Doing groceries for a group of approximately 23 people was always a real challenge, not just because of the amount of food we had to transport in our bags back to the BBY, but also because we couldn’t read the language. Very often even google translate couldn’t help us and usually the staff in the supermarket didn’t speak English either so we didn’t have any other choice than searching for a long time. Eventually some of us were very surprised when they looked at the Israeli beer shelf in the supermarket and discovered that they also sell Bavarian beer – “oh they have Paulaner”!
In addition to that we were invited to our very first Shabbat dinner by the head of the ASF Freundeskreis. Before that we went to synagogue to celebrate the beginning of Shabbat. The prayers and singing was so touching that some of us decided to visit more synagogues for the future. The Kiddush afterwards, which traditionally starts with wine and Challa tasted delightful. We were especially interested into the meaning of serving bread and wine on Shabbat.
Early on Monday morning our group headed off into the direction of mount Herzl to get to Yad Vashem. Our guide Aviva, a Born Swiss lady, then guided us through the museum of Yad Vashem and afterwards held a workshop with us about the topic art and the holocaust. I think that the hall of memorial for the murdered 1.5 million Jewish children was one of the most touching and sad experiences. At the end of the day our mood was very damped and we headed pensively back to the BBY. I‘m sure that this visit to Yad Vashem is going to stay in our minds for a very long time.
After only being in Israel for a week, we – the new volunteers, already experienced one of the most spectacular and special days in Israel, the holiday “Yom Kippur” which is the holiest day in Judaism on which the country stands still for 25h. Neither are shops opened, nor are there any cars on the highways and roads . On erev Yom Kippur some of us decides go to a synagogue and afterwards we went to the western wall, which was a very special experience. Since Yom Kippur was also our first day off in 3 weeks full of Programm and Ulpan, a lot of the volunteers decided to discover the old city of Jerusalem, the shuk and east Jerusalem on that special day. One one of the last evenings in the BBY we invited our “Freundeskreis” over. Some of the volunteers have brought their music instruments with them and played some songs for our guests.
Afterwards our whole group proudly sang the song “Ani Ohev” that we were taught by our Ulpan Teacher Tlalit. The other volunteers cooked and prepared a nice buffet in advance for our guests, some others prepared games in order to make it easier for the guests and us to get to know each other. It was a very nice evening on which we had the chance to talk a lot and get to know a lot of people from our “Freundeskreis”, some of us were even able to already get to know our host parents with which we would spend two days of sukkot with after the termination of our O-days. Over the whole seminar we had a lot of program. We went on trips and listened to lectures about the Israeli society , the holidays of Judaism as well as the Middle East conflict. This all gave us a great overview and introduction into the Israeli society and now we’re ready to start our lifes here. Now we’re finally heading off to our cities and work places.
See you soon and best regards
The new Volunteers.