Our group took time off over Shabbat to disconnect, relax, and take in the spirit of the Jewish holy day in the holy city of Jerusalem.
On Friday, we explored the shuk of Jerusalem, a bustling market. We took in the sweet smells of rugelach, heard the calls of vendors selling fresh produce and breads, and watched Jerusalemites rush to prepare for the day of rest. After lighting candles in the evening, we entered the Old City of Jerusalem and enjoyed welcoming Shabbat at the Kotel, the holiest site of the Jewish people.
On Saturday, we rested and reflected, enjoyed the company of the group while enjoying an afternoon in the park.
Sunday, we had a solemn day of remembrance at Mt. Herzl, the resting place of many Israeli soldiers and heads of state. We learned of the hard-earned freedom and immense sacrifice the Jewish people underwent and continue to endure to protect the Jewish state. This was followed by a visit to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust memorial museum of Israel. Our wonderful guide, Martine, took us through the difficult history of the rise of Nazi Germany, the lead to the Holocaust, and how antisemitism has and is used to justify violence against the Jewish people. She urged us to remember the resilience, strength, and hope of the Jewish people. We are a people who choose life rather than succumb to darkness.