After touring the northern part of Israel we made our way to the capital and holy city of Jerusalem. On our way, we stopped in Akko, the partnership city of Austin, to volunteer at a preschool and middle school. It was very meaningful to take some time to give back to the Jewish community and to get to learn more about a local Israeli community. We were lucky to get to spend our Shabbat in Jerusalem, from our night out on Ben Yehuda Street to touring the Old City, to visiting the Kotel both during the day and Friday night, and shopping at the Mahane Yehuda shuk, it was a very special Shabbat!
Sunday was an emotional and patriotic day for us as we remembered the lives that were lost during the Holocaust by touring the Yad Vashem Museum and Memorial. Then, we paid tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to establish and defend the State of Israel and the Jewish people at the Har Herzl military cemetery.
We then continued south to the Negev desert and camped overnight at the Bedouin tents where we got to eat authentic Bedouin cuisine and relax around a campfire. We were up bright and early the next day to ride camels, do an incredible hike in the canyon called Ein Ovdat and visited a sabra farm, which is a special Israeli fruit.
We have also been very fortunate to be joined by some Israelis so that we can experience Israel through their perspective as well! We say goodbye to them tomorrow, but we have all made 8 new friends and will be sure to keep in touch! There are only a few more days left to our incredible trip, we will hike Masada, float in the Dead Sea and explore Tel Aviv while treasuring every last moment in Israel with our amazing group of Bus 323!