Aaah . . . Shabbat! A time to rest, reflect and renew after a busy first week in Israel. The Diller teens spent Shabbat morning in services, attending either a Progressive service or a special Orthodox service, which combined Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions.
During lunch, Justin Hayet shared a D’var Torah with the group, sharing reflections about Shabbat in Israel. The teens visited the Old City, stopping once again at the Kotel to add their special prayers. Walking back to the hotel, the group took a detour to visit Danielle Gelber’s grandparent’s home. Read Rachael Safferman’s post on the Baltimore Diller Teen Fellows Blog to learn more about the visit.
The evening ended with a Havdallah service led by Gabe Zuckerberg and Sarah Lebovitz. The chanichim toranot, Rachael Safferman and Rebecca Abbott, facilitated the evening’s Night Circle, giving the teens the opportunity to reflect on their Shabbat experience and prepare for the arrival of the Ashkelon Diller teens on Sunday. The teens hit Ben Yehuda Street one last time before packing their bags to leave Jerusalem the following day.
Before meeting up with the Ashkelon teens, the group visited the Gilad Shalit protest tent across from the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem. Gilad Shalit is an IDF soldier who was captured over five years ago by Hamas and is believed to be kept hostage somewhere in Gaza. The visit to the tent helped the teens to, once again, understand the complexities about life in Israel.
After the arrival of the Ashkelon teens (and much screaming and hugging), the chanichim toranot, Lishai Purrio and Taylor Miller, led both sets of teens in group building activities. The morning concluded with a visit to Har Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery. The group visited the following sites in the cemetery:
• Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial – The memorial lists the names of Israeli victims of terrorism. One of the Israeli teens shared the story of two of her family members listed on the memorial.
• Gravesite of Hannah Senesh – At the gravesite, Rebecca Abbott shared the story of Hannah Senesh, who was a World War II hero after parachuting into Yugoslavia to help save the Jews of Hungary, before their deportation to Auschwitz. Rebecca, a member of the Hannah Senesh BBG Chaper, led the group in singing Eli Eli, a poem written by Hannah Senesh.
• Gravesite of Michael Levin – Michael Levin was an American who made aliyah shortly after high school to join the Israel Defense Forces. At 21, Michael was killed during the Second Lebanese War in 2006. The teens will learn more about Michael Levin and his devotion to Israel, when they see the film about his life, A Hero in Heaven, during their week in Ashkelon.
From Har Herzl, the teens traveled to Ein Gedi and spent the afternoon floating in the Dead Sea. Uriel Ezra, Megan’s counterpart in Ashkelon, facilitated a text study before everyone headed off to sleep before an early morning wake-up to . . .
. . . climb Masada! Special thanks to the chanichim toranim, Gabe Zuckerberg and Sarah Lebovitz, who took on the challenging task of waking everyone up at 3:30 a.m. and then leading the group in stretching exercises before the hike up Masada. The bus arrived at the base of the Snake Path at 5:00 a.m. before everyone climbed to the top to watch the sun rise over the mountain. The teens toured the ancient ruins at the top of Masada and descended down the mountain (by cable car) in time for breakfast.
The rest of the day was spent driving further south to Sde Boker, hiking in the desert and then a short rest before setting up camp for the night (and by “camp” I mean laying out a sleeping bag to sleep under the stars). Before bed, the teens were given time for personal reflection to think about their incredible Diller experience under a breathtaking number of stars.
After a visit to the gravesite of David Ben-Gurion and a short hike at Machtesh Ramon, the teens leave for their four-day Diller Congress.
Once the group arrives at Givat Haviva for the Diller Congress, Megan will have a WiFi connection to post on the blog, so don’t forget to check out the Baltimore Diller Teen Fellows Blog for updates and pictures.