Thanks to the trip leaders of Israel Outdoors Group 243 for this update from Israel!
Bus 243 has continued to have an amazing trip and we can’t believe our time in Israel is almost over! This is a fantastic group of young adults, full of curiosity and kindness. They’ve created an amazing bond with one another and our eight Israeli peers. It won’t be easy to leave.
We spent an unforgettable weekend and Shabbat in Jerusalem, which already feels like a lifetime ago. We toured the old city of Jerusalem on Friday and visited the Kotel (Western Wall). We welcomed in Shabbat together and finished the night playing games and hanging out at the hotel. We caught up on some much needed rest and relaxation on Saturday, saving up our energy for a crazy final week ahead.
Sunday was our final day in Jerusalem and a powerful day at that. We visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s holocaust museum and memorial first, where we were taken on a tour of the museum and the touching children’s memorial. It was a difficult but extremely moving visit for the entire group. Next we went to Har Herzl national military cemetery where our Israeli peers led our tour, sharing personal stories and allowing us to understand the true reality of life in Israel today. Afterwards we left Jerusalem and drove south into the Israeli desert to go camping! It was a much needed pick me up and the whole group had an incredible night camping out under the stars at the base of Masada. We sang and laughed around the campfire late into the night.
Not long after, we awoke before the sun and began our long ascent up Masada via the snake path. After reaching the top, we welcomed the sun and celebrated the bar mitzvah of several participants- David, Jesse, Maxwell, Corey, Artem, and Eli. It was a fantastic view from the top and a memorable moment as we sang and danced around them. After descending the mountain and eating a tasty breakfast at the bottom, we went to Ein Gedi to hike to the beautiful natural desert oasis. Then, we drove to the Dead Sea for a float in the salty water. After relaxing by the sea, we drove to the Bedouin tents to spend another night camping. We learned about Bedouin culture and hospitality and ate one of the best meals of the trip so far! We finished the night with games run by our Israeli peers and smores around the campfire.
Today, we had our final day in the desert. We began the morning with an early camel ride and then headed out for our last hike of the trip. We hiked in the beautiful desert canyons of Nahal Chavarim and Ein Ovdat. Then, we visited the grave of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. Afterwards, we said goodbye to the desert and made our way back up to Tel Aviv. We just arrived at our beautiful hotel in the city, which is quite a change from our past two nights camping, and will have a night out in Tel Aviv tonight to enjoy Israeli nightlife.
Tomorrow, we will explore the city in the morning and in the afternoon travel to Ra’anana, a nearby city, for some great programs about education and technology in Israel. We will finish our time in Ra’anana with a hospitality evening at our Israeli peers’ homes with their families. It will give the group a great final insight into the daily lives of modern Israelis. We will spend a final evening together tomorrow before returning home Thursday morning. The entire group is very sad to see the trip come to an end.
See you soon,