Greetings from Jerusalem!

The students arrived after sundown last night and they had an eventful two days. Now, they are in Jerusalem and are excited about today’s adventures.

On Wednesday, they joined an archeological dig in Tel Maresha where they excavated in 2000 year- old caves and sifted rocks and clay. Sometimes, the lead archeologists find nothing for weeks but the students found bones, pottery handles, and teeth among other things.

Then, they made their way further South to Lakiya, a  Bedouin town, where they learned the story of four high school girls who started an organization to improve the status of women in their community. While there, they asked sensitive and important questions and also brought handicrafts made by local women in their homes.

From there they went to Kfar Nokdim for a desert adventure. After a Middle Eastern feast, they made time for Hebrew homework and reflected on the male and female perspectives in Bedouin culture they heard that day, they had a bonfire and went to sleep. They barely remembered that it was Halloween!

Early this morning, many of the students watched the sunrise over the desert. It was chilly and bright at 5:41 am when the alarm sounded from the only phone in the tent. They began the day with a short camel ride then they hiked Masada and learned about the Roman battles with the Jews who fled Jerusalem to an elaborate fort originally built by a Roman Ruler, Herod the Great. What does it mean to be free? Is it better to be free or to barely survive with no control over your own life? While on top of Masada, listening to the stories, these are just a few of the questions the students pondered. After hiking down the “snake path,” so named because of how it winds, they made their way to the Dead Sea where they had a lovely lunch overlooking a beautiful serene view of the Dead Sea.

The students spent a few hours at that site, floating and massaging themselves with the therapeutic sea mud. Once showered, cleaned and after a few fresh frozen fruit drinks, they discussed what options Israel has to halt the sea’s steady evaporation which increases more every year.

Tomorrow, they’ll begin to explore the new and old city of Jerusalem — Good night!