After ten long hours on a plane we had finally arrived. We were in the land of Israel, a place which I had heard about all my life. Last summer, my family and my cousins’ family traveled to Israel to celebrate my brother’s bar mitzvah. This was such a new experience for me, as I had never even been off the east coast of the US before! And the trip turned out to be the greatest time of my entire life. I got to see and experience an entirely new country, a whole new world. A couple of things in particular stood out.
One day we decided to go an Israeli market in Jerusalem a few hours before the Sabbath started, the week’s holiest day. It was crazy! People were everywhere, scurrying down rows of different vendors with men yelling to them to buy their food. There had never been anything like this back in the US. Everyone was so excited to prepare for such a holy day! It was truly incredible to see.
I also discovered a lot about the people living in Israel. When we arrived in Tel Aviv, we could not decide where to eat. We saw a waffle place and wondered if it was any good, so my aunt went over to look at the people eating. Almost immediately a man told her the waffles were delicious. Then he offered her a bite! He literally shared his food with a complete stranger! This would never happen back home and I thought it was so wonderful! Another day we were rafting down the Jordan River and we came across three Israeli boys sitting in a tree. One yelled to us and asked if they could come into our raft. We answered ‘sure’, not thinking they would actually come. And then one did a back flip off the tree right into the river and the other two followed and they ended up in our boat! They could hardly speak English and here they were riding down the river with us. Coming from a world with so many rules and curfews and boundaries, it was amazing to see how differently these people lived, how free they were. These kids, our ages, lived entirely different lives.
Even with all the amazing sights (the Western Wall, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the desert of Masada), what truly made this trip a memorable experience were the people with us. We joined a family group tour of about 20 other Jewish families. There I met some of the best people I have ever known. In fact, a year later, although separated by hundreds of miles, I still remain friends with many of them. The tour group made the trip incredibly fun! I learned so much and met truly wonderful people. They turned a trip to a foreign land into an amazing vacation!
I discovered so much on that two week journey. I learned how different life was in other places and how to appreciate these differences as equal to my own way of life, rather than inferior. And I learned how beautiful the land of Israel really is. You could take a different adventure there every day and never run out of new places to go! I can’t wait to go back to such a wonderful country!
Places to stay:
- Isrotel- Dead Sea http://www.isrotel.com/isrotel_dead_sea/ Absolutely gorgeous!
- Prima Kings http://www.inisrael.com/primahotels/kings/ Wonderful!
- Kibbutz Magaan – Amazing and beautiful!
Tour group- Family Journey http://www.authenticisrael.com/familyjourney/ Incredibly fun!!
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