Day 39 - Jeep Riding, Har Herzl & The Kotel
I know none of you are probably reading these anymore because we are in the last few days, we haven't got the energy, you haven't got the energy but we'll still encapsulate our final Friday of IST.
Since it was Friday we only had half a day, so we had to pack it all in. We hurried off to jeep tours in the Judean Desert where we piled into jeeps driven by slightly insane, non communicative Israelis. We drove at high speeds, through dodgy terrains that would have given our South African mums a heart attack. At one point we pulled over and looked out over the Judean Desert, a side of Israel we hadn't had the chance to encounter.
Having finished at the jeeps we moved on to our next stop, Har Herzl. It almost seems out of place to put such a significant land mark at a stage of the trip were we may struggle to have the energy to process more information about Israel and our Jewish history. Yet, the power of visiting a place where so many people that have made our trip possible are buried, was not lost on us. We realised that it was a fitting way to start bringing such an incredible Israel experience to a close. We are reaching the age where celebrities, who many of us idolise and look up to, are actually the same age as us, if not younger. It makes us reflect on their achievements compared to our own and can often inspire us to go and fulfil our dreams. Standing on Har Herzl, surrounded by true inspirations barely older than ourselves, it was the dates on the graves that really caught our attention. These boys and girls, many as young as 18 or 19, had made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that the Jewish people, including us living as far away as Australia, would never have to fear for their fate ever again.
We began Shabbat by making our way down to daven at the Kotel. It felt like we had come the full circle. We had danced down to the Kotel on our first day as excitable outsiders, ready to embrace Israel and the Israeli way of life. This time, the feeling was different. This time we were calm, relaxed, as if dancing down to a place we'd visited our whole lives, to daven and dance with a community of Jews from around the world, a community that felt like our own.
We trekked back to our hotel and had a delicious Shabbos spread. Just as we began to feel the whole of IST were truly uniting together in an unprecedented manner, we split off again into our separate halves for shtick. Shtick is a fun opportunity to look back on all the funny moments on IST. We then gathered together for an amazing tisch with all of the year. It was an incredible way to begin to finish an unforgettable six weeks.
Gaby Greenstein and Zoe Morris