Lead up to Shabbat. Guest Post by Lissie Bubel & Jill Weiss

Today we continued our journey and last day in Tel Aviv, we were eager to start our adventurous day. It was going to be more eye opening because people were less sleepy because were less jet lagged.

The day began with a delicious buffet breakfast and than we ventured to a Palmach museum. 

We were pleasantly surprised to meet a veteran who had fought in the war of independence. Then we not only smelled coffee and shook in our seats but we experienced a heartfelt interactive walking tour and video which let us experience how it was for others during that time period.

After that went to the Nachalat Binyamin arts and crafts fair and the Carmel Market pedestrian mall. Everyone discovered new things, new foods or at least made new memories. We enjoyed the scenery and of course the company of Sharon. 

Then we took a tour of old Jaffa. The landscaping, architecture and Ofer’s knowledge of history about the city were remarkable.

We had a cultural Jewish evening that started off when we meet at a preschool room at a Reform synagogue called Yozma in the city of Modin. It was fascinating and informative in how educational systems are designed in Israel. 

After that, we were invited to participate in a service given by Rabbi Alona Nir Keren. It was a special time to enjoy the feeling of warmth given by her and the members of the Yozma community.

For dinner we split into groups were warmly invited to members homes. We happened to be at a dinner with three rabbis, one cantor, one person who just finished his army service as a commander in the paratrooper brigade in the army and is now going to university to study foreign relations and diplomacy. Another person at dinner was also an officer in the navy who is now studying nutrition. She also works at Yozma organizing the visits with the guests from overseas.

We cannot speak for others but the visit we had was a highlight for us on our Israel journey. Once again, thank you to Sharon arranging this amazing journey. 

(Photos to be added later when I have a better internet connection). 

Tel Aviv. Sights, Sounds, and then: Darkness – Guest Post by Michele Goonan

After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast we gathered at 9 AM, still a little disoriented and jet-lagged. Our guide, Ofer, stepped up to the plate despite a mix-up in our program and presented us with hats, maps and journals as we embarked on our journey through Tel Aviv. 

We began in Rabin Square where the prime minister was assassinated on November 4, 1995. This event immediately reminded me of JFK’sassassination. Both events changed their respective countries forever. 

The emotions felt by all of us were comparable to my visit to Dallas’ Book Depository. 

After some reflective time at the sight we began to explore Tel Aviv. We walked and walked and walked up Rothschild Blvd experiencing the ‘White City’ architecture style. 

After meandering through some lovely neighborhoods, we had some time to (walk down Shenkin Street – home of cafes where the poets and writers would gather) – shop in Shenkin’s artsy shops. And we walked some more. 

Lunch was on our own at Sarona Market which reminded me of Chelsea Market in New York City. Each of us experienced different culinary delights. I ate at a Thai restaurant and passed the Irish pub on the way back to the bus. 

After lunch we returned to the hotel for a much needed rest. Typically I can’t be still for too long while traveling so I ventured out on my own and went to the beach. I had fun watching the surfers and families enjoying the shores of the Mediterranean. 

I could not believe I was really here. Visiting Israel has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl and read ‘Exodus.’  I did have visions of Paul Newman rescuing me. 

Our evening activity began as we headed toward the Na L’ga’at theater for dinner and a show. The group was a bit nervous upon entering since this establishment is run by hearing and visually impaired individuals. After choosing our meals from the menu, we were asked to put all our electronic devices and belongings in a locker. 

The tension mounted as we were led into the dining room in small groups. Our waitress led us through a pitch black tunnel as we held onto each other’s shoulders for dear life. As we got to our seats we began to relax – but the blackness was complete. We all thought our eyes would adjust and we would begin to see shadows, but that never happened. Pouring water was a challenge. Once the food arrived we were chatting away and thoroughly enjoyed dinner. 

After dessert, we held onto each other to leave the dining area. It took quite awhile to adjust to the onslaught of light. We had a short lesson in sign language and then entered the theater. 

All the actors were hearing impaired, sight impaired or both. Some have spent their entire lives in total silence and darkened. While watching the performance, we laughed, we cried, we discovered that despite differing abilities we all have the same desires and dreams. None of us can forget this experience and being able to go on stage and share the newly baked bread was a true blessing for us all, bonding our group even more. 

On a side note, I went way over my allotted Weight Watchers Points and walked 13,597 steps according to my FitBit. I can’t wait to see what Friday has in store for us!

Shalom from Israel!

(All photos by Rabbi Sharon Sobel)