Israel Mifgash - Day 1
Shalom from Israel! We concluded our first day trip at one of the Knights Halls in the Old City of Akko, over some Tirosh (Israeli Manischewitz) and blessing Shehecheyanu. It was a special one.
Last spring, when we put out the call for local families to join HiBuR, it was a long shot. Not knowing when and how covid would decide to rear its head, what kind of travel restrictions would be in place, and who would even want to travel to a far away land in times of such uncertainty, we weren’t situated for a smooth sail. Quite unbelievably, a few months later, here we are in Israel with no less than 17 teens – the largest group HiBuR has had as a MetroWest collaboration. Shehecheyanu.
Rewind about 48 hours. Our teens are excited, packed, and ready to hit the road. And then this happens:
Miraculously, aside from a one-hour delay on our second leg, the journey went incredibly smooth, and we arrived at Ben Guriun airport in one piece. To our pleasant surprise, we were then met by our Israeli friends, hiding their anticipation behind signs and screams. If anyone was a bit tired getting off the plane, it was washed away by pure joy, excitement, and a bit of perplexity trying to comprehend how many shekels they should get for their dollars at the airport bank.
As we arrived at the Hugim school in Haifa, we received a warm welcome by the parents and the school staff, accompanied by a spread of Israeli sweets. Shortly thereafter, swiftly making their way home, each with their host family.
Friday, which is known as half a day in Israel – given that Shabbat sets in during the afternoon – allowed us to start exploring, while also recovering from the journey, our new homes, and the general feeling of transformation from one reality to another. Our first stop was Rosh Hanikra, which is the closest thing one can do if trying to “zoom out” from Israel. From a fantastic vantage point at the very North West corner of Israel, we could see the entire coast all the way back to Haifa, the horizon over the mediterranean, and East into the Lower Galilee. Looking North, we could also see the border of Lebanon, less than half a mile away.
We traversed in and out of the impressive grottos that make up Rosh Hanikra, by foot and cable cart, taking in the clear blue waters just underneath us, and soaking in the warm February sun.
Led by our inspiring tour guide for the week, Gil, along with Iftach, the Outdoors teacher from Hugim, we continued to our second stop of the (half) day – the Old City of Akko. Positioning ourselves at a beautiful spot on the ancient walls of the fortified city, we learned about Akko’s place not only in the history of the region, but its vast importance as the first city Napoleon failed to conquer, setting his ambitions in a downward trajectory. When writing about his different battles, Napoleon named Akko as the city of which if he would have conquered – he would go on to conquer the world.
From Napoleon we proceeded to meet another local hero – the falafel. A very remote relative of its American version, our students finally got a taste of authentic falafel, with all the fixings, at the bustling shuk (outdoor market of Akko). This was the first of many culinary experiences we will have this week, and no doubt a memorable one.
Our students will be spending shabbat with their host families. While their chaperons get some rest, visit with family and friends, and embrace for the exciting week that’s ahead of us.
Each day, a couple of teens will share their personal impressions. Today we’re happy to spotlight Ari and Caleb.
And, for a closer look into our journey, we invite you to follow hibur_jloft on Instagram!