Day 15 by Ashleigh Berson: Start of Ulpan

December 5, 2013

This morning we started our Ulpan-Or Ivrit program. After being split up into small groups, each with a teacher and a madrich, we learnt in a casual classroom environment. My group watched a situation, listened and learned a song and performed dialogues, all using the new vocabulary we had just learned.

We then collected our takeaway lunch that we had pre ordered and boarded the buses for our first practical learning excursion. We arrived at the Safra Square, ate lunch and then continued our learning by putting our skills into practice. We were given tasks, such as creating a petition and getting signatures from locals, as well as asking shoppers in a department store questions about Jerusalem and shopping, with the necessary stop at Aroma in between for the much loved iced coffee.


After our experiential learning, we went to the City of David in the Old City. We saw the remains of David’s castle and then walked through the 2000 year old water tunnel, which was built as the water system to secretly transport the water into the city. The ice cold water that we walked through is said to be from the garden of eden, since there is no known water source. It was amazing to walk through the remains of our rich and complex history and it was extremely powerful as we sung the same songs we had sung in Poland, the songs echoed in the tunnels and we reflected on how we had transitioned from the lowest of lows of Poland to our prosperous homeland filled with optimism. The view of the lights of the villages in the valley below and on the cliff-face when we exited the tunnel was breathtaking, especially since we entered the tunnel in daylight.


We were then given some free time to walk around and experience the Jewish quarter of the Old City, where we were able to purchase Judaica, eat Israeli cuisine and taste all the different flavours of the sufganiot (doughnuts) in the spirit of Chanukah. We were also given siddurim, which were generously donated by an American donor through Jeff Seidel, so now even those who had forgotten their siddurs could follow along in our daily prayer services. It was beautiful to see all the Chanukiot in glass boxes outside the authentic Jerusalem stone homes.


After dinner, maariv and Chanukiah lighting, the girls and boys split up and each group were assigned a Krav Maga instructor. We were taught the basics of the Israeli style of self defense, however, not surprisingly, 50 Jewish girls were excited but a bit apprehensive with the intuition of bruises to come. It was, nevertheless, an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.


I’m off to bed, exhausted after such a long day.

Layla Tov (see my ulpan training is already paying off!)

Day 16 by Ofir Zeevi: A Surprise

Day 14 by Sean Novis: Lebanon Border, Bike Riding and River Rafting