Shalom! Week 2

  1. The gang makes it to Ben Gurion airport.
  2. Yad Vashem:  Holocaust Memorial Museum.  As you progress through it, the building becomes confining and smaller.  The sense of enclosure and suffocating.  It re-enacts the feeling that the prisoners of the concentration camps had, as well as it could.  The Children’s memorial, however, was the most moving.  The names of all the children lost in the Holocaust were called out with their ages.  The room is filled with mirrors and black slates with tiny lights.  Each light looks like a star, but represents the life of one child.  Every turn left you between an aisle of stars, whose lights are gone.
  3. “Time Elevator”:  One of the first years where the guided tour was voted out for future years.  This 4-D experience was a basic introduction to Jewish culture and Israel, but did not live up to the expectations of many of the kids.
  4. Jerusalem:  The night life of Friday at the Wailing Wall.  The Orthodox Jews dance and sing, while the other exchange students all lined up to place their wish in the wall.  I slowly stepped towards it.  My wish in my hand.  I can’t say what it is, it wouldn’t come true then, but it wasn’t for world peace or anything like that.  I stuffed it in a crack, and knew that if it fell then someone would be there to pick it up and keep it in the storage next to the wall.  I did cry a little.  I went to Israel for a spiritual journey, but I had never felt so close to God before.
  5. Darbukas:  I learned that I had no rhythm when it came to beating a drum with only one hand.  Deja, Alicia, and Matt are all off key next to me as well, but its loads of fun.  The instructor then informs us that we will be learning how to belly dance.  Everyone grabbed a scarf and began to twirl to Ke$ha and some other songs.  I was surprised by how well Dante and Matt could move, but Maddy was definitely rocking the scarf.
  6. Dead Sea Region:  Masada & Ein Gedi Springs:  The first introduction I got on the Dead sea was DO NOT SHAVE.  It will hurt like hell.  Matt got sick and we tried to blame it on the Cat that bit him on the second day in Jerusalem, but it turned out to be the water from the hostel.  He had to stay at the hostel to recover.  On the way, some kids paid for camel rides at the coffee shop.  Stephanie, the New Yorker Virginia Beach adopted, became one of my best friends on the trip.  She made fun of my granny glasses with the wire between the lenses, but its not like I never did that either.  When we get to Masada a few of the students are sad that we are not walking to the ruins, but the view from the trolley was enjoyable as well.  I couldn’t believe how cats were still on top of the buildings.  Hundreds of feet up and they’re still there.  Afterwards we go to Ahava to see the skin care products.  Many buy mud and sea water.  I discuss with Alicia and Maddy why they would only have girls in their advertisements, but we already knew the answer…Don’t think to hard about it.  Anyway, then we head towards the sea.  A little area is roped off, and all of us strip to our bathing suits.  There is a big bucket of mud to the side, which we all immediately delve into.  It sucks for everyone who already bought mud, but we pour and dribble tons onto our skin.  I was covered!  After taking a dip, and almost blinding myself after rubbing my eyes with salty hands, I spy a rock of salt.  Crystalized salt that was just sitting there.  I grab and hunk and break it into two pieces with the help of Mr. Falls.  We hide it, this way Matt can have a piece of the Dead Sea too.  When I go to change into my casual clothes though, I am unnerved by the Russian women who begin to strut out in their Birthday suits into the water.  I was told to bring a modest suit, and was not expecting to get that kind of an eyeful.  Although, on the way home I noticed the beauty of the desert.  I noticed how I had never seen one until that moment, and I had passed one of the lowest points on Earth to get there.
  7. The Old City of Jerusalem:  One of the most beautiful cities of the world!
  8. Yad Kennedy:  This is the memorial to John F. Kennedy where all the exchange cities take a picture next to the name of their state.  Our tour guide takes a picture of her Tiger doll sitting on the memorial while the five of us and Mr. Falls try to pile onto the Virginia pillar.
  9. Knesset:  The Israeli parliament building.  It started to hail after our tour!  Although I did have four different pamphlets, all in different languages to keep myself safe from the plops.  We were also kept at a safe distance from the peaceful protestors across the street with their chants and posters.
  10. Mini Israel:  One of the most disappointing parts of the trip!  Mr. Falls had told our whole exchange and Stephanie that all the workers were midgets that had been asked to reenact the history of Israel and their greatest sites.  Turns out, that they’re all figurines in a miniature version of all the attractions.  Disappointed and a exciting all rolled into one.
  11. Tel Aviv Tour-Jaffa:  I loved walking along side streets and so close to some of the clearest water I had ever seen.  The horoscope bridge was interesting too.  Legend says, if you make a wish on your zodiac then it will come true.  I found Capricorn and made my second wish on the trip.
  12. Diaspora Museum:  I was most interested in the different styles of Synagogues shown in one of the exhibits.  I was a little sad that the one from China was on exhibit elsewhere, but the rest all showed the influence of different cultures yet the similarity of a religion in one structure.
  13. Departure for Rishon Le-Zion made!

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