Masa Israel Journey Blog

Published : May 16, 2012
This past Shabbat Pardes had a tiyul and Shabbaton to the Galil. Prior to the tiyul, while briefly skimming the itinerary, I imagined that this Shabbaton would be the same as every Shabbaton I have been on since middle school. Hike, daven, eat, daven, eat, eat, daven.
Though I was excited, I certainly did not expect anything extraordinary.  In retrospect, suggesting that the weekend surpassed all of my expectations would be an egregious understatement.
What made this Shabbaton so unique was not its itinerary; on paper it indeed looked like any other itinerary. What made it so meaningful, however, was the way that each program offered a sense of both seriousness and approachability; Pardes meticulously planned each aspect of the trip to be both challenging and welcoming. 
On the hike, Nahal Kziv, I was reminded of this land’s eclectic landscape and diverse scenery. Rabbi A. J. Heschel’s call to cultivate Radical Amazement seemed simple and so natural. This experience set a strong tone for the rest of the weekend. 
I fast forward to Kabbalat Shabbat. Though I wish I could describe the ruach that ascended from the roof top, no words will suffice. Everyone brought all of themselves - our learning, the hike, the beach, our entire year in Israel—it was all there, it was all in our tefilah on that small roof top. 
Like the overflowing glass of wine we used to say Kiddush, the kavana spilled over to the rest of Shabbat. Dinner and an amazing tisch, beautiful Shabbat morning services, and a communal lunch all wereinfused with this holiness. 
Following lunch we had some free time, after which I attended to two thought-provoking classes: one comparing a Talmudic story to a popular Israeli song, and theother looking at the spiritual significance of the Shmitah year. My complaint about these classes is that their conclusion meant that the departure of Shabbat was imminent.
After Mincha, dinner, Maariv and a beautiful havdalah it was time to leave the new world that we had built over the past several hours and to re-enter the "real world." 
Yet, like the hike and the Kabbalat Shabbat before it, I am confident that the essence of this weekend will remain with me, and I will carry it with me wherever I go.
Published : May 15, 2012
By Sarah Padway, Career Israel
The week following Yom HaShoah, we celebrated two of the most opposite holidays back to back, Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).
We began on Tuesday with a tour of Yad Vashem andMt.Herzlwith Career Israel. This was my first time visiting Yad Vashem, and it was an experience. Even the layout of the museum pays tribute to victims. The museum is laid out so that it is impossible to go straight through, because, like in the Holocaust, there was no easy way out.
The most moving exhibit that I went through was the Children’s Memorial. It is completely dark, except 5 candles that are reflected off of thousands of mirrors, so it seems like hundreds of candles, representing the children’s universes that were lost far too soon. We then walked up to Mt. Herzl, Israel’s National Cemetery. The walk up to the cemetery symbolizes the rise from the Holocaust to the creation of the Jewish State.
Mt. Herzl is home to members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who fall in service, as well as prominent Israeli, Jewish and Zionist leaders. As we were walking through the cemetery, it struck me that because all Israelis serve in the IDF, it is likely that every citizen knows someone who is buried atMt.Herzl. The cemetery is absolutely gorgeous, and pays a beautiful tribute to every person who died fighting forIsrael.
Since Tuesday evening marked the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, we went to a Masa Remembrance event in Latrun that evening. The event included stories of a few fallen soldiers and terror victims, as well as songs and writings by both the victims and members of their families.
The program was a lot to take in after an already heavy day, but it is important to take the time to remember those lost in battle and terror attacks. I felt an incredible connection to the soldiers and their families.
There was another moment of silence on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. This time, I was in the shuk with Oriel. The shuk is a boisterous place, and at 11 a.m., the entire market went silent and still.
Then, similar to Yom HaShoah, once the siren stopped, business continued.

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