Editor's note: Students are split into smaller "families" for some activities. Each family will be sending us a blog update every few days.
We are officially more than halfway through our trip to Israel, which is bittersweet. We kicked off an early morning with breakfast and a lecture about the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of us left with a more comprehensive understanding of the history behind the conflict and what may be necessary for a solution. After loading the bus, we were on our way at a confusingly slow pace. As it turns out, because it rained last night, our bus “needed to rest” according to Ran. After getting a temporary bus, most of us ate lunch at McDonald’s, which really tasted like home.
Back on the road, we headed towards the desert. About 7.5 miles from the Gaza Strip, we went to a farm called the “Salad Trail,” where we ate fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the source. It was really fascinating! They are able to grow crops in the desert using Israeli technological innovations like drippers to water plants, plastic that makes a greenhouse appear dark to insects, and genetic modifications to crops.
With our stomachs full of tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries, we left the farm. We drove to see the Gaza Strip from a distance. We were also fortunate enough to talk to several soldiers who patrol the area. Seeing and hearing about how small the area is, in addition to the turmoil suffered by the people in that area, really shed light on the dire state of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
Boarding the bus once again, we headed to Ran’s kibbutz, where the hospitality was fantastic. We were greeted by cats, dogs, and a delicious dinner. To close out the day, the Israeli soldiers created activities for us, as it was their last night on the trip. What started with musical chairs, snacks, and popping balloons quickly became a formidable simulation of boot camp in the IDF. B
y the end, we were a cohesive unit. And we’ll continue to be a cohesive unit for the remaining days of our trip, even as we are forced to say goodbye to the seven soldiers who made the trip exponentially better.
That’s all for now!
Birthright Israel blog posts are written by individual students and may not represent the opinion or position of North Carolina Hillel.
P.S. We hope everyone enjoyed their Chinese food on Christmas!