July 10, 2013 On the Road to Jerusalem

What a beautiful day we had. After saying “shalom” (goodbye) to the north, we made our way to Jerusalem, with a leisurely tour of Sfat, where we enjoyed learning about kabbalah and more about Jewish history. Perched high in the hills, there is something truly mystical about Sfat—the air, the people, even the food seemed to be infused with that little something extra, though not quite known.

Teens loved roaming in and out of galleries, speaking with artists, hearing their interpretations of Torah that they so beautifully express in their handiworks. One of the teens said, “Here a necklace is not just a necklace. There’s a whole story behind it. But, I bought it because it’s so beautiful.” This is the essence of Sfat—seeing, feeling, appreciating and expressing beauty in life. Kids are really excited about gifts they purchased for family and friends, and a few things for themselves. It’s their small way of bringing Israel home.

From Sfat our ride to Jerusalem was two and a half hours, the longest ride of the entire trip. Bus time is fun time, and if kids aren’t sleeping they are talking and sharing and growing closer every day.

Our approach to Jerusalem was special. I happened to be on Bus 2, and as we climbed the hills of Jerusalem, the mood on the bus changed. Teens sensed immediately how special this place is. Jerusalem looks so different from the North. The beautiful buildings of white Jerusalem stone, the religious men dressed in black and white, the hustle and bustle of a big city. The ancient and the modern side by side—all in Jerusalem.

“Yerushalyim shel Zahav”, “Jerusalem of Gold”, played while we entered the city. You could hear a pin drop on the bus, and see many teary eyes as well. Jerusalem, City of Peace, spiritual center of the Jewish people for millennia. Jerusalem, home to the world’s great religions. Jerusalem of our dreams. Our days here will be filled with awe, discovery, lots of learning, and hopefully a deeper understanding about the place of Jerusalem in the hearts of our people.

Menash, our tour educator, explained to the kids that every day, Jews all over the world, save a coin here and there to one day fulfill the dream of going to Jerusalem. How lucky our children are! He helped them to understand what a gift they have with Y2I. Some people only dream about what our children have been blessed with—a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

We are staying at the Crowne Plaza, and wow is it beautiful! We had some free time before our evening visit to the Western Wall Tunnels. Some kids went swimming, while others relaxed and explored the hotel.

Read this in a biblical tone: “….and then there was dinner.” That’s because the buffet here is of biblical proportions! It was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. I took pictures for you to see what we are enjoying. Hand sliced buffet of meats, fish, and chicken. Gourmet rice dishes and potatoes. Fresh vegetables and fruits that probably did not travel too far from farm to table. Teens are enjoying local dishes of salads, grilled veggies, and all kinds of wonderful breads and desserts that add so much flavor (get it!) to our Israel experience. Cannot wait for breakfast!

This evening we visited the Western Wall Tunnels, which are amazing. “Just how did they do that”, is all you ask yourself as you explore this magnificent marvel. In the coming days we will have much more time to experience the Kotel, Western Wall, up close and personal, and explore the may wonders of Jerusalem.

It is hard to believe that we are four days into our Y2I adventure. The days are full and fun, and they fly by. We wake up excited for what the day brings, and we end with anticipation for what lies ahead.

On behalf of Y2I 2013, with love from Jerusalem,

Debbie

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