Heather Marshall
The Emanuel School

Well what a beautiful way to wake up this morning in such an amazing spiritual land with a fabulous sunrise.

After filling our bellies with beautiful food it was outside to the awaiting jeeps to start our adventure to the Golan Heights to learn more about the area and its history. You could see Mount Hermon from our jeeps and this is the only place to ski in Israel with a ski resort. The Golan Heights is also home to the Jordan river that the children had to cross that were coming from Egypt to come into Israel. The Golan Heights is also surrounded by the Syrian, Lebanon and Jordan borders, it is also 80km long and 20km wide. The Golan Heights was a swamp land that was dried out by JNF-KKL to turn into a land to grow the beautiful area we see today.  Syrian bunkers can be seen above ground and they go two stories underground. The Israelis fought hard to keep the land for them.

Back on the bus and we are on our way to Tzfat which is one of the four holy cities of Israel and is the centre of Kabbalah. Our first experience in this spiritual and holy place filled with Jewish mysticism and spirituality was to see a glass blowing presentation on how to make glasses and add in specks of colour and lines to make it a one piece. We walked through laneways and past art galleries and small shops till we made it into a beautiful synagogue with fascinating history, we then went on to a talk about how they dress and be who we want to be which we were able to experience while dressing up in different styles. While walking around Tzfat we saw amazing panoramic views and 16th century sights and dwellings with mesmerising art galleries. There were lots of Hasidic people walking amongst us while we took in their beautiful place. We finished off our journey in Tzfat with a show filled with singing, and unity shown amongst all of us.

Off again on the bus to our next destination the Hula Valley to see the birds and experience them migrating for the winter. 500 to 750 million water birds migrate each year to the Hula Valley, with these migrations come 390 different species and some migrate over the summer months. We went around incognito in a big tractor so we were hidden from the birds. We sat in silence and awe of the beautiful creatures with their huge wingspans and watched them and their family units (when they get to the area they seperate into their family groups, which is interesting to watch and magical all at the same time). If you see a bird by themselves they are normally ill or injured and will mostly become food for the other animals of the valley like the mountain lion.

After the amazing experience of being at one with the birds we were off our bus again to return to the hotel and a rest before dinner (well a rest would have been nice but I thought I better get this blog done so I can enjoy the dancing and also relax!) and pack the bags ready for our next adventure tomorrow, which I am sure will not disappoint. Before dancing though it’s off to dinner, and that definitely did not disappoint yet again.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank KKL-JNF for the opportunity to be involved in this tour, to expand my knowledge of the Jewish way of life, and for what JNF has helped Israel to achieve. I can take it back to my school and be more informed myself, as I am coming from a non Jewish background so this will help me understand a lot more to help me teach more.

Toda raba.