Just your average week in the desert…

 
By Leora Lana Kaufman, Young Judaea Year Course, Rye, NY
 
This post would be way too long if I described everything in detail, so I’ll list a few highlights since Sukkot Break.
 
A few days after returning home from our break, nearly our entire section took a bus to the Dead Sea to attend a Matisyahu concert. The bus was noisy, packed, and short a few seats but we all made it there in one piece. The stage was in between rock formations that were lit up all different colors. Everybody in the audience joined Matisyahu in singing “One Day”—the energy of the crowd made the concert an awesome experience.
 
The next day a few friends and I biked into the middle of the desert, hoping to get a decent workout. We ended up getting just that, plus a special bonus. After reaching the top of a hill, my friend Dan exclaimed, “Hey! Is that a camel?” Turns out there was a Bedouin strolling through the desert on a donkey with his thirteen camels. We introduced ourselves to him and he kindly let us take a few photos on his donkey. Only in Israel.
 
On Friday night we had a costume party at a local restaurant/bar to celebrate two of our friends’ 19thbirthdays. The theme was Greece vs. India, but we could dress in anything that had some “Greece” or “India” in it.  For instance, some people were “greasers,” one person was “indecent exposure,” some were “Indians,” and so on. A few friends and I decided to be Independence Day celebrators, so we got decked out in red, white, and blue, glitter and all.
 
From Monday until Wednesday, my friend Jake and I worked very hard at volunteering. We’ve been raking, shoveling, and clearing out rocks and garbage to create a play space/ garden in the backyard. Before we got ahold of the space, it literally looked like a garbage dump; the transformation is pretty incredible. We are going to lay down fake grass soon….I can’t wait to see the finished product! I’m actually working on raising money for the foster home (they really need it), so I sent out a mass fundraising e-mail.
 
Every Thursday our section goes on a siyur, which is a little day trip. Last Thursday we went to a Bedouin village to explore the market, hear a speaker, and go to a lookout point. We heard a woman speaker named Mariam describe how she started her own cosmetics business. The story is really inspiring (blog post here).
 
That weekend I spent in Jerusalem on a student-run volunteering Shabbaton. I stayed with my friend Rachel and had a great time. We went out the first night on Ben Yehuda Street, and of course, ran into tons of long lost friends.
 
Anyway, I decided to join the volunteer group for helping victims of shock and terrorism (it’s called Garin Aravim.) We already made some plans to raise money, spread awareness, etc. A few of us visited the tent built for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted by Hamas in 2006. There is strong evidence that he is still alive, so Israel is strongly fighting for his return. I hope to get really involved in this volunteer group, and maybe even take on a leadership position.
 
 

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