Day 40 - Shabbat and Eretz Bereishit (Lehava)
Today was our final day of proper touring, and although everyone was very excited, we were all also upset as we knew that the program was coming to an end.
However, everyone approached the day with anticipation, as today was jeep riding day. I didn't know what to expect because we weren't told much about it and the title implied driving around, but that's what we do a lot in the bus anyway. I got there and I saw one of the bus drivers reversing into the parking spot at 50km per hour. No wonder the bus keeps breaking down!
In the jeep I put on my seatbelt (for the first time since the free weekend). We rode up and down the Judean desert hills. We saw a few villages and we stopped to take photos at a nice view.
After jeep riding we then prepared for our final IST Shabbat. We had pre Shabbat photos and I got my secret Maccabee present early (each student was given a name of another student with the aim of purchasing a small present under 15 skehels). I experienced my first Shabbat at the Kotel which was inspiring and meaningful. Seeing all types of Jews together was particularly insightful, and the feelings of belonging will stay with me for a long time.
We then had a long walk back to Ramat Rachel for a delicious dinner. After dinner we had shtick, which was amazing. Shtick involved Madrichim joking about the students and some students making fun of the madrichim. In my opinion we should of had it at least once a week because it was hilarious. We then had our final IST Tisch, and I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts on IST with the group.
The next day I had a very late sleep in, I woke up at 8:15. After shul we did a family group session where we learnt insights on Judaism, and there were snacks that was my pre breakfast. We then had lunch, which really was our breakfast, and there was a great vibe at my table. Than we had free time and I had a nap. We finished off Shabbat with mincha, seudah shlishit and havdalah.
Than we had our final dinner and a mini party at Eretz Bereishit, similar to a Bedouin experience. It was quite sad to think that it was our last dinner together. We all danced and laughed together, and counted down to New Year's Day. At the party there were thank you's and at the end some people got very emotional.
I am really grateful for this incredible experience, and although I am upset about the program finishing, I hope to take all the lessons I learnt with me in the future.
By Josh Solomon