To celebrate our last full night, we had a huge bonfire with s’mores, an accordion player, birthday cake for Asher (the actual day) and Emmie (last week), and guitar playing by our tour guide. It was a great night, except it’s already hot in Israel. Therefore, you could not get within 4 feet of the fire without feeling extreme heat. Overall, it was a great night and a great ending to our stay at the kibbutz.
The next morning, we woke up early and packed our bag for the last time on this trip. Then, we traveled to a school in the Partnership region with Toledo, where we met with kids just like us. It was extremely fun to hang out with them and learn about their daily life. Brian and Nathan’s speech about being Jewish in America and Toledo was pretty great too. Later, we made pita and sang songs together. We ended the visit with a beautiful group picture, where we all “dabbed.”
Submitted by: Alexa Bader
In the afternoon, we went to the Ayalon Institute (Kibbutzim Hill) where between 1945 and 1948, 40 plus members joined for protection and establish d a kibbutz after the Holocaust in Europe. To protect Israel and to help it become a state, the Haganah became the core of the Israeli Defense Force. Britain controlled the area at the time, but the members of the Ha’Tzofim Aleph group and Ta’as corps had other ideas. The main reason for creating the Kibbutz was to educate the kibbutz children enough so they could go to university and succeed after their ancestors were bogged down by the Holocaust.
But the underground was much more important to the members of the Kibbutz, even though some giraffes (kibbutz members that weren’t involved in producing bullets) were unaware of the secret. The Haganah needed ammunition and Ha’Tzofim Aleph and Ta’as could help the cause. Both groups built an illegal underground bullet factory, the size of an underground tennis court, to aid in the production of bullets for the Haganah. There was one entrance to the underground under the bakery and another under the laundry, both used to disguise the noise of the bullet production. The most impressive part was that the Kibbutz gave every impression of a regular kibbutz with regular communal meetings and practices, while still running an underground factory. Not to mention the factory produced 2,250,000 bullets with 0 casualties and 0 discoveries. There was one close call with a British train crashing 100 meters away from the Kibbutz, putting the members under the microscope. However, they were let off the hook because of their extreme helpfulness and willingness to help British victims. Also, the kibbutz had a special visitor, a Holocaust survivor who as slave labor for Nazis was forced to manufacture bullets for them in a similar facility and she remarked on the contrast in the work they did – she to destroy (Jewish) legend, they to defend and build Jewish life. She recalled the significance of that specific factory we visited. “Without this factory, we may not have won our independence”, which delineates the significance of our visit perfectly.
Next we went to the markets of Jaffa to go power shopping for the final time. Included was a nice view on the beach of Tel-Aviv overlooking the sky view of the city and the magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea. I bought a nice $13 shirt from an Israeli chain, Castro, while other peers bought local T-shirts and apparel.
Next we had a fancy dinner at Maganda, a famous Yemenite restaurant where we toasted to a wonderful trip and reminisced about our best memories on the trip. Yair, our guide, even pitched into the conversation by saying his favorite thing about each of us and received a well deserved standing ovation. Cantor thanked all of us for being such a wonderful group and thawed Alison and Matt our chaperones for their great help while Matt thanked the Cantor for all his work in making the trip so great. We finished saying our highlights of the trip and headed to Ben Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv, where we said an emotional goodbye to Yair and Israel while hoping to return again soon.
Submitted by Brian Glasser