SA youth return with love for Holy Land
We went as a group of 43 lively girls, writes Estee, and took over Israel for 10 days!
We travelled the length and breadth of the country, with song, great food and spirit to accompany us. Along the way we learnt the language, history and ways of our nation. As we travelled, we connected to our past, present and future, while davening at various kvarim, holy sites and of course the Kotel!
We were privileged to also experience various aspects of Israel, away from the tourist parts. We went to a girls’ high school, meeting new girls, making connections and seeing a Torah learning environment for girls just like us.
We went to some people’s houses to see the way they live. There we experienced unbelievable hospitality and warmth.
We were shown hi-tech presentations on the hardships Israel has gone through, to get to where it is today. That made it very real for us, and easy to understand and appreciate our soldiers who risked and lost their lives for us to have a safe and enjoyable trip like we did.
These presentations made us appreciate our land, so much more.
The atmosphere and vibe of Israel blew us as teenagers away – to see that the Jews really take advantage of the Holy Land, occupying the streets all hours of the night in song, dance and unity.
We ended off our trip with a kumzitz overlooking the Kotel, with many different instruments and people joined together in song, dance and happiness. This really summed up Israel for us, a place where many different notes and keys join together to make the perfect song.
What better place, to stand hand in hand singing Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim (If I forget thee, O Jerusalem).
Israel, we will never forget you!
Also arranged by the Israel Centre, the boys’ groups comprised 15 participants from Torah Academy, Hirsch Lyons, Maharsha and Mesivta Shaarei Torah.
“It began with air hostesses wishing us chag sameach as we were getting off the plane as the tour was over the week of Chanukah,” said Torah Academy principal, Rabbi Yossi Chaikin.
“It was amazing to spend the festive season in a place where this equals Chanukah!”
The boys visited the four holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberius. They climbed Masada up the Snake Path, rode donkeys in Kfar Kedem (a Talmudic-era village), had a boat cruise on the Kinneret, and went jeep riding in the Galilee.
They also went to the Golan Heights, the Valley of Tears – the site of a decisive battle during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
They boys experienced the Kotel tunnel and visited numerous yeshivot across the country to help them make a decision for their gap year in 2018.
One of the pupils, Avishai Bender, wrote a moving poem about his experiences.