Oh What a Day!

July 12, 12:31 a.m.

What a day we had yesterday!  Teens mustered the energy to fully engage in a full day despite our incredibly long day, the previous day, in the desert.  Great attitudes prevailed!  Teens realize our time here is short, and they want to see and do as much as possible.

Going to Mt. Bental was important, and our visit sparked thoughtful questions from teens.  Standing safely in Israel, on the border of Syria, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it was hard for teens to wrap their heads around the fact that what looks to be a beautiful, peaceful place, is truly hell on earth for millions of people.  Israeli teens added their own stories of family members who live in the north, and who are fully aware of the dangers on the other side of the border.

Mt. Bental and the Golan Heights is a history lesson in and of itself. Sadly, Israel’s short existence as a state is often marked by the number of wars Israel has fought in response to the threat of her existence…1948, 1967, 1973, and more in-between these dates and since then.  Israel’s 70th anniversary is around the corner—May 2018. Getting there is truly a story of miracles, muscle, might, innovation, and survival.  Your kids have an important story to tell, the first chapters of which are being written here in Israel by each and every one of them.

We welcomed the relief from the heat (super-hot!) during the rafting on the Jordan River, and then we danced as we cruised the Sea of Galilee. FUN, FUN, FUN!  When the sun sets, temperatures drop, so our illuminated tour of the ruins of Beit Sh’an was totally comfortable, enjoyable and impressive.

This evening will be bittersweet as we say goodbye to the Israeli teens.  But before we do, we’ll enjoy a beautiful day together touring mystical Tzfat and enjoying a feast–lunch in the Druze village of Ossafiyah, where we will learn a little about the secret religion of the Druze.

We had a very successful mifgash (time with Israelis).  Teens loved getting to know each other, and many will remain friends for years. While there are many similarities of being a teenager, whether in Israel or in America, probably the main difference is that these teens will serve in the IDF, Israel’s defense forces (three years for the guys, two years for the ladies) when most Y2I teens will be in college. There was lots of discussion around this difference.

A delegation of Israeli teens will be visiting the North Shore from August 24-28, and they will attend the 2017 Y2I Welcome Home Event. You will have the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful Israeli teens who became part of our 2017 Y2I family.  We are looking for host homes during their stay, and I know many of your kids want to host them.  If you can open your home to an Israeli teen for four nights, from August 24 to early morning on August 28, please let Sharon Wyner know (978-565-4450 or swyner@lappinfoundation.org).

The end of our trip is quickly approaching.  Kids are already feeling sad about this, wishing they could stay longer. Good news is they can return, first on Birthright Israel and then perhaps when they are in college to do a semester abroad. Israel, with its wonderful universities, is a great place to spend a semester!  Even better, they could return on a family visit with you!

This evening, before Israeli teens leave us, we’ll debrief in small groups, sharing what they learned about each other, and exploring ways American teens can support Israel from home.  I am really looking forward to this activity.  Connections teens make with each other and with Israel brings tears to my eyes.  I know your kids will have lots more to share with you about their newly discovered love for Israel and for their new Israeli friends.

Sending love your way from 2017 Y2I in the north of Israel,

Debbie Coltin

Filed Under: Blog: 2017 trip

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