We hope you had an amazing week and an easy fast on Tisha B’Av. We spent last Shabbat in Jerusalem at our beloved hostel, Beit Shmuli. We davened Kab-Shab (Kabalat Shabbat) at the Kotel. We were interrupted by Omri Casspi and some other rather large NBA players such as Demarcus Cousins and Iman Shumpert.
We woke up to a very hostile breakfast and then davened at a variety of minyanim around Jerusalem, such as the Ras-Al-Ghoul minyan. We then were met by old friend, weary traveler, and mishlachat emeritus Eliran Sanandaji. A controversial speaker came to meet us, but she turned out to be an actress and presented a variety of view points on Israel.
On Saturday night, we gathered in a nice park to read Eicha (the Book of Lamentations, and then walked to the Kotel to experience the remnants of the Temple first hand. The intensity and passion shared by all Jews was quite moving.
On Sunday, most of us fasted, and we talked a lot about various issues in Israel and their relation to Tisha B’Av. We broke the fast with a collection of Keshet groups at a Kippah Live concert (a.k.a. the JV maccabeats). Please take a moment to like them on Facebook, only when you get home, chanichim. Natan and Fisher became Keshet celebrities and started a “Fisher” chant in front of everyone.
On Monday morning, we dug for artifacts from the Temple Mount. While on our quest for ancient Jewish artifacts many dug deeper into themselves. Yitzhak then gave us a tour of hardcore West Bank and reminisced about his hardball days in the early 80s. Soon after, we met a Jewish settler involved in the peace movement. While his message was inspiring, most were captivated by three very cute puppies. While the puppies found homage under the couch, we found dinner at Machaneh Yehuda Shuk.
On Tuesday, we gained yet another perspective from a Bedouin activist who toured us around an unrecognized Bedouin community. While the Bedouin communities remain unrecognized by the Israeli government, we were given ample attention by a 6-year-old boy who served us endless drinks. Tuesday night, we went to sleep.
On Wednesday morning, we woke up at 3:30 to hike Metzada at sunrise and daven on the reconstructed roof of a bathhouse of our ancestors. Then, we swam in the Dead Sea and discovered unknown cuts. On our way to Tel Aviv we stopped at an old bullet factory turned kibbutz turned museum. Once in Tel Aviv, we met up with our only consistent second month Arayot counselor, Sarah Marlowe. While Natan discovered the secrets of his facial hair, Jonah discovered the pain of a Zoe roundhouse to the face. We also discovered Tovya’s broken finger.
On Thursday we toured hardcore Tel Aviv, the South. We learned about the Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers and their plight as non-Jewish immigrants. A few brothels later, we found ourselves in Yaffo for lunch. After relaxing at the glorious Jerusalem beach in Tel Aviv, we enjoyed dinner at Dr. Shakshuka, where Nava W. celebrated her birthday. We are proud of our big girl. Congrats, Nava! While Nava found joy in reaching double digits, Jonah found yet another way to annoy all of us with a giant, overpriced fog horn.
Today, we heard about Israel as the “start up nation” in a great lecture by Assaf Luxembourg. Later today, we are visiting Independence Hall, where David Ben Gurion declared Israel a state 67 years ago. We will spend Shabbat in Tel Aviv, and then Sunday in Jerusalem. On Monday we will cross over the international date line, where many interesting halackic questions about davening times may emerge.
Unfortunately, this will be our last “Na’alehtter.” As we wrap up our amazing trip, we reflect on the wonderful experiences we have shared, the opinions we have formed, and the relationships we have created with one another and to this special land. As we did at the archeological sight, we encourage you all to dig deeper, appreciate your camp experience, and thoroughly enjoy the time remaining. And hey, our group actually didn’t have Maccabia this year, so anything is possible.
Noah “ben David” A., Nathan “ben Tony” H., Holden “ben Howard” G., Mitchell “ben Howard” B. and the rest of Naaleh ’15 except Russo