Eisner in Israel: Week Five Update

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Shalom from Tel Aviv!

It’s hard to believe this was our last full week in Israel and next Shabbat we will be back in the Berkshires visiting you.
Since we last wrote we’ve had some AMAZING Israeli teens join our group. We met up with them at a beach on the Kinneret and did mixers, team building games, and went kayaking and banana boating! We came back to the hotel to celebrate Shabbat, and after just a day of knowing the Israeli teens, it felt like we’d been friends for years! On Saturday, our new friends led a program about Israeli music, and then we ended the day with a talent show. On Sunday, we traveled to a former army base on the border of the Golan heights and Syria. We learned more about the IDF and spoke about refugees. In the afternoon we had a blast rafting down the Chatzbani river.
On Monday, we drove back to Jerusalem where we heard from two men who work with the organization Roots. One is an Israeli settler and one is a Palestinian and they each spoke about the conflict from their own perspective. Afterward we drove to a village in Jerusalem that is right on the border of the West Bank. We could see the border wall in the distance and we discussed what it’s like to live with borders.
On Wednesday we visited Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum. Afterward we spent time at the Machane Yehuda market, enjoying delicious Israeli foods for lunch. We ended our day at the Belz Synagogue which is an Orthodox synagogue in a very religious neighborhood in Jerusalem. A member of the synagogue showed us around and sat down with us to teach us about their community, customs and beliefs. Though we didn’t agree with much of what he said, it was interesting to see how Judaism can be different for different people.
Yesterday we visited an Arab village called Ein Rafa to learn about the Muslim community there and hear about the different education systems for different groups in Israel. We then visited Mount Hertzel, the Israeli Military Cemetary, and then we ended our day at Netzfest. This was a huge event for reform Jews from all around the world! We swam in the pool, went on a zip line and ropes course, had a HUGE song session all together and practiced our British accents with lots of new friends from the UK.
Today we finally made it to Tel Aviv where we walked the independence trail and enjoyed lunch on Rothschild street. We are now on our way to have dinner at the homes of our Israeli friends. We are SO sad that this is our last day with them, but we know we’ve made lasting friendships and we’ll stay in touch. Maybe they’ll come work at Eisner one day!

This week’s Hebrew lesson:
Meshuga: crazy
Ma’agal: circle
Afo ha-metzil: Where is the lifeguard?
That’s all for now- we are going to make the most of our final days here and we’ll see you next Shabbat!
Xoxo Olim ‘18 (lucky to be)