May 14 10 : 5 am
This post submitted by Allie LeCavalier, Class of 2013
After an exhausting day of travel, the 40 students on Taglit Bus #997 arrived at Ben Gurion airport and headed to Kibbutz Malliya, where we will be staying for 3 nights. The Kibbutz is in the Northern part of the country, in Upper Galilee, near the Lebanese Border. Upon arriving at the Kibbutz, we had our first Israeli meal (the fresh hummus was MUCH better than our airplane meals), went through an orientation program, and went to sleep for the night, jet-lagged and ready to rest up for an exciting 10 days.
Our first full day in the North was packed with diverse experiences. We began the day with a hike up Mt. Meron, the second highest mountain in Israel and an important site for Jewish mystics. We learned how mysticism is the way in which Judaism explores the "grey area" of the Torah and continued to learn about this aspect of the religion for the rest of the day. The next key mystic site we visited was Safed, an artist's colony full of synagogues and galleries. With its narrow alleys and cobble stone walkways, walking through Safed was like exploring Israel's past. In Safed, the men on the trip were given the opportunity to dip in a mikvah, while the entire group was given time to explore the work of local artists. We were especially lucky to attend a glass blowing demonstration by Sheva Chaya, an American-born artist who has made aliyah, who explained to us the connection between her artwork and the teachings of the mystics. We wrapped up our day of touring with a quick stop at the Na'ot factory store. Na'ot is a popular leather and sandal brand here, and many students from 997 needed some heavy-duty shoes to prepare for the rest of our trip!
We returned to the Kibbutz for another relaxing evening, getting to know each other over dinner, during ice breakers, and during our free time on the Kibbutz.
While some of the group used our free time to socialize with IDF soldiers living on the Kibbutz, many of us called it a night and went to sleep to prepare for yet another busy day tomorrow. Next time you hear from us, it will be to hear about our day absorbing the natural beauty of Israel through swimming, hiking, and kayaking on the Jordan River. Until then, lailah tov!