Jan 4 2009
One of the cell phone alarms went off at 6:15am. I let the other girls sleep until the 6:30am wake up call. We went to breakfast, which was yummy. I ate my bagel from last night and a lot of cake. I packed up croissants and cake for lunch. We then got on the bus for our ride into the heart of Jerusalem.
We stopped at the Haas Promenade where we listened to music, drank grape juice, ate challah, danced, took pictures, and listened to Shabat lecture. It was beautiful to see the Dome of the Rock in the distance. I was so glad to finally see it. The grape juice was really good and the challah was the best I have ever had. There was no bathroom so I was mindful of how much I ate and drank. I really enjoyed watching everyone dancing and the Israeli music was great. Shabat started to lecture us about the City of David. Staci stopped him to remind him that we had soldiers waiting for us. Shabat brushed her off and continued talking. There was a stray cat walking around that freaked Collin out. One thing I liked was that Leo called the cat over to him and was petting him. It was a strange contrast the gun and the petting of the cat. While we were at the promenade there was thick black smoke in the distance. It was scary and reminded us that they were in the middle of a war.
We then got back on the bus to head to the Old City. The Old City was interesting, but we went through it very fast. The buildings were amazing to look at. It really transports you back in time. We saw the room where the last supper took place. I honestly didn’t know it was located there. It was not how I imagined it. The room was empty, plain, and boring. If Shabat hadn’t told us that was the room I would not have been able to guess it. Shabat took us through a maze of side streets and then stopped us to tell us about the Kotel (Western Wall). Then we were able to take some pictures of the Kotel and the Dome of the Rock from a place adjacent to the wall.
We then went down to the Kotel. I was shocked that the men had so much more room than the women. There were barely any men there, but there were tons of women. There wasn’t any room to put our notes in the cracks of the wall. All the cracks were full. I touched the wall, but sadly did not feel a connection to it. A lot of the people took out their phones to call home and have their family members pray at the wall through the phone. I did the same thing and my mom answered the phone.
After we left the wall we all joined in a circle to talk about it, but a guard came over because we were all holding hands. Male and female students shouldn’t be touching. Most of us were disappointed by the wall. We then were given some time to eat lunch.
I chose to shop instead of eat lunch. I quickly shoved my breakfast leftovers in my mouth and started to wander in and out of the stores. In the 1st store I bought a Kippuh for my dad. I also bought bracelets for my mom and I. I also bought a charm for my grandma’s necklace. I went to another store where I bought some postcards and a pen. In the last store I got some more postcards and some keychains.
After we went shopping we went back to the bus to meet our soldiers. 4 of the soldiers were male and 3 were female. They were all in their uniforms. They were given role call #’s. The male soldiers are Roi, Idan, Guy, and Dror. The female soldiers are Karen, Sarit, and Hilla. All but Roi sat in the back of the bus. Roi told us that he teaches rookies and has about 3 months left in the army.
We then went to the military cemetery. The graves are different from what we are used to. They are all above ground and they are all the same. Shabat told us stories about some of the soldiers that had died. Roi told us about a soldier who jumped on a grenade to save everyone else. We also saw them starting to prepare the graves for the soldiers who had died in Gaza the night before. That was really emotional for me. Then we learned about some of the soldiers who were captured and mutilated. Shabat showed us pictures of other soldiers going through the sand looking for body parts to bury. That was so moving.
We got back on the bus and started our 2 hour drive to Tiberias. I fell asleep for a little bit. I woke up right before we got to a security check point. A man got on our bus with a gun at the check point, which was scary. I’m glad I woke up before he got on the bus.
Our hotel was Moriah Gardens and our room was 1206, which was another corner room. I was happy about that. I was also happy that we were on the 4th floor so we could walk if we wanted to. I was done with 16 flights of stairs or forever elevator rides. The room had a mini fridge, which I was thrilled about. I could finally have cold water and juice! The only problem was that there was one bed for 3 girls. I would need a bed. The door to our bathroom was broken, but the shower didn’t flood.
At dinner I found out our room was the only room not to have an extra bed, cot, or sleeper sofa. The dinner was disgusting!!!!! The rice was cold, the potatoes were spicy, the bread was hard as a rock, there was no dessert, and the carrots were nasty. I went back to the room and ate some of the cereal I packed. The tap water wasn’t bad. It tasted less salty than the bottled water and the tap water in Jerusalem.
We broke off into two groups to have a discussion about faith. All the soldiers aren’t religious except for Hilla. Guy’s comment about the Israeli Army protecting any Jew anywhere really struck me. The soldiers seemed upset that American Jews don’t give them more help. They were also very shocked to hear our stories about what it is like to be a Jew in America. They’ve never been in the minority. Then we played some games in the basement of the hotel.
Then Ricky, Kevin, Alan, and I continued the faith discussion in my room. It was nice to have an intellectual conversation. Then we went to hang out in Jacob’s room. Julie, Lindsey, Jordi, Jen, and Jacob were already in there. Marc, Leo, Rachel, Roi, and Josh floated in and out. We watched football, listened to music, and gossiped. Then Deb came and told us that she had an extra bed. I wanted it! I gathered the whole crew and we went to Deb’s room at the other end of the hall. Alan orchestrated the movement of the mattress, frame, and bedding down the hall. All the guys and I had the frame. A couple people had the mattress and someone else had the bedding. It was a team effort and it was a lot of fun. I wound up going to bed around 2am. However, most of our tour mates were drunk and passed out much later.