As a reward for our first terrific week in Israel we were given the opportunity to sleep in until 7:15am which on IST, is considered somewhat of a luxury.
After a delicious breakfast and meaningful davening along with an informative Tefillah workshop about the issues of gambling for the boys, we were all leaded into the auditorium for our Gadna preparation. Excitement began as we started to hear our schedule from a Gadna officer and about all the exciting skills we would learn. After hearing about the wonderful sleeping arrangements of 20 in a tent along with amazing facilities including showers without curtains, one light bulb for each room and one electricity plug to share, anticipation was felt throughout the auditorium.
On our 3 new bus groups we headed off to the Old City of Jerusalem and split up into two separate groups. Half of us entered the Aish building to listen to insightful talks of our choice. The topics ranged from 'how to have a successful relationship' to 'the wonders of the Jewish people'. Even though we all went to our own preference of talks, walking out of our seminars you could see the look of inspiration on everyone's faces and through conversation everyone could notice a change in perspective. These talks were conducted by knowledgeable Rabbis and lecturers who were able to captivate an exhausted crowd of teenagers. The other half of students went on a scavenger hunt around the Old City in small groups of 5 in order to discover the hidden history of the cobblestone streets. Walking around the streets filled us all with immense pride, and despite the terrible weather everyone had a constant smile on their face due to such an informative and free learning experience. The scavenger hunt consisted of various activities such as mapping, rapping and taking selfies with various monuments. The two groups then joined together to daven Mincha on the rooftop of the Aish building. Upon walking up the stairs to the rooftop, a sense of awe filled the air as you heard a gasp from everyone reaching the final step. The view was absolutely exquisite, a full panoramic vision of the entire Kotel area, as well as the Golden Dome behind it. The Mincha service was a meaningful one as we recited the prayer for Yerushaliym while facing the beauty of Jerusalem itself.
We found time during the day to stuff our faces with delicious Israeli doughnuts and shwarmas. This eventuated into being rolled onto the bus.
After free time back at the hotel, through some miracle we were given the incredible opportunity to spectate the Hapoela vs Galatarasay basketball game where we were all required to wear red in support of our home team. Cheering on the sidelines, the feeling of joy within the atmosphere was palpable. For many it was their first live sporting event and with an amazing win it was an incredible game to watch and an incredible event to take part in.
As we arrived back to the hotel, no one felt the need to socialize as we all headed off to bed after such an eventful, meaningful and inspiring day.