Day 14: From One Home to Another

27 Jun

1016517_10151539988628892_2128282068_nRising early on our last day in Israel, the group groggily enjoyed their last Middle Eastern breakfast before loading the bus and promptly falling back asleep on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Reaching the capital city, the group departed at the headquarters of the Israeli branch of the Anti-Defamation League. As one of the main organizations in the fight against anti-semitism, their director of education was happy to share her time and information with the group. Following a presentation of the forms on which anti-semitism takes today, the Young Ambassadors engaged in a group discussion of the prejudice we face in Sarasota, and how we can combat this issue. Young Ambassador Allie Campbell had the following to add about our time at the ADL:

“Going to the ADL and listening to what people have experienced shows how important it is to stop the breeding of hate in the world. Looking at the cartoons and knowing that this occurs more than it should proves that tolerance of all cultures, religions, and people should be respected.” (Allie Campbell)

Thanking the ADL for their time, we departed for Jerusalem’s holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Thanks to our knowledgeable museum guide and the vastness of the galleries, hours were spent amongst the archives. While tears welled in many eyes, and others silently proceeded through the halls, every Young Ambassador payed tribute in their own way to the six million. Exiting one era of solemnity and entering into another, we hiked the connecting path from Yad Vashem up to the top of Mt. Herzl, home to Israel’s largest national cemetery. From seeing the tomb of the father of modern Zionism and namesake, Theodore Herzl, to the grave of deceased American IDF soldier, Michael Levine, the group witnessed the stark reminders that Israel’s presence has not been an innocent one. Rather, the land with which we have all fallen in love over the past two weeks owes respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for it and its occupants. After having time to honor those we wished to on our own,  the group found itself at a location it had been twice before on this trip. Ending our time in the Holy Land was a farewell visit to the holiest of holies, the Western Wall. Some wrapping tefillin, others still awestruck by the grandeur of thousands of years if Judiasm expressed by seventy meters of Jerusalem stone, it did not matter. What was important were the final prayers and connections each of us shared with this revered site. Departing, the group traveled to a small park on the streets of Jerusalem to engage in what would be our last formal discussion of the mission. After a short summation of the the past days, we settled for one last celebratory meal in an Israeli Grill House. Filling ourselves with enough shwarma, pita, and hummus to last each of us until our next return to the land of milk and honey, we enjoyed one last meal halted only by the wise words of the tour organizer, who made a special point to join us for this final goodbye. Arriving at the airport, we bid adieu to our beloved chauffeur, tour guide, guard, and of course, to Len and Brittney, who would not be venturing back to the States just yet. With the bustling of the city of Tel Aviv at our backs, the 2013 Young Ambassadors jostled through one last Israeli crowd into the airport. For many of us, one could realize, this was not goodbye to Israel. Rather, it was, “until next time” to a lifelong friend.

–Jake Hurwitz, Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors 2013
Update: Having completed this submission and the first airline meal of the flight simultaneously, I can confidently confirm that we are all very much missing the shwarma, pita, and hummus already.
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