A Summer of Travel

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This past summer was really busy with traveling. First I went to New York City for the first time. From JFK airport, where I met my fellow participants of NCSY’s Eurotrip, we flew to Madrid, Spain. Over the next two weeks the trip would take me to Lisbon and Castillo de Vide, Portugal, Madrid, Seville, Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada, Spain, Gibraltar, Venice, Florence, and Rome, Italy. While my group was in Rome we visited Vatican City. After my two weeks in Europe, my group went to Israel for two weeks. While we were traveling from Rome to Israel we had a short layover in Switzerland. During the two weeks in Israel we went all over the country.

The country that had the most effect on me was the smallest country we visited. Technically, it’s not even a country; it’s a six square kilometer British territory. Gibraltar.

The National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) is a Jewish youth group primarily in the US and Canada. Friday night at sundown trough Saturday at sundown is the Jewish Sabbath and the Jewish Sabbath is called Shabbat. For our first Shabbat we were in Gibraltar and we visited three out of the four Synagogues.

One big shock to me was how the synagogues were built and how the sanctuary was set up and decorated. At the synagogue I got to in the city I like the sanctuary is in the middle of the building and is surrounded by offices and a social hall for different events and while in services men and women get to sit together. In Gibraltar, men sat on the first floor and the women sat on the second floor and could look down on the first floor. Also, the synagogue we went to on Saturday morning had a courtyard surrounding the sanctuary on two of the four sides and sanctuary windows were open so the wind could blow in. In the courtyard, they even had a few grape vines growing. Also, all three synagogues had fancy gold and silver decorations hanging around the sanctuary. Also, their service was a lot different that what I am use to.

After services were done my group had lunch with five or six local teens and two of them hung out with us even after lunch. I found it strange that in Gibraltar the legal age for drinking alcohol was 16 and you had to be 18 to get a drivers license. In Kansas City you can get your drivers license at 16 and start learning how to drive at age 14. Also, you have to be 21 in Kansas to legally drink alcohol. Another thing that I found interesting that is the teenagers’ parents let them cross the border to Spain and hange out in the city that is right there with their friends with no parental supervision.

While my trip was there we visited the Barbary Macaque monkey. I enjoyed seeing them, but I found it strange that the government allows them to run around wild. I, also, found it interesting that the monkeys were really friendly to tourists.





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