Itamar Almalem- The Journey of a Lifetime

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,

Reflections…I am going through the highlights of my Israel trip below; I will also be reflecting on the amazing experiences I had during the trip.

We got to the airport. Everyone was very excited, and we were all looking forward to the trip. We went through security and were at the gate. Our trip had officially started. We got through the first flight and landed in Charlotte. We rushed to our next gate. This was the flight we had all planned! We all sat in the exact seats that we wanted. Everyone slept and it was a great flight. We were now in Frankfort. We had a four-hour layover, so we all just walked around the airport and bought some candy. Finally, it was time to board. Before we boarded, though, we had to go through security. Security said that Dory`s sandals and Morah Almalem`s iPad were explosive. This aggravated me. How could sandals be explosive? This was the first inside joke of our trip. We then boarded and were in Israel.

We walked out of that plane ecstatically. We were extremely excited for the trip to come! We walked through the massive hall that led to the bus driver who was waiting to take us to Jerusalem. We saw the tiny sign that spelled, “Bornblum” and we walked to the bus. Thus, started the journey of a lifetime.

We drove to Jerusalem. When we got out of the bus, we saw a circle of people. These were the students we would be traveling with on the trip. I remember looking at these people in their individual little groups and thinking to myself, “How will I fit in?” After ten minutes, I had already made friends with seventeen people. These people were amazing travelers and friends. I was thrilled to have my trip with them. We went to the Prima Royale Hotel and had dinner. We then went up to our rooms and slept.

The next day everyone woke up and went downstairs for breakfast. We all talked awkwardly to each other. We then went to Hezekiah’s Tunnels. We walked half a mile in a water-filled tunnel. It was very fun. We then went to the Western Wall, and the Wall’s tunnels. I thought it was amazing how I could wear a kipah anywhere I wanted and I not feel ashamed or embarrassed. It was awesome!

Visiting Yad Vashem was very meaningful. Every single item in this museum is real, even the flags or the bricks from the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto. I loved our tour guide because he made it very interesting, and I really understood after this visit how crucial it is to have the state of Israel.

Now, I will start going through the main highlights of the trip. A couple of days passed and we arrived at the Bedouin tents. We were greeted with tea. This tea was something out of this world. It was the best tea I had ever had in my life. We listened to a Bedouin woman talk about her life. We got to ask her questions. After this experience, I felt like I understood Islam and the Bedouin culture a lot more than I had. Then we had a drum circle. It was so much fun! Everyone banged on their drums, and the sound of laughter filled the air. We then walked to a huge tent; we all sat in low seats with short tables. They brought out massive plates full of pita, rice, peppers, chicken, and meatballs. I will never know what drove me to eat as much as I did at that meal!

We woke up at four the next morning. We drove to Masada. We all looked up, and wondered how we were going to climb that. We started walking and I suddenly remembered that the first up Masada gets free Aroma Café. I started sprinting up that mountain. I finally reached the top. I was exhausted! I looked around and saw that I was the first one up Masada. I yelled in joy. I waited until everyone made it and then we then had Tefilla on the top of Masada, in the ancient synagogue.

My trip was amazing, and it was the best trip of my life! Thank you so much for helping our school make this trip possible!

Itamar Almalem

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