This is Rabbi Amanda. Everyone is involved so I don’t want to take them away from what they have chosen to do. Most of our students chose not to go to Ben Yehuda this evening and they are in the hallway playing cards with our madrich, Uzi. It’s fun to watch. Everyone else went to Ben Yehuda to have some more fun!
Today we really celebrated Israel’s birthday. Tefillah was incredibly special. Kellman Brown led schacharit, everyone led Hallel and then Ezra led the Torah service. As you can see from the photographs, it was very intimate and meaningful for everyone. Our Torah readers, Reuben, Hannah and Marcia spent time learning their readings and made us all very proud. Reuben said learning how to read Torah has changed his life. (I can’t make this stuff up.) We davened not at the traditional Kotel plaza but at the egalitarian section of the Kotel near Robinson’s Arch. We were the first to arrive and a wonderful rabbi gave us our Torah and we were able to pick our spot for tefillah. It was the perfect temperature with a slight breeze. Most of our group participated enthusiastically, it’s just that kind of place. Students talked about how grateful they were for today and also for their parents who had made this trip possible. It was really heart warming.
We went to the Kotel Plaza again, walking along singing “Am Yisrael Chai” as loud as we possibly could. We then danced (not all of us willingly, but still…) and then we went to have our private moments at the wall. Ilene had to put about 150 notes in the way so Karyn and I helped her! We then toured the Southern Wall Excavations, something we had done yesterday on a virtual reality platform. Weird. As a guide, Yonit has a lovely style with lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” and “boom shakalaka” which keeps us motivated to listen and learn.
Hannah has joined me to work on the blog...
We had a pizur lunch in the Jewish quarter. Pizur means “spread out” so Ramah lets us spread out and gives us 50 shekels to buy what we are feeling in terms of Israeli food. A couple of people at quite a bit of ice cream.
After lunch, we walked down to the City of David and got changed for the water tunnel. We also saw David’s palace, a four-room house with an ancient toilet attached! Owen volunteered to be a messenger so that we could learn about signet rings and sealing letters. In one room, like a scriptorum, they found 51 seals.
Next, we went into the tunnel which was built during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, approximately 586 BCE. It was frigidly cold water that came up to your ankles, knees or thighs depending on your height. It was a hoot.
We met other 8th grade groups at the Ramah barbeque. Some of us would say we had a fun time, but others would agree that it was a little bit stressful. I think we could all agree that we were well fed though. After that, most were absolutely exhausted and totally done for the day but those that had a little bit of energy left went out on Ben Yehuda.
Time for bed! Laylah tov.