Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lower Galilee, Disco Cruise, and more!

The past few days were filled with usual IST craziness with a busy schedule...below is a wonderful post from one of our participants so I just wanted to summarize what we have done since her post is just so thoughtsful & meaningful. from our hike in Jilabun to an old army post on Mount Bental to touring Qaztrin to visiting an olive oil factory to a disco cruise on the Sea of Galilee and then dinner in Tiberias.

Today we had a wonderful easy bike ride in the Hula Valley followed visiting a kibbutz up north and then finished with rafting on the Jordan River!  (Sorry no pix of the Jordan River since we weren't allowed to bring our cameras)

It's amazing that we are finishing week #3 and have another much needed restful Shabbat which we will spend in Akko!

IST Blog Post – Maya Frost-Belansky

After an emotionally draining week in Poland, we were all eager to have some fun upon our arrival to Israel.  The past week has been jam-packed with new & exciting experiences. With all the amazing craziness that has been our reality, our counselors and staff were correct in choosing tonight to provide an opportunity for us to stop and smell the roses.

We arrived at our Bedouin tent experience in the desert and after some delicious food eaten with our hands, we got ready to go on a night hike.  The staff instructed us to walk in complete silence.  As we set out as a group into the desert, I was astounded by how seriously every single person adhered to maintaining silence.  It felt as though we, as a community of 73 individuals,, had made an unspoken agreement to create a meaningful experience for ourselves.  Walking silently through the desert, I was struck by the shadows created by the receding lights of the tents behind us.  Though we moved separately and independently, our shadow seemed to move as one, with each one in prefect parallel. 

Eventually when we reached our destination, we split off from each other to sit and reflect in our own space in the valley in the desert.  The moment I sat down and glanced up at the valley above me, I was overcome with an all-consuming feeling of belonging.  Those who stood above me in the valley were silhouetted and thus unidentifiable.  But somehow, it was in the anonymity that I felt connected to a community that accepts one regardless of identifiable characteristics.  In other words, though I was unable to name each individual silhouette, I felt more connected to the IST community than I have so far on the trip. 

While I can only speak for myself, I am fairly certain that I can say that most everyone in that valley knew in those moments of silence that we are connected and bonded in an ineffable way.  Perhaps it was the way the wind blew warmly through the valley or just the after effects of eating too much food, but whatever the cause, I can truly say that I experienced pure contentedness sitting in our little valley. 

The music from the guitar was our signal to regather and without speaking or instruction, we formed a circle and sang together.  For me, singing together arm-in-arm in our little valley in the desert was far more meaningful than visiting concentration camps and Holocaust memorials in regard to my Jewish responsibility and identity.  In that circle, I saw the strength and vitality of the Jewish tradition more clearly than ever.  When we sang the shehechiyanu, I knew we were singing not only to celebrate our experience, but also to confirm our commitment to each other and to the greater community as the next generation of Jews.  I think that it was nearly impossible to feel lonely in that circle because we stood together as Jews and as friends to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts in our little valley in the desert.

Hike in the Jilabun

Mt Bental

Olive Oil Factory

Boat Cruise on the Kinneret

Biking in the Hula Valley

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