Day 1 of Sinai Tour

Yesterday was the first full day of Sinai Tour, most people had their suitcases and were ready to go on. Starting off the day with a great water hike, on this adventure we met the Swiss rafters, the lufthanzsers of this world.  We then watched a wonderful movie on the tank brigades in the north that sent shivers down Matt’s spine. We ate some shnitzel baguettes for lunch. Scrumptious! Yum yum yum. Yum. We finished off our day’s activity with some Jeeping, it was a fantastic end to a great day. Love, Matt Sasieni and Raphi...

Parashat Vayera: Hagar – The Journey of Education

by Josh Gaventa, Rosh Madrich. Parashat Vayera is packed full of stories worth dealing with. There is the story of the three angels visiting Avraham after his Brit Milah, the story of how Yitzchak was born, the dramatic events in Sodom and finally the heart-wrenching story of Akeidat Yitzchak. One of the key themes of the Parasha is hospitality. We read how Avraham exemplified Jewish hospitality to his three guests and we read of how Sodom treated their guests with suspicion and eventually drove them out from amongst them. The fear of the ‘other’ is perhaps one of the most destructive forces in today’s world and these stories could teach us a great deal about the unconditional love, or at least respect for the ‘other’. However, I would like to focus on a different story entirely. The story of Hagar and Ishmael’s banishment from Avraham’s camp is for me, very troubling. Avraham, the paragon of Ahavat Chessed, a loving-kindness and of Emunah – faith, decides to banish an innocent woman and child from his home; leaving them to the wilderness. How could this be? This question notwithstanding, I think another message can be learnt from this story. During the eleven Pesukim that the Torah gives to the story, Hagar casts off her son under a tree so that she doesn’t have to see him die. Then an angel calls to her and tells her not to worry because God has decided to help her, and the angel reveals a well for them both to drink from. The story levels off shortly after the child has grown up and we...

Day 8 of Sinai Tour 2015 

As the blinds were opened and the light penetrated our shortly rested eyes, we knew another day of tour had started. A beautiful shacharit led by one of our wonderfully gifted chanichim preceded another tasty breakfast. This was followed by each chanich filling up their water for the rest of the upcoming day and boarding the Sinai bus. Shmu’s sesquipedalian continued to entertain everyone who managed to stay awake on the way to our first activity, the Gush Katif museum. We watched video clips of the history of Gush Katif any when the Jewish population were evicted from the area, which triggered a range of emotions. On the whole, it was an excellent start to the day. Yad Sarah was next in the action-packed day. We started with a short movie of introduction to the charitable organisation that provides medical equipment for emergency situations. Many of us were amused by the tone of voice used in the movie when saying “yad saraaaah.” In good spirits, we split up into 2 groups to do some volunteering such us cleaning the wheels of used wheelchairs. The exciting prospect of meat sandwiches for lunch filled our hearts. The meal lived up to expectations. Feeling full and satisfied we moved on to the stalagmite caves which were truly mesmerising. We got back into the coach and headed to an unknown destination. We were greeted by the pleasant surprise that we would be cycling around Chirbat Midras. It was quite a competitive ride with many clandestine attempts made to overtake one another but it was all in good nature. After an exhausting day we...

Day 7 of Sinai Tour 2015 

We head downstairs to daven Shacharit and have breakfast before loading on to the coach and setting off to our first destination. The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. We split into groups for a treasure hunt and each one is given a map, a booklet and a tablet. Things are clearly getting serious. After an hour and a half of completing long and arduous tasks, we have a winner. The prize? The satisfaction of winning. A classic. We are feeling a bit drained after the taxing treasure hunt and so the sight our madrichim holding piles of steaming pizza boxes raise our spirits sky high. We then move on to The Blind Museum. We step far out of our comfort zones and are rewarded with an enlightening experience. Our guides are either visually impaired or blind and guide us around a pitch-black area, placing us in everyday situations and showing us how they are dealt with from a blind persons perspective. This includes simple errands and tasks like crossing a busy road or shopping for fruit in a market. Afterwards we are given the opportunity to talk to our guide and ask them questions about their lives without sight. The next stop is Machon Ayalon- a kibbutz and former bullet factory where bullets were secretly manufactured which essentially aided Israel in securing its independence. Later that evening the girls went to a karaoke place, singing their lungs out before taking Ben Yehuda street, whilst the boys play football and go swimming. A few hours later we give into our exhaustion and crash out, anticipation growing for the inevitably thrilling day ahead.Written...

Day 6 of Sinai Tour 2015 

Tisha Baav started with davening and some kinnos in the hotel where we were split into groups and seperated between the madrichim where we discussed the meaning of a selection of kinnos.One madricha, Tali, spoke about kinnah 26. The main point we talked about was how the wording was slightly strange in the kinnah as it suggested that Yirmiyahu davened to our patriarchs and matriarchs rather than to HaShem Himself which we know isn’t true. After much disscussion we concluded that we daven through these people rather than to them so we’re essentially using their merit when we are turning to HaShem in times of need.  After the kinnos we made our way to Yad Vashem which was very moving and an amazing experiance especially on Tisha Ba’av in particular as we mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.  After that we went to Har Herzel – a cementry for fallen soldiers and police officers. During the trip we went to the grave of Michael Levine who was one of the first lone soliders in recent times to have died for Israel.  Just before we left Har Herzel we were given an Israeli flag and pen to write fallen soilders names on and to parade them and be proud of our country. After a bit of rest time anyone who was feeling up to it went to the kotel to sing and dance out the fast to bring joy rather than pain.  Another day of tour done! Written by: Benji...