Experiencing the Holy Land

April 26, 2011
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Right when I got off the plane I felt a connection, to the people and the place, to not being a minority. Israel has a special place in my heart. I have only been there once, yet it feels like I have been there more. It is where I made unforgettable memories with 40 new friends. Experiencing new foods and adventures otherwise not possible. It is by far my favorite place I’ve traveled to. I don’t think I have ever seen such beautiful scenery; the crashing waves of the Mediterranean to the Desert. I had never hiked so much in my life; it was definitely hard hiking for at least 4 hours in the rigorous heat. But it was worth all the complaining. When a hike was over you just looked back and smiled, knowing you accomplished something. Israel was where I saw history right in front of me, places and things from thousands and thousands of years ago. I learned about the Druz religion and had a taste of it. I experienced the life in a Bedouin Tent, the delicious fish and rice dish they made us with hot tea. And I can’t forget riding a camel at the Bedouin Tents. In Israel I also rode a donkey, that’s not something you do every day. While being in Israel, I was out of my element, doing many things I had never done, from riding a donkey and camel to repelling down a mountain and snorkeling. I also slept under the stars in the desert, the only way I can come up with to describe this beautiful sight, laying in a sleeping bag with the weather being cool looking up all you see is stars, as if you’re looking up at a planetarium and you see mountains in the distance and you hear nothing, just peace, quiet, the beautiful sky with wonderful company.
I made 40 new friends, it is hard to keep in touch with all of them and I was closer to ones than others, I still have 40 new people that I shared an amazing month with. From New York all the way to California, I can pick up the phone anytime and call them; they are always there for me. Even my staff from my trip to this special place, they weren’t just people to watch over 40 teenagers, they are now my friends also.
One of the things I miss the most about Israel is having Kabbalat Shabbat services. On Friday afternoons we would go to the busy shook and get delicious treats for the weekend. For Kabbalat Shabbat, we would get ready and take pictures then we would have services outside at Yemin Moshe, a beautiful overlook of the Old City. I miss the amazing taste of schwarma and falafel that I would purchase while shopping on Ben Yehuda Street. When I hear certain songs, eat certain foods, or if someone says something it reminds me of Israel, it brings me back to that special time. I do not know when I will be back, but what I do know is that I will be back in Israel sometime in the future.





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