The day began for the girls of IST at the sensible time of 7.15 am. Rejuvenated by our eight-and-a-half-hour snooze, we began packing our suitcases for what felt like the one hundredth time, only to realise it was one of the last. Smiles slapped across our faces as we stumbled - suitcases in hand - down towards the lobby. We lined our suitcases up as usual in an 'organised' mess and scurried to the dining room. As a whole, I feel as though we have all become quite acquainted as to how a buffet breakfast in Israel works; the abundance of different egg dishes, the lack of fresh fruit and the dozens of cups of chocolate milk found on the tables.
After devouring our delicious breakfast, we headed to Tefillah, where you were given the option of Tefillah workshop or regular morning Shacharit. We ambitiously departed the hotel to board the busses to Eilat Beach. Towels wrapped around our shoulders and sunglasses on our heads, we began to hop across the torturous rocky sand. We were speedily given our life jackets and the first group of girls were on their way to start banana boating. The remaining girls jumped into vibrant red canoes and were off. The hot sun reflected off the astonishingly crystal clear water, resulting in an abundance of Instagram photos to come. As the boats began to return, our excitement grew as each girl bounced off with a huge smile, and enthusiastically raved about what an amazing and fun time they had.
As my group’s unforgettable 20 minutes of banana boating drew to a close, the boat slowly came to a halt near another boat with two inflatable boards with ten handles on each. We all jumped into the water and switched with the girls on the other boat. After a small struggle, we each managed to get onto one of the inflatable boards and held onto the handles. We tightened our grip with anticipation and as the boat took off we all shrieked with a mixture of fear and adrenaline. The wind caused our bodies to flop around like fish out of water as we clung on tightly. After 20 more adrenaline filled minutes of bouncing and for some falling off the boards, the boat slowed down and we all climbed onboard, our hair disheveled and smiles on our faces.
After an adrenaline packed morning, the afternoon started to roll in as we lay in the Israeli sun, relaxing and reminiscing about the amazing journey that was so soon coming to an end. We spent the early afternoon wondering Eilat in our free time, exploring the markets and the beauty of the beach town. Our lunch was a choice of delicious shawarma and falafels accompanied by a ridiculous amount of authentic Israeli pickles.
After hours of soaking up the sun for the first time in over a month we boarded the busses eagerly and began to make our way to the sand dunes. We hastily jumped off the bus and began to bolt up to the top of a beautiful sand dune. We were pleasantly surprised when we found the Emanuel students at the top of the mountain. We all came together and began to watch the sun lower as we laid our eyes on the most enchanting scenery I think I've ever seen. I personally took a moment to sit by myself, staring into the radiant sky, looking over the mountains and admiring the holy land that we have fought so hard for; in that moment I felt so grateful and proud to say I am a Jew and this is my home land. We finally rolled, ran or jumped down the silky soft sand dune with friends by our sides and pure joy filling the air. Realising it was our final encounter with the Emanuel students in Israel we cheerlessly said our goodbyes and boarded the busses ready for our 3-hour journey back to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.
It’s absolutely crazy to think of all we’ve been through during these last 6 weeks. The friendships formed, the conversations had, the memories made. Everyone seems to be filled with trepidation about leaving this spiritual bubble of IST, however we know that the experiences we’ve had will stay with us forever.