Arts & Culture, People

Ilana Kuliyeva- I Didn’t Want to Leave Israel

by JCPConnect-

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.   

Dear Memphis Jewish Federation,

This fabulous trip began with an amazing start when I met up with my class at the airport. The plane rides were long and dull. I couldn’t sleep because I was filled with too much excitement. Once we arrived we met all our friends-to-be at the Prima Royale Hotel. The next day, we visited the City of David and waded through Hezekiah’s Tunnels. The Western Wall was a very empowering experience, especially when I got to pray alongside all the Jewish Orthodox women. The outdoor markets were incredible too. There were candies, clothes, delicious foods, and examples of stunning art.

The Bedouin tents were my all-time favorite experience. They served delicious tea and heavenly food; We experienced a stunning drum circle and great hospitality. The main reason I loved the Bedouin tents was because I bonded with some great people that night at dinner, and talked about all our life lessons. Masada was my other favorite experience because all that climbing made me a stronger person inside and out. When 3 other people and I got to the summit, we all got on top of an old castle and howled like wolves that were set free.

When we went to the chocolate factory I learned that a lot of work goes into making Elite Chocolate. Our tour guide was Druze, and he talked like a philosopher. It made us think that Elite is not just a chocolate, it is a family. I remember the day we rafted down the Jordan, I got pushed in by my new made friends. The host Shabbat was so much fun! I went to the Mediterranean to see sunset before Shabbat, met new people, and saw how regular Israelis live. The last day was heartbreaking! I didn’t want to leave Israel and the fascinating people I met on this trip. Looking back on all the great moments, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Ilana Kuliyeva



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