Day 33 and 34 - WIZO, Shabbat at Neve Ilan, Chanukah and Kotel Tunnels
As our fifth week of IST comes to an end, we woke up on Friday at the Neve Ilan hotel at 7am for breakfast and prayers. We then travelled to a WIZO kindergarten at Modiin. My family group saw 3-4 year olds do their own Kaballat Shabbat service, with music and singing, and of course the Challot and Kiddush, which was an amazing experience for me. It reminded me of when I was in junior school at Masada, we had a weekly Shabbat service on Friday morning. For lunch, we travelled to the Modiin mall where we had lunch outside, followed by a hour of free time at the shopping centre, where some of us bought some snacks or accessories.
We then went back to the hotel and got ready for Shabbat. I personally had mixed feelings, as this was our final shabbat in Israel as the Lehava group, and the second last shabbat on IST, but I'm really also looking forward to seeing the other 80 for our final Shabbat together. After shabbat photos, we all went to do our shabbat service. This was followed up by a very delicious Kiddush and dinner. At 7:25pm, we went to hear three TED Talks, which were by Miriam, Avichai and Moriah's Principal, Mr. Hamey. All their speeches were really interesting, with all three giving different inspirational ideas. Afterwards we played two games of Parliament, where the aim is to get four people on your bus into parliament to win. Bus 4 won the first game, while Bus 3 won the second. After parliament, most of us went back to the lobby and eventually to bed.
The next morning, we went for breakfast, then a Mussaf prayer service, where we had a speaker named (I forget the name) who talked about how he was one of the people who built the Neve Ilan kibbutz. We then split up into our family groups for chaburot. At 1pm, me and three others took the opportunity to take a walk with Avichai to the lookout of the kibbutz, where I could see a 360 degree view of Israel on a good sunny day. We learnt that currently in Neve Ilan, many of the people who live there are wealthy, secular Jews, and that 37 young Jews, many from the U.S established this kibbutz in the early 20th century. It was a great time exploring the remains of the lookout from the pre-Israel times. We came back to the hotel for lunch, then free time followed by Seudah Shlishit in the hotel hall. We then davened a quick Marriv then performed havdalah. Then after welcoming in the final week of IST, we lit the first Chanukah candle. Personally, this was one of the most enjoyable shabbat programs on IST so far.
At Motzei Shabbos, we got ready and went back to the Old City to visit the Mamilla Mall, where our lovely Madrichim gave us all pizza, and an hour of free time. Walking to the other end of the mall, many of us saw celebrations for the first night of Chanukah, with so many Jews from IDF officers to Chassidim joining in the simcha. For me, this shows that in Israel, there is no shame to be a Jew and celebrate, despite the recent anti-Israel UN resolution that has just been passed. This makes me proud of being a Jew in Israel, and the true unity of the Jews in Israel and worldwide. We were then taken to the Kotel Tunnels where our tour guide Nitzan explained the story about the first and second Beit Hamikdash, and how we as Jews could not legally return to the Kotel until 1967. It was very insightful and definitely a highlight of IST.
It is a privilege to today have access to the Kotel, our holiest site in the world. At midnight, we arrived back at the hotel, where I began writing this diary entry, and Im already looking forward to the rest of IST.
By Martin Nobel