Saturday, 6 April 2019

Our last Friday and Saturday in Tel Aviv

Friday morning, we started the day at Beith HaTfoutzot which was supposed to show different Jewish humour around the world. It was a very interactive indoor tour where we got to watch Seinfeld, videos and Hebrew Saturday night live with Jewish jokes. We also learned about the history of Jewish stories and synagogue architecture. Afterwards, we drove to Rabin Square and we stood on the very spot Itzchak Rabin was assassinated. It was emotional and overwhelming to be experiencing such a thing. After that we went to Carmel market to have food and shop. It was crowded and hard to get through but it was still very fun and everyone ended up buying many nice things. 
Then we went to Jerusalem beach where Lia hit her head on a sign while walking. At the beach the majority of the class ended up playing beach volleyball while Eli, Bram and Lia went to get ice cream. Most of the class also went into the water despite the fact that we were not able to go in past knee height. We had a very short but sweet Kabalat Shabbat Service where Mr. Oren accidently dropped the Challah in the sand, it was still delicious though. Then we headed back to the hotel where we lit the Shabbat candles and had a very nice hotel Shabbat dinner. The rest of the night we just chilled and prepared ourselves for our final day in Israel. 

Makayla and Lia

On Saturday morning some people had family/friends visit them and the other people could walk around or hang out. Eli, Zen, Bram and I had family come. The Lahav family visited Bram and I. They lived in Calgary for many years and then moved back home to Israel. We went to Sharona market with them and ate brunch at a restaurant called “Benedict”. It was so delicious! We walked around a little bit and then we rented a scooter and rode around on them for a bit. Then we went to a small store near our hotel before getting dropped off and got a lot of chocolate. We went back to our hotel and quickly left to the beach. 
We were there for a few hours but it was windy and a little cloudy. After the beach we had a very short walk back to our hotel and from there we had a trip summary. We talked about how we felt about the trip and our most memorable moment and more meaningful things. After that we had a very tasty dinner and then went up to the roof top patio and did Havdalah. Then we walked to Jaffa to have ice cream and walk around a little bit. It was a very fun and relaxed day. Now we are all packing and getting ready for bed. 
On behalf of all the kids I would like to thank Mr. Oren and Mrs. Morgan so much for giving us such a fun time and planning such fun things for us to do. We are so glad that you both came with us on this extraordinary journey. I also want to thank Mrs. Gersten and Mrs. English for following the blog. I really want to thank our amazing tour guide Or for taking us to such cool and fun places and being so nice and welcoming. Of course, I also want to thank our very funny security guard Shai for being a security guard. Last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the parents for helping with the whole trip and the pen pals and planning so much. This concludes our breathtaking, cathartic journey to the homeland of our people. This trip has been better than I could’ve imagined and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on it. Thank you to everyone who helped out. For the last time, signing off.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Back to Tel Aviv

Today we woke up early for a 3 hour drive to Tel-Aviv. The bus had NOWIFI, but we don’t need that because it’s the experience that counts. Everyone ended up sleeping which was very uncomfortable, but it was worth it when we arrived to the beach! We were only allowed to go in knee deep because there were no life guards but the weather was finally warm and the sand felt amazing on our feet. 
We cleaned up and headed to Rothschild Boulevard for lunch which was delicious. Makayla and Mickey got a giant frozen yogurt with a billion toppings. It was the most relaxed we’ve been in a while. 
After lunch we walked to the Taglit Innovation Centre where we learned about the incredible inventions and start-ups in Israel. It was crazy to find out that we are in the world’s biggest start-up country. There were multiple inventions to test out such as a virtual reality headset which was kind of insane and super cool. 
Then we went to the park where we met up with a dude named Alex who was going to take us on a graffiti tour. It ended up being extremely windy outside but the tour was so fascinating. Alex showed us many different examples of graffiti art such as art by a guy named Kislev and one of the oldest graffiti art ever done that was made in 1996! The art was of a famous picture taken right before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. After the tour Alex surprised us by allowing us all to do some graffiti art of our own! It was really amazing although I (Lia) was terrible at it. The only thing left on our to-do list of the day was getting to our hotel and settling in. We had a short ride to our hotel and soon were parked. We checked in and hung out for about an hour and then had a dinner which was once again a buffet, and was very good. We had watermelon and chips for desert. Goodnight the end. 

Aiden, Lia and Makayla

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Our last day in the south

Today, we started off the morning by taking a bus to see Machtesh Ramon, a large crater-looking landscape created by the erosion of a mountain that’s shaped like a heart. It’s entirely natural, and it was by far the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen on the trip so far. We took some photos, both as a class and individually, and then we took off on our bus to Ein Ovdat.
Once we arrived, we realized that this would not be a quiet hike. There were so many other classes on the same hike, and wow, could they be any louder? All of this was forgotten once we started to hike up the mountain. The view was breathtaking, and once we got to the top, we were able to take in all of the view. After an ice-cream break, we headed to David Ben-Gurion’s grave.
Once at Ben-Gurion’s grave we all congregated around a tree and conversed about Ben-Gurion’s life. Our tour guide, Or, handed 4 of us a pamphlet containing information and questions about Ben-Gurion. The four of us, those being Zen, Aiden, Makayla, and myself (Bram), attempted to persuade the rest of the group into believing our multiple different answers. In the end, the group would be told the correct answer out of the 4 read to them, and then we would move onto the next question. Once finished the questions, we moved onto his actual grave. Placed next to his wife’s grave, David Ben-Gurion’s grave is simple and very humble considering how non-flashy it is. People have made a habit of placing rocks on the grave as well as making little rock statues on it. Next to the grave there was also a beautiful view of a valley far below us. Altogether, the experience was definitely worth the lengthy bus ride.
            After leaving the gravesite we all left for lunch. Some of the girls got falafel and some of the guys, including Shy, our security guard, got pizza. Also, Or and Mrs. Morgan got sandwiches that apparently were the best they ever had. Anyways, the pizza definitely wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst, so I guess it’s alright. I also got a fruit punch flavoured Fanta and Zen bought a huge Sprite that we could drink in our room tonight. After lunch we all joined together on the bus and drove towards Ramat Hanegev field study site, which we are currently staying at.
In the afternoon, we also visited the R&D (research and development) center where Josh, a man who made Aliah to Israel, and was doing a master’s degree in Ben Gurion university. He showed us a short clip about some facts about the site, and after that, we went to the greenhouses. There, we learned about sarcocornia which is a type of plant that has a strong taste of salt. Another greenhouse that we went to had many yummy strawberries and cucumbers, as well as eggplant, cauliflower, and mint leaves. We were fortunate enough to try some strawberries and cucumbers, and we took some mint leaves back with us. Close to the R&D center was a giant tower, with thousands of tiny mirrors with acted as solar panels for green energy, this was very blinding! 
After coming back to Mitzpeh Ramon, we ate dinner and gathered around in a circle to discuss highlights of the day. There were also snacks that included Halva, which was very yummy. 

Bram and Eli

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Eli and Bram are reporting from the south

We started the morning participating in the Shaar Hanegev program. The program coordinator met us at the door of the room that the program would take place in. She started by talking to us about the Negev, the economic state of the Negev, and its lifestyle. Once she finished her overview of the Negev, she introduced us to many different interactive activities. Some of these required groups or pairs, while some required an individual. All in all, the interactive activities were incredibly informative. After the activities, our guide brought us into a larger room in which we would be competing in an economic related activity that would involve creating our own expansions of the Negev, supposedly in 2045, to allow a larger population to prosper in the Negev’s environment. After Eli, myself, and Aiden had won the competition with an astounding 100% satisfaction rate and 2.5 million population growth rates in the new and improved Negev, our guide showed us a film depicting the story of the Negev and how it prospers through the determined spirits of its inhabitants. Finally, our guide said goodbye as we left the building, heading for our bus. We took a drive to the mall so that we could all eat lunch, and then we headed to a Bedouin Woman so that she could tell us her incredibly unique and special story of independence. 

Once we arrived, we stepped into Huria Palace, where we were given baklava and tea. Being a Bedouin woman, you are able and encouraged to get married to a man at the young age of 15. In most cases, the bride will only see the groom for the first time at their wedding. There are also many things you must do when you are a Bedouin woman, including being an in-house mom, and if you want to work, you must be a teacher. The woman we went to go see told us her life story and how she went against some of these rules. Her father allowed her to finish high school and then she had to negotiate with her father to continue to go to school.  She told us how she went to university, and how she became a nurse. She was the first girl in her family to do this.  Now, she helps educate other people about her life in an organisation. She was instrumental in breaking ground for other girls in her family and community to continue with their education.  We said goodbye, and traveled to the Kfar Hanokdim.  

Once settled down, we met our guide who started our camel-riding preparations. We all met in a tent and watched a video on Kfar Hanokdim, followed by a video explaining the camels, who happen to be all female, as well as how to ride the camel properly. Once finished the video, we finally started riding the camels. We each paired up and were helped onto a camel. Personally, I enjoyed my camel, but Jaqui and Mickey’s camel basically licked Aiden, and Julia and Anna’s camel basically sneezed on my leg so… that’s great! Despite all that, I would definitely do it again. It was a truly incredible experience. Later after dinner we into a tent and had a sit down with a Bedouin man who spoke with us on Bedouin hospitality. We had Bedouin tea, a special Bedouin coffee, and then we had a bonfire, ate smores, and all went back to the rooms to sleep. In conclusion, the day was definitely one to remember.  

We started the second day with an early breakfast, and then we took a windy drive to Masada. Then we hiked up the mountain which took around 20 minutes. At the top, we toured around, seeing the many sights that have been preserved for many years. In the hour that we were there, we learned about the history of the place, how king Herod built it, and the siege that took a few weeks. We also learned how they got clean drinking water, because it was hard to get clean drinking water from the Dead Sea. After that, we took a longer path down to where the bus took us to the Dead Sea. 

Someway through the bus ride we all realized that we were starving, so the moment we reached the Dead Sea we ate lunch. Once everybody finished lunch, it was finally time to float. We all changed and headed out into the sea. The salt started to burn almost instantly, but it was worth it. It was an experience we had been waiting for years, and it had finally come. We all felt joyful after we left the sea, but ultimately, we were incredibly worn out and almost everybody slept on the bus.

Eli and Bram

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Visiting Akko, Druze Village in mount Carmel, Caesarea and Kibbutz Nachsholim

This morning, all of us drove to Har Vagai with our pen pals for the last time. When we got there, we were told to put our luggage on the bus and say our final goodbyes. They were short but sweet, and we were all very sad to leave but we knew that we had the ability to come to Israel and see them again. 
Then we got on the bus and drove an hour and a half to get to a place called Akko. We were brought to Akko to see the well-known, Akko Prison/ The Acre Underground Prisoners Museum. There, we took an interesting tour of the prison and saw how some prisoners were able to escape. It was very cool to see where they were for such a long and torturous time. 
Then we drove the Carmel mountain to a Druze village where we had a delicious lunch. After lunch, a young man who lived in the house told us about the Druze culture and history. 
After, we got back on the bus and drove all the way to Caesarea. It was pouring when we got there, but it was still gorgeous and magnificent. We walked around the outstanding archeological site for about an hour and got to walk super close to the sea. We went to an ice cream shop and ate ice cream next to the Mediterranean. 
We hopped on our bus once again and stopped at King Herod’s Aqueduct. The Aqueduct was very large and magnificent and after learning about it for so long, it was so cool to see the architecture in real life. We got back on the bus for the last time and drove to our outstanding hotel. It was a very amazing day that was filled with a ton of learning opportunities and memories.


Thursday, 28 March 2019

5th day in the Galil

We arrived at school at various times to hang out with our pen pals’ friend groups. The bell at Har Vagai is very different than the one at the CJA. Instead of it being your typical bell it is a song that plays for around ten seconds. We joined our pen pals for their 15 minute home room class where they go over the plan and what happened the day before. Most of us had never seen such a hectic class before. It also did not help that they were screaming at each other in Hebrew with the occasional English word usually not being a nice one.         
After home room we went to a river in Kibbutz Dafna to chill and make pita on the tabun. The tabun is a dome that you place on top of a fire. Before we could enjoy our pitas we listened to the story of one of the Har Vagai English teachers. He explained how he followed where his grandfather had served and ended up in Israel. He fell in love and never left.  When we finished listening to him we cooked and ate our pitas. The school provided everything from chocolate spread to Zatar spices. The pita was very tasty. After that we played Canadian and Israeli games. Two of the pen pals from last year Ella and Yoni joined us for this portion. 
We finished our games and we headed back to the school to join the rest of the grade 9’s for sports day. We were all put into groups with our pen pals and played various versions of sports some Canadian and some that I had never heard of. When we finished sports day we headed back to our kibbutzim for some time to rest before we headed out for dinner as a group in Kvish Tishim(road 90). Dinner was very good. After dinner we said goodbye for the night and went home.


Wednesday, 27 March 2019

4th day in the Galil

We began our day with overcast skies and drizzling rain, at Har-Vagai school, which is where we all met up to get onto the bus that would take us to Tel Phacher.  For the whole ride to Tel Phacher, we were surrounded by many trees and greenery. Our tour guide told us all about the places we were about to visit. Once we arrived at the parking lot for Tel Phacher, we hiked for a couple minutes until we reached the top. At the top, we discovered that it was actually an old Syrian Army post.  It was conquered in 1967 during the 6-day war. At the post, there was a bunker that we were able to explore. It was dark and very crammed inside. We could look out over the view of the Ahula valley and kibbutzim. The view was beautiful at the beginning and when we were leaving, the clouds rolled in and we couldn’t see beyond the edge of the hill.  When we were done here, we hiked back down to the bus and headed to Mount Bental. 
On our bus ride to Mount Bental, we stopped at Sa’ar falls where we overlooked the beautiful waterfall and ate some delicious ice cream and Kanafhe. We got back on the bus and continued our way to Mount Bental. The ride was very short, through a few Druz villiages, and once we arrived, we headed to a pizza place called Ein Zivan for lunch. The pizza was very good. 
We changed our plans from rafting and the zipline because of the rain, so after lunch we made our way to the chocolate factory, De-Karina, which was where we molded our own chocolate and ate lots of different types of chocolate. It was very messy but super fun and delicious. Once everyone had finished molding their chocolates, they had to set it in the freezer for a couple minutes to harden so we all talked in the cafe to pass time. Once they were ready to be eaten, we all ate lots and headed back to the bus to return back to Har-Vagai to end our adventure. 
We went to our pen pals’ houses for dinner and then to Boaz’s house for snacks, a game of basketball and a movie. The overall day was very fun and full of adventure. 

Michaela Milton