Day 14 - Exploring the Golan (Lehava)
This morning at 6:15am, a few of the students and madrichim woke up to go and see the sun rise. We went running through the kibbutz and made it just in time. We all stood still and waited in silence. It was a beautiful and an incredibly peaceful way to start the day. While admiring this gorgeous sight in front of us, one of our madrichrim asked us to think about how we wanted week 3 of IST to look. He asked us to think about what goals we wanted to set and how we can improve as people this week. We walked a bit further and had a meditation session which we all really enjoyed and felt very relaxed afterwards.
Later in the day we travelled to the Golan Heights. Nitzan (our tour guide) explained to us all about the Syrian border and the Israeli army's role at different checkpoints. Below us during this talk, was the Valley of Tears - a very important landmark in Israel's military history.
We continued onto El Rom Kibbutz to watch a movie about the events and struggles of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It contained personal accounts and actual radio footage from tank conversations. There was a very big focus on the life of Avigdor Kahalani and his role as a Lieutenant in the battle. We all learnt a lot from this experience and were very interested to learn about the relationship between Israel and Syria.
After the movie, we moved onto the part of the day that everyone had been looking forward to. We arrived at De Karina (one of the finest chocolate making factories in Israel). We were shown a quick clip about the history of chocolate and the family who began this business. We then moved into a hallway to watch the staff carefully handcraft delicious chocolate treats. Following this, we were finally able to test the process ourselves and create our own personalised chocolates and pralines.
With a little bit of spare time our madrichim spontaneously took us to a place called "Solika" (a site with natural water springs). Here we were given time to reflect on our time on IST. We were surrounded by the refreshing sound of water flowing gently.
We continued on from here to our second last destination of the day. This was a recreation of an old Talmudic village. Here, a woman and her children re-enacted what life would have been like living in these times. She also explained to us the process of oil making. Just before leaving we were given dough to make pita bread on an outside fire.
Our final destination for the day was a family's home in the small town of Katsrin. They opened their doors to 40 students and our staff. We sang songs and they shared their story of making Aliyah to Israel five years ago. Overall it was a very busy but incredibly enjoyable day.
By Alexa Silber
Today's experiences revolved around ordinary people, and how they achieved extraordinary things.
We started off by visiting the De Karina chocolate factory, one with history as rich as its produce, spanning over decades. The owner, Karina made aliyah and established a successful and now well known chocolate business throughout Israel. We tasted delicious chocolate samples, and participated in a workshop in which we made our own beautiful creations.
We then visited a cinema in nearby kibbutz in the Golan region, a central place for Israeli media, as well as being a major focus of the kibbutz who translate most television and movies. We watched a film about a huge battle in the Valley of Tears during the Yom Kippur war, in which Israel was outnumbered and unequipped, and against an enemy that had more advanced weapons. Against all odds, these ordinary people did an extraordinary thing, and won, and their legacy remains until this day.
We travelled up to the Golan Heights to see the border of Syria, which helped us understand both the current and historic geography and relationships of Israel with it's neighbours. We also saw the beautiful Mt Hermon covered in snow, an awe inspiring sight.
Afterwards, we visited a Talmudic park that contains numerous ruins that were built hundreds of years ago, and still stand despite being damaged by earthquakes. We explored an ancient lifestyle, including how they cooked, how they lived, what their houses looked like and how they functioned.
Later we were introduced to a seemingly ordinary Israeli woman who hosted us in her house with extraordinary hospitality, providing us with treats and snacks, something unheard of in other countries. She truly demonstrated the concept of “And you shall love your neighbour as yourself”, “Ve’ahvta L'Reacha Kamocha”.
Our day today really highlighted how extraordinary the people of Israel really are, be it in business, food, war, or even at home, and how incredibly unique each individual is.
By Idan Kotzen