Liberal Arts Tour 2019: Here We Go!


Posted by: Rabbi Eli

Welcome to our BirthWrite Blog!

Soon you will see photos, reflections, diary entries, haikus and poems from our 10 day journey.

We touch down in Israel on Monday at approximately at 6:35am Israel time. Our first stop will be exploring the ancient Roman remains of the coastal city Caesarea. After we’ll travel all the way up north to the city of Tiberius, or Teveria in Hebrew. So if the blog posts are slow, please check back once we’re in full swing  — hopefully by Monday evening or Tuesday.

Hold on as you join us in our journey.

This post will remain “stuck” to the top of the page. Right now (1/4/2019) the posts below are from last year’s trip and will be soon be pushed down by the newer posts of the current trip.



Our first two days in Israel ☺️

Upon our arrival in Newark Airport, we met each other briefly before settling in for the ten-hour flight ✈️ to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv 🇮🇱. Despite our tiredness 🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️, we trooped off to Caesarea, an ancient Roman city built by Herod the Great 🏛. Set against the Mediterranean Sea, the ruins were absolutely breathtaking … although they had to compete with our adoration with the local wild cats. 😻 Among the ruins was a fully reconstructed and operating Roman theater 🎭. After a brief lunch, we checked into our hotel in Tiberius, right on the Sea 🌊 of Galilee. There, we met the Israeli soldiers 👨🏼‍✈️👩🏼‍✈️who would be joining us on the trip – they’re all about our age and wonderfully sweet! We all participated in group building activities with Igor and Matan from Ekipo and made ourselves feel silly 🙃. We had dinner and went back to our hotel rooms for a well-deserved rest 😴.

We woke up early and, because our original hike got rained out 🌧, we went to a bird 🐦 preserve and enjoyed the beautiful wildlife. Our experience there began with a 4D film presentation – complete with scurrying “rats” 🐀 and bubbles! We moved on to a winery in the Golan Heights, touring the factory and testing some of their wares 🍷. Finally, we explored the ruins of a synagogue 🕍 that was recently discovered. There’s no historical record of a Jewish community in that area, but there are a number of synagogue ruins in that area: any idea why 🤔? Additionally fascinating was the fact that this seems to be the earliest example of a synagogue using a permanent bimah 😱. After some exploration and enjoying the lovely view, we headed back to the hotel, to relax before a lovely dinner in Tiberius. The rest of our trip looks to be just as wonderful as these past two days have been! 🥳🥂🎊

-Dylan and Lex

Reflection on Yad VaShem

By Alice Podolsky

I remember my mother dropping me off at Hebrew School when I was about 10 years old and telling me something that I will never forget. She told me that people will look at me, with my blue eyes and (previously) blonde hair, and casually say anti-Semitic things…Not knowing that I, a seemingly Arian girl, was a Jew. She explained to me that I had a choice. I had a choice to either sit idly by—taking advantage of my appearance that gave me the privilege to do so—OR I could stand up and say “I’m Jewish and what you’re saying is not right.” From a young age, the choice seemed obvious and implied—I had to stand up. After visiting Yad Vashem, getting to know the soldiers, and simply being in this amazing country, I truly felt the impact of that conversation with my mother.

The word that kept coming to my mind during our group’s powerful discussion the night before our visit to Yad Vashem was responsibility.

Responsibility to be a proud of our heritage.

Responsibility to hear survivors speak. Responsibility to share these stories with my children.

Responsibility to visit Holocaust museums whenever I get the chance.

Responsibility to stand up.

If the Nazis had succeeded in their intentions, none of Us would be here to today. Every Jew is a survivor of the Holocaust, whether we acknowledge it or not. Everyday we are reminded that humans have the capacity to commit these kinds of acts of terror and destruction that the Jews faced during the Holocaust, and we also know that people today still wish for the death of every last one of us. So what is our responsibility now? To make sure this never happens again, and that starts with standing up.

After our group discussion, I walked back to my room and immediately put my Star of David necklace on. I am a Jew. I am a proud Jew. And I have a responsibility to show that I am a Jew and defend my people because no one did when it mattered.