Day 26: Lehava, Israel - Noah Rubin and Jared Shuman


Today really proved to be a fascinating experience filled with plenty of laughter, enthusiasm and a vibrant atmosphere. For Shabbat we were in Neve Daniel. To provide some context, Neve Daniel is an Israeli settlement located in the West Bank with over 2500 inhabitants, nestled approximately 1km above sea level. In Neve Daniel, we (Bus 3) were put in pairs and assigned to families to spend Shabbat with.

As Jared and I woke up rejuvenated and ready for the day to come, we headed to the main shule, which was architecturally impressive and beautifully designed. We started off with the Shacharit service and sang various prayers and songs in unison. Jared and I concurred with the fact that although we were so far away from home in Sydney, we felt that we were in a place where we belonged.

The service was followed by lunch consisting of challah, schnitzel, Israeli salad and other traditional Shabbat foods. There was a great spirit around the table which resonated strongly with us. As we all left the dining hall with full stomachs, the whole group was treated to a tour of the area, delving into the suburb's history while viewing various other communities from a specific lookout point - one of the highest places in the entire country!

Once the tour finished, our two hour free time began. We all hung around the playground, socialising with the local Israeli kids - learning about how they live their lives on a day-to-day basis. Shoutout to Jason Baranov - the only one who could successfully do a muscle-up.

At 3:30pm, once free time was over, everybody met up again in the main dining hall where a small activity was conducted. The group was asked a couple of questions about various aspects of Israel. We were asked to pick a side based on what we believed. One of the questions asked was, “Should Israel should run transport lines on Shabbat?” Our cohort spiralled into the chaos of heated debate - the answers were all totally unique and there was a lot of disagreement. Opinions were strong but at times the interactions were also comical and quite entertaining to watch!

At its conclusion, our group then gathered around and participated in a quick but meaningful tisch, followed by the third meal of Shabbat (Seudah Shlishit) and then finally, Havdalah.

On behalf of Bus 3, we would like to say thank you to our Shabbat host families, the staff, teachers and madrichim for this experience. What was strongly evident from this weekend was that no matter where we go or where we travel anywhere in the world, our Jewish beliefs, customs and heritage give us a home from home wherever we are.

Day 27: Options: Gadna - Adam Shagrin

Day 25: Lehava, Israel - Tali Shulkin and Natasha Merkel