Before you read this post, start by playing our “Song of the Day” here on the CDS Class of 2016 trip to Israel! Then imagine a busload of 14-year-olds waving their hands in the air and clapping from the drive from our hotel in Tverya north to the Upper Galilee. And we challenge you NOT to start waving your hands and clapping yourself …
This morning we visited IDF soldiers guarding Israel’s northern border in the Golan Heights with Lebanon near Kibbutz Malkiya, where due to security concerns, life is a daily reminder of the meaning of Zionism.
Eitan, the head of security for the Kibbutz, spoke about the Jewish connection that exists across time and space and reassured our students that they should always feel as if they have a home in Israel. He introduced two paratroopers from the IDF, including a “lone soldier” commander from California; a lone soldier is an IDF soldier with no family in Israel, including new immigrants, volunteers from overseas, or orphans.
We then visited a bomb shelter below the nursery school at the heart of the Kibbutz to appreciate the complexity of living within short range of Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon (the landscape photos below show Lebanon just beyond the foreground) and the security we often take for granted at home in Pittsburgh. Our bus then drove along the Lebanese-Israeli border so we could meet a group of IDF soldiers and give them packages of Pittsburgh T-shirts, hats, Terrible Towels, and snacks we assembled the night before.
Temperatures are approaching 100 degrees this week, so to cool off, we headed for a water hike at Nahal Snir Nature Reserve (one of the largest tributaries feeding the Jordan River).
Then it was off to the river itself for a kayaking adventure we will never forget. If there is peace to be had in the Middle East, it just might be forged on these waters at Kfar Blum, where Jews and Arabs alike make their way down the “mighty” Jordan together bumper-boat style in a chaotic, crowded, and altogether fabulous way.