya and Sasha’s group, a consensus was reached to go to aqueduct beach in Caesarea- just for 10 minutes.


Sela alongside the rest of the arts and culture group arrived at a mall in Herzliya where they participated in an Air Force flight simulation at the Squadron Israel. Upon arrival, we checked in, put on our uniforms, took some photos, and had an introduction with our guide for the simulation.

We learned how to operate the simulation of an F-16 airplane and discussed the importance of the air force in the IDF. We were then able to participate in our first flight and the goal was to fly through as many green, yellow, or red shapes as possible in order to collect more points. The simulation was like nothing anyone had ever seen because we were in the pilot’s chair, locked in position, where the only things visible were the screen around us and the items in the cockpit that allowed us to fly the plane. Sela and Reut Skromne were sent to the same station and Sela went first, collecting a total of 500 points with only one crash. After everyone had completed their first flight, we all gathered with our instructor to watch our flights and assess what went wrong in our first flight and how we can do better for our second flight. It was then time to take to the sky again and this time Sela collected 1,075 points and two crashes, which greatly exceeded her expectations. To close out our time at the Squadron, we had the privilege to talk to Neri, a retired Israeli Air Force Captain and co-founder of The Squadron Israel, where he shared with us his experience serving in the Air Force and what his life was like. The group was full of questions for Neri and were eager to hear about any, if not all, of his stories from his time serving. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to talk with Neri and hear his many words of wisdom as well as bits and pieces of his incredible journey.


The final activity for the arts and culture group on day two of the Your Way experience was a program with the Mayumana drum group. We learned how to step, keep rhythm, play drums on buckets, and use broomsticks as percussion instruments. The two instructors prepared two performances for us in order to demonstrate all that the Mayumana group represents. Their goal is to teach the community how to use their body and basic tools to make music rather than relying on technology or expensive equipment. The group played many different games, but the ultimate challenge was when we were split into two groups and we compiled our own performances with different instruments we had used to compete against each other. Sela’s group created a routine using drum sticks and broomsticks while the other group used a bucket and drum sticks. Needless to say, we all walked out of there winners because we were the best group Mayumana had ever seen.

Wednesday, April 3


On the final day of the Your Way Experience, Sasha and Darya got to be IDF soldiers for a day. We drove to the Bet Shemen forest expecting to learn about navigation tactics, but poisonous caterpillars got in the way of that. Instead, we shifted to learning basic acronyms for military signals. We learned how to properly form lines, escape grenades, and how to stealthily sneak up on an assailant. A fan favorite of the day was our pistol training, where we learned how to draw fake guns, shoot them, and move with them. We also got a lesson on camouflage and how to correctly apply face paint to truly blend into your surroundings. Some people’s painting skills were a little too good and almost got left behind, but ultimately everyone made it to the next activity. Throughout the entire day we also hiked to practice our new found skills and test our group chemistry, with people taking charge of leading our marches and others walking on thin tight ropes everyone held. We ended the day off with a quick stop to the gas station for some refreshing ice cream - some people with their camouflage still on! During our three days in the wild with Dani, we not only mastered defensive and survival tactics but also shed our fear of getting dirty, fully embracing the hands-on experience. We couldn’t be more grateful to all of our amazing speakers, instructors, and madrichim who made this all happen!!


For the last day of the Your Way experience, the arts and culture group hopped on a bus to go to a moshav in Modi’in to spray paint the welcome entrance! We set up a little rest area near the wall where we were spray painting, settled in, and started sketching our ideas. Tom assigned everyone a spot on the wall and we began sketching our designs with chalk. Sela had the idea to create a tree of life with fruit at the top because it is a very important symbol to her and represents one of her biggest values, family. After sketching our designs, we began the spray painting process, but not without a tutorial from Tom on how to do different strokes and designs. After countless hours of work and a relaxing lunch break, the group finally finished their designs and we went around to each section of the wall to take group and individual photos. At the last minute, Sela decided to incorporate a mini volleyball and buckeye at the bottom of her tree to add a bit more character to the tree.

There was no better way to finish off the past three days of our arts and culture experience and we couldn’t be more grateful to Tom for organizing such amazing and fun activities for us! We can say in full confidence that we are more artistic and cultured than when we started the trip!


After all of our long days, everyone came together in the beit knesset for the concert of music producer and singer/songwriter Udi Kraus. Listening to Udi’s beautiful music and singing Shalom Eilechemem together was a relaxing way to end our long days of spray painting and training.

Thursday, April 4


A couple hours ago we arrived at JNF's campus in Jerusalem. Awaiting us was an auditorium filled with Jews from all over the world. There were two main groups: diaspora Jews in high school on trips similar to our own and Israelis in machinot. The purpose of the convention was to connect with other Jews and talk about combating antisemitism and anti Zionism in honor of Diaspora Week.

We found ourselves discussing with kids from our partner mechina, The Upper Galilee Leadership Academy, about the differences between Jews in Israel and the diaspora. We got to know them better but were also exposed to their unique perceptions of Judaism in the diaspora. After meeting them, we are very excited to spend time with them during our next Shabbat. Stay tuned for that Shabbat!


Us girls were in the auditorium exercising our vocals. Although our alto and soprano parts sounded incomplete, the final result was surprisingly beautiful. We were practicing Shlomo Artzi’s תתארו לכם. We learned the words and our different parts. Later when the boys joined in and we recorded the song, we sang a beautiful arrangement of the song with Jews from all over the world. We felt accomplished. We were soon on our way back home, but we were not soon home. If only we knew the traffic that awaited us. Not only was the bus ride back from Jerusalem doubled in length, but it was nauseating to say the least.


By the time we found ourselves recovered from the seemingly endless bus ride, Sasha found herself quarantined while Sela and Darya ordered some smoothie bowls to finish off the night. Darya had a last minute overnight at her Saba and Savta to start the open weekend early. We all had a very exciting week and we were looking forward to the relaxing free weekend ahead.

April 5 and 6 (Open Weekend)

Darya spent the weekend at her aunt and uncle’s house in the south. She had a great time being with her family, playing board games, spending time at the beach, cooking, and eating.

Sela spent Friday in Ra’anana with Yaeli Greenblum and they went to the park for the day and soaked up the sunshine before heading into a restful Shabbat. Sela spent Shabbat dinner with her family friends in Herzliya and got to experience what a Friday night Shabbat is like in Israel. After a much needed long night of sleep, Sela spent the morning and early afternoon at the beach with her friend and practiced her Hebrew while watching people play soccer on the beach. To round off the open weekend, Sela and her friend chilled out and watched TV together before returning to campus.

Sasha actually spent this weekend on campus! After an eventful Thursday night spent quarantining after having a fever, Sasha got to wake up late Friday morning and took a shower alone for the first time in ages. Then she spent pretty much the rest of the weekend just relaxing, soaking in the rare silence and beating everyone else who stayed behind in cards over, and over, and over again.

  • 2024
Week 5 Reflections
Lilli Libowitz '24 and Ari Werbin-Gradel '24

Wow. Wow wow wow. Truly, today was incredible. Hands down, this was among the top three best days on the trip thus far. We woke up at 7:15 AM and rode camels. I had been on a camel before and thought very little of the experience. It was just a little stroll on a slow horse-like animal. But today’s camel riding was totally different because we were exploring the beautiful and scenic Israeli Negev. What an activity to wake up to, am I right?

Day 27 - Saturday, March 24

Today, we marked Shabbat on campus with a mix of family time and festive celebrations. With my mom visiting, I took the opportunity to venture out during the day and catch up with relatives. Returning in time for dinner, there was a heartfelt Havdalah service. Later, my roommates and I embraced the spirit of Purim by dressing up as soccer players, each sporting different jerseys and athletic headbands.

We all had a fun time taking photos in our costumes outdoors, laughing and appreciating each other’s outfits. The Megillah reading added a meaningful touch to the festivities, bringing tradition and reflection to the day.

As evening descended, our Purim celebration kicked into high gear with a vibrant party reminiscent of a bar mitzvah. Complete with a DJ, cotton candy, smoothies (which I particularly enjoyed), and popcorn, it was a great time.

To end the night, my friends and I enjoyed the mishlo-ah manot our parents sent us before calling it a day and getting some rest.


Day 28 - Sunday, March 25

Today, we had a nice brunch (much-needed after sleeping-in following the Purim party) with bourekas, sandwiches, and fruit. Then, we packed mishlo-ah manot for families displaced by the war and delivered them in costume. We spent time with the kids we visited which was a nice opportunity. Later, we went to Ra’anana Park where people played sports and hung out with friends. In the evening, my mom and I had dinner at Nono, and I said goodbye to her until next we meet over Passover.


Day 29 - Monday, March 26

Today, we explored Israel's history and innovation through museum visits. Our first stop was the Shahar Hagai Museum, known for its interactive exhibits. With colored cards, we accessed different activities, including decoding Israeli military codes. Watching videos of soldiers sharing their experiences during key events like the Independence War gave us a personal perspective on Israel's military history.

Afterward, we visited the Peres Center in Jaffa, where we learned about Israel's innovators and their achievements. The interactive exhibits let us choose and hear firsthand stories from these pioneers.  We also learned about Shimon Peres's life and found out he is third cousins with Andrew Lefkowitz. We ended the visit by playing VR games, which was super fun!

Overall, our museum visits proved to be both enlightening and enjoyable, leaving us with a deeper understanding of Israel's history and a newfound appreciation for its innovative spirit.


Day 30 - Tuesday, March 27

Today was a busy day packed with diverse experiences. First on the agenda was a tour of Ammunition Hill, a significant site from the Six Day War. Walking through the preserved trenches and bunkers, we gained a deeper understanding of the intense battles that took place there. It was a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made for Jerusalem's liberation.

Following the tour, there were outdoor training activities that tested both our physical abilities and teamwork skills.

Afterward, we had the opportunity to visit Hatzalah, an organization providing emergency medical services across Israel. Seeing their dedication and expertise in action was truly inspiring. From ambulance operations to emergency response protocols, we gained insight into the vital role they play in saving lives and ensuring public safety.

Lastly, we explored the campus of Nefesh B’nefesh, an institution assisting immigrants in their journey to Israel. Walking through the facilities and learning about the various programs available to newcomers was fascinating. It reinforced our appreciation for the support networks in place to help immigrants integrate into Israeli society.


Day 31 - Wednesday, March 28

Today we began our journey to the south with a long drive to the Negev. Upon arrival, we did an incredibly long hike called Haverim Ein Ovdat. The views were truly breathtaking. One thing I personally have fallen in love with during this trip is hiking. How could you not fall in love with it? You get a challenge, get out of your comfort zone, get good exercise, see stunning views, and see even better views when you reach the top. It’s truly something so fulfilling.

After that hike, it was time to head to the Bedouin tents. This was an interesting experience, to say the least. It was very cool to see how the Bedouin live and experience their culture. We ate some good Bedouin food, had a very nice campfire singing songs, and had lots of fun with friends. However, this wasn’t a 5-star hotel in the slightest! We slept in a huge tent, with thin, dusty mattresses on the ground and no pillows. Most of us didn’t shower, even after a long hike, because the showers were pretty gross. And finally, many of us got sick. (Me included.) I had a bad reaction to all the dust and became very congested with a throbbing sore throat. However, in my eyes, this was all part of the experience. :-)


Day 32 - Thursday, March 29

Wow. Wow wow wow. Truly, today was incredible. Hands down, this was among the top three best days on the trip thus far. We woke up at 7:15 AM and rode camels. I had been on a camel before and thought very little of the experience. It was just a little stroll on a slow horse-like animal. But today’s camel riding was totally different because we were exploring the beautiful and scenic Israeli Negev. What an activity to wake up to, am I right? After that, we ate breakfast and took a bus ride to Mitzpeh Ramon, the biggest crater in Israel. Another absolutely breathtaking view.

Next, we took a 20-minute walk in the desert to some really cool sand dunes. As we walked, the sun was blasting and there was no shade - not even a cloud in sight. It was scorching hot - truly shocking heat. But then we arrived at the dunes and they were just so, so cool. The sand was twice as thin as the sand on the beach. It was practically water. You could fall into the sand and it felt like a pillow cushioning you as you landed. I had an incredibly good time doing flips and somersaults off of a cliff and onto the dunes. I truly thought the day couldn’t get any better.

(By the way, I’ll be transparent here. Not every day on this trip can be exceptional. Some days are only mediocre. But I’m being genuine when I say today was just spectacular.)

We left the dunes and went on our way to Eilat. After another hour-long bus ride, we arrived at the taielet/boardwalk and were given 4 hours of free time to explore. My friends and I went water tubing, where a boat dragged a raft that we held on to. It went extremely fast, and we even got some airtime. So so fun. We went to a mall that had a skating rink in it, did some shopping, ate some good food (shawarma obviously) and went back to our meetup spot.

Finally, we drove an hour to Kibbutz Keturah, where we would be spending Shabbat.


Day 33 - Friday, March 30

Today was another amazing day. We woke up early and went on a short hike. It was an hour or so long with a lot of uphill climbs, but the views were 100% worth it. Right before the summit, our teachers made us close our eyes, walk for about a minute, and then open our eyes to the incredible view of the Red Sea. We could see four different countries from the top: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Absolutely incredible.

Once we hiked back down, we walked across the street to the Eilat beach. This isn’t just any beach. It has amazing coral reefs and colorful fish. We went snorkeling and explored the fish and reef. It felt like I was in “Finding Nemo”.

We had some pizza for lunch, then went back to the boardwalk where we had another long chunk of free time. I took that time to go water tubing again. (The experience had been too fun yesterday to pass up the chance to do it again. I don’t regret it one bit!).

We then drove back to the Kibbutz, where we prepared for Shabbat. Our grade had a nice Kabbalat Shabbat outside and then had Shabbat dinner with the entire kibbutz.

For our nighttime activity, we did a competition with 6 groups and 6 different stations. Each group went around to the stations and had different trivia questions about Israel. It was sort of like Jeopardy. I thought it was very fun and engaging.

After that, we had free time for the rest of the night. I hung out with friends until very late at night, having good laughs as always.


Day 34 - Saturday, March 31

We sleep in on Shabbat (catching up on the sleep we lose each day due to our early wake-ups). Once we got up, we got a tour of the entire kibbutz. Kibbutz Keturah is fascinating because it’s entirely socialist. Everyone on the kibbutz gets equal pay and everyone shares meals and resources. If you are a doctor, you get the same pay as a janitor. Truly incredible. The kibbutz gets 100% of its energy from its solar panels. They also have lots of farm land full of plants and animals. It’s a whole mini utopia.

After lunch, we had a few hours of free time. A group of us played soccer on the kibbutz’s soccer field. It was 90 degrees, sun blaring, and we played for almost two hours. I was more tired after playing that game than I typically am after a real game. But it was definitely worth it. So much fun.

We then had an activity to learn more about the kibbutz where they taught us about the democracy of the kibbutz, and all the committees there are. There are 450 or so members of the kibbutz, and more than half are on some sort of committee.

As Shabbat ended, we had a nice Havdalah, packed up, and took a four-hour bus ride back to Muss. Very, very memorable experience in Eilat.


  • 2024
Week 4 Reflections
Gavi Olson '24, Jonathan Gould '24, and Nathan Abend '24

Day 21: Sunday, March 17

There were two things that shocked me upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The first was how bright and green the grass and sky was. The second was something I can only call the feeling of walking through a fog of death.

In all the stories, the descriptions are of a gray, dark, and muddy death factory. Not a speck of green anywhere, with intimidating buildings seemingly squeezing in on every side. And yet, when we arrived, the sky was blue and filled with fluffy clouds. The grass was green and soft, with small white wildflowers dotted across it like stars in the sky. The bunks in the work camp may as well have been just a chunk of some neighborhood, with neat gravel paths criss-crossing between them. And the death camp was neatly ordered, every bunk evenly spaced with small grassy alleyways.

But in the gas chambers, around the bunks, I could feel the despair and death that rampaged through those places. It's a hard feeling to describe. Even harder to grapple with in the moment. I think that's what will stay with me for the rest of my life. The fundamentally wrong feeling of all of it. The beauty that is a mask for something so disgustingly inhuman, for something so unbelievably immoral, for something that especially now creates a feeling of deep, deep, revulsion in my very soul. I can only try and explain it with words, but I don't think anyone could do it justice through writing. It is something one must experience for themselves.

People can hear all they want about gas chambers and crematoriums. Until you step from the lush, verdant outside, into the small, claustrophobic chambers, see the scratch marks where people frantically tried to claw their way out as the gas filled the room, you can never understand it.

Day 22: Monday, March 18

Our long drive to Prague was split by our tour of the Terezin Ghetto, which the Nazi’s named Theresienstadt. This community was unlike any of the other ghettos or camps we had seen before. It was the Nazi propaganda ghetto, housing the elite and famous Jews who were deported, and appearing to have comfortable living conditions. In reality, its inhabitants were still starved and worked to the bone, their possessions taken and their families separated. Those deported to Theresienstadt—before their further deportation to death camps—were met with more comfortable and (slightly) less crowded bunks, buildings painted with bright colors, and certain recreations like theater, music, arts, and a soccer league. These conditions were what the Red Cross commission was shown when they were granted a visit to the ghetto in June of 1944. The Red Cross commission was taken on a predetermined tour route, and only permitted to talk to certain prisoners. Theresienstadt was the last place liberated, with the Soviets reaching it just a few days before the official Nazi surrender in 1945.

Day 23: Tuesday, March 19

After arriving in Prague the previous night, we woke up early to go to our first destination: Radio Free Europe. This is the headquarters of the organization established by congress shortly after WWII to get free and true information into the totalitarian USSR. (Fun fact: the headquarters are just across the street from the grave of Franz Kafka, the Jewish novelist. We were able to cross the street and view his grave during our cold hour and a half wait to enter RFE.) Today, Radio Free Europe continues its apolitical mission, focusing on countries like Ukraine, Russia, and Iran, with a newer focus on social media and television.

After our tour of RFE, we went to Prague Castle, the largest castle in the world by square footage, which has a massive and beautiful gothic style cathedral, and a scenic view of the city.

Then, from the castle, we walked to the old city, stopping in its main square for many hours of free time, which we used to get food, shop, and marvel at the beautiful architecture. The square is home to the Tyn Church, another impressive gothic church, as well as a fifteenth century astronomical clock. On the hour, the clock becomes animate, with a sequence of moving figures that lasts for a full minute.

Next to the square some of us toured the Jewish quarter, which has a cemetery and multiple old synagogues, including the Altneuschul (old-new shul), Europe’s oldest active synagogue. The synagogue’s history includes the first usage of the magen david as a symbol of Judaism, and is the site of the famous Golem story. The rest of our day went from dinner to the airport, and a red eye flight into Tel Aviv at 3:00 AM.

Day 24: Wednesday, March 20

During our free day, most of us slept in. The remainder of the day was spent relaxing, recovering, and spending time with friends. Everyone either binge-watched tv shows, read books, listened to music, or played games.

Day 25: Thursday, March 21 

After our free day spent recovering from travel, we traveled to Alit, where we spent some time on the beach. While on the beach, we learned about how the British refused to let Jews immigrate to Palestine before, during, and after the Holocaust, and how some made the brave journey to illegally enter the territory.

After our quick learning session, we gathered together and split into partners to play a game. One partner would go out into the water and the other would run towards them, where we would then switch shirts, and carry the other back to the sand. This game was to emulate how the Haganah would help bring in the illegal migrants and trick the British patrolling the beaches. We were allowed to play around in the water (as long as we were knee deep).

After the beach, we took a quick bus ride to the Alit Detention Center, a prison built by the British to hold Jews that were caught coming into the country. The detention center looked shockingly similar to that of the Nazi concentration camps. Barbed wire surrounded the facility, and the barracks were made out of wood, just as they were in the concentration camps. While in the detention center, we learned how some Jews suffered from PTSD after the holocaust when they were brought here, and how some British soldiers would either reassure the Jews that the disinfection process was real, or harass them.

Day 26: Friday, March 22

On Friday, we went to the Anu Museum in Tel Aviv. The museum consisted of exhibits that ranged from Jewish comedy (with clips from the popular show Seinfeld) to an exhibit showing old synagogues (some of which we visited during our time in Europe) to art and other cultural items of the Jewish people. After the museum, we took the bus to the Jaffa market, where we were given some free time to explore, eat, and buy items from the vendors who were there. Some people bought records or signs to hang up in their dorm rooms. Because it was Friday, we had to end our activities to get back to campus at 3:00 PM to get ready for Shabbat. Before the festivities started, however, some took the time to either rest, or play a game of football. Shabbat was spent in AMHSI’s Beit Knesset, where we held Kabbalat Shabbat and a dinner of chicken and rice.

  • 2024
Week 3 Reflections
Jonah Beinart '24 and Ari Goldberg '24

This past week is unique compared to the rest of the trip. Instead of fun and strenuous hikes and adventures in various marketplaces, we took the time as a grade to reflect on Eastern European Jewry before and during the Holocaust.

This past week is unique compared to the rest of the trip. Instead of fun and strenuous hikes and adventures in various marketplaces, we took the time as a grade to reflect on Eastern European Jewry before and during the Holocaust. We visited multiple ghettos, concentration and death camps, and many additional sites throughout Poland in an attempt to understand how powerful the Jewish community was before the Nazi occupation. We listened to stories of heroism by Jews and non-Jews alike and those of tragedy and horror in Majdanek, Auschwitz, and the various ghettos throughout Europe.

Only after we visited the sites of some of the most infamous and horrific atrocities committed against the Jews in Poland, did I realize that no amount of academic understanding of the Holocaust helps to process the emotional and personal aspects of it fully. No matter how much I understand Hitler’s rise to power or the complexities of the Einsatzgruppen, my perspective changed when I saw the names of ~25 of my family members in the books of names at Auschwitz 1. To think about how complicated one life is, with all of one’s thoughts, emotions, actions, and relationships is overwhelming when we apply that to the fact that six million of those were wiped out systematically. Each person, couple, family, and community was equally complex and meaningful. Their lives were stripped from them, and internalizing that was one of the most difficult thoughts to process this week. 

Seeing and hearing what happened with my own eyes and ears allowed me to connect with my ancestors more than I ever had before. I feel this portion of our trip was a fitting way to complete our education on an important aspect of our Jewish history as a result. 

I hope that this summary of events helps you to better understand where we were both physically and mentally this past week.

-Jonah Beinart

Day 15: Monday, March 11

After watching Schindler’s List, it was only fair for us to visit the tree he and his wife planted at Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is a beautiful museum portraying the terrible events of the Holocaust through videos, memorabilia, and - most importantly - people. After walking through the main part of the museum, we made our way to the children’s memorial. The children’s memorial is a dark room with candles surrounded by candles to signify the one and a half million children that died.

After a meaningful walk through Yad Vashem, we went into a classroom, where our class met with Rena Quint, an 88 year old Holocaust survivor. She told us her story, starting with the ghetto, and ending with six different names. She went on to write a book about her life during the Holocaust titled A Daughter With Many Mothers. After our day at Yad Vashem, we were tired both emotionally and physically, so we headed home early and finished the day in our rooms packing and preparing for a cloudy, rainy week in Poland.

Day 16: Tuesday, March 12

 On this day we woke up incredibly early to fly to Poland. Before departing from the airport, we made sure to buy duty-free Legos!

We then met up with the several students who only joined us for the Eastern European portion of the trip, after which we settled on the huge double-decker bus that would take us everywhere throughout Poland.

We then visited one of the only fully intact Jewish cemeteries in Warsaw, with headstones spanning hundreds of years of history. This served as one of the best examples of the thriving Jewish community in Warsaw prior to the Holocaust and World War II.

Lastly, we spent some time walking around the city to visit small memorials for Jews who did everything they could for their fellow Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, such as Janusz Korczak and Emanuel Ringelblum. We also saw one of the last remaining segments of the Ghetto.

Day 17: Wednesday, March 13

We started our day discussing the daf yomi, or the daily page of the Talmud in an original Yeshiva in Lublin. We then traveled to the Majdanek death camp right outside the city.

Majdanek was reconstructed after the war - so it looks much as it did during the Holocaust. This made for an intense experience that set a solemn tone for the day.

We visited various exhibits that described daily life in the camp as well as statistics about those that came through it. Walking through the gas chambers and the crematorium was especially saddening and meaningful.

Lastly, we were given some free time to explore the small corridors and shops in the old city of Lublin. Some bought snacks, some bought meals, but it is safe to say that we were all surprised by how cheap the food was in Poland. These snacks, however, wouldn’t last too long as we made many more stops as gas stations during our remaining time in Poland.

Day 18: Thursday, March 14

First, we spent some time admiring the architecture of one of the only remaining original synagogues in Poland. We learned about some of its history from a Pole who taught himself Hebrew and took up the responsibility of keeping the building on his own. We sang songs inside the sanctuary as a group and then moved on towards Tarnów.

We then visited the grave of Naphtali Zvi of Ropshitz, who was a Hasidic Rabbi who is remembered for his sense of humor especially through difficult times in the Shtetls of Eastern Europe. We learned that he is seen as the founder of modern “Jewish humor,” which bluntly describes the tragedies that occurred throughout Jewish history in an attempt to better reflect upon those events.

That afternoon, we walked around Tarnów and what used to be the ghetto there. We learned about stories of individuals who lived in the ghetto and visited corresponding sites to their testimonies, such as the town square where Jews were rounded up to be sent to concentration or death camps during the liquidation of the ghetto.

Lastly, we visited the mass graves near Tarnów where ~10,000 people, including several thousand Jewish elderly and children were killed. It was a somber experience, and everyone paid their respects to those who lost their lives there. In addition, we shared some of our childhood memories to further the idea that the children that died in Tarnów and throughout Europe during the Holocaust lost their childhoods in an instant. We are very lucky that we are able to have a childhood and positive memories from it. We then decompressed back at the hotel.

Day 19: Friday, March 15

On Friday, before Shabbat, we spent some time walking around the old Jewish city of Krakow. A city once populated by thousands of Jewish citizens was now populated by a lot of graffiti and a few still-standing Jewish-owned businesses. However, after walking around for a bit, we got to see the oldest standing synagogue in Poland, which was incredibly surreal and interesting. We ended our visit to the old city with lunch at the market, and a visit to the Polish ghetto, featured in Schindler’s List, where sixty-seven thousand Jews were taken out of their homes. We finished the day early at the remains of the Krakow concentration camp, where most of Schindler’s List takes place.

After a long day walking around in Krakow, it was time to get ready for Shabbat. We walked to a synagogue located in the old city where we had Shabbat services. Afterwards, we celebrated Shabbat with Shabbat dinner at the Krakow JCC.

Day 20: Saturday, March 16

We started the day by waking up at 10:30 AM (a refreshing difference from our normal 5:45 AM wake-up). To start the day, we walked to the old castle, the site of Dr. Krack’s supposed battle with Smock the Dragon. We saw real dragon bones and got a fantastic view of both the city and the inside of the castle.

After some time back at the hotel (which most of us used to take a nap), we had some time to walk around Rynek town square. With an almost infinite number of shops with cheap jewelry, we elected to visit as many Zabkas and Carrefours as possible. Lastly, we had dinner and went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day when we would be visiting Auschwitz 1 and Birkeneau.


  • 2024
Week 2 Reflections
Kaylah Goldrich '24, Yaeli Greenblum '24, and Ella Waldman '24

Day 7: Sunday, March 3

We awoke on Sunday (still full from our excursions out on Ben Yehuda Street Saturday night), quickly packed up our things, and said goodbye to Lev Yerushalayim. We set out with the expectation of visiting the famous Israel Museum that morning, but were informed that since October 7, the museum is no longer open on Sundays. 

Our teacher, Tom, also informed us that we would be scrapping the originally planned hike for an easier one, as the teachers felt the original plan would be too difficult (especially with our upcoming Masada hike). Immediately, our bus protested, claiming that hard hikes were the reason we came on this trip, and the teachers, having heard our complaints, switched plans again, and we headed to Ein Gedi. 

The hike was divided into three sections: a steep uphill, a flat, but rocky section, and a trek downhill towards natural water springs. Our past “hikes” would be better described as pleasant nature walks, but this one, with the sun beating down on our necks as we stumbled along a bumpy, steep path, was exactly what we had all pictured the Israel trip to be like. Climbing up rocks like a ladder and sliding down smooth, natural slides, while exciting in and of itself, was made all the more worth it when we reached the view. Overlooking the striking blue Dead Sea and other breathtaking cliffs, we felt, not for the first time, the uniqueness of the opportunity we have to be on this trip. We then began our trek down to the much-anticipated water springs. Though we were expecting a large waterfall and swim area, we were informed that because of an avalanche of rocks a couple of months ago, the large spring was still closed to the public. Pivoting to a smaller spring and waterfall, a lot of the grade made the best out of the situation and dunked our heads in the waterfall, a rejuvenating activity after a very hot day. 

After this day-long hike, we made our way to Kibbutz Almog, where we had a delicious dinner, then went to bed very early in preparation for our 3:00 AM wake-up to climb Masada.

Day 8: Monday, March 4

Monday started early as we packed up our bags, made a quick breakfast, and loaded the buses to begin the hour-long drive to the base of Masada. Our hike began quickly as we had just over an hour to reach the mountain’s summit before the 6:00 AM sunrise. Running on minimal sleep and sore legs from Sunday’s strenuous hike, this hike was a different experience from the previous Ein Gedi hike, as it was entirely uphill, but was incredibly fun nonetheless. Though the endless amount of stairs had some of us questioning our will to survive, the difficult trek was all worth the pain when we arrived at the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise together as a grade. 

Atop Masada, we gathered in the synagogue (the third oldest known to man) and took a moment to pray together amongst the historical sites of our ancestors. The next couple of hours were filled with numerous history lessons, ancient soldier training, and screaming into cliffs. We learned about the historical importance of Masada, and how the Jewish inhabitants, surrounded by Roman soldiers on all sides of the mountain, committed suicide before being taken. We found it fascinating to be standing on the same ground our ancestors had stood thousands of years ago. We then ran laps, did push-ups, and practiced army formations in an attempt to recreate the ancient training done to prepare soldiers for war. We ended our time on Masada with a meaningful group activity where we all screamed “Shalom” simultaneously, and heard it echo repeatedly throughout the mountainous terrain of the Judean desert. 

Now fully awake, we made our way down the mountain, unsurprisingly a much easier journey than climbing up. Sweaty, tired, hungry, and in disbelief that it was only 10:00 AM, we loaded the buses to our next stop, the Dead Sea. We stopped for lunch at Hummus Eliyahu and filled ourselves with hummus and pita. We then quickly changed into bathing suits, slathered ourselves in Dead Sea mud, and waded into the salty water. Those among us who didn’t listen to the recommendation of not shaving for the two days prior struggled to remain in the water longer than 30 seconds, but the rest of us enjoyed a leisurely float in the unique water experience. The ride back to campus was by far our longest yet, exacerbated by a crash in the middle of the highway.

Day 9: Tuesday, March 5

Still tired from our early morning the day before, we dragged ourselves out of bed to go spelunking in the Bar Kochba caves. As we waited in line to enter the caves, we learned about the history of the revolt and the purpose of the caves. When it was finally time, we put on our headlamps and climbed down to the narrow tunnels. Though everyone had gathered around the stairs, a small portion of the group opted out of the claustrophobic activity, instead enjoying a relaxing day in the beautiful Judean hills. Those who did enter the caves had a great time climbing on their stomachs and crawling on their knees. Our group specifically enjoyed a special moment singing with a small delegation of women praying for the safe release of the Israeli hostages. After the caves, we prepared our lunches at a local gas station. We feasted on deli sandwiches, chocolate wafers, and chips. After that, we made our way to an ancient Roman-era amphitheater. 

As we entered the amphitheater, we were greeted by a massive pit and several rows of seats filled with paper cut-out replicas of Roman-era spectators. We started the afternoon with a quick gladiator game. We split into teams of two and attempted to grab the hat of another pair while on our partner’s back. After a lot of laughing, hitting, and falling, we made it to the final round where Ari B. and Ron K. took home the gold. After the game, we split into our respective groups and learned more about the history of the amphitheater. In our Hebrew Immersion group, our teacher taught us about the origin of the middle finger and the thumbs up/thumbs down hand signals. To end our time there, we heard a story from our incredible tour guide Michael, who recounted the execution of Rabbi Akiva. Although not executed in this specific amphitheater, we were able to picture just what it looked like. We headed back to campus early, around 4:00 PM, still recovering from our early morning at Masada. 

Day 10: Wednesday, March 6

Day 10 began with another beautiful hike, this time at Mount Arbel. We began our hike with a short walk up to a beautiful lookout point, before beginning the trek down the mountain. Although the downhill nature of the hike did not provide a particularly strenuous workout, there was a portion of the hike that involved climbing down the side of a cliff, a pleasant reminder of our Ein Gedi hike. After climbing down we enjoyed the views of the bright green mountaintop, the cows grazing in the grass, and the ancient fortress hiding throughout the cliffs. Of course, with cute cows grazing in the grass comes disgusting cow poop throughout the trail… Needless to say, the bus didn’t smell very good on the way to our next destination, Tzfat. 

We began our time in the mystical city with some free time to explore. Unfortunately, wartime impacts everywhere and everyone, with Tzfat taking a significant hit. A city typically characterized by bustling streets full of tourists was ominously empty. As we looked for the bathroom, a shop owner eagerly welcomed us into his jewelry shop. He said it was his first time speaking English in five months. Although every sign in the city spelled Tzfat in a different way, all the doors had the same bright blue color. Our favorite part of the city was the alleyways, each a curving staircase with a perfect view of the mountains. As we continued exploring, we met with Avraham Loewenthal, a prominent Kabbalist living in Tzfat. He explained each of his paintings, going through their connections to several kabbalist values. His most interesting art was an electronic mapping of the shofar blowing. Before departing, we visited a beautiful blue synagogue and learned about the history of the Shulchan Aruch text.  

Day 11: Thursday, March 7

Thursday began early as we quickly ate breakfast and made our way down to the Gaza Envelope. Our day started at a lemon farm in Tlamin, where, since the war began, there have been no farmers to pick the fruit, resulting in shortages across the country. Though many of us created intense lemon-picking games (all while complaining about countless scratches and pokes from the thorny lemon trees), the uniqueness and importance of this opportunity did not go unnoticed. We were incredibly grateful for the chance to make even just a small difference in this farmer’s life and this country’s survival. After about half a day of working on the farm, we ate our packed lunch on the bus and made our way to the Nova festival site. 

Before wandering around the memorial, our teacher, Tom, shared his personal connection to this site, having lost a friend at the site and having a cousin taken hostage during the festival. Only a couple of miles from Gaza, as we walked through the memorials set up for each person murdered, we could hear bombs going off, a staggering reminder of the continuous conflict. It can be easy to forget that this country is at war as we venture on exciting hikes and enjoy incredible views, but this day and this visit served as an important reminder about the pain and suffering Israel is still recovering from and experiencing. During our visit to the Nova festival site, a separate Yeshiva group began singing in a circle, of which many of our JDS boys joined, a touching and meaningful experience. 

Our next stop was a bomb shelter next to a bus stop, where our counselor Ben’s friend was tragically killed, and the well-known American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin was taken hostage. Full of memorials for those killed and still marked with bullet holes, the bomb shelter was another chilling reminder of the horrifying events that took place on October 7. 

To bring a more positive light to an otherwise heavy day, we visited the Shuva Ahim rest stop, a makeshift station set up near the Gaza border for soldiers to stop by and reset with some delicious food, good music, and a relaxing environment. Aside from serving hundreds of meals a day, Shuva Ahim also has a wide range of amenities available at all times, ensuring each soldier’s needs never go unmet. 

Next, we stopped by the lot where all of the cars that were destroyed during the events of October 7 were collected. Cars, some completely rusted over from the hours they spent burning and others full of bullet holes, were piled up along a clearing, a very striking image of the massacre that occurred and a haunting makeshift memorial. Aside from the Israeli cars destroyed, we also saw some of the vehicles used by terrorists, including the infamous white pick-up truck present in so many of the online videos that circulated that day. 

To end a difficult day, we attended a barbeque for soldiers where we were able to cook, serve food, and talk with those on the front lines of this conflict. We were able to talk with the soldiers both about the conflict and their role in the IDF, as well as more personal topics such as jobs, families, sports, and the differences between American and Israeli culture. To end the event, our entire group circled up with some of the soldiers and other Jewish Americans in attendance to sing together with a live guitarist. We sang classics like "Acheinu" and "One Day," granting us a very wholesome opportunity to reconnect with each other and the soldiers after an emotionally draining day.

Day 12: Friday, March 8

Friday we woke up late (at 8:00 AM!), had breakfast, and went our separate ways for the free weekend. Yaeli stayed on campus and had a very peaceful Shabbat filled with card games, Settlers of Catan, and lots of snacks. 

Kaylah and Ella visited one of Kaylah’s family friends in Haifa, but accidentally took the local bus up, and spent over two hours on the road. Neither of us having ever been to Haifa, we were wowed by the bright blue sea views and greenery. Upon our arrival at our host family’s house, we had a delicious lunch of salad, shakshuka, labneh cheese, and bread. This fantastic meal was followed by a food tour of Druze villages, starting with knafeh with Turkish ice cream, then stuffed grape and cabbage leaves, and a pita for the road. We then went sightseeing, stopping at a memorial commemorating the 44 police officers killed in the infamous Haifa fire in 2010 and then the lookout over the Bahai gardens. Stuffed with food and tired from a long day of traveling, we both passed out for hours before ending the night with a 10:00 PM dinner with friends. 

Day 13: Saturday, March 9

All three of us slept in late on Shabbat, and had a nice, restful morning. While Yaeli continued her leisurely day filled with cards, drum lessons, ice cream, and way too many pushups, Ella and Kaylah continued their explorations of Haifa. 

Around midday we walked around the neighborhood, taking in the sea views from a cute, walkable park. Our host family’s daughter held an IDF going-away party as she is leaving to go to the army in 2 weeks, and we enjoyed couscous, salads, and cheese boards. At around 6:00 PM, we made our way back to campus, again having some challenges with the Israeli bus system (missing our stop and almost leaving our luggage on the bus), but we made it back to campus in Hod HaSharon just in time, and were excited to see everyone!

Day 14: Sunday, March 10

After a rejuvenating weekend, we were gifted with a very peaceful start to the week. Although we had to wake up at 6:30 AM, there were some tasty bourekas for breakfast in the dining hall. We started our day with “Dialogue in the Dark,” an exhibit in the Children’s Museum that allows seeing individuals to experience what life is like in the dark, whether that means a person is blind or visually impaired. Each guide takes a group of 10 people through 6 different settings. We visited a park, a boat, a street, a shouk, a cabin, and a cafeteria (where we could buy food and drinks). In the cafeteria, we spoke with our guide about her experience with losing her sight. Her most interesting insight was a response to a question about her life after October 7. Because of her blindness, she is not able to get into a shelter quickly enough when a siren goes off, so for a couple of months, she was unable to leave her parents’ home. 

After we finished at the museum, we visited an Israeli organization named Save a Child’s Heart which provides life-saving heart surgery for children from over 70 different countries. This organization also trains medical professionals on how to administer these surgeries in their home countries. After learning about the organization, we went outside to play with children who were recovering from or preparing for heart surgery. Although none of us spoke the same language, dancing and throwing a soccer ball became our way of communicating with them. As we said goodbye to adorable children, we got back on the bus to go to the mall. We were sent to buy snacks and warm clothes for Poland. 

Back on campus, we had a lovely chat with our Dean of Students, Benji, and then had some free time. In preparation for our trip to Eastern Europe, we watched Schindler’s List, important historical context for the upcoming week. 


  • 2024

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