Young Ambassadors Update: Day 5

17 Jun

On Monday morning, we awoke in the Akko Youth Hostel, and over breakfast exchanged both fears and excitement over the commonly discussed upcoming three hour hike. We all anticipated a challenge, and while some of us were elated to accept, others cringed at the thought.
Nonetheless, we all went hiking, and personally, I’d like to say it was a beyond-incredible experience. Sure, it was strenuous, but aching calves and sweaty backs were a small price to pay for the absolutely breathtaking view of Nachal Kziv. Throughout the hike, our tour guide, Boaz, pointed out sage and bay leaf growing around us, and during our break made us fresh sage tea. As we continued, the only problem I was facing was the internal struggle over deciding to look at the view or to watch where I walked. The alternating downhill rocky obstacles and uphill battles with gravity definitely added to the experience, but also posed quite the challenge. I found my mind getting lost in rocks and conversation as we walked, and the three hours finished much sooner than I had expected.

After our hike, we drove to the Keshet Cave, where we repelled down a 150 foot mountain and into a cave 400 feet above ground. As we ventured out of the cave, we were faced with yet another seemingly-endless mountain of rocks leading to the top, where our bus was. The thirty-minute climb featured yet another beautiful view of the villages and towns below us. I’m proud to say that every minuscule scrape and dirty fingernail was well earned today.

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Just when we thought our day was over, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive in Tzfat, which is one of Judaism’s four holy cities, and is home to brilliant art and ancient synagogues. After providing us with some basic insight, Boaz led us into an ancient temple that once protected Jews escaping from Spain. When we left, we walked through the market in Tzfat, and came into the home of Avraham Levental. Avraham looks as many Orthodox Jews do, with a long, black beard and payot, but we were all surprised that he speaks like an American. With vocabulary like ״dude״ and “radical,” we all approved immediately. Avraham’s home is decorated with his various paintings and computer-designed artwork. As we sat upon the cushions on his floor, he told us about how he uses the sounds of the shofar to create artwork, and calls it “painting with sound.” Avraham told us the story of his life, and how up until the age of 25 he was living in Detroit using the name Robert. He went on about the importance of names, and how his life completely changed when he stopped using his English name and switched to his Hebrew name. For the past 10 years he has studied the meaning of the name “Avraham” in order to learn more about his spirituality. Avraham told us of the spiritual and meditative practices in Judaism that many people seem to neglect altogether. He said that when he was in college he became so devoted and intrigued about meditation, and was amazed to learn that his own religion was already a major part of it.

After we left Tzfat, we arrived at the beach of the Kinneret, where we all cooked our own vegetable stew in a pot on our bonfire. We ended the night with s’mores and sleeping bags under the night sky with crashing waves close by.

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Julie L. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadrs Teen Leadership Program.

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