Each year, Memphis Jewish Federation provides a travel subsidy from the Lemsky Endowment Fund for students making the Bornblum Jewish Community School 8th Grade Trip to Israel. About ten students make the journey each year and return to Memphis with tangible personal connections to Israel. In this series, we’ll publish the letters this year’s travelers wrote the Federation thanking us for the opportunity to make this special pilgrimage.
Thank you very much for helping me to make visiting Israel become a reality. I really appreciate your giving money to all our class for this amazing trip. After traveling about twenty-four hours, we finally made it to Israel. When we got there, we took a short ride to meet with the other groups and say Shehechiyanu while looking at the City of David. Then we took the bus over to the hotel, had dinner, and socialized. Instead of going to bed like the other groups, my class walked over to Ben Yehuda Street.
After a night’s rest, we had our first breakfast at the hotel. We went to Hezekiah’s Tunnels and watched a movie about the history of the City of David. Afterwards, we finally walked through the water tunnels. It was fun walking through them—especially when we turned the flashlights off and felt the walls and the water. When we finished our time at the tunnels, we went to the Jewish Quarter and walked around. We went to the Western Wall and had an amazing spiritual experience, and then we went to the Western Wall tunnels. We saw giant blocks of limestone and learned how they got there.
On the fourth day, we went on a powerful journey in Yad Vashem. We saw the Children’s Memorial, and we learned about all the people who helped the Jews. We went to an interesting museum about Herzl, and watched a few videos about how he tried to create Israel. Then we went to Mt. Herzl and talked about fallen soldiers. Later, we had dinner at a shuk.
On the fifth day, we went to an Ethiopian farm, and helped make mud and put it in huts to create benches. This place was created for the elders who have no place to work, and it brings joy to their life. It also helped educate us about the Ethiopian Jews who came to Israel. We had an Ethiopian lunch of traditional food there after we worked. Next, we went camel riding in the Judean Desert. It was fun and we all named our camels. Then, we went to the Bedouin tents and had some Bedouin tea, and ate dinner there. We had a drum circle and learned how they played the drums. Then we slept overnight in the tents. The next morning, we ascended Masada and saw the sunrise. We walked down the snake path and had a big breakfast. We did a few other things, and then had lunch before we went to the Dead Sea. It was fun floating in the Sea and putting on mud masks. After that we went back to Jerusalem, and had a nice Kabbalat Shabbat at the Western Wall.
On Shabbat, we went to different shuls and had lunch at the hotel. We had the rest of the day to hang out and rest. We did our Havdalah service and then went to a light show at the Tower of David. It was an interesting and cool experience telling the history of Jerusalem on the walls of the fortress.
We went to the bullet factory the next day, and had a nice outdoor lunch. It was interesting to see how courageous the people of that kibbutz were when they made bullets secretly to help win the Independence War. Afterwards, we went to the Weizmann Institute of Science and saw the cool interactive activities. It was fascinating to see how innovative the Israelis can be. Next, we went to an amazing experience at the Blind Museum. It was humbling walking through the museum and not being able to see anything. It made me appreciate how lucky I am to have eyesight. After that, we went to the North and saw a memorial service in the kibbutz where we were staying.
We commemorated Yom Hazikaron. It was very meaningful to see how important Memorial Day is for the Israelis! The next day, we went to the border of Syria and Israel too. We went to the Jilabun Stream and saw waterfalls. Those sights and the hikes in the Golan Heights were an amazing way to feel Israel and its nature. The trip overall was an amazing experience! I can’t thank you enough for making this trip possible for me and my classmates. Israel will always be a part of who I am.