The annual Israel trip, now in its ninth year, takes students on a whirlwind tour of the Jewish homeland, from the iconic sites of Jerusalem to the warm home hospitality of our partnership region, Sovev Kinneret. This is the most powerful Jewish learning experience during their MJDS journey.
Every eighth grade class that travels to Israel publishes a travel blog to chronicle their experiences. Few blog posts capture the transformative power of this trip like the one below, written by Bella M. after a day in Jerusalem.
May 6, 2016
I was so happy. My best friends and I just sang our hearts out, ignoring everything, but the feeling of sisterhood and love.
We started our day by driving to the City of David. We saw the ruins of King David’s castle and walked through his underground water tunnel. The water was really cold and almost knee high. At some places, the ceiling was super low and we had to duck, and in some places the ceilings were 10 ft high. And throughout, the tunnel was super small in width. When we finally got out of the tunnels, we went back up the mountain via a sewer system from 100 of years ago. It smelled musty since it was underground.
After the tunnel experience, we went to Mount Hertzl and saw the graves of hundreds of fallen soldiers and important presidents, prime ministers, and generals of Israel. We also saw Yonatan the Shinshin from a few years ago! Then we were dropped of at the Machneh Yehudi shut. We shopped for a while and got rugalagh. IT WAS SO GOOD. When we finished shopping we went back to our hotel room for a couple of hours. At the end of the day, we went to the Kotel.
We walked for about 20 minutes before we came to a ledge overlooking Jerusalem. The sun was setting and Shabbat was upon us. We said our prayers before we went to the wall. As I walked towards the Kotel, I could hear the cheer of the men on the other side. I prayed and stuck my note to the wall. I watched my friends, and felt so much closer to them. I turned around and saw a circle of girls singing prayers and told my friends that I wanted to join. We ran to the circle and draped our arms around the girls. We were complete strangers but we had one thing in common, we all wanted to make noise. We sang louder and louder and I couldn’t hear the men chanting anymore. After a while, the circle dismantled and the MJDS girls formed their own circle. We started singing and we saw other girls watching. Some even joined. The circle got bigger and bigger and louder and louder. Some women tried to break up the circle, but we kept our hands interlocked and didn’t let go. When we had to leave, I had a strange feeling in my stomach. I was so happy. My best friends and I just sang our hearts out, ignoring everything, but the feeling of sisterhood and love. Everything was blocked out. We were singing and nothing bothered us. We were taken to another place. I felt like a new person. As the sun set, we walked to our hotel and had Shabbat dinner.
-- Bella M.
It doesn’t feel real! I just pinched myself and it still doesn’t feel real!
~ Eighth grader Daniella S., on the Israel trip