Mount Sinai College
A Shabbat to remember!
Today was a different day compared to those that we have experienced so far. Being Shabbat, this was a break from the usual frantic pace in which we have been touring. Starting with a long yet relaxed walk around some of the wealthier and well-maintained suburbs of Jerusalem with Yigal and his family, I was amazed that he has such an extensive knowledge of the area and listened with intent to all that he had to say. The streets were empty and quiet, which made for a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of our experience yesterday in the Old City. I noted the greenery which added to the tranquillity of the area and as we strolled, people were admiring the architecture of the houses and the cohesive visual appeal of the Jerusalem stone. Yigal promised us a different experience, not from a tourist’s perspective and he certainly delivered.
One of the highlights of the walk was Bell Park. With its colourful play equipment and green canopy, usually filled with flowers, we learned that this park is a flagship for unifying children from different cultural backgrounds during summer time. We were told that people congregate to enjoy the beauty and various activities on offer in this park.
Eventually, we arrived at a magnificent residence. This was the house belonging to Shimon Yakira, Yigal’s closest family friend. We were made to feel very welcome owing to his warmth and hospitality. He had prepared a delicious spread of food and drink and as we sat in this lounge room, he spoke with passion about his love of Israel. We could see from the way he spoke with such conviction that being able to share his thoughts with a group of educators gave him a sense of tremendous satisfaction. I really hope to be able to reciprocate and host this inspirational man at my home in the future.
When jumping on the bus this evening, we were oblivious to the impact that this evening was going to have on us. We ventured to the most authentic, perfectly preserved and unique battle sight commemorating the 1967 Six Day War, Ammunition Hill. For me, this was one of the highlights of our tour so far. Opening after Shabbat, just for our tour group, we were guided around the museum and listened to fascinating stories conveyed both by the guide and the artistic film clips and artifacts. We really got a sense of this miraculous story and the impact it has had on Israel and its people. After the tour, we were treated to a talk by the son of one of the fallen paratroopers, a true hero. This was one of the most emotive presentations that we have heard so far as it really hit us that this man typifies the pride and passion that Israelis hold for their country.
The evening concluded with energetic singing and dancing to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation and the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all and was a great way to conclude the evening and unify us as a group.
I’d like to add that we have truly appreciated the ‘rockstar’ treatment we have received tonight as well as during the whole tour, in terms of the high regard people seem to hold for educators, this has given me a great sense of pride in my chosen profession.