Jerusalem has been the subject of Jewish prayers and yearnings for thousands of years. L’shanah haba’ah b’yerushalaym (next year in Jerusalem) we say. But what does one do when they finally arrive? before rejoicing, it might be a good idea to look back and reflect on how they got there.
After visiting the Herzl museum last night, we began today with a tour of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and archive, and Har Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery and the resting place of great leaders of the nation. It is the custom to begin the tour the the Holocaust memorial, and make the way up, literally and metaphorically, to the cemetery, thus following thenarrative of m’shoah l’tkuma (from destruction to revival). In an interesting interpretation we have switched these two around, allowing us to discuss the different ties that exist between the Shoah and the modern state of Israel.
Following this very emotional morning, we headed to the Mahne Yehuda Shuk (market) to join what seemed and felt like every single person in Israel for some pre-Shabbat food shopping. As of every time on this trip, our teens were all back at the meeting point exactly on time, as well as our heroic bus driver, Elias, who got us out trough some streets that were not meant for buses, back to the guest house.
With the Shabbat climbing up the eastern slopes of the Jerusalem hills, we quickly changed into our finest clothes and headed to Kol Haneshamah, a reform congregation located in the picturesque neighborhood of Baka. Just before service, we were lucky enough to have a talk with several teens from Noar Telem, the congregation’s youth group. Even though it was a brief meeting, it seemed to have had a great impact on our teens, as they have seen a “hybrid” version if you will, of both of their lives.
We concluded the day with a very peaceful and reflective 3 mile walk through the quiet streets of Jerusalem back to our guest house. With our trip being just over 24 hours before it’s end, our teens took the opportunity to have some meaningful talk with both new and old friends.
Tomorrow is our last day in Israel. It seems like everyone was too busy to realize it, but it is starting to hit. We will be spending most of
our day in the Old City, will have some time to relax, reflect, say goodbye, and will be heading to the airport very early Sunday morning. It will be a bittersweet update to write.
“I found the children’s memorial at Yad Vashem particularly powerful for its simplicity. Also, it was really interesting to see how similar the reform synagogue in Jerusalem is to Beth El.” – Justin
“I liked going to the market today. It was a bit less scary than the one in yaffo a few days ago. It was also interesting to go to the cemetery Har Herzl to see the where most of the important figures in the history of Zionism and Israeli history were buried.” – Jacob
“I thought the tour today was long but the hall of names and children’s memorial were really powerful and moving. I enjoyed how the service at the reform synagogue reminded me of Beth El because it was so chill and welcoming.” – Seth
“I really loved the Shuk, and having the experience of buying food, and having some independence on getting what I need in a very busy place, with people screaming to buy their food.” – Melody
“Today was great!! I had a lot of fun in the market shopping and hanging out with friends.” – Arielle
“I really liked going to the synagogue because it was interesting seeing the similarities and differences of this synagogue and Beth El.”-Hannah