After checking into the Jerusalem Gate Hotel in Jerusalem we all got ready for a very special Shabbat experience. We started by going to the Kotel, the Western Wall, for Kabbalat Shabbat. There were so many people that were praying there, that it was a very overwhelming experience. Having the opportunity to just see so many Jews gathered in one place was a special sight. But the best part was the fact that everyone was coming from a different place. You had Jews that were religious and secular, old and young, IDF soldiers and tourists, and for the moment we were all on the same page! Many participants even bumped into old friends and there is no better place to do that than at the Kotel. But what really touched me was seeing the reaction of our teenagers to the Kotel, many ran to the wall to be able to be as close as possible, some placed personal notes inside and others embraced each other and cried. The soul is a very powerful force in each one of us and its always looking to break out of the physical confines of our physical body and really shine. This group of teens in a very special group that keeps getting closer to one another.
After praying we went to the Sephardic Center in the Old City and joined with another TJJ Bus for Shabbat Dinner. There was a special ruach that permeated the room. The dinner was delicious and the singing was powerful, we even had one of our teens deliver a D’var Torah to the entire group. The next day we ate lunch with another group and went on an optional walking tour of Jerusalem. There are so many different places to visit, but because of the proximity of the Knesset to our hotel that was our destination. We got to see the famous large Menora and learn about how the government of Israel operates. After the tour, the girls and boys from all four busses were spit up for a special no holds bard question and answer session with Rabbi Goldberg and his wife, our scholar in residence. The Rabbi and his wife are so knowledgeable and understanding that it proved to be a great event. After Shabbat we went on a tour of the famous underground Kotel Tunnels. It’s really amazing to see how the Western Wall that is exposed in only a small part of the real “Western Wall”. The teen learned about how the retaining walls were constructed and also how the excavation developed. Towards the end of the tour we got to stop at the part of the Western Wall that is directly opposite the place where the Holy of Holies once stood. According to tradition that is literally the closest place that Jew can be and pray to God.
This morning, we started the day with a tour of the City of David. Most people are not aware of the City that David was built even before the construction of the Temple. The city even had a palace for the king, which was also a surprise. They showed us a 3D movie and then we went on a 45-minute underground walk through a water tunnel. The real highlight of the day came tonight when we arrived at Yom NCSY. To be honest I really had no idea what to expect. I figured there would be a meal and some entertainment, but nothing could have prepared us for what really was about to take place. Every one of the NCSY Summer programs was present and there were more than a thousand people in attendance. There were special guests, entertainers, impromptu interviews, great food, two concerts, dancing, singing and lots and lots of cheering. The night ended with huge fireworks show and I have to say that NCSY really put on one of the best shows that I have ever seen. Many of you that are following TJJ Bus 5 are not familiar with the other NCSY programs and I urge you to visit www.ncsysummer.com and to will be blown away by the selection and their really is a program for everyone!!
We are now officially half way through the program and I look forward to bringing you updates in the future.
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Your children are really amazing!!!
Inspire yourselves to inspire others…
Rabbi Josh Broide
TJJ Bus 5 Director