Day 18 - The Old City and Wheelchair Basketball (Lehava)
After a late night last night on Ben Yehuda, Ilan allowed us to wake up at the very late time of 7:30. After yet another quality breakfast, our depleted group managed to get down to the Kotel where we prayed a meaningful Shacharit. All the people going on Gadna had to wake up even earlier for a meeting so they weren't with us for this part of the day.
After a bit of praying and many photos, we joined with the rest of the group at Aish Hatorah, a yeshiva that is located very near to the Kotel. For the next 3 hours, we took part in 3 seminars/lectures of our choice with topics including anything Judaism Martial Arts, to God's Role in History and an individual's relationship to G-d.
Personally, my favourite talk was called "7 wonders of Jewish history" given to us by the energetic, enigmatic, enthusiastic, Rabbi Aaron Neckameyer. In 50 minutes, he provided us with 7 predictions the Torah made regarding the future of the Jewish people. Some prophecies included were; the Jews would be a small nation, but would bring light unto the world, Antisemitism will always be a major part of our lives, and the Jewish people will always be eternal, just to name a few. With each prediction the Torah gave, Rabbi Aaron gave us proof to how they all are true, which in effect proves that the Torah is real. A talk like this has the power to really make one think, and it was very interesting talking to the other students afterwards on what their thoughts were. Some were mightily impressed, while others attempted to use this speech in order to further fuel their skepticism. Nevertheless, it was a great morning which culminated in a great viewpoint of the Kotel.
Next we ate lunch in the Old City and even had an hour to look around the area.
Up next was the highly anticipated visit to the Beit HaLochem centre in Jerusalem. There, we played wheelchair basketball, which let me tell you, is one hell of a workout. I managed to touch the ball maybe once because I had to focus so hard on actually moving the wheelchair in the right direction. Despite these struggles, it was extremely fun, and we soon moved on to table tennis. I had the privilege of coming up against a player in a wheelchair, so I thought it would only be fair if I also played sitting on a chair. Obviously it was extremely difficult playing on a chair, but standing didn't make a difference to the result. My opponent still managed to smash me regardless of whether my legs were of any use to me or not. I'm not a bad player at all, but this ZDVO member (Sachar) was simply brilliant. His talent and skills were just unbelievable. Huge props to Sachar for putting up with us!
Later on, we went back to Kibbutz Ramat Rachel for dinner with the whole of IST, joining us for the 2nd night straight. (New record!) I even had the opportunity to wish an ex-hesder boy of Moriah College (Nechemia) a big Mazal Tov on his wedding which was happening at the hotel that same night!
We all then had a talk given to us by a man called Jon Medved who is a serial entrepreneur, about the miracle of the Jewish people and how we've flourished in the world despite the odds against us. He also went into detail about certain start up companies and entrepreneurial ventures that he began and the role Israel has to play in start-up companies.
Finally, we all had an early bedtime (not for me though, as I had to write this blog) as we had to wake up early for free weekend pickups!
To end off, I hope everyone enjoys sleeping in for 2 days!! It's been a hectic 3 weeks so far. I've already made memories that will hopefully stay with me for the rest of my life, and a huge thanks to all the teachers and Madrichim that are with us. IST has been an amazing experience so far, and I only hope for the next few weeks to be just as good!
By Adam Marks