Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jerusalem Trip by Julie France- written July 1

July 1
Hey guys!

So...last weekend I went to Jerusalem. It was definitely a trip to be remembered. I included some of the most important things in detail, but there is a lot more that I will have to tell you about when I get home.

Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's holocaust museum. I don't really know how to describe how moving it was if you haven't been there, if you have been there you know what it feels like.

The most incredible thing about it is when you finish the museum part you come out to a balcony with an absolutely stunning view of the land. It means so much more when you are actually in Israel looking at all the artifacts and information. It serves as an important reminders as to why Israel is so important to Jews everywhere.

The Water Caves
One of the most interesting experiences in Jerusalem were the water caves. First, I have to give a little history because that is important to understand why they are interesting. Jerusalem's only natural water source is at the bottem of a valley, which in ancient times was very difficult to protect, so what people did was they built tunnels going to the spring so they could safely get to the water source in war times. They were also the caves that King David used to overtake the city (If I recall roughly 3000 years ago).

After we went through the first part of these caves we went through caves that King David ordered to be built when he had control of the city. These brought water into the city. Walking through these was a little scary because it was 500 meters of absolutely no light (I lied, I did use my cell phone light a little) and water up to your mid-calf (so places it came up to your waist) and most of the way you had to duck down so not to hit your head. Not going to lie, I was completely terrified, but it really was an experience I won't forget.

The Old City and the Western Wall
This was probably my favorite part of the city. We had a guide take us up on the wall surronding the the old city and show us the different quarters and a look at major land marks from a distance. The whole area is crampled with Shuks (market places) and holy sights.

Then we got to the Western wall. I don't know how to explain seeing something that means so much to the Jewish people, especially after the 40th anniversary of the Jews being allowed back into the old city. The kids I am here with also decided to wake up early on shabbat and go pray.

We walked there as the sun was still rising, which was amazing in itself. When we got there being able to pray along side of jews from all over the world and from multiple sects (although mostly orthodox) was absolutely incredible. The thought that this one wall could unite these people from all over the world is astounding. It is so much more than a wall, it is the symbol of the Jewish people and their unity.

Among more things that are worth mentioning are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because of the 60th anniversery of Israel they have brought out one of the original scrolls. The coolest thing about this was the fact that I could recognize all the letters and even read some of the words. It is interesting that the Hebrew language has made it this far (the scrolls date back to around the 2nd century BCE) is an interesting point and made learning Hebrew even more worth it.

Another interesting thing that our guide pointed out was a part of town (the name excapes me right now) which is the only area the Jews and Arabs live side by side peacefully. Seeing this is a little upsetting realizing that in a city this large there is only one neighborhood where people can coexist, but it also shows that people can and gives some hope to the future.

I am sure there are things I am forgetting, but it was so much to take in at one time. Hopefully when I upload the pictures they can say more than I could.

More recently, in Arad, I met the Israeli counselors I will be working with. they took us out to the popular place (really the only place to go hang out). They introduced us to all of their friends and we got a feeling for the Israeli life style.I also meet my Israeli co-counselor. His name is Shai (pronounced 'Shy'). He is fabulous.

We have already started to work on plans for camp this summer, and we are making supplies for activities. He is fun to work with and we get along well. We have similar work styles and agree that a lot of what the adults running the camp say is fun is wrong, so we both tried to change the activities up a bit. He is creative and I can't wait to meet our bunk and start working. this is getting ridiculously long, and I feel like I should probably end for your sake, so I guess I will wrap it up.

Much Love,

1 comment:

Sivia said...

Julie, Your letters really are bringing your summer to life for us back home! Thank you for sharing- I am so glad you have found Arad and the region full of wonderful, warm people and I am sure you will maintain your new relationships even after you return to your U.S. life....We are so proud of you and we look forwad to more stories and pictures too!