The Reveal Israel Educators group said goodbye to Jerusalem this morning after four days of touring. They all wanted more time and made it clear that they wish to come back.
As we slowly left Jerusalem today we made a stop at Yad LeKashish (Lifeline for the Elderly), an amazing nonprofit organization that works with independent elderly people to provide them with one meal a day as well as a paycheck. They are taught how to make different crafts and then see their goods bought by tourists and people around Israel. They are currently maxed out at 300 people and so many more want to be a part of this program. It was a powerful experience for all of us. We had the opportunity to talk to these people even though most of them did not speak a word of English. We were still able to communicate and many of them were excited to hear that our families came from the same places. There were many people from Eastern Europe and we compared our ancestry with their life before aliyah. They enjoyed having conversations with us and it moved most of the group to tears. Needless to say there was no need to push anyone into the gift shop to buy their wears.
From Yad LeKashish we moved on to Eretz Bereshit to experience the hospitality in the tent of Abraham. The ever anticipated camel ride led to a beautiful outlook over the “wilderness” of Israel. We moved on and said our last goodbyes to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea on our way up north. This was to be our day of adventure sites as we headed to a rafting area on the northern section of the Jordan River.
As we paddled down the lazy Jordan River we spoke with our river guide and found out that he was from Ashkelon. I think that he was overwhelmed with our questions and explanations about how important Ashkelon is to Baltimore. He is an Ethiopian Jew who made his way to Israel in 1991 and we somehow convinced him to join us at the Kfar Giladi after dinner. I’m not sure if he will make it up here but it is interesting to find connections to Ashkelon all over Israel.
For the next three days we are staying at the tip of Israel and Lebanon on the breathtaking view at Kibbutz Kfar Giladi. Tomorrow we are off to the Banias nature reserve and hopefully we will meet up with the Diller Group for dinner in Tiberias.