Our Jeep tour guides discussed the Six Day War as well as the strategy of conquering the Golan.
Next, we headed to the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, which is located on the largest tributary of the Jordan River. We enjoyed a nature walk and saw the Abraham Gate, the second oldest gateway structure in the world. It was very old, but in very good shape. After the walk, we headed over to an Israeli shopping mall for lunch. In case you were unaware, my luggage (Ali's) is still in Rome. According to my clothing, the saying goes, "When in Rome, stay in Rome." So I enjoyed shopping for Israeli essentials while the rest of the group enjoyed some fine dining in the mall.
After some speedy shopping and a hearty lunch, we went to the top of Mt. Bental. The mountain overlooks the Syrain town of Kuneitra. On the top of the mountain there is an old bunker that was once used by the Israeli army. Oren, our tour educator, told us the history of the bunker, and we got to explore it ourselves. On top of Mt. Bental, we discussed the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and learned the importance of the Golan Heights during this battle.
Finally, we went back to the Kibbutz to have dinner and have a group conversation about how we relate to Israel. It was very insightful and eye-opening to discuss various topics with the Israeli soldiers. Their relationship with Israel is very different than ours, but our Jewish culture helps us relate to one another. As the trip continues, we will continue to learn more about Israeli culture and various perspectives from our friends in the IDF who joined us today.
2014 Birthright Participant
We all split up the tasks of who was going to supply what, and who was going to be there to set up, clean up, and host at specific times. I had the huge responsibility of providing the cookies – the baking of them was a fabulous study break, and no one is going to complain about nibbling on some of the extra cookie dough! Rachel Ross brought the pumpkins, and people signed up in teams to carve the pumpkins eloquently. Someone created a “V” with a saber. One pumpkin read “Go Hoos!”, and another person carved out a crescent moon. There were some other very clever designs for the pumpkins, as well.
Since the event was during a two-hour period, people trickled in and out as the afternoon rolled on. First through fourth-years attended, and it was great to see some intermingling between the first-years and some upperclassmen. Personally, my friends and I bonded with some new friends over Taylor Swift's amazing new album that was just released. If that doesn't create a lasting friendship, I don’t know what will!
-Dana Wilson, Peer Network Engagement Intern
Class of 2017
This was the third year that my roommates and I hosted SHAG in our apartment – how time flies! I invited new and old friends from Hillel and classes. Hillel provided challah, chicken, and grape juice, and everyone brought a dish to share. We had kugel, green beans, potato waffles (like latkes, but in waffle form!), and lots of other delicious food. As always, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough food, and as always, there was more than enough (yay leftovers!). We lit the candles, blessed the wine, and ate. Everyone who came knew someone, but no one knew everyone, so we went around the circle and did some cheesy icebreakers. What’s your name? What good thing happened to you this week? Everyone met someone new and had a chance to reconnect with old friends.
In college, it can be easy to lose sight of Shabbat. We have books to read, papers to write, programs to code. But I’d like to suggest that the intensity of our schedules makes celebrating Shabbat even more important. Whether we mark the new week with a prayer, a nice dinner, or even a run, taking time to reflect and relax prepares us for the work ahead.
Wa-Jew Class of 2015
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.