Israel Tour has returned!

Over the summer, a group of LJY-Netzer chaverim went on a one month tour of Israel. Zak Cohen, one of the participents, wrote the following:

‘My Israel experience was a truly incredible month. As a Jew I believe that it was important for me to go to Israel as so much of our heritage is centred around the state, and I think that I gained a better experience of Israel by going with LJY Netzer than simply going there on holiday. Specifically Yad Vashem had a large impact on me, the way the guide explained every picture really made me realise that behind every picture in the museum there is a horrible personal story, and the children’s memorial in the museum also really affected me because I thought that the way it was done was incredibly thought out and effective, I saw millions of candles in a darkened room, with the names of children reverberating around the room. Then when it was explained that it was actually an effective use of mirrors and that there were only 5 candles and that this was to show the loss of potential life as well as the dead, it really hit home just how big a crime the holocaust was.

As well as the Jewish side, the political side of Israel was also extremely interesting; we had loads of talks about the issues going on in Israel, both from Jews and Arabs. I found that in particular helping out at a day care centre for Jewish and Arab children was an unforgettable experience, because I thought it was almost surreal to think that the parents of these children won’t mix because of the cultural differences between them, and yet here they are playing, laughing and singing together. As well as that, the talks we had from the Arab-Israeli children our own age was an unusual experience I found to be illuminating, the fact that people the same age as me have to deal with acceptance issues in the country they were born in made me put my problems into perspective.

Some of the activities we did on tour were also amazing, we went kayaking down the Jordan, water-hiking, saw the sunrise from the top of a mountain, saw the stars in the desert and so many more incredible things that if I were to list them all I would be writing more pages than anyone would be bothered to read. Kibbutz Lotan was also a high point for me, particularly the eco campus, in fact it was so interesting that I hope to go there for a few months on my gap year. I found it amazing to think that a solid structure for someone to live in could be made from clay, straw, sand and water.

The whole feel of Israel was completely different from what I was used to; having to haggle for a reasonable price of you wanted to buy something, for example was not something I was familiar with. The heat was obviously much more extreme than it is in the UK and even things such as the size of the insects reminded me that it was a very different place from the one I was used to.

Overall I would say that my Israel experience was a personal, unique experience because no two first impressions of Israel are the same.  I love the country and I can easily see myself returning someday. It’s incredibly difficult to sum up such a life changing experience in 500 words because you do so much over the course of the month, meet so many people, travel to so many important places and see so many amazing things that to say how I felt about each bit would take weeks, so instead I will say that I think the Israel Experience programme is a very good way to get the most out of Israel and I’m glad I did it, and especially glad that I did it with LJY Netzer.