8th Grade Israel Solidarity Trip 2024: Day 4

8th Grade Israel Solidarity Trip 2024: Day 4
Written by the students in the delegation

Day 4 - Sunday, May 12th

Today, Sunday, May 12th, we woke up fairly early to drive to Haifa. We passed the West Bank and saw the large concrete wall. We were greeted by our friends at Leo Baeck with baked goods and Shoko b’Sakit and we each got a bag filled with snacks and a book in Hebrew. The principle of Leo Baeck led a mode ani and Ose Shalom prayers with his guitar and some of us shared a moment of gratitude. We enjoyed meeting up with our friends, and it was special that in spite of these times we were still able to meet in person both in Israel & California. 

We took the bus to the nearby community garden and sat down for a short talk on how the garden brings together people of different cultures and backgrounds. Hearing how a garden brings all religions together was special, especially in times like these where we can feel separated. We had an activity where we were each given cards with an important quote from a religious text, such as the Torah or Quran. Everyone was paired up and had to explain what their quote meant. After that, we ate snacks and then walked around identifying different fruits, plants, and even old graves. We then hiked down the hill and saw old tombs and a mosaic.

After the hike we returned to Leo Beck for a short tour with the students. We split off and they showed us around the school and different classrooms. We enjoyed seeing a school in Israel and comparing it to Hausner. We then headed back for lunch and celebrations. Lunch consisted of falafel, fruits, and various different drinks. We took time to eat lunch, and then had a birthday celebration for Emma. We sang Happy Birthday and brought her a chocolate/coffee cake. Everything we ate was delicious and it was special to eat a meal with each other.

We visited the Baha’i Gardens Haifa. The garden looks over the bay and is many terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The central terrace has a golden-domed Shrine of the Bab, the resting place of the Prophet of the Bahá’í Faith.

After we saw the Baha’i gardens we met with the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Mosque and center in Haifa. He talked about how he converted to Ahmadiyyan Islam when he was 16 and how his family converted too. Although he had lots of support some people, like his neighbors didn’t accept him. He also talked about the teachings of peace and love of his movement and about jihad, which in Islam has a lesser part and a greater part. The lesser part is about protection and the greater part is about improving oneself and how it differs from how the extremists perceive it.   

We got to our Youth Hostel in Haifa and had about an hour to settle down and get ready for dinner. We learned that this hostel hosts many families who were evacuated from the northern part of Israel and some have been here over seven months!

Dinner was filled with many different great food options and was very filling. We the took a short walk across the street and had a short discussion before standing and having a moment of silence for the sirens. Yoni, our tour guide, took off his shoes for the siren, and explained to us why afterwards. It was because his friend from the military would never have his shoes on when they had to get ready quickly in the morning, and as a result of that, often had to spend the day without his shoes. Later, he died during his service in the military. We thought that was a meaningful way of remembering his friend, and his unique and joyous life. After the siren, we went upstairs to a room to watch a few short videos in memory of Israeli soldiers killed in combat. They were each a couple minutes long, and were animated by some of Israel’s best animators. Each of us got to choose one video to watch and after every video Yoni explained to us the significance behind the story. We felt that this was a very meaningful way to connect to Yom HaZikaron. 

Tomorrow on Yom HaZikaron we will start our day at a military cemetery with our hosts from Leo Baeck, have activities at the school and attend their Tekes (ceremony) Yom HaZikaron.


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