Day 14: Netzach, Israel - Zoe Said


Our first Shabbat in Israel was extremely different to last week in Krakow, mostly due to the excitement of being up north and having our side close together, strengthening our bond. Wake up was thankfully later then usual at 9:30 (for those who didn’t attend Shachrit). It was a long-awaited sleep in and for me it definitely revived and replenished my tired and restless body. For those dedicated Shachrit attendees they were fortunate to receive and experience an Israeli style Kiddush that I heard was filled with potato kugel, herring and delicious chocolate croissants. Following the scrumptious Kiddush, everyone made there way to Mussaf led by one of the exceptional Na'aleh participants - Jacob Steinberg.

With a meaningful shule service completed we were then spilt into family groups for  a tochnit on the refugee crisis in Israel. We discussed and debated whether Israel is obligated or advised to let in Syrian refugees to Israel. Using quotes from former Israeli prime ministers, statistics, Jewish history, testimonies and our own political knowledge we deliberated and shared our personal thoughts.

Following the heated tochnit, we were presented with an array of different salads, meats and cholent that satisfied our Shabbat wants and needs. Everyone was unitedly chatting, singing and eating together which led to an amazing and special atmosphere. Excited for a 3 hour chill time, everyone broke away to have time to themselves doing their own thing. Some people used this time to shluf, learn torah, dam (deep and meaningful) with the madrichim and for most bond as Netzach through various games. For me I spent most of my time playing jungle speed and cards in the lobby with people I wouldn’t usually be with at home.

Shabbat gave us the opportunity to branch out and speak to people that may not be part of our ‘circle’. As well as this, during this break, David Wolfowicz the Rosh of Na'aleh, organised a reunion and chill for the Na'aleh students of Netzach. It was so special but also emotional to spend time together again as a group. Our chill time shortly transformed into a discussion about the impact of this program on our IST experience. I believe it impacted positively as it gave me a base knowledge and start into my Jewish journey. For others, some believed that it also impacted positively and a few had mixed thoughts. While I was involved in this reunion, I also had the chance to observe all my other friends who were laughing and trying to respect the idea of Shabbat to the best of their abilities, which was so special as it showed the uniqueness of this experience.

Seudah Shlishit the third meal of the day, was accompanied by three diverse Ted talks by Ilan Lavan, Rabbi Noah Kunin and David Wolfowicz. All three were completely different and focused on other area of Judaism and everyone was surprisingly interested and involved. With a quick Maariv and Havdalah service, it was a little emotional and depressing for Shabbat to end as it was a special time where we could disconnect from our phones and technically be forced to speak to one another.

Now that Shabbat had finished, it was time for what other years had said was one of the most exciting nights of IST. Our Saturday night was spent all as one - after 5 days apart, on a boat in the Sea of Galilee. With the music pumping loudly and the boat a little rocky, we sailed through the Kinneret dancing and catching up with Lehava. It was honestly a really fun night being together, letting loose in a beautiful atmosphere with the sea breeze. With the 40 minutes up, we all walked to El Ranchos for a delicious meat meal awaiting the arrival of the Band Tour kids. As with the conclusion of Band Tour today, we were all ecstatic to be able to spend the next 3 weeks with the most incredible and talented musicians. For me and I am sure for many others, I was really intrigued to see how the Band Tour kids fit in and transform from a music brain into a Jewish based journey. It was therefore after another tasty Israeli dinner with pita, salads, meat and of course hummus, where we all chatted and discussed our past 5 days with the other side that we welcomed the Band Tour kids with open arms. Finally with ALL 160 of us together for the first time it was incredible to see how we took up the whole entire restaurant. We all filled our stomachs full with food before once again having to say bye to Lehava. I found it really sad to say bye to my friends but knew that we were luckily going to be spending Tuesday at Masada and the Dead Sea all together. We also had our new Band Tour members to keep our spirits high and so, as we travelled back to Chispin, Mimi Schlessinger humorously welcomed the 5 new students joining us after their amazing experience in America.

After a vibey and joyful night we arrived back at the hotel right as curfew hit, which was at 11.00. After a long but special day it was the first time that we weren’t bothered to go to bed with the knowledge that the next day was going to be packed full, insightful and extremely enjoyable!

Day 14: Lehava Israel - Ariah Michel

Day 13: Lehava, Israel - Elliot Wayne