While the last few days of our trip have been extremely exciting they have also left us all exhausted. Luckily as the week came to a close we have Shabbat to look forward to and with it an opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep. Shabbat started with a nice lighting candle ceremony where our entire bus worked together to light candles in UVA's sabers as a nice throwback to home. We were largely left to our own devices for the rest of the day with the exception of the a great dinner.
For most of the students that was the extent of plans until lunch Saturday. However for so of the students, this was an active time as they were preparing for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Lana, Sammie, Lauren, Erika, Danny and myself (Daniel) all had our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs as Shabbat neared its end. After Shabbat we listened to a presentation given by Avraham Infeld. In addition to being and excellent speaker and giving the audience many laughs, Infeld also taught us some very important lessons on what it means to be Jewish, and in my opinion answered many of the questions people in our group were trying to answer.
The following day we visited the graves of Theodor Herzl, Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir. We learned much about their accomplishments, struggles and personal beliefs during this visit and it really helped all of us better understand the mindset of the founders of Israel. We next went to National Military Cemetery. In many ways it was similar to the Arlington National Cemetery and in many ways it was different. It was a very sobering experience particular when we think about how many of the fallen were our age and even in some situations were originally Americans.
We next went to Old Jerusalem where we saw tons of ancient architecture and gorgeous buildings, learning much of its history in the process. Much of Old Jerusalem is characterized by thin windy pathways making it very easy to get lost in. We finally reached the Western Wall, Judaism holiest site where were able to pray, and leave wishes. As we left the wall we all received notes from home telling us about our parents impressions about israel, Jerusalem and wishing us safe get exciting travels ahead. It really is hard to believe it's been less than a week since we left, it feels so much longer.
Daniel Monaco '16
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,800 Jewish students on Grounds.