Saturday, December 18, 2010

UF in Israel - Update!

Shalom! I'm Brandon Labiner. I'm a 22 year-old Senior studying Economics. I have been in the State of Israel for 5 days, and I have loved every minute of it. Our first visit was to the holy city of Zefat. Here we ate shwarma, visited a synagogue, and discussed Kabalah with a local rabbi. It truly “awesomeeeee.”
The next day we walked along the Tel Dan nature trail. It was beautiful. We then visited the Golan Heights. It was here that we learned about the conflict Israel is having with Syria. That was our coldest day so far. In the distance I was able to see Mt. Hermon covered in snow! Then we played with leftover snow from a few days earlier. I was shocked by the weather here. Israel is in the desert, but it still snows in the north of the country in the winter! That's just sababa!!

Additionally, we have visited an olive oil mill and discussed the Israel/Arab conflict at an ecological plant. We took a view of the “Green Line” overlooking an Arab village. This all lead up to the highlight of my trip thus far, Tel Aviv! We spent two days in this incredible metropolitan city by the Mediterranean Sea. I ate falafel with humus and went to the Shuk Carmel where I bought gifts for me and my family. We also went to an Israeli nightclub and visited Independence Hall, where David Ben-Gourion signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence for our beautiful Jewish homeland. Then we met up with the Israeli soldiers joining us on the trip. It was been so culturally eye-opening spending time with the Israeli people that fight for their homeland.

I'm less than a week in on Taglit-Birthright, and I am already in love with this land. The beautiful country, the wonderful citizens, and the places we have been have all been absolutely incredible. I have loved every minute of this experience and can't wait for the next four days ahead. Yala Balagan!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Update 2: UF Hillel in Israel - Birthright

I'm Samantha Liebhaber, a 19-year-old public relations sophomore. My first two days in Israel have been pretty interesting. My flight over here was pretty awful: 14 hours, one seat and two horrible meals. Needless to say, my group was pretty unhappy. But once we ate, showered and slept at our Kibbutz, a cross between a hotel and farm, we felt a lot better. The food at the Kibbutz was amazing and home-grown. It was fresh, colorful and crazy good. We had goat cheese pastries, coucous and a lot of great food. Then we woke up nice and early to drive to Tzvat, one of the holiest cities in Israel. We walked around the rocky and ancient city while learning Jewish history, eating awesome falafel and watching the little Israeli children run around and chase stray cats.
I had thought I'd be blown away by the Israeli landscape, but I was still unprepared. We went to a rooftop in Tzvat and watched the sunset over the mountains in the North. It was indescribable.
We left Tzvat to go to another Kibbutz for the night. We played some surprisingly funny ice-breaker games in the Kibbutz lobby and ate some more awesome food. Now were on our way to a local pub. Should be sababa, laila tov.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hillel in ISRAEL

Wow - what a long flight - but we are here safe and sound in Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel).  We just arrived in Kibbutz Tzuba, a kibbutz about 20 minutes from Jerusalem.  Getting ready for some food, then our first orientation with the whole group.  Hope to update soon!