Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My final thoughts

We are packed and waiting for our ride to the airport and I will take a little time to reflect on this experience. 

This trip has been truly momentous.  In 12 days we have done about 100 activities.   We have all laughed and cried.  We have all had moments where we pushed our limits past our comfort zones and proved our bravery.  We have learned so much about this amazing country,  it's history and it's people.  I don't think that any of us can choose a favorite moment or even a favorite day.  We are a closer family for having taken this adventure together. 

Mom and dad (Bubby and Zayde), "Thank you" does not properly express my gratitude and I am not enough of a poet to to come up with the best words.

Shelly, I think Hunter said best how we feel about you.  We love you.  You are now an honorary member of our family.  Thank you so much for leading us on this journey and for sharing both your knowledge about Israel and your love of the country.  We are the luckiest family for having you as our guide.

Shalom, Israel!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Most difficult/fun day

Today was truly the most emotionally exhausting day and the most fun.

While the grandparents took the kids to the biblical zoo, the other adults spent an emotional few hours at Yad Vashem, the halocaust museum.  I don't need to get into the details of the visit here except to say that it was necessary and tough and everyone should go if presented with the opportunity.

What I want to talk about was our archeological dig in the afternoon.   We arrived drained from this crazy week and tough morning but were quickly excited by the archeologists who took us down into the cave and set us loose digging for ancient artifacts.  Some of us have done these digs before and didn't expect much.  Immediately,  though, shouts of discoveries started echoing through the cave.  We were all quickly filling our "find buckets" with huge pottery shards and bones from 2000 years ago.  We were stunned at the sizes and amounts and in awe that we were digging in a live dig and making truly exciting discoveries.  Just as we were all planning our new careers as archeologists,  they announced that this phase was over and it was time to bring our buckets of dirt to the surface for sifting.  We were all pretty disappointed and slowly made our way to the sunlight with our buckets. ..again, with low expectations to find anything else.

As Rob , Hunter, Noah and I started to sift our first bucket, I picked up a tiny black something that I figured was another tine piece of charcoal when I realizedthat it had an interesting shape.  Upon closer inspection,  I realized that it was a bead.   I handed it to the real professionals and continued my sifting.  A few moments later, I heard excitement and turned around to see that they had cleaned off the bead and it revealed gold stripes.  It was beautiful!  

To finish the experience,  we crawled and climbed through a cool underground tunnel. 

Of everything we have experienced here, this dig was hands-down my favorite.

Last night in Jerusalem

Tonight is our last night in Jerusalem... Also our last night in Israel.

This morning, while the children went to the zoo with Bubbe and Zeidi, the remaining four of us went for a guided walk through Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum.

Words cannot describe the experience. I was in tears before we made it down the first hallway. It wasn't the numbers or back story, but rather the individual tales... The photos and filmstrips of real men, women, and especially children who were violently and heartlessly corralled, and eventually slaughtered by the Nazis. Without mass media or internet, Hitler successfully persuaded a chilling number of people to fear those who are different, to try to banish then, and ultimately to try to destroy them.
We say "never again," not simply because of what happened in the 1940s... But rather because the risk remains.
The gut wrenching trip through Yad Vashem underscores the need for a Jewish state where the persecuted can live and flourish. It was painful but appropriate to wind down our Israeli tour with this somber and sobering experience.

FORTUNATELY, the day got brighter. We met up with the grandparents and grandkids who had enjoyed the zoo. After lunch we ventured out, skirting in and out of the west Bank until we made our way to a fantastic, and recently uncovered archeological dig.  With picks and shovels we excavated fragments of pottery and even a few rare and unusual pieces of metal and jewelry. Both kids and adults enjoyed digging through the dirt in the cool shelter of an underground cave. After sifting through our findings, most of us crawled through another excavated cave, with multiple chambers lit only by candles, and separated by narrow passageways.
I am continually amazed at the complex engineering that took place even thousands of years ago.
This was the time and place of the Maccabees.
As I showered off back at the hotel, I watched the dirt run down the drain and I wondered: who else wore that dirt 2000 years before me?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Abby's favorite things in Israel

My favorite things I did in Israel so far are the donkey rides camel rides and the food tasting!!! Have an amazing rest of the trip. 🌻🌼🌸🌹🌷

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Abby has been even more excited about eating falafel than I am. Although I think we've about had our fill now.

Here is a picture of falafel #3, from a small bar/food stand in the Old Train Station Plaza. This one was excellent and had the best combination of salad toppings.

The second picture is the restaurant where Abby had falafel #4, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. She must have loved it, because I never got a picture of this falafel. I opted for shwarma this time, with the works, which include grilled onions, hummus, tahini, and salad. It's a good thing we've been very active this trip, so we can enjoy all of the delicious food!

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I'm having technical difficulties, so it looks like I'll have to add the pictures later.

Jerusalem: Day 4

First thing this morning we went to Masada. We took a cable car up. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting (I hate heights as well as enclosed spaces.) It was a fast cable car too! We got to look down on the people hiking up the mountain.

After we got up, we did a bunch of stuff touring the fortress which was actually really cool! We also took the cable car down. Didn't like that as much.

After Masada we went to the Dead Sea. I was hesitant at first to get in (Or more realistically flat-out refused to go in until half our time was up) but it also took a great deal of effort getting me out. Once I got in I loved it. It was soooooooooooooooooooooo weird though! But... I liked it anyway. Yup: that's me!

After the Dead Sea (I would've stayed there all day) we went to this camel-riding thingy. I did not like it AT ALL. For one thing, it was only like five minutes (Not complaining) and it took like 20 minutes to get there and I don't even wanna know how long to get back. Second: The camels were... How should I say this...? Interesting. Another thing is that we- that is they- were walking right on the edge. And I mean right on the edge. Of a "cliffish"/" mountainish" kind of thing. And our camel, when it was laying down so we could get off, instead of gradually, slowly, comfortably, going down like the other ones, it just when "Thump!" and I didn't and probably couldn't have, but I felt like a almost fell off. It was definitely NOT among my favorite things so far.

Overall, it was a good day, and the Dead Sea ended up being being my favorite thing on the trip so far. Pay attention to the "so far" though. My favorite thing may change. The Dead Sea was pretty cool though.

Oh! And I almost forgot! We're going to this light show in the Old City! I'll post about it tomorrow if I have time.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jerusalem: Day 3

Today we went to some old irrigation cave thingies from King David's time in the Old City in Jerusalem. Honestly, I am claustrophobic so it wasn't all that enjoyable for me, all though clearly most of the other dweebs loved it. How...?

Anyway, after the caves we did a bunch of other stuff in the Old City, and okay: some of it was pretty cool. We were kinda rushing at lunch but it was reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaally good. I had a שוורמא wrap that my uncle didn't finish. I could've easily eaten at least a whole one of them. Probably more.

Some time after lunch, most of the other dweebs went on another underground tunnel tour; this time of the כותל, I stayed behind with Mrs. Dweeb and our great guide, Shelly. She took us for some other stuff which was actually awesome. I got to do a lot of puzzle/logic/math/etc. type stuff which I loooooooooove. I figured out about how much the heaviest stone in the temple weighs (1,600,000 pounds) and how the temple was destroyed with fire (It was built of limestone, which has lots of pores and the smoke from the fire, which there was an excess of 'cause of the wood in between the blocks of stone, got into the pores and the smoke expanded because of the heat causing the stones to explode) and stuff like that.

But yeah anyway, today was pretty good and tomorrow is gonna be soooooooooooooooooooooo hot and tiring (Dead Sea, Massada, camel riding, etc.) I'm hoping for good dinner tonight.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jerusalem, Day 2

Mornings start early in Jerusalem, even on Sundays. By 6am, I could here the sounds of cars on the streets and construction trucks backing up. Despite that noise, the kids remained fast asleep as they recovered from our first day in Jerusalem.
Today we will continue our tradition of waking up early for a large Israeli breakfast. We also continue the tradition of drafting the kids out of bed, which has proven to be one of the most consistent challenges of the trip. Even Jacob wants to stay in bed!I think the late nights are catching up with us.

Or itinerary today includes a guided tour of the old city including some excavation sites and underground aquifers. Looking forward to seeing how history of literally being uncovered at these archeological sites.