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Day 6: VIDEO: Havdalah in Jerusalem

Havdalah in Jerusalem:

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Day 5: Shabbat in Jerusalem - Amy

Amy shares her experiences after spending a Shabbat in Jerusalem.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 28, 2010 at 5:25 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 3: VIDEO: Connecting with People from the Past - Jason

Jason talks about how being in Tz'fat allows him to connect with his Jewish heritage.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 28, 2010 at 5:20 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tags: Tz'fat

Day 4: VIDEO: Rachel doing Community Service in Beit Shemesh

Here's Rachel sprucing the playground up and doing an interview at the same time:

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Day 4: VIDEO: Playing Games in Beit Shemesh

A couple videos from our volunteer work in Beit Shemesh:


Game in the library: 

Kids at play:

Posted by: dcadmin (June 28, 2010 at 12:35 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 5: Our first Shabbat in Jerusalem - Hayley and Becky

Hayley Fisch and Becky Porter
Arlington, VA

It had been a late night on Thursday so by the time our bus began to navigate the curvy road from the kibbutz into Jerusalem many of us were dozing in and out of sleep. But when the bus turned a corner and the skyline of the city was in sight I felt a sense of awe to see what had previously been only pictures and stories. We gathered on an overlook to see the city and learned some history about the land and sights we were experiencing.

We had the opportunity to walk a small, modern mall juxtaposed next to the Old City. We were given some time to shop in some of the stores in the Old City which sold Judaica and souvenirs. As we walked along the cobblestone through Jaffa Gate, we tried a bagel, which is three times the size of bagels in the US, and dipped the bagel in za'tar. This is a mixture of seasonings and is green in color. We bought some za'tar at the Dates in the Village that we stopped at earlier in the trip.

After being able to buy souvenirs, it was time to make our way through security and to the Western Wall. I can still hear the prayers being chanted from the large group of young school boys on the left side of the wall. I was speechless as we approached the much smaller women's side of the wall. I don't know any prayers and I was a bit anxious about the intimate time I was about to have with G-d. So many questions were racing through my mind. What should I say to G-d? Do I just leave my note in any crevice I could find? Did I need to say something? We took a few minutes once a space opened up and placed our hands on the wall. No words came to mind, only a waterfall of emotion. I was happy to be there, with so many other Jews and friends from bus 248. It's been a long time since not only have I been surrounded by so many Jews, but that I wanted to be there! I wasn't being told to be there or that I should be there. The girls regrouped with the guys and we boarded the bus to head for a late lunch at Machaneh Yehuda, an open market. We arrived at rush hour, it was packed with people preparing for Shabbat. It was a sea of sardines and I felt like a salmon trying to swim upstream. A bathroom and food were the first priorities!! We had great falafel for lunch and then we all walked around the heavily crowded market checking out the fruit, bakeries and other goodies.

Our hotel was located near Yad Vashem in an Orthodox neighborhood. We dressed for Shabbat and then had a bus activity to begin to welcome Shabbat. After our bus group spoke about the meaning of Shabbat we joined the other bus as well as a Birthright alumni leadership trip bus group outside to light the Shabbat candles. We had the opportunity to hear the siren sound the beginning of Shabbat to the whole city of Jerusalem. One of the most prominent philanthropists in the Jewish community, Lynn Schusterman, was there to welcome us to Jerusalem as we all welcomed the Sabbath. We were given three choices for Shabbat- Orthodox service, Carlebach service with lots of singing, or a discussion about why you choose not to go to a service. We both chose to attend an Orthodox service at a synagogue down the block from our hotel. For most of the service we were the only women present and helped each other find our places in our siddurs. It was a totally new experience for us, to sit behind a curtain, not able to see the rabbi or male congregants. We found meaning in this new experience and felt excitement when we could find our place without the aid of any English. After the service we joined our trip mates for a festive Shabbat dinner. We sang prayers, ate a delicious meal, talked with staff and members of the alumni leadership trip, and danced! Boy did we sing and dance! Everyone clapped and sang and danced to various Jewish songs. The feeling of celebrating Shabbat with so many other young Jewish professionals was warming and inspiring. Everyone had such a great time singing songs from past camp days, and for some they were learning the songs for the first time. It really brought us together. We were given some time to change out of our Shabbat clothes before an oneg to end our night.

Every Passover we proclaim and hope for "Next year in Jerusalem" and for this Shabbat we were in Jerusalem, having the opportunity to experience what so many of our ancestors have dreamed and prayed and fought to experience. We felt blessed to be in Jerusalem for this most special day.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 28, 2010 at 10:27 AM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 4, Finding My Roots - Emily

Emily Sahm
Washington, DC

Today I learned what shorashim means! Here in Israel we are picking up all sorts of words of the day and having visited a school and the grave of a famous Israeli poet it makes sense we got some significant schooling in the language today.  We left the kibbutz Afik today to travel south toward Jerusalem where we should end up tonight.  We stopped at the cemetery where many of the original Zionists are buried.  Overlooking the spectacular panoramic, I was glad these pioneers who worked so hard to create a conversational, modern Hebrew language have such a lovely place of rest.  And man, we saw this language in action today at the school we visited.  We are just driving away now, as I write this, and I think I can say we are all energized even though we just worked in the hot sun and are averaging (not very much sleep) - but I won't worry anybody reading this :) In any case, the school was in Beit Shemesh, a town outside of Jerusalem.  We began our visit with the students and teaching American games.  Some of us were brave enough to put our Hebrew into action - not the case for this blogger.  I am proud to say I did try my hand at gardening and there are many fewer weeds in the schools garden, thanks to team two. Which leads me back to shorashim - the word for root, my garden guide explained.  We definitely had the opportunity not just to continue to find our roots here in our journey today, but hopefully also continued to nurture a new connection to Israel, a connection between people, that will be rooted in people like us.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 24, 2010 at 4:46 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 4: A Short Poem

Julia Casabianca
Washington DC

A journey begins
To discover ancient roots,
Climb new heights;


I was inspired to write this poem while we were visiting the poets' graves by the sea of Galilee.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 24, 2010 at 1:00 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 3: Atop a Mountain in Tz'fat - Dawn & Stacey

Dawn Gress of Baltimore, MD and Stacey Naggiar, of Washington, DC talk about their experiences in Tz'fat on day 3 of our trip.

Posted by: dcadmin (June 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 3: A Spiritual Connection

Rebecca Tanenbaum
Bethesda, MD
Dawn Gress
Baltimore, MD

Today we went to mount Arbel and went down the cliffside alongside a spectacular view.  Many of the group were very hesitant about going down, and part of the climb  included holding on to ropes and metal rungs attached to the rock.  After a lot of group support we all made it down in one piece.  We also went to look at the caves that were occupied by Jews who did not approve of Roman rule. 

The next stop was Tzfat for lunch and shopping.  This was a great spot to really see and learn about more traditional Jewish culture.  We met a man originally from Michigan named Avraham, who had moved to Israel to study Kaballah Judaism.  It was very enlightening and gave us great insight into Kaballah studies.

Our last stop was the Jordan river for a swim.  Some people tried to go in but the current was too strong so we moved upstream and got to relax.  Even though this was fun we all wanted to get back for the World Cup game, which we watched together as the US won!

Tonight we had the opportunity to learn about The Jewish Federation's partnership region, Beit Shemesh. We will be visiting there tomorrow and volunteering at a local school. All-in-all a great day. :)

Posted by: dcadmin (June 24, 2010 at 12:51 PM) | Comments (0) | Permalink
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Shorashim Bus 248

On the Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community Trips, participants have the opportunity to experience the awesome adventure of Israel from the inside, through the eyes and hearts of Israeli peers. Along with other young adults from the greater Washington DC area, participants travel for 10-days with Israelis who share the beauty, excitement and complexities of their country with them.

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