A recipe for experiencing all New York has to offer in one day: take a group of 29 amazing and and disciplined teens, throw in decent portions of history, culture, food, and scenic views, add one Dave, a ninja driver who navigates a coach bus through the New York traffic as if he was driving a scooter, turn the weather to a cool and sunny 62 degrees, and let simmer for 12 hours. Garnish with some bathroom breaks and serve.
For a step by step recipe, keep reading.
After an American-Israeli breakfast at the hostel (bagels and spread, plus freshly cut tomatoes and cucumbers), we headed down to the Tenement museum, located in Manhattan's the Lower East side. This living museum, as referred to by our superb tour guides, gave our students the chance to intimately experience the lives of early 19th century Jewish immigrants. As we were walking through the narrow hallways of the well preserved tenements, we got the chance to learn about the struggles and determination of these Jewish pioneers, as well as gain a very perspective on our current social and personal challenges.
Since the weather was in our favor, we decided to cut short the bus rides and cross the Brooklyn Bridge by foot. The brief walk turned out to be a real treat, as the views of the Downtown skyline and the Hudson River unrolled before our eyes.
In Brooklyn we paid a visit to the trendy Smorgasburg, where our teens could pick their lunch from a variety of over 40 exquisite food vendors. The picture below is the winner of our Foodie Shot competition, taken by our talented Yasmin. I'll leave it for the teens to tease you with the rest of them.
Our next stop was the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial (which by the way was designed by an Israeli architect) which provided us with unparalleled views of the city, as well as a chance to discuss the significance of the tragic history of this place. Even though none of our participants were alive then, one of our American students, Ben K, shared with the group his perspective 9/11, which led to an open discussion about points of similarities and differences between our respected societies.
Before heading back to the hostel, we did not skip one more of New York's best attractions - Times Square, where our teens had some time to grab dinner and souvenirs to bring back to their families.
We concluded the day at the hostel with a late Havdallah service led by Scott, El which gave us time to reflect together on the time we've spent together so far, as well as that's to come.
Tomorrow we will compete or New York experience by traveling to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, before making our way to Sudbury for a potluck dinner and Simchat Torah celebration. Tomorrow will also be the night our American families will finally get to host their new Isreali friends at their homes.