Social Action Mission participant shares highlights from trip to Israel
It’s 7:15 a.m. in the Dafna kibbutz, and the cool valley air fills my lungs. As I breathe, I keep thinking “wow, what an experience we, the Social Action Mission group, are having!” I’ve been in Israel, several days and can now take a quick look back at what has already been a fantastic trip.
After 24 hours of travelling, we landed in Tel Aviv a few hours before Shabbat. We took a scenic bus ride to Jerusalem, where we quickly settled into our hotel rooms and got ready for our first Shabbat experience of the trip. We met Shabbat of a Lifetime’s David Lester in the Old City where we were given a private mini-tour of the Jewish Quarter.
Did you know that there is a “commonly unknown/unused” part of the Western Wall that is believed to be closest to the Holy of Holies? And of course, this mini-tour ended with the Kotel. What a sight! The square was packed with people singing, dancing and praying. The energy was inspiring! We finished our evening with a delicious kosher dinner at David’s home, where we met his wife Galit and their two children.
The next day, a few of us woke up before the sun to go to the Kotel to daven with Rabbi Michael Goldstein of the Glebe Shul. He told us about a group that davens the Amidah as the sun is rising; what a moving experience. After joining the rest of the group for brunch, we returned to the Old City with Pauline, our guide, to explore more of its streets and history. As dusk approached, we made our way to Rabbi Aaron Leibovitz’s home for Seudah Schlichit and havdalah where once again we were warmly greeted and fed savoury dishes. The rest of the night was spent out on the town, but not too late since we had a big day ahead.
On Day 3, we woke up early to go to Tel Hai College to meet the school representative, Jasmin, and our host ambassadors and to get a small taste of everyday Israeli home life. Unfortunately, we were delayed by a few hours due to news of two rockets having been fired into the Northern region of Israel. With the IDF’s full clearance, we left Mamillah and were on the road north by noon. We arrived at the college and enjoyed a tasty hummus meal with our host ambassadors, then went home for the night.
On Day 4, were at Tel Hai College by 8:20 a.m. to head to Metullah to start our Social Action Mission project. We met with Tal, the youth coordinator of Metullah’s Youth Community Centre where we learned the entirety of the project. We split into small groups and got to work. There were many laughs throughout the morning. By 1 p.m., we were on the road heading to the Dalton and Rimon wineries. Many of our Israeli hosts joined us in the work in Metullah and on the wine tours. Their participation further enriched the experience and it was great getting to know each other better as the day progressed.
Between birthdays and first-time visitors to Israel among our Ottawa participants, uncovering Israeli culture, the friendships we are forming and the amazing food (let’s not forget the food!), this trip is quite the experience. Each one of us is taking full advantage of this amazing opportunity and we are looking forward to what’s to come next.