International Blog Plus Program
As I write this email, our lovely Plus Program students are on their way to a new adventure in the USA. As you know, our first stop is Washington D.C. and we are sure that it is going to be a blast.
Please note that I will be sending you daily updates from D.C. and NYC.
In the meantime, you can enjoy some pictures of us from Ben Gurion airport.
DC & NYC Day 1
After about 15 hours flying, we landed safely in Washington D.C. We arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon and after a short time spent refreshing ourselves, we headed to a nice kosher restaurant nearby.
On our way there, we saw a really long escort convoy for government officials. Seeing that increased our excitement for tomorrow when we will get to see the White House and the different memorials and monument in the area.
After a satisfying meal, we went back to the hotel for some much-needed rest.
DC & NYC Day 2
Today was our first full day in D.C. We started the day at the White House visitor center. On the way there, we stopped next to the White House and it was hugely exciting to see it in real life.
After the visitor center, we met our tour guide for the day. A local woman name Joanne. We began our tour next to the White House and heard a very insightful explanation about the way it was built and the way it functions. From there we went to the Trump hotel to enjoy the bird’s-eye view from the tower. The building used to be the official post office, and today it is a very fancy hotel.
After enjoying the view, we walked all the way to the capitol building. There we could see a great view of the national mall and the Washington monument.
We then took the tourist bus to the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial was absolutely amazing and inspiring. There our lovely tour guide told us about Abraham Lincoln’s history and political agenda. The final stop of the tour was the Vietnam memorial. We walked along the memorial and saw all the names on the wall. The idea of the monument is really interesting, as you approach the wall you can see your own reflection in it. Feeling as if you are part of the monument truly brings the ideas behind the architecture to life.
Our next stop was Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated. There we watched a one-man show about the historical event.
After dinner, we took the metro to a different side of the city for a night out. We went to a local comedy showcase of comedians. At the showcase, we could see a different side of the city. It was hilarious hearing all the jokes about American culture and the comedians’ private lives. Of course, most of them couldn’t ignore the “strange” group of Australians, South Africans, and Brits visiting D.C. from Israel and we provided them with the inspiration for a number of jokes.
It has been a great day and we are all looking forward to our next day in this fascinating city.
DC & NYC Day 3
We have had a terrific day in Washington D.C.
The city is very well known for its incredible museums. Therefore, we dedicated our day to exploring some of the best in town.
We started the day at the “Newseum” (the media museum). The museum is home to amazing exhibitions about different aspects of the media. There is an archive of newspapers together with information about their history and exhibitions covering the Berlin Wall, gay rights, terror attacks and so much more. It is an incredible museum and it sheds a light on many historical events and the media’s role in documenting them.
After lunch, we went to the Holocaust museum. Even though most of the students have already been to museums about the Holocaust in Israel, it was very interesting to see how this delicate topic is dealt with in the USA. The experience provided by the museum was quite overwhelming in a good way and we all gained some new perspectives about the memory of the Holocaust.
Then it was time for the students to decide which of the other museums they wanted to visit next. Most of us went to the air and space museum where we learned about the history of human flight, famous NASA missions and more.
We ended our day in a lively area called Dupont Circle. After a nice dinner and some relaxing at the fountain in the middle of the circle, we headed back to the hotel for a much-needed rest before traveling to NYC in the morning.
DC & NYC Day 4 & 5
On Friday we woke up early in order to take the bus to the city that never sleeps. After a five-hour bus ride, we finally arrived in New York City.
For some of us, it was our first time laying our eyes on this amazing city. It was quite overwhelming finding our way through the massive amount of people as we were continually looking up and around admiring the uniqueness of this place. After we checked into the hotel and had lunch, we took the metro just before Shabbat started all the way to the JCC, the Jewish Community Center, in order to join the local community for a Shabbat service and dinner. The service was very different to what we are used to. After Kiddush and dinner, we watched a one-woman show about the story of a young woman in the Holocaust name Etty Hillesum. Etty was the Dutch author of confessional letters and diaries that describe both her religious awakening and the persecutions of Jewish people in Amsterdam during the German occupation. In 1943 she was deported and killed in Auschwitz
It was a very interesting play and to gain another understanding of how a Jewish community celebrates Shabbat.
After the show, we walked back to the hotel through Times Square. The square was packed with tourists, street artists and so much more. Seeing all of the lights of the billboards and absorbing the crazy atmosphere of this place was an amazing experience.
On Shabbat morning, we had a quick breakfast and went straight out walking through the city of New York. We started our walk at the beginning of the famous 5th Avenue. Along the avenue, we could see some of the most iconic buildings and places in NYC such as the Empire State Building, Trump Tower, the Rockefeller Center, the Radio City Music Hall and even the famous toy store, F.A.O Schwartz from the movie “Big”.
After the walk, we went to a kosher restaurant and had a pre-made lunch. We made the Shabbat Kiddush and spoke with the families that came to celebrate Shabbat at the same place.
We finished our walk at the amazing Central Park. There, the students had some time to explore the park, watch the live shows and relax in the shade.
After some free time in the park, we went to our scheduled visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met, as it is called, is the largest art museum in the United States. The museum regularly hosts notable special exhibitions, often focusing on works that have been loaned from a variety of other museums and sources for the duration of the exhibition. Such exhibitions include displays specially designed for the Costume Institute, paintings from artists from across the world, works of art related to specific art movements, and collections of historical artefacts.
We finished our tour of the Met and went to have a nice evening picnic and Havdala ceremony at Central Park.
It was a lovely weekend in NYC and we all very excited for our next day in this beautiful city.
DC & NYC Day 6 & 7
As I write this email, we are on our way to JFK to meet the NJY bus to camp.
We had a terrific time during over the last couple of days in NYC and just before we say goodbye, I would like to tell you all about it.
Day three in The Big Apple started with lots of energy! We ate breakfast before going to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It is a memorial and museum in New York City commemorating the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, which killed 2,977 people, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site.
After the fascinating and emotional visit to the museum, we walked to the Charging Bull Statue just outside Wall Street and the NY Stock Exchange. Arturo Di Modica created the charging bull without the involvement of the city, funding the $360,000 project himself in the aftermath of the 1987 market crash. In December 1989, he brought the charging bull to the city and installed it under the Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange, as a gift to New York. The NYPD briefly impounded the sculpture, but after the public protested, the NYC Parks Department officially installed it in Bowling Green Park a week later.
After visiting Wall Street, we caught a ferry to the see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the U.S. gateway for immigrants for over 60 years, from 1892 until 1954. We also found an amazing kosher pizza place and had a delicious New York meal.
The highlight of the trip came in the evening, The Book of Mormon show on Broadway!!! The show was so amazing that it is almost impossible to describe. We had so much fun and left the theater with a smile on our faces.
Today we began our final day of the trip with breakfast, and then we were off to Chinatown! New York’s Chinatown, conveniently located right next to Little Italy on Manhattan Island, is one of the oldest and largest Chinatown’s outside of Asia. It is one of the largest surviving ethnic Chinese communities that still operating with as many Chinese residents as others. We continued on to Little Italy, where we smelled the most amazing pizzas and experienced a different atmosphere. We continued on to SoHo where we saw designer boutiques and high-end art galleries.
After a delicious lunch, we headed back to the hotel to grab our stuff and then boarded the shuttle to JFK.
It has been an amazing time here with your children. We had so much fun together and it has been an unforgettable educational experience for all of us.