In honor of Birthright registration for the Winter/Spring 2015-16 season (sign up now!) we are posting daily blog posts from the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas trip with Israel Outdoors this past June. Thanks for sharing! And now Day 6…
The air is heavy in Israel. No, I am not talking about just the humidity shock coming from the desert heat of Vegas. As we stood as a group, traveling to get to this moment for more than 24 hours, we saw thousands of years of world altering history below. Jerusalem before us, we knew we were just getting to know the story of this awe inspiring country.
By mid Friday afternoon, we found ourselves in the hyper-bustling food market. Families filled the streets wall-to-wall preparing for Shabbat. Hungry and jet lagged, many of us were quite unprepared for the culture shock of pushing past strollers and haggling with non-native English speakers.
A newly made friend, Marlee, and I stopped at a falafel shop during this craziness to settle our growling stomachs. We stood in the small, crowded restaurant unsure of how to order. When we finally received our food and figured out the right change in shekels, we were faced with a new issue of where to eat. Not a second after I stepped down out of the shop ready to make our food to-go, Marlee and I had our first taste of the hospitality of the Israeli people.
“Do you need to sit? Come sit with me,” a gentleman named Moses stood up with the help of his cane to move and give us two seats together. Genuinely interested in getting to know us he asked questions and offered more food than we could ever possibly eat. When we finished our meal, we left with smiles and even more gratitude for this opportunity to be in Israel.
Come our second day we found ourselves thankful again, this time for the day of Shabbat.Many in the group struggled to stay awake even through Shabbat dinner, so being able to sleep in was very welcome for all of us. For those with energy to spare we walked down to the Israel Museum in the afternoon. Among so many other beautiful artifacts and knowledge housed in the museum were pages from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Being in the presence of these amazingly well kept documents was powerful to say the least.
After our full day of rest, we enjoyed dinner at the hotel and closed Shabbat with Havdallah. After sharing some prayers together, we started our new week with a bang and set out for Ben Yehudah Street to experience Israel’s nightlife. With most of us being from Vegas we were not quite sure what to expect. Jerusalem showed us that even a city deeply rooted in culture and history still knows how to have a good time. I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I feel confident we will all leave Israel with many new friends and memories.