Monday, April 19, 2010

March of the Living: Raise Your Eyes to the Mountains

Today the teens experienced the full swing of emotions, a microcosm of the entire trip, as connected to the rhythm of Israeli time, starting the day with the seriousness and grief of Yom HaZikaron and ending it with the ecstasy of Yom Haatzmaut.

See today’s photos at - scroll down for the latest ones.

After our daily morning service, where I played selected Israeli songs, including a recent version of Psalm 121 “Shir hamaalot, Lift your eyes to the mountains,” we headed for the hills – a spectacular view from the top of Mount Gilboa, commanding a view, on one side, of the Jezreel Valley, and on the other of the areas on the other side of the Green Line, including Jenin. We got a good look at the Security Barrier and saw why it has been so helpful in stopping terror. This area had been particularly hard hit in the suicide bombings of a decade ago. And now there is almost air-tight security, to the point where a visible police presence is rarely needed in public spaces. The view was spectacular, but so were the wildflowers dotting the hillside.

After that we went to a nearby Kibbutz, Beit HaShita, to commemorate Memorial Day with them. This Kibbutz has suffered dearly in wars and terror attacks dating back to 1937 when the valley was being developed and especially vulnerable. The fields were lush and green – as I hope the photos demonstrate. The ceremony was brief and moving. Since this is a secular Kibbutz, there was no Kaddish or Memorial Prayer – and they didn’t light candles but brought flowers to the graves of the departed heroes. Later on we joined in at another ceremony, with a group of disadvantaged children at the Emunah Center in Afula. Our teens helped them to make memorial candles and befriended them. In between we had another meet & greet with a group of 11th and 12th graders from a local high school. It was a very full day.

While we were in Afula, Mara and I were thrilled to see an old friend to many at TBE, Liza Elisha, who was our youth counselor on the past two TBE Israel Adventures. Liza (whose last name is no longer Elisha), showed up with her new baby. You can see photos at the photo site.
Finally, tonight we all went out to Tiberias and the disco boat. What a release for everyone! A great time was had by all. One of the first songs the DJ played was… that same version of Psalm 121, Shir hama’a lot… which morphs from a dirge to a song of celebration and assurance. Tiberias was hopping tonight – wall to wall Israelis. The kids did some shopping after the disco boat docked, a special unplanned treat, a reward for how fantastic they’ve been through this whole trip – in particular on this difficult day.

It’s too soon to try to piece everything together – and too late for me to have the strength to do it! Two more days. Tomorrow, another march – this time in Jerusalem.

Happy birthday, Israel!

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