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It felt like we were hardly on campus yet we covered so much ground as far as Israeli history!

This was a crazy week! It felt like we were hardly on campus yet we covered so much ground as far as Israeli history! We have finally gotten up to the period in history just before and during the time of the establishment of the State of Israel. This week we travelled to different areas of Israel in order to explore what life was like for a Jew during the time of the establishment of the land, and how Jews have continued to live in Israel up to today. Up until now we have traveled to ancient cities like Tzfat and Jerusalem to see what life must have been like during those times. This week we finally have begun to learn about what life is like for the more modern Jew since the establishment of Israel in a more recently founded city, the city of Tel Aviv.

However, before going to Tel Aviv, we spent a day up north. There we went on a number of nature hikes in order to explore the rural and agricultural areas of the land of Israel, and how those thrive today. We went on a hike off the coast of the Jordan River to understand how this water was used as a natural resource for Israeli agriculture. In addition, we stopped at the Shomer museum, where we learned about the “Grandfather of the Israeli Defense Force (Tzahal)”. The Shomer was a group of soldiers led by a man by the name of Joseph Trumpeldore, who fought against Arabs for an area of land near the Northern Kinneret area. That day, we also had the experience of going to the Kinneret Cemetery to see the graves of many famous Israeli’s who helped create, in more behind-the-scenes ways, the modern land of Israel today, through poetry, art, inspiration and more. There, we did an activity going around in a circle and understanding how much potential each and every one of us as young adults have in the world, just as the people buried in these cemeteries did, and they took those opportunities and put them to use just as we should. For dinner that night, we went to a shopping strip called Zichron Yaakov which was excellent!

The next day we boarded the bus for the modern city of Tel Aviv, about a 45 minute drive from Hod Hasharon. In Tel Aviv, we not only got to go to the beach for a few minutes, and learn about the founders of this city rooting from the port city of Jaffa/Yafo, but we got to actually walk around and see how this city was established and has grown. We saw the houses of famous founders of Israel such as Rabbi Avraham Kook, and we even got ice cream in Israel’s best ice cream town! We also walked to explore the Hall of Independence, where the Declaration of the Land of Israel’s Independence was signed by Ben Gurion himself, and we made the trek to stand on the exact spot where Yitzhak Rabin, one of Israel’s greatest Prime Ministers was assassinated. However, perhaps the most exciting part of our day was lunch. For lunch we went to Shuk Hacarmel and Nachalat Binyamin in the heart of Tel Aviv (where we had been two days before as well to experience the art fair that was going on that day). We not only got to walk around breathing in the amazing smells, eating the food, and buying items from the Shuk, but we got the chance to interview five different types of modern Israeli Jews living in the all-inclusive, modern, and advancing city of Tel Aviv. It was so interesting to hear about the lives and the impact of Judaism on so many people from different backgrounds. Our task was to interview an Israeli soldier, an Orthodox Jew, a Secular Jew, a senior citizen, and a new immigrant. It was so fascinating! For dinner that night, we went to Sorona, a fancy indoor food court and shopping center.

This Shabbat we went to the desert to stay in Bedouin tents. It was so fun and definitely a worthwhile, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In addition to all of the amazing trips we have taken here so far, as well as getting used to life on campus, I have gotten to understand both the modern culture as well as the ancient history of the land of Israel in ways I could have never imagined I would. So far, for me, I think that the biggest culture shock has been been, through interviewing random Israeli Jews in Tel Aviv, seeing the differences between the diverse groups of people that inhabit the land of Israel. Before coming to Israel, I was well aware that Jerusalem was a more religious city, and that Tel Aviv was more secular. However, I was not aware of the diversities within each city, and within every single city up and down Israel as well. We have seen Orthodox Jews in Tel Aviv. We have seen Arab Israelis biking in Jerusalem. We have even seen relaxed Jews herding sheep and living in Bedouin tents in the desert like the Jews did many hundreds of years ago. I have also found it interesting that walking down a random street in Israel, you could pass four shops in a row, and none of them have signs in the same language. Since I have been to Israel before, many aspects of the Israeli culture that have shocked many on our trip, however, have not shocked me that much. I love Israel for its diverse culture, and always will!