ILSI - From Shabbat in Jerusalem, to the Beautiful Negev
Posted on 07/06/2014 @ 05:21 PM
We had a wonderful Shabbat in the Hills of Jerusalem. As the teens walked out to a breathtaking sunset over the rolling hills of Jerusalem they sang ma tovu, a prayer from this weeks parsha about how beautiful it is to be together. Teens led a spirit filled service welcoming in our first of three Shabbats in Israel together.
As Shabbat moved into Saturday so did the fun of ILSI. Saturday buzzed with new friendships enjoying the free time and programming at the hotel. We had a relaxing day on the campus of our wonderful hotel, following an exceptional Shabbat morning service that included deep meditation and even deeper questions that resonated with the group.
Our International participants from Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia led a phenomenal program that helped the North American delegation understand the cultures and ways of those respective countries through song and dance. Standing together in a circle under the stars the teens led a musical Havdallah. After Havdallah we ventured to the old city, seeing the western wall tunnels. The teens learned from their educators the history of the tunnels and placed their hand upon the wall that was closest to the temple. After a fun night of navigating in these historic tunnels we returned to the hotel excited to begin the next day.
As we begin a new week on our ILSI journey, the itinerary carries us to the Negev, or desert. In the morning we walked through the caves of Bar Kochba, which were dark yet fascinating. We stopped for lunch at a nearby mall where most of us ate at the highly esteemed Aroma cafe. After lunch we travelled deeper into the desert to reach our final destination for the day: the Bedouin tents. We were most looking forward to the camel rides and feast that awaited us. The day closed with a beautiful Bon fire in the desert.
Here is what our teens have to say about ILSI so far: "It's unbelievable to say the matovu and recognize that when you say Israel you're actually in the place you're praying to." -Izzy Kipnis , central region west
"It's so surreal to have our first Shabbat in Israel looking over Jerusalem while the sun is setting. I've honestly never felt closer to my people than i did watching the sun disappear" - Emily Kader NRE DC
"Sleeping in the Negev in a Bedouin tent and stargazing in the desert sand brings out the true beauty of the land Israel. This was a night I will not soon forget." - Kyle Price, Westchester
My group got to the Kotel cave tours early so we had two minutes to go [back] to the Kotel. I've never had a more meanigful two minutes in my life." -Judah Burstein, Boston
Please know that safety continues to be our number one priority!