July 11 Shofar Show Good!

Really and truly, shofar show good! What a magnificent welcome ceremony awaited us this morning on the Haas Promenade, overlooking Jerusalem of our dreams. The breathtaking view, which you will see in our pictures, was the perfect backdrop for our “shehehchehyanu” blessing, marking this most wonderful and special day.

Kids were in awe of the place. Right in front of us, Jerusalem, the holiest city in all its glory. Thousands of years of history, places we read about, the stories we all heard as children, right there before our eyes–Mt. Moriah, the place where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac, the location of the Temple, and much, much more. Teens could not believe it was all there waiting for us to discover.

Our welcome ceremony is one your children will remember for a lifetime. It was loud and joyous and an unbelievable celebration of our pilgrimage. The piercing sound of the shofar, the beating of the drums, and melodies and words of songs we all knew ( Hay-veinu Shalom Aleichem, Hava Nagila, etc.) brought us to our feet, jumping and dancing for joy. WOW, it was AWESOME! What a way to be welcomed to Jerusalem!

We spent the morning exploring the Old City, walking in the footsteps of our forefathers and foremothers, prophets, kings and others, and adding our footsteps for our children to follow. What we experienced truly did span generations, dor l’dor, connecting us to the past and marking our spot for future generations.

We walked the ramparts of the Old City and eventually made our way to the Kotel (Wall), where kids had plenty of time to insert their prayers, reflect, pray, and take it all in. It was truly a special morning.

We stopped and rested, enjoying a delicious lunch of bagel sandwiches. Lunch was outdoors, in the shade of course. What was so nice was that there were other Jewish teen groups from around the world, and our kids had plenty of time to strike up conversations and meet new people. They loved this! They got it about being part of our Jewish Family. The jumping off point with complete strangers was that we were all there for the same reason. It was easy for kids to talk to each other, sharing the fact what unites us is being Jewish.

It was on to Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel for a unique adventure of underground, wet exploration of this incredible site. Can you imagine any better way to learn about the tunnel system than jumping right in and walking it?? And, so we did!

And here we are, back at the hotel for a brief rest, followed by another dinner buffet of biblical proportions. (I forgot to mention the breakfast buffet, which truthfully, was unlike one I ever had in Israel. YUMMY and so big!!)

Tonight we will experience the modern—a laser light show in the City of David. Wait until your kids tell you about this!

It is hard to believe that tomorrow evening Shabbat will arrive. Wow, will that be something here! We will begin our day with a nature hike of the beautiful Sataf, followed by a visit to Mahaneh Yehudah, “market”, where kids will experience the hustle and bustle of pre-Shabbat preparations.

We will enjoy a unique Shabbat of a Lifetime dinner tomorrow evening, beginning with a visit to the Kotel (Wall) followed by a traditional Shabbos dinner in host family homes. Cannot wait! Our evening will end with a night walk back to the hotel, giving kids time and space to process and share the experience of a lifetime.

On behalf of Y2I 2013, I wish all of you Shabbat Shalom.

With love from Jerusalem,

Debbie Coltin

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