Israel: Day 8

Today was a serious day for us but also quite powerful. We woke up this morning and headed to Har Hetzel which is the national cemetery of Israel. We walked around seeing graves of many types of soldiers. We actually started in the modern day. We heard stories of Americans who moved to Israel and died in recent in the wars. We also visited soldiers from previous battles, like those who died with no family during the independence war. We learned about Hannah Senesh and visited her grave and we got a chance to re-tell the story of Yitzhak Rabin.

We then traveled down the mountain and visited Yad Vashem, Israeli’s Holocaust Museum. We started in the garden of the righteous of the nations, learning the story of people who were not Jewish but who saved Jews. As it turns out Archie’s grandfather was saved by someone whose name is preserved at Yad Vashem so he told his story to the group. Then we headed in the main museum. We followed the exhibits moving around as a group and finished with a beautiful vista of the hills of Jerusalem. We then visited a memorial for the children who died in the Holocaust, made of only a few candles but with many mirrors, these lights looked infinite in number.

Lunch was at the market, Machane Yehudah. We split into smaller groups and everyone tried new foods, tasted the best rugelach in Israel, and saw what it meant for people to do last minute shopping for Shabbat.

After a brief rest hour we headed out for services to Shira Chadasha, a local modern orthodox synagogue. It was exciting to see the different kinds of Jewish expression and practice here in Jerusalem. Students had many questions about the ultra-orthodoxy they saw at the western wall and this gave them another view of modern orthodoxy at work.

We enjoyed a delicious Shabbat dinner in our hotel. After dinner, we gathered for a talent show.  Students shared songs, acts, jokes, and more.  Marc even rapped.

We are excited for a relaxing Shabbat tomorrow, including services outdoors and a trip back to the old city. Shabbat Shalom!