In omnia paratus! Ready for anything! This line certainly represents our cohort as we experienced a diverse and exciting day on the 11th.
We began the day by visiting the Herzl Museum in Jerusalem. We learned about Herzl's vision for the future of Israel and his perseverance to peacefully pursue a democratic state despite opposing ideas to achieve statehood by means of violence.
The museum was informative and entertaining, complete with various videos and Herzl's preserved personal artifacts.
We continued to Mount Herzl, a cemetery, home to some of the country's most important figures such as Herzl, Israel's prime ministers, and soldiers killed in action.
After reflecting at Mt Herzel, we realized that much of Herzl's dream for the state of Israel has come to fruition. His goal for a Jewish state was for the country to include many people from different walks of life. He wanted everyone to be considered and cared for; he wanted everyone to feel at peace and at home. Our last stop on the tour was at the graves of several fallen soldiers. We stood beside the adorned grave of Max Steinberg, an American combat fighter in the IDF, and Alana explained how she had been at his funeral two years ago, even though she had never personally met him. In fact, only a few of his family and friends were at the funeral while the rest were back in California, his birth place. However, 30,000 people from all over Israel travelled to attend Max's funeral because in Alana's words, so long as one is in Israel, ״one is never alone- not in life or in death." Max's life represents the fulfillment of Herzl's dream. Today, and always, Jews in Israel and in the diaspora join together in support and solidarity.
Following our stop at Mount Herzl, we drove to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Before we began our visit, we ate a quick but satisfying lunch -- sandwiches filled with chicken schnitzel and fries (or some sort of vegetable delight for our vegetarians). The tour that followed was tear-jerking and challenging, informative and meaningful. Though we viewed varied media to learn about the narratives of those involved in the Holocaust, one visual that particularly stood out was of a large pile of shoes belonging to those who fell victim to the Holocaust. An emotional sight, it was unfathomable to image why the world allowed this genocide, unparalleled in its atrocity, to occur.
Upon the culmination of the tour, the group's discussion reiterated why the existence of the Holocaust makes it imperative for a safe haven for the Jewish people, or for the State of Israel, to exist.
Looking to lead the Jewish future, we changed gears and headed to Haifa for our much awaited home stay with the Haifa Diller Teen Fellows.
We enjoyed a lovely opening ceremony, playing games with the Haifa fellows to remember our time together in Boston and admiring the hilarious videos created by our beloved family back in Beantown. Leaving the ceremony with satisfied stomaches and beaming hearts, we were ecstatic to settle into a week full of adventure and exploration of Israel's beautiful Haifa!