Our Adventure in Israel: Alex C.
Beginning our day in Ceasareas was amazing. We explored the beautiful ancient ruins, and learning the history was fascinating. (Doron is extremely knowledgeable and engaging, I look forward to his informative talks and appreciate the passion with which he talks about history) Looking out over the gorgeous blue coast of the Mediterranean sea was breathtaking. From there we stopped for lunch and I tried my very first shwarma which was delicious! I like that my birthright experience has also included a mini food tour- thanks to Dylan the future chef- I think one of my favorite things about Israel is how natural everything is. Not only is the food always fresh and organic, but the people we have met live such a different and holistic lifestyle. I like that the people we met at the “salad tour” are so passionate about the innovative ways in which Israel has pioneered desert farming and agriculture. Everything was delicious; I have never had juicier tomatoes, sweeter strawberries, and smelled herbs quite as intoxicating and potent, as I did on the farm. This day was so enjoyable, even though we did not do as many activities as compared to some of the other jam packed days.
Last night we had our Bedouin encounter, and I do not think that I have ever experienced something quite as magical. We got to ride a camel! It was such an amazing feeling being on top of such a strange animal, and seeing the calm desert surrounding us. I rode my camel with Bar, one of the hayalim traveling with us for our mifgash, we had such a fun time! It was funny because she is afraid of heights and was nervous to ride; I assumed someone in IDF would not be afraid of something that seems so trivial to me. We also sang some songs that Bar knew from America; we had a great time. Dinner was a fun experience too. I have never sat on the floor sitting so closely to other people eating dinner and truly enjoying my time, it was a fun and intimate experience that I shared with my new friends on the trip. But my favorite part of our stay in the Bedouin tents was when we walked out to the desert at night. Sitting alone for the 15 minutes (that seemed like half an hour) felt so serene. I sat atop a small hill of rocks all alone, and I felt my surroundings in such a profound way. I was able to look up and notice all of the stars; I could even see a constellation, something I have never picked out before. When I was looking at the moon, it occurred to me that I have never sat outside at night at observed the moon, and for that matter any of my surroundings. It made me stop and think, that maybe I do move too fast, I am too worried about the future, and what I need to so for the future. The future is a daunting thing that as a college student, seems to be the biggest concern of everyone I know. This trip as a whole has opened my eyes to the fact that I cannot consume myself with worry, and that just doing stuff for fun to enjoy myself, and giving myself new experiences and opportunities is more important that trying to figure out “the next step” or “the right track”.
When we all came back together after our time of private self reflection, we sat in our two groups to begin a discussion. I had a feeling it would become very serious, and that many people would be timid to share their personal thoughts, which is completely fine. But after listening to what other people thought about when they were alone; whether it was their family, friends, goals, the meaning of our trip, or just cleared their mind, the overall emotion of the environment became very solemn. And when we began sharing personal stories of a moment when we all felt like we belonged to something
greater, or made a connection to a higher power, and knew in that moment that there was something else out there, I began to cry. Some of the stories were happy, but unfortunately many of them were sad, but that made sense to me. When we are happy we do not always pause to think about why we feel the way we do, or who is responsible for our happiness, but in times of tragedy or despair we look for help, solace, and guidance. I think this is why many people look for a G-d. It is a comforting feeling to believe that there is some sort of power watching over the people, and feel that everything happens for a reason.