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Summer 2014

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Well, Guys and Gals,

We are back in the good old USA, but our hearts are still together in Israel!  Thank you all sooooo much for the BEST SUMMER EVER!!

If you have any great photos to add to our already 4000+ strong picture collection, don’t forget to send them in and we’ll put them up on the site!

WE MISS YOU AND CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL AT THE REUNION!!!

Volunteering, Paint Balling, and Bowling In Jerusalem

Today we did a bunch of mitzvahs! The day began with helping the needy in Yerushalayim, which is a big mitzvah and gave us a good feeling that we were able to help out some of our Jewish brothers and sisters who unfortunately find themselves in need at this time.

We then had lunch and headed into the Gush for paint ball. The course that we were able to play on was not just any paint ball entertainment facility – it’s an actual fully functional anti terrorism training facility, and our paint ball leaders were some of the same people who train army, police, and security forces in counter terrorism fighting techniques!

We then headed back into Yerushalayim for some fun bowling, because, honestly – who doesn’t love a good bowling night, eh?

Now, here’s the kicker – volunteering was obviously a mitzvah. But, paint ball and bowling, in a sense were mitzvahs, too! Why? Because, living our everyday lives in Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah, so doing fun things like paint ball and bowling in Eretz Yisrael are mitzvahs, too! Just some food for thought ūüôā See you tomorrow!

Kever Rachel, The Gush, and Battle of the Genders!

Wow… where yesterday was such an crazy active day – where to begin? ¬†Well, perhaps let’s begin with what we began with – Kever Rachel! ¬†We began the day with a spiritual experience, visiting the tomb of our fore mother Rachel. ¬†One of the amazing things about trips to Israel that you can’t get anywhere else is that you have a way to connect both to the modern State of Israel – the only Jewish country in the world, and also our heritage, as this is the land where our people and our spiritual heritage are from. ¬†We always say it, you’ve heard it before, and it sounds really nice, but when we actually are standing in the place where Rachel, or “Mamma Rochel,” as they say, is buried, those things that we say all the time actually come to life.

We then headed for Kfar Etzion, with a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Gush Etzion before its fall in the Israel War for Independence, and those who lost their lives defending our land. ¬†After that, we went to Givat Oz V’Gaon, a new development being put together in honor of and named after the three boys who were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists just over a month ago. ¬†We cleared rocks and brush in order to make way for the foundations to be laid for a new Beit Knesset in their honor and memory. ¬†Our whole group got to take part in actually building up the land of Israel.

Then, it was time for a little fun, so we went to Deerland Ranch Adventure Park for some ZIP LINING!!!  It was a lot of fun Рwe zip lined over a valley and got to have an off road jeep ride back to base!  Back at base, we met Member of Knesset Uri Ariel, who joined us for Mincha!

We headed back to our hotel, but first had a “Pizur” dinner, then, for night activity, we had Battle of the Genders! ¬†There were crazy challenges and it was a lot of fun! ¬†Picture, if you will, a mix between Double Dare, relay races, and Color War! ¬†Things got so nuts, we got in juuust a little bit of trouble for making too much noise… see, BILT, we can be crazy too! ¬†ūüôā

Finally, the winning team from Scavenger Stunt almost a month ago FINALLY got their ice cream party prize! ¬†We made a bit of a mess, but ¬†it was fun and we cleaned up – plus, we shared the leftovers with the hotel staff, so TECHNICALLY, it was their mess, too! ¬†ūüėČ

SHA SHA SHAVUA TOV!!!

So, we just had a GREAT final Shabbat in Yerushalayim Рwe did a nice hike Friday morning, followed by lunch at Machane Yehuda and a scavengar hunt in Nachlaot!  Then, we got ready for Shabbat and  davened Kabbalat Shabbat Friday night at the Kotel!  We also saw fellow NCSY groups JOLT, TJJ AP, and TJJ Ambassadors there, as well as many other friends.  We sang and danced and it was an awesome and very meaningful experience!

Shabbat day we spent at our hotel, the Jerusalem Gate, and it was very chilled.  We had a lot of free time, but got a good amount of thought provoking Jewish activities in, as well.  We capped it off with ebbing Shabbos away on the roof of the hotel, followed by a beautiful Havdalah led by our very own Yosef Galen!  We just got back from a fun night on Ben Yehuda Street and are looking fun to a great day tomorrow to start off our final week!

MASADA!

Thursday morning began Thursday night… we awoke from our naps in our Bedouin tents at the superhuman hour of 4 in the a.m. and, after a brief breakfast of Bedouin tea and biscuits, boarded the bus for Masada.

We begun our climb up the Roman path around 5 o’clock and trekked upwards! When we got to the top, it was just starting to get light, and we davened Shacharit as the famous Masada sunrise came up over the mountains. We then toured around the plateau and learned about the significance of the place for our people, then headed down the snake path to a great breakfast brunch at the visitor’s center.

After that, we had some fun in the Dead Sea, floating and bobbing around, even reading the paper, and then headed back to Yerushalayim for dinner.

Sounds like a full day, true, but we were not done there! We then went to Gan Sacher to spend some time with our fellow NCSY trips JOLT, BILT, and TJJ AP over BBQ, sports, and hanging out – it was great!

CHABURA SPOTLIGHT: FRANKIE ZIMAN

In our rockin Chabura, we try to understand the struggles of daily life which we all go through. We analyze the struggles in order to turn the difficulties of life into a productive means to self growth. One way that we do this is by sociologically analyzing the life of Matisyahu in order to understand religious struggle and responsibilities as a role model.

Ein Gedi!

Wednesday, we headed south and hiked Ein Gedi! It was also the first time we got to see the Dead Sea! (Though we didn’t get to swim in it right then and there…) Ein Gedi was really hot, but beautiful, a lot of fun, and really cool! After that, we got to see the famous Ahava Dead Sea mineral lotions and cosmetics factory and shop in their factory store. Then it was on to a Bedouin village where we got to ride on camels, enjoy some traditional Bedouin hospitality, and then sleep in Bedouin tents! TJJ Ambassadors was also there, so we got to spend some time with fellow NCSY friends! Then it was off to (attempt to) get to bed early ahead of our 4 a.m. wake-up to hike Masada!

TISHA B’AV: A Time of Sadness, A Time of Unity

We are currently in the midst of the saddest day of the year, the 9th of Av. We read the megilla of Eicha together by the scenic tayelet that overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem, where we could see where the holy Temple, the Beis Hamikdash once stood, and where there is currently a Muslim shrine where it would be. Understanding the destruction is the key to understanding what we ate lamenting on this day. It’s a depressing observance, yet an inspiring one, because even though we are sad, we are not sad alone. We talked about the meaning of the day, we sang together, and then we headed back to the bus in pensive silence, having gained new perspective on where we go from here.

CELEB BLOGGER: TUVYA ‚ÄúTY‚ÄĚ MILER

It was a great day – we fulfilled the mitzvah of planting trees by planting them at Naot Kidumim and recited the tefilla for planting a tree along with that. We then went to the Moshav and heard from Hal Levy’s uncle, Rav Michael. He connected with many of us and after hearing him speak we went to either play sports or get a bracha from the Rav! We later ate a delicious lunch from “holy bagel” and continued our journey by visiting the Belz shul, a 14 story building, the biggest shul in the world. We learned about the customs of the chasidim of Belz and had our questions about the chasidic movement and the Belz customs answered. We capped off the Belz shul visit by visiting the biggest bait keneset with a aron kodesh holding over 80 Torah scrolls. We returned to the hotel and heard some inspirational words from Rabbi Gavriel Friedman, also known as “Rav Gav,” who spoke to us about true love and relationships. It was a great day!

Back In Full Swing After A Great Off Shabbat

Hi There!

It’s been a few days! ¬†That’s because for the past few days we were away on an off Shabbat! ¬†Most of us went away for the weekend to visit family and friends in Israel, and for those of us who didn’t have somewhere specific to go, we had a really nice and chilled out Shabbaton at the Jerusalem Gate hotel together with our fellow NCSY trips TJJ Ambassadors and TJJ AP. ¬†Now we are back and trail blazing and touring around Israel, together again! ¬†More updates coming soon about our BEST. SUMMER. EVER!!!!!!!!