June Summer Update
What an incredible month we have had here in Tel Aviv! We would like to tell you about some of the highlights, so let’s get started:
In the first week, on Tuesday, we had our first evening program; we gathered and went for a bike ride along the Tel Aviv coast at sunset. Later that week, we woke up at 3:00 am and drove to Masada to hike up the mountain during the sunrise. It was stunning! While there, we learned about the story of the site and explored its different areas. We ended our day at the Dead Sea, swimming and chilling at the unique waters 🙂
In the next week, we spent our evening activities blowing off some steam. We visited a site with trampolines, disco-style lights, and music. It was great doing some exercises! On Thursday, we drove to the Golan Heights in the north of Israel. We started the day hiking in the Jilabun River and enjoying its beautiful waterfalls. We ended our day on the Bental Mountain, learning about the Yom Kippur War, looking at the views right into Syria, and gaining better understanding of the area’s geopolitics.
The following week, we decided to spend our evening activity going back to the ’80s. We met with Guru Zuzu, a new Israeli outdoor dance company, and together with their talented dance leader, we put on earphones and started our outdoor dance party! It was great to explore new sites and locations in Tel-Aviv in such a unique manner. It is highly recommended for your next visit to Israel! 😉 You can click here to see some cool examples of the tour.
On Thursday, we ended the week by exploring the Jerusalem mountains and having a nice hike in the beautiful nature of Tel Tzuba.
In the last full week of the month, we visited the Jewish towns and kibbutzim around the Gaza Strip. We started our day by learning a bit about the history of the region and what gave rise to the current situation. Following that, we visited Kibbutz Erez, where we learnt about the kibbutz’s history and what the situation has been since Hamas started firing missiles and rockets. We heard from kibbutz members while touring the kibbutz; they spoke about how they deal with this crazy reality, how they maintain a sense of community, and how they stay resilient with all the challenges.
From Kibbutz Erez, we left to visit the town of Sderot, best known as The Target of Hamas over the last 20 years. We learned about the history of the city, we saw the new constructions of safe rooms in each home and building and we even saw how the children play in a safe playground without even knowing that they are in a safe zone. Our next visit was to the urban kibbutz of Migvan, which was established in Sderot two decades ago. We heard from the founder who explained what an urban kibbutz is, why they settled in Sderot, and how they maintain communal life even when rockets are flying above their heads. We ended our day more positively by visiting Moshav Netiv Ha’Asara, a small moshav on the border of Gaza. In the moshav, we met the founder of project Nativ Leshalom (Path to Peace), a project that decorates the protective concrete walls around the moshav in colorful stones and peace messages. We added our own colorful rocks to the wall and enjoyed ending the day with a more positive perspective on the region.
Furthermore, during the week, we spent our evening program at the beach, strengthening the connection of the community throughout different games, conversations, and snacks while enjoying a beautiful sunset.
Two days ago, we had the final evening activity of the month with the Stand With Us organization. During the evening, we had the chance to deepen the conversation about Israel advocacy by learning essential facts and we acquired new tools that will help to have a meaningful discourse with friends and colleagues. It was also another opportunity to process the experience of being in Israel.
Today, Thursday, we traveled up north to the city of Haifa to explore different religions and cultures that co-exist in Haifa alongside the Jewish majority.
We started our day with a short hike in an area called “Little Switzerland” on the Carmel Mountain, after enjoying the view from the mountain we headed to the city of Haifa. There we started with a visit to the Stela Maris monastery that overlooks the Haifa bay. We heard about the Christian presence in Haifa and their history there. From there, we continued to Wadi Nisnas, the old Muslim area of Haifa, where we learned about the history of the city and its Muslim citizens. After our tour of the Wadi and having witnessed the co-existence of Jews, Arabs, and Christians there, we continued to explore another religion in Haifa, the Bahai Faith. We stood at the top of the Bahai Gardens and heard about this unique religion while enjoying their beautiful gardens.
That is all for now. We will be in touch soon with highlights from July.
The Aardvark Israel Staff