Israel Day 16: Options

This morning we were each given the opportunity to decide where we would spend our mornings, through choosing from a list of tour options that would run throughout the Tel Aviv region.

Graffiti Tour - By Josh Ginsberg

The Graffiti Tour began in the depths of Tel Aviv, where we found ourselves surrounded by the back alley workshops of various Israeli artists. The atmosphere of the surrounding area enhanced the grungy style of art, and as we followed our guide throughout the graffiti hotspots of the city, we found ourselves enriched with the cultural elements that the street art brings to Tel Aviv. We followed the works of various artists including ‘Kis-Lev’ and ‘Dede’ and as we moved around the popular area we developed an understanding for one of the more modern forms of art that is very prominent throughout Israel. The tour guide was extremely thorough, and we learnt a lot despite the short amount of time that we had together. The tour was a good experience that was enjoyed by all who went, and was a fascinating insight into Tel Aviv's street culture; a side to Israel that is often unseen.

Save a Child’s heart - By Micheal Gurevich
Getting on the bus everyone was nervous yet simultaneously excited to be able to visit this place where miracles are created. Arriving at the foundation building, we were greeted with smiling faces and an atmosphere that cannot be replicated. After being educated about the history of the institution, the nurses told us to go and meet the kids and just be there as a distraction for the children, to provide comfort for them, and to learn from them as much as we could. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child that has endured such pain and suffering was truly an eye-opening experience. Their zest for life and appreciation of everything that surrounded them was incredibly special to see, and spoke to us in ways that no lecture or book could teach us. This morning was quite life changing, and has certainly instilled a deeper sense of gratitude for everything that we have in all the students who attended the day. 

The Palmach Museum- By Sabrina Penkin
20 of us were witnesses to the telling of the story of the heroes of the Palmach, the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for our homeland at just about the same age as we are. The museum was set out in 8 rooms and enveloped us in the day-to-day struggles of the Palmach's history from when it was created in 1941. Tracing the story of a single platoon, the museum displayed a vivid portrait of what basic training was like, and how the soldiers assisted in the establishment of the special units, the Navy and Air force. This all led up to the exhibition of the platoon's experiences in the War of Independence, which highlighted the loss and sacrifice of our ancestors as well as their heroism. All of us were enlightened by this experience and our pride for our country definitely grew after this exposure to their incredible feat.

Ecology Tour - By Jared Levy
As we drove into the Ariel Sharon Park there was a mix of emotions, ranging from excitement as we gazed upon the opulent greenery and the sumptuous blue of the fountain, as well as a feeling of repugnance at the far-from-glamorous hill, formulated entirely of garbage. As we got off the bus, we were greeted with the grandeurs of the park. The tour guide reminded us of the parks meager beginnings, and how the park used to be a rubbish dump, which contained over 25 million tonnes of waste. We were treated to a video, which boasted, through a rightfully supercilious manner, the change that took place in 1998, where the rubbish dump was changed into a beautiful park, through the cutting edge environmental technology that Israel invented. The landscape was covered with a “bioplastic” layer that blocks methane, topped with layers of gravel and a meter of clean soil. The park is highly advanced and is currently three times the size of central park in New York. The necessity of the park was made obvious through the video, where it explained that thousands of seagulls inhabited the park, thus making flight paths increasingly dangerous. The tour guide claimed the park was the only greenery in Tel Aviv, therefore it was a necessary addition to the landscape of the city.  In 1998 the decision to destroy the rubbish tip was implemented however there was a disagreement between the Capitalist side of Tel Aviv and the environmental side, where the materialists intended on establishing apartments in the area, whereas their opposition proposed a more eco-friendly plan- to turn the area into a park. Ariel Sharon decided to turn it into a nature reserve, hence the park is named after him. Overall the tour was incredible, and was symbolic of ‘Eretz Yisroel,’ and the fact that such beauty and innovation can always come, even from something as disgusting as a garbage pit.  
By Ashley Meyer

After visiting our individually selected destinations, the group reunited at one of Israel’s most historically significant sites. Somewhat tentatively, we entered the hall in which the independence of the State of Israel was declared. David Ben Gurion’s emphatic words echoed in our minds, Theodor Herzl’s seemingly preposterous vision coming to formation in front of our eyes. We were promptly seated in the hall, sitting in the place that the United Nation representatives sat 69 years ago. After we were granted some time to take photos of the monuments in the hall, Jonty told us of the historical events that took place that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. I was not aware of the proposed partition plan, nor of the audacity of the Israeli politicians to call such a meeting despite the heated political climate and the perilous potential of immediate war. It was only appropriate that after Jonty completed his address we sung the Hatikva.  As we left the building, I reflected on the tremendous sacrifices our ancestors made in the process of creating a Jewish homeland. 
Following this was our arrival at the Bedouin Tents. We established a newfound accommodation in tents, differing vastly from the luxurious hotels we had been staying in throughout the last few weeks. As we got off the bus and saw the tents that we were to be sleeping in, some were apprehensive, however we were soon invited to hear Mohamed, our Bedouin tour guide, talk about his culture, which enlightened us as we heard of the beauty of living out in the nature.  Whilst listening to Mohamed speak, we were served sweet Bedouin tea and coffee, which heightened our experience, and calmed down all those who were apprehensive. After hearing Mohamed speak, we were invited to eat a gourmet Bedouin styled dinner in a large eating hall. We entered the tent, and were in awe of how beautifully decorated the area was. I felt as though I was walking into an Arabian night themed wedding- the stool tables were standing on gorgeous, bright carpets, and we were invited to sit on artistic cushions as we ate a delicious meal of laffa bread, chicken, meat and couscous. 
On full stomachs, we were then encouraged to go on an optional walk to see the night sky and the stars. We were led into a vast expanse of desert, where we each took a moment to look up and appreciate the sublime nature. Upon our return to the campsite, there was a bonfire waiting for us, where we sat and caught up with friends whilst roasting marshmallows, fresh pita bread, and chocolate spread. 
Whilst the accommodation and food presented a very different experience for many of us, I do believe that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and created memories that will forever stay with them.




Israel Day 17: Lia Swidler

Israel Day 15: Julia Goodman