Reporting from Israel — On Friday, February 11 we embarked on a tiyul to Ein Gedi for the weekend, joining 38 Israeli students from the Yarkon School.
When we were done unpacking our heavy bags, and walked outside our hostel rooms, we marveled at the beautiful, scenic view of the Dead Sea, which set a serene vibe for the weekend. I was placed in a room with an Israeli girl who I will spend time with during one of my future free weekends.
As Shabbat approached, we all gathered around in a circle on the lawn and sang familiar childhood melodies, accompanied by a guitar. We went into the dining room and enjoyed a delicious buffet, filled with Israeli vegetables, meats, and breads.
My core teacher Rona, who coordinated the tiyul, granted the students free time after dinner. We all chilled on the patio near our rooms for hours, asking each other questions in an attempt to understand one another’s lives and cultures better. We sang songs, played “Banana Grams,” and some of us even danced.
On Saturday we had the option of either going on an “easy” or “hard” hike. In an attempt to burn off the many shnitzels and crepes I have consumed in the last three weeks here, I went on the hard hike to the David Stream.
This hike was incredibly difficult, but completely worth the strain (and ankle injury). The sun was scorching, but as we approached the beautiful waterfall the cool air relieved us.
After a busy and hectic week filled with stressful exams, we had time to sleep and relax, which truly set the tone for Shabbat. After our free time, we gathered into small groups and did various trust-building activities. My favorite involved my American and Israeli friends catching me as I fell backwards from a flight of stairs.
After our activities, there was a beautiful Havdallah service on the patio. We gathered in a circle, linked hands, and sung familiar Jewish melodies. Rona (my core teacher) remarked on how close we had grown as a group in just 24 hours. A boy pulled out his guitar and started playing American tunes, which we all sang to together.
This tiyul was wonderful for so many reasons—it gave us a new perspective on life in Israel and brought the Milken delegates closer to Israelis our age, resulting in new, exciting relationships that could possibly last a lifetime.