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"The Salad Trail," Ran's Kibbutz and More!

Dec 26, 2017
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. 

Birthright 3
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!
-The Goldbergs 
P.S. We hope everyone enjoyed their Chinese food on Christmas!
Ari Smith
Aaron Carpenter
Evelina Trust
Gaby Zuckerman
Maddie Norwood
Asaf Ravid
Tal Harris
Birthright Israel blog posts are written by individual students and may not represent the opinion or position of North Carolina Hillel.
Today was just another day...OF ADVENTURE! We started off by visiting an artist in Tzfat named David Friedman who sees the world through lens of Jewish spirituality and mysticism. We visited his studio, and his explanations of the paintings blew our minds and opened our hearts- we can't wait to share it with you. Next we toured around the cobblestone streets of Tzfat (also spelled Zafed or Tsfat...there is lots of dispute over the correct spelling) where we learned that all of the details of the city have Jewish meaning; for example, you can find blue everywhere that is said to ward off evil. We toured a historical Sephardic synagogue was old and quite small -definitely wouldn't fit the congregation back home! However, it was beautiful to see and everyone commented on its unique Torah arc and bima placed in the center of the room. Finally, we hopped onto the bus to some hot springs for a nice relaxing period overlooking the enchanting Sea of Galilee. It definitely soothed our tired feet! 
This evening we drove to Jerusalem through roads that intersected with the west bank; seeing the places we hear about on the news gave us a different perspective. Before reaching our destination we made a pit stop in the dessert. There were camels 🐫 at the gas station, which made us super excited to ride them in a couple days. After what seemed like we'd been wandering for 40 years (haha) we arrived in Jerusalem at our hotel!!! We can't wait to explore Jerusalem tomorrow and experience Shabbat here. 
The Zbergs

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