Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tel Aviv, Holon, Jerusalem and so much more!!

Wahoo!!  We now have a good internet signal to upload some of the pics over the last few days and update you with everything that we have been doing. Sometimes it's difficult to recall what you did yesterday let alone 8 hours ago since this trip is extremely packed with fun-filled, educational, experiential and wonderful activities.  I wanted to just sum up what we have done over the last few days, a few pictures and then a wonderful post by one of our students which shows the true meaning of the impact that IST can have on an individual.

Tomorrow we will go to Yad Vashem, which is the Israel Holocaust Museum,  and spend a few hours in the Jerusalem Market (Shuk) before preparing for our final Shabbat in Israel.

Tuesday July 14th

  • Tour of Independence Hall
    • Independence Hall, originally the Dizengoff House is the site of the signing of Israel's Declaration of Independence. It is located on the historic Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, Israel. From 1932 to 1971 housing the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, it is currently a museum dedicated to the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the history of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. 
  • Shopping time at the Carmel Market & Nachalat Binyamin artist market in Tel Aviv
  • Visited one of our favorite organizations, Save A Child's Heart
    • Save A Child's Heart (SACH) is one of the largest undertakings in the world, providing urgently needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for indigent children from developing countries. Based in Israel, our mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from countries where the heart surgery they need is unobtainable.
  • Visited the Holon Children's Museum. 
    •  Some of our group learned about what it felt to be blind and another group learned about the aging process and how it feels to get older
  • Had a delicious pizza dinner on the port of Jaffa followed by the incredible play at Nalagaat Theatre.
    • Eleven deaf-blind actors take the audience on a magical tour in the districts of their inner world; the world of darkness, silence and…bread. As the process of bread making unfolds on stage – the dough is being kneaded, raised and baked “for real” – a unique encounter occurs between actors and audience. Together they re-enact vivid or distant memories, recall forgotten dreams and joyful moments and ‘touch’ the spark of Creation present in every one of us.  The actors take the spectators into those magical moments between reality and fantasy, between grandeur and ridicule, and always eventually return to the basic meaning of bread as a symbol of our longing for a home. 

Wednesday July 15th
  • Enjoyed the incredible sun & sand of the beach in Netanya
  • Tour of the Palmach Museum
    • The Palmach Museum is a museum located in Ramat Aviv, Israel dedicated to the Palmach, the strike-force of the pre-state underground Haganah defense organization, which was later integrated into the Israel Defense Forces.The museum is an underground series of multi-media experience chambers, starting with a memorial for the fallen.
  • Tour of Rabin Square in Tel Aviv
    • Rabin Square, formerly Kings of Israel Square, is a large public city square in the center of Tel Aviv, Israel. Over the years it has been the site of numerous political rallies, parades, and other public events. In 1995 the square was renamed 'Rabin Square' following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin which occurred there on November 4 of that year.
  • Checked out the movie complex Cinema City and saw a screening of "Jurassic World"

Thursday July 16th

  • Took a wonderful tour of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) 
  • Enjoyed time at the Israel Museum checking out the scale model of Jerusalem what it would've looked like 2,000 years ago, seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls and much more..
    • The Israel Museum was founded in 1965 as Israel's national museum. Among the unique objects on display is a carved female figurine considered the oldest artwork in the world; necklaces worn by Jewish brides in Yemen; a mosaic Islamic prayer niche from 17th-century Persia. An urn-shaped building on the grounds of the museum, the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts discovered at Masada
  • Walked around Ammunition Hill 
    • Ammunition Hill was a fortified Jordanian military post in the northern part of Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem. It was the site of one of the fiercest battles of the Six-Day War.Ammunition Hill is now a national memorial site
  • Kotel Tunnels Tour
    • The Western Wall Tunnel  is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately 60 metres (200 ft) long, the majority of its original length is hidden underground. The tunnel allows access to an additional 485 metres (1,591 ft) of the wall..
Tel Aviv
Independence Hall

 Save a Child's Heart

Tel Aviv Beach

Rabin Square 

Seeing "Jurassic World"


Israel Museum

Ammunition Hill

Blog post by Eric Simon

With only 3 days left of this life changing trip I cannot help but rethink everything about it. I wonder: was it worth it, did I enjoy it, did I make new friends, will I come back, what will I say when I get back, did I learn anything, did I change, etc. All I can say is that for me I could not have asked for a better summer. Was it worth it yes. Did I enjoy every single moment no and I don't think anyone enjoyed every moment;however, I can feel confident in saying that I enjoyed a majority of the trip. Everyday there was something positive in it. Everyday I laughed to the point of cramps, I talked to a new person, I felt happy, I was impressed, I was interested, and I was grateful. So yes, I feel comfortable in saying that I did enjoy the trip because it was truly an amazing experience. 

Making new friends is something that is impossible to avoid on this trip. You are spending 36 days with 73 people every single minute of the day. There is not one part of the day where you are not at least within ear shot of any IST member. The friends I made on this trip will forever be my friends. They are amazing, funny, and we bonded. They are my family and I care for them with my whole soul. I cannot begin to express how much these people mean to me. So yes I made new friends and connected with old ones. Honestly the idea of coming back to Israel is a no brainier. Or course I will be back. Whether it be in one year or 10. I will be back to Israel and I will fall in love with the place all over again. I love Israel. I love it because of the culture and the beauty and the cities. I don't know if I can call this place my home because of the Judaic aspect, but I can call it my home because Israel does something different that no other country I have ever been to does. And that is acceptance. You walk around the streets of Israel and you feel accepted. You look to the right or left and you will see a new family member. It is weird to imagine and it is hard to explain unless you have been here but it is the truth. It is a family here and they do what they must to be a family. 

I don't know if what they do is always correct but it is always for the right intention. So, Mom, be prepared because your son will be back eventually and I am brining Papa. The one thing that will  be said whenever anyone asks me about this trip is, "It was truly an experience that I will always remember". Because it is true. This trip I will never forget. It will always be with me. I will be telling stories from this trip for years. I have pictures that will tell my story. IST 2015 will not evade my memory. So my response will be unforgettable.

IST 2015 has taught me many valuable lessons both silly and serious:
1)Jellyfish are evil and will sting you
2)Being there for one another is the best solution for anyone
3)Drinking water will cure any illness
4)Swollen knees are just bug bites
4)If one person goes to the hospital 10 more will follow
5)Cook offs are just a way to make children work for food
6)Kosher Delight is not delightful
7)Bus rides are the best cuddle sessions
8)Talking to staff is just as fun as talking to the kids
9)Israelis don't wait in line
10)Family isn't just by blood or marriage 

Of course there are more lessons but this is already a little long. However, this last answer requires a longer explanation so just bear with me. I think I have changed. I honestly believe that the Eric Joseph Simon that left Denver on June 14th is different from the Eric Joseph Simon that will arrive at Denver on July 19th. I think that I became more confident, personal, and respectful. I think that I have a new understanding of what it means to stand up for something you want. I am starting to grasp the idea that sometimes school isn't that important. Sometimes there are things that are more important and will affect you just as much. I have become a new Eric. 

I don't know if it is better or worse but it is different. I feel different and I am happier. I am so thankful for IST;however, I think I am most thankful for my mom not just because she is reading this but because she sent me on this trip that changed me. She sent me halfway around the world with 73 other people and let me find my self. She indirectly created all my experiences and truly made this spectacular for me. I am so thankful for her and her support. This trip was unforgettable and I truly owe it all to her. So thank you mom and congrats on the Art Institute.

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