Last winter break my family took a vacation that was completely different from any other we had taken before.We went to Israel with fifty other people from our synagogue.By far this was the most interesting travel trip I have ever been on.
At the beginning of the trip the kids were all strangers. I remember our first night in Israel like it was yesterday. We all went to this little Israeli restaurant and the kids all sat together.It was very awkward at dinner as my sisters and I just stuck together the whole night. I was also hesitant to try the food because it was definitely not what I was used to. The next couple of days were a lot like the first and I barely remember much from them.
New Years’ eve came and this was when we really got to know the other kids. My sisters and I started playing cards and eventually all the kids joined us. After some intense card playing, we had a food fight and starting chasing each other around the hotel.After this night everything changed. I stopped clinging to just my family and this helped me to really enjoy and take in all of Israel’s beauty. I remember climbing up a mountain in the Ein Gedi oasis, which had a huge waterfall. We decided to hike all the way up to the top of the mountain and when we got there it was amazing. You could see everything below, including wild animals, the surrounding desert, and the beauty of the land.
Israel is so different from anywhere else I have been where one day you can be high up in the windy cold Golan Heights and the next day you are floating in the Dead Sea.
While Israel is a small country, we often took long bus rides.For example, we went from Tel Aviv to the Jordan border one day and from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem another day.The rabbi often played Israeli music on the bus and my entire family (especially me) and others on the bus would sing really loud when our favorite songs came on.This would make the rides go much quicker.
We also had a special notebook that would stay on the bus and anyone could write in it and share how they felt about each place. The notebook contained everyone’s thoughts about Israel, as well as being in the group.Special places like the Western Wall, Masada, and the HolocaustMuseum left a deep impression on everyone.
The last night was the saddest and best by far. I had gotten close with the other kids and we knew it would never be like this again. We ate at the same place we did the first night. It was the same food that now we were used to, and we all talked and laughed and played. It was fun to reminisce back to our first night when we did not even talk to each other. Going to Israel was an experience that showed me that you need to open up and be friendly with others to enjoy yourself and your surroundings. I hope one day I can travel back to Israel with my family and my synagogue and let my kids have the same wonderful experience.
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