After four nights in beautiful Jerusalem, on Monday we packed up and headed west. First, we visited the military base where Shachar, one of the Israeli soldiers on our trip, is located. The base, called Mitkan Adam, is a K9 unit, which was super exciting because we got to see the dogs show off a little. We saw one of the dogs go through an obstacle course and we saw another attack one of the soldiers in protective gear. We learned about the different jobs that the dogs have including attacking, tracking and finding explosives. The dog that Shachar handles, named Stephie, works with him to find explosives. We met her and Shachar showed us some of her adorable tricks.
It was interesting to see that there were many Americans on the base. Because many Americans are lone soldiers, meaning they made aliyah and joined the army while their families are still in America, they are treated well and are placed in the most coveted units, like the K9 unit. I know that many of us can relate to the American soldiers because we know where they come from and we know what they gave up to be serving here in the army. It's crazy to think about the sacrifices these lone soldiers have made and I was glad to get to see them in their daily lives in the army here in Israel.
After leaving the base, we headed further west towards Tel Aviv. We spent some of the afternoon in Shuk Ha`Carmel looking around, shopping and eating lunch. I bought some gifts for my friends and family and had delicious shawarma. I got to work on my haggling skills when buying jewelry and have to say that it was a unique experience. We then walked a few blocks to independence hall, where we learned about the history of making Israel an independent state. This whole week, I have especially liked learning about the role Golda Meir played in the beginning of the state of Israel. For me, it's interesting to think about the different levels of female leadership in American history and Israeli history.
We then got on the bus and went up the coast to Caeserea. We spent time taking pictures in the stunning evening scenery and had the chance to learn about the structures left there from the Roman period. Both the beach and the ruins were spectacularly beautiful. We hopped back on the bus and headed north east towards Kibbutz Degania where we will be staying for the next couple of nights. In my opinion, it was surprising how modern everything in the kibbutz seemed. After dinner we were surprised with some fun games and activities from the amazing Israeli soldiers on trip. These included a Hebrew version of little Sally walker and a cool krav maga lesson. As we get closer to the end of our trip, I can't help but think about how privileged both the Americans and Israelis are for being able to have this amazing experience. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are going to cherish and make the most of our last few days.
Erica Comm '18
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.