Day 14

We rose, finished packing, ate breakfast, and began the process of saying goodbye to Israel.  Before returning home, we would spend a day learning a bit about Israel’s history—its struggle to achieve nationhood and to maintain it.

We would begin at the Palmach Museum. Here we were able to see a multi-media presentation of a reenactment of the first attempts at organizing a force that might fight to gain independence for the state of Israel. We followed one unit in particular, from its inception in the early forties, to the fate of each member after the War of Independence.  Many left the museum with a better idea of what independence cost the average Israeli.

Lior and Tal pose in front of some of the heroes of the Israeli war for independence.

Sitting around at the Palmach

 

Ethan takes some time to process the multimedia presentation at the Palmach.

Indeed, seeking to enact his vision of an Israel with secure borders cost Itzak Rabin his very life. At Rabin Square we visited the memorial left to commemorate his efforts to bring peace to Israel. His approach to solving the peculiar predicament of Israel was not shared by all Israelis, but no one can doubt his courage.

 

Yuval looks on as Keren introduces the group to Rabin Square.

Amalya, Noam and Eli listen attentively.

Yitzhak Rabin: March 1, 1922 – November 4, 1995

After lunch and a visit to the Tel Aviv shuk, it was time to conclude our tour of Israeli history with a visit to Independence Hall. Here we saw how Tel Aviv grew from nothing, to a small suburb of Jaffa, to the capital of Israel as it fought for independence. We listened to David Ben-Gurion, in the very same room in which he proclaimed it, announce the independence of a Jewish state to be called Israel.

 

The group gets ready for a film on the history of Tel Aviv. Noam in particular seems anxious for it to start.

With plenty of time left before our flight, we spent some time in Jaffa, a few of us at the local market and others at the beach. Right before dinner we had some time for reflection about our trip, and what each person would take away from it. Afterwards, we had a pretty decent dinner at a place called Dr. Shakshuka’s. Soon after we finished dessert, it began to hit everyone that it was time to go home.

The teeter-totter at the park turn out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

 

The class enjoys its last dinner in Israel. Avi may be enjoying himself a bit too much.

Why are these people smiling?

At the airport we said our goodbyes—to our medic Shiran and our tour guide Keren. A few made last chance visits with relatives, and said goodbye–some with polite farewells others with long embraces. Finally, we all had to say our goodbye–to Israel. It was time to go home.

Goodbye from Israel. Goodbye to Israel...for now.

 

 

 

Day 13

We were woken up by the Bedouins promptly at 4:15 in the morning. There are not very many occasions that merit rising at so early an hour. In this case, our goal was to scale the one-time fortress of Masada from where we were to witness the sunrise. So, in the darkness we arose, we dressed and we climbed. Our reward was, regrettably, an overcast morning with no sun in sight, rising or otherwise. Notice that in the list of activities previously mentioned, among them is nowhere to be found, “we ate”. So there we sat, with no sun, little sleep and only a small cup of tea and perhaps a couple of biscuits in our stomachs. Still, this was Masada. If there is anywhere on Earth where one had to be sleep deprived and hungry, I suppose it may have well been here. Keren half dragged, half cajoled us around, while showing us the splendors of this monument to ingenuity and hubris. Masada of course was a palace in the Roman style that rose out of the desert, complete with swimming pools and Roman baths. Incredible.

Clearly wide awake, the group marches up the Roman ramp to Masada.

Jonathan opts for silent meditation as the group listens attentively.

 

The cliffs of Masada

Being observed on the observation deck

Checking out what's left of the wall paper in the one-time officer's quarters.

Can you find the three ex-palaces?

After exploring a small fraction of this wonder of ancient architecture, we descended along a winding path, called appropriately enough, the Snake Trail. At the bottom of the trail, our breakfast awaited us. Fed and a bit rested, we felt strong enough to explore the huge Masada gift shop.

A short drive from Masada is the Ein Gedi Preserve. An oasis in the wilderness of the Judean Desert, it features hiking, extensive wildlife, and beautiful natural vistas. Here we took short hike to a waterfall the fed into a small pool. Many of us soon fed ourselves into the small pool as well, and in a short time everybody felt very much awake.  With much of the dust of Masada washed off, we shook ourselves dry and walked back to the bus.

 

A giant squirrel, the Lorax, or...a hyrax?

"Well, it seems were at a bit of a standoff here."

From a small body of freshwater, we traveled to a large body of salt water. Not just any saltwater of course, but the saltiest water going. If you have never been to the Dead Sea, it is quite an experience. It goes against everything one’s senses have taught that a body should simply be able to float in water with no effort given by the body in question. And yet it floats.  But of course nothing in life is free, and in this case, the price of admission is the salt stinging every little small nick or cut you may have on the body. However, just about everyone gave it a try.  A couple of students even decided to give some of the famous Dead Sea mud a try.

 

"Look ma, no hands!"

Pele-Or does a few stretches before taking the plunge.

"Uh, girls, I think you went a little overboard on the sun-block."

After a robust lunch at the Dead Sea, it was time to pack up and after nearly two weeks in Israel, finally head for Tel Aviv. Exhausted from the early wake-up, and the day’s activities, the bus almost immediately fell silent as we pulled away from the Dead Sea—a first for the trip.  We awakened as we approached Tel Aviv. Believe it or not, after getting the rooms and putting away suitcases, the first thing we did was go to the beach. One might think the group had had enough water for one day, but the call of the sea beckoned.

 

"Tired? Us? Let's hit the beach!"

Lior and Soluna block a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.

The boys frolic under the ebbing sun as their chaperones yell, "Not so far out!"

Don't be sad Amalya. We still have one more day in Israel.

Finally, after this, the longest day we had spent on the trip, we headed back to our rooms. Long showers were the order of the day to wash out the salt, sand and general much that had accumulated on us throughout the day.  We headed to bed with at least some melancholy, realizing that this would be the last night we would spend in Israel.

The sun has just about set on our time in Israel.

Day 12

We bid goodbye to Jerusalem today, and headed first south, then east as we headed for the desert. Of course we had a couple of stops along the way.

Some three thousand or so years ago, a young man, really no more than a boy, accepted the challenge laid down by the Philistine Goliath. Purportedly over 8 ft tall, Goliath challenged any Israelite to single combat. In play, the sovereignty of the Israelite people. The young boy as we all know was David, who smote the giant with a single stone from his sling. With the help of Lior, Yonatan and Noam, we reenacted the events of this famous confrontation at the place where it may very well have happened–the top of Tel Azeka.  It was a bit of a climb to get there, to which Yuval astutely interjected, that perhaps the Philistines got the final laugh on us after all.

"Man, why couldn't've David killed Goliath in a nice flat valley somehwhere?"

In many parts of Israel, pedestrians must cede the right of way to passing sheep.

 

Rabbi Tsipi contemplates the view from Tel Azeka.

 

David (Noam) stands over the vanquished (Goliath). Later it was reported that Goliath suffered only minor injuries.

Keren tabs Dylan for a one man show based on the hit children's book, "Caps for Sale".

But our adventures were just beginning. As everyone knows, Israel is a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts. Today, we got a chance to see this for ourselves first hand. At Beit Guvrin, the 8th graders got down and dirty as they descended into the remains of a 2nd century B.C.E. cave to dig for the remains of the ancient city of Moresha. Just about every student found a few shards of pottery.  A couple of them even found very rare cup handles and bases and one group found some iron remains that may have been an ancient key.

Leeor carefully watches her step as she descends into the dig zone.

"Let's get this straight. You want us to dig holes and play in the dirt? We're in!"

 

Sophie flashes a smile as she prepares to get dirty.

Avi shows off what may very well be one of the world's oldest pizza stones in recorded history.

After our dig, we got to crawl through another cave. There were a few tight fits along the way…

 

"I knew I shouldn't have had that extra egg salad sandwich for breakfast..."

"Uhh...a little help here."

…but everybody got through it .

"Again, again!"

 

Now we headed to the desert in earnest. Less than three miles from the Egyptian border and the Sinai, we stopped at a very interesting place called the Path of Salad. Here we found a series of gardens and hothouses where remarkably, food was being grown in the midst of the desert. We were able to try white carrots, a number of herbs and lettuces, tomatoes, peppers and my personal favorite, strawberries. A couple of brave, ultimately ill-advised students, decided to try a couple of the peppers that were clearly labeled, “verry, verry, hot!”. Ten minutes later, after several pints of water, flushed faces and minor vomiting, the effects wore off.

 

"And whatever you do, for goodness sakes do not eat the little red, wrinkled peppers. Lior, Amalya, are you listening?"

Nothing beats white carrots right out of the ground.

Mmm...pretty and delicious!

"Fly, be free!"

Fly be Free part deux

Nothing would now come between us and our desert adventure. After an hour and a half drive, we arrived excitedly at the Hanokdim Oasis in the Judean Desert. After a short wait, it was time for one of the most eagerly anticipated activities on our itinerary. The 8th graders paired off and in a matter of moments found themselves traveling through the desert on the back of a camel. All the students (and chaperones) thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and most made up pet names for their camels.         Note: The following pictures are not the greatest quality. For whatever reason,be it dusk or a dirty lens they didn’t come out great. Nonetheless, I am posting them, so we can see everyone on their camels. I apologize in advance for the often poor quality.

After a Bedouin feast enjoyed under a tent, we were received by a Sheik who gave us a brief introduction into Bedouin ways. Among other things, we were able to sample sweet Bedouin tea and taste bitter Bedouin coffee. We learned that if host gives you a small cup of coffee half full, he is inviting you to stay for another one. However if he serves it to you full, it means his heart is “full” with you and you are not welcome to stay for another cup. Such is the Bedouin way. Oh, and they can have four wives.

"Food, glorious food..."

The students listen eagerly as the Sheik shares a few facts about Bedouin life.

 

If you've never tried coffee with the beans roasted over an open fire....well, it turns out you're not missing much. Smelled great though.

Pele-Or lends a hand as an assistant coffee grinder.

After that it was time for bed, to get ready for our early wakeup for tomorrow. At 4:15 in the blessed morning, we will rise to set out for…Masada.

Day 11

It was a somber day for us in Jerusalem.

After breakfast, we set out for the Yad Vashem Museum. The Yad Vashem of course is the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. After a brief talk from Rabbi Tsipi, we met our tour guide. She took us in and we began a journey that started with a brief history of the antisemitism that made a Hitler possible, all the way to the end of the war and the struggle for European Jewry to somehow begin to rebuild their lives. As we passed through different exhibits,  more and more aspects of the Holocaust were revealed to us. At the end of our tour we were able to watch a film about a Holocaust survivor from Greece who told his heart-wrenching story for the benefit of those who could not tell theirs.

Rabbi Tsipi talks to the class before entering the Yad Vashem.

Everyone received headphones so theu could hear the tour guide clearly.

Listening to our tour guide Emanuelle in the area reserved for the Righteous Gentiles Among the Nations.

 

Group picture at the exit of the museum

 

Sitting outside the Yad Vashem Children's Memorial

Pele-or stands in front of a monument to the children of the Holocaust

From this necessary, but disturbing place, we continued our path along the more somber side of Jerusalem with a visit to the Mt. Herzel Military Cemetery. Here are buried all those who have given their life in service to the state of Israel in the armed forces. We saw how in this cemetery, high ranked officers were interred near those of lowest rank. The debt Israel owes to these men and women was clear by the meticulous upkeep of the grave sites. Perhaps most moving were the graves of those who fell in the 1948 Battle for Israeli Independence, which included ages from as young as 10 and many others from 14-17. It was with heavier hearts that we finally returned to the bus.

Keren talks to the class about Mt. Herzel.

 

Sitting neat the gravesite of Itzak Rabin

The gravesite of Michael Levin, a Philadelphia born Israeli war hero

Upon returning to the hotel, we spoke a bit about what we had experiences this day. Each students spoke about their reflections on the Yad Vashem and what might prompt men to instigate a Holocaust.

After all this seriousness, a release was badly needed. It was provided by one last foray into the Shouk. A few 8th graders still had not quite yet spent all of their parent’s money, so of course we had to go back.

Yoni smiles as he find the perfect gift for his family.

Afterwards we returned to the hotel for our last diner at the Dan Panorama. It did not disappoint. To end the night, the class found a room in the hotel with video games and a Foosball table to help celebrate Tal’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Tal.

Tomorrow we leave Jerusalem behind as we head for the desert. the Bedouin tent awaits.

Day 10

Today was Shabbat in Jerusalem. The quiet in the city reflected the light schedule enjoyed by the 8th graders this day.  After breakfast, all walked down to synagogue, this time to a more traditional service. Our own Rabbi Tsipi sang an aliya during the service and received rave reviews all around.

After the service, all headed back to the hotel for some much-needed R&R.  For about an hour, everyone either swam or relaxed in their room, after which all enjoyed a sumptuous lunch. Most of the boys headed to the park with yours truly for a little Ultimate Frisbee after lunch followed by…yes, more swimming.

Who's got the Frisbee?

 

Dylan prepares to go long.

 

Ethan looks on as he enjoys an impromtu performance of the Bolshoi.

We finally got things together in the late afternoon with a walk to the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Our main destination there was the Church of the Sepulcher. Built in the 4th century under the supervision of Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, it was later destroyed and then rebuilt in the 12th century by the Crusaders. It is here that Christians around the world flock to see where some say Jesus was entombed after death on the cross.

Amalya gives two thumbs up for the evening's excursion. Ethan remains non-committal.

A shot of the inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Tal leans up against a 900 year old column.

Sophie looks up at the 6th station of the cross along the path Jesus may have trodden on the way to the crucifixion.

After a tour of the church, we headed back to the Jewish Quarter to spend a last moment at the Wall. Each 8th grader went individually to the Wall and took a moment to pray, gather their thoughts or simply reflect of what it meant to them.

The Shouk was next. Many a deal were struck after receiving a lesson on how to bargain from a helpful merchant.  Rabbi Tsipi was so busy bargaining for others, that she ended up not buying anything for herself.

What a bargain...I think.

 

"What do you think Soluna, does it make me look distinguished?"

Our last stop of the evening was at Ben Yehuda Street. Here we ate dinner and had one last opportunity to shop for Judaica. A reliable source confirms that at least one tallit was purchased.

For Tomorrow: Yad Vashem

 

 

 

Day 9

It was a bit of a rough awakening this morning, as many barely made it out of bed in time for breakfast. Yesterday’s busy schedule apparently had caught up with us.

Part of the delay could be attributed to having to pack everything up, as tonight we would be returning to the comfort of the Dan Panorama Hotel.  On our way to Jerusalem we stopped and walked along the Nahal Hashofet. We inhaled deeply the fresh mountain air and took in the beautiful landscapes. Situated near the Hashofet is the Kibbutz Hazorea. Keren, our tour guide, has a sister who lives there and we stopped by to say hello, and learn a little about life on the kibbutz in the 21st century.

 

Jonathan attempts the only rarely tried sideways dive with hands in pocket into the springs of the Nahal Hashofet.

Only minutes into the hike, Noam suspects something is up...

Sure enough, at the first stop he is by a 4-1 vote selected to be sacrificed to the god of the trees.

It's like looking in a mirror...

An hour and a half later, we were in Jerusalem. Our first destination upon returning to the city was the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. Our stay was brief, but in a short time we learned of modern efforts to excavate the remains of Jerusalem before its destruction by Roman hands in 70 C.E., and specifically the remains of the 2nd Temple. Sitting on the opposite side of the Western Wall, we were able to recognize much of the ancient architecture of this ancient structure so important to the history of Judaism.

 

Avi is briefly excited until it is pointed out to him that the sign says DAVIdson Center, not AVIdson.

Here we come, walking down the street...

Sophie gleefully smiles after purifying herself in the ancient temple's cistern. Only moments later she is forced to reenter after forgetting to wash her hands.

After our business at the park was concluded, it was time for a little pleasure at the Pizur Mahane Yehuda. That is, if your idea of pleasure is being bumped and jostled by a mass of tourists and locals trying to get in their shopping before the fall of Shabbat. Ah well, it is all a part of the experience. Several of the boys decided to buy some quite colorful, lightweight pants typical of the region. I would post a picture of them below, but I would hate to ruin their parent’s surprise.

It was time to check in to our hotel, and after getting settled in, all descended in their finest apparel in preparation of our Shabbat visit to the Kotel. Of course, the 8th graders had visited the Kotel earlier, but this would be quite a different experience. We walked from the hotel once again to the Old City, this time passing through the Muslim quarter, to where we would return tomorrow to do some shopping. Once we arrived at the Kotel, the students were treated to the sight of Jews of all sects and orientation, praying and celebrating before the Wall. Before long, our boys were swept up by a gregarious circle of worshipers, whom they joined in a joyous march to the Wall itself. Some prayed, some sang, and some just watched as the joyous occasion of this Shabbat night unfolded before us.

Kotel, here we come!

Avi and Yoni are hypnotized by a wily merchant while passing though the Shouk.

An ex-Tehiyah alum joins us for the night.

Only in Jerusalem...

An extravagant dinner awaited us as we returned to the hotel. A buffet featuring braised beef, goose cooked in marbleized onions, and roast of veal, was enthusiastically received by those so disposed. Others feasted on a variety of breads, salads, potatoes and other similar types of fare.  A satisfying end to a day filled with powerful experiences that may one day become cherished memories.

Day 8

On a day with many highlights, the highlight may have been that we were able to sleep in little today. Accustomed to having to wake up from anywhere from 6:15-7 AM, it was a nice treat today to be able to sleep in until 8. We made up for our late start with a full day of activities.

The first stop on today’s itinerary was the exquisite Nahal Kziv. In the shadow of an old Crusader castle (we would see another one later), we hiked down into a luscious forested valley, walking through the cool stream. The weather was perfect and it would have been a day well spent just staying here and playing in the refreshing waters of the Nahal. Alas, this was to be a hike, not an aquatic adventure, though this small detail did not deter most of the class from getting  thoroughly soaked, some advertantly, others less so.

Avi makes a risk/benefit analysis on pushing Lior in and decides it's just not worth it.

 

In our travels we were fortunate enough to come upon the extremely rare tree-dwelling 8th grader.

 

Tal and Yoni warm up before beginning their synchronized swimming routine.

"Either you're sinking Soluna, or I'm going through a really fast growth spurt."

Amalya innocently poses. One minute later Dylan and Yoni have both mysteriously "slipped".

A tough climb back out of the valley led us once again to our  chrome steed, and soon we were off to our lunchtime destination, the cliffs of Rosh Hanikra. After our meal of pita bread with a choice of filling, we gazed upon the beauty of this coastal wonder. The waters of the Mediterranean, crashing against the salt carved cliffs were mesmerizing . In groups we boarded trolleys that escorted us down to the famous grottoes of this region. All were duly impressed with the beauty of this natural wonder.

Since everyone just happened to be standing around and looking in the same direction in two perfect rows, I decided to take a picture.

 

A strange looking fellow wanders over to take a picture with Leeor while Soluna tries to pull her away.

 

While at Rosh Hanikra, the girls decide to try out for an open casting of Charlie's Angel's: The Next Generation

The remarkable cliffs of Rosh Hanikra...

...and the no less exquisite grottoes.

 

Tal manages to sleepwalk his way into a group of people taking a picture

One might think that this was more than enough adventure for one day, but undaunted, we continued. Well, actually, some of were a bit daunted, but we really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, so we continued nonetheless. And our reward was not insubstantial. At Akko, or Acre, we were able to tour an actual Crusader castle, as well as visit the remains of the recently rediscovered Crusader city below the modern city. The group was also allowed time to peruse the offerings of the Akko market. As usual, the greatest item of interest to our group was culinary, and here Akko did not disappoint.  Lastly we walked along the old Akko harbor, taking in views that is some ways have changed little over the last several hundred years.

 

"Okay everybody, I give up, you can come out now. Uh, guys...? Hello?"

The Akko under Akko

In the exotic market of Akko, where our intrepid gang decides to sample...the ice-cream at a corner market.

 

Soluna and Shiran (the medic) put their heads together on how they can show off Akko's market.

Despite a last minute attempt at a "photo bomb" by Rabbi Tsipi (see left), the picture comes out just fine.

 

Akko!

We had left our kibbutz around 9:30 AM, and now we began our return voyage at nearly seven o’clock. A full day one would think. And yet after we had returned and had dinner, a large part of the group hung out around the dining hall and made up a game on the spot that they played for another 45 minutes. If we could but harness their energy for the good of all, maybe we could get rid of all those windmills on the Altamont Pass.

Day 7

Today we continued our observance of Yom Hazikaron. For today’s observance we visited a school in the town of Ma’alot, which just happens to be the hometown of Rabbi Tsippi. Here the 8th graders sat with Israeli students their age and shared their experiences with each other. After some ice breakers and a short film, all went out to the school’s outside auditorium for the ceremony. It was very moving and the students seemed to watch with rapt attention.

Jonathan looks on apathetically as Noam and Dylan play a game of "Who can make the funniest face".

 

Each morning, Rabbi Tsipi leads the class in T'Filah

 

Chatting with the Israeli students

...and more chatting

Just before the ceremony

I know they aren't yours, but aren't they cute?

After the ceremony, each two or three Tehiyah students were matched with an Israeli host. Later they went to their homes providing the chaperones with five blessed hours of freedom a wonderful experience for each student as they gained a glimpse into the life of a typical Israeli family.

Later that evening it was time for the Independence Day celebrations. First we went to a gala at the kibbutz. It was fiery celebration. Literally. Star’s of David, Hebrew Words and the number 64 to signify 64 years of independence were all set ablaze.

Burn baby, burn...

Amazingly, all left the scene unscathed. After a very fine barbeque for dinner, we returned to the city of Ma’alot for their Independence Day festival. And festive it was, with music, food and live entertainment. The 8th graders found many of their recently acquired Israeli friends there. They basically sat and chatted quietly the whole time.

You probably don't want to ask...

 

I told you...

 

It's really not as bad as it looks...

 

Lab reports seem to indicate that the solution is non-toxic...

...at least I hope so for Jonathan's sake.

Day 6

Compared to yesterday’s frantic activity, all passed a relatively calm day today, befitting perhaps as today was Yom Hazikaron. Keeping with the solemnity of this day, our first stop today after leaving the kibbutz was at the Shear Yishuz Memorial. The students were moved as they heard Karen recount the tragic details that prompted the establishment of this site, meant to preserve the names of the soldiers who lost their lives in this painful episode of Israel’s history.

Our spirits lifted later as we drove into the city of Tzvat. Here, in the capitol of Kabala, we toured two of the oldest existing synagogues that remain in continuous use. Both were remarkable for their design and artifacts. Later, all were amazed at the creations on display at the candle factory.  Of course our visit to Tsvat would not have been complete without the opportunity to visit some of the shops featuring unique clothing, jewelry and other artisan works. More than a few of the students—cough, cough, Amalya–took advantage of this opportunity. We also enjoyed lunch here, where again, falafel and shwarma proved popular.

Hearing about the history of Tzat in a typical Tzvat alleyway

 

A tapestry from a synagogue of Tzvat

Yonatan and Jonathan (see below) have a rabbi apply the tefillin while they pray

A few examples of the candle factory's handiwork

Look closely at the animals

Our home for the next three nights was not far away from here, the Kibbutz Yehiam. We rolled into the kibbutz around 4PM, which gave us plenty of time for some recreation before getting ready for our evening activities. The combination of a warm day and the previous day’s purchase of several water pistols at the Jordan River Kayak Adventure recreation center, led shortly upon arrival to a fairly prolonged water fight. Most got involved, though a few decided to stay above the fray. An ultimate Frisbee game followed until a disagreement ensued over whether Tal made a catch or not. I’m pretty sure he did, if I may inject myself into the narrative, but it provoked enough controversy to effectively end the contest. Well, it was time to clean up anyway. I would love to provide some pictures of all of this, but I was otherwise engaged.

Around 7PM we gathered for dinner. All had white shirts on them, as afterwards we would be attending a Yom Hazikaron ceremony. The observance was short, but solemn, and a few of the students were quite affected by it. Afterwards, Rabbi Tsippi spoke to the students briefly to summarize what the ceremony was all about.

 

With that, another day had come to a close. All headed up to their rooms to begin the task of getting ready for another exciting day in Israel.

Day 5

After a restful night’s sleep at the kibbutz and a surprisingly good breakfast (based on the previous night’s dinner) our intrepid troupe rode a winding uphill ride further into the Golan for our first real hike of the trip.  All were impressed by the beautiful surroundings as we hiked over rocks and hills.  We crossed two or three streams along the way, and overall had pretty good luck, though our medic did lose a camera at once crossing. Our great efforts were rewarded as our trail ended in a beautiful waterfall. The last part of the hike was the most strenuous, a fairly steep climb straight up the side of a hill, finally leading us to the awaiting bus.

As the group prepares for the hike, Amalya suddenly wonders if she remembered to record this week's episode of Jersey Shore

"Wait a minute, what do you mean exactly when you say a 'short' hike?"

 

"Hi ho, hi ho..."

Time for a little (sit) down time

 

From the Gillabon, we took a short excursion to a dormant volcano that once served as a Syrian military outpost overlooking Mt. Hermon. Here we heard a little about the history of the region and the 8th graders got to check out actual bunkers, turrets and trenches, all while taking in breathtaking views of a snow covered Mt. Hermon.

Great. I knew we should have asked for directions.

Mt. Hermon. Snow. Wow (really, not sarcasm).

 

Today’s main event was our greatly anticipated river rafting expedition on the Jordan River. We had the river all to ourselves, and perhaps it is just as well as many of the students took a great deal of the river with them by the time our tour had reached its end. A good time was had by all, topped off by letting every student (and chaperon of course) pick out an ice-cream bar from the snack shack.

 

The biggest muscle contest is declared a draw.

Dylan does one last (water) ammo check before getting into his kayak

 

With a bit of time on our hands, we stopped off at a mall on the way to the kibbutz. And it turns out that the whole fool and his money thing may have some merit.

Our last night at the Gadot Kibbutz was highlighted by a fine supper that easily outstripped last night’s modest offering. The rice and chicken in particular were superb.

While waiting for dinner, Ethan is mesmerized by Pele-Or's floating hat trick

 

Good night to all from the Golan. Tomorrow—Tzvat.