by Baruch Kraus, Principal of NFTY-EIE
Since Yom Kippur, we have had no tiyulim, but we did finish studying the Biblical period as we began the period of exile in Babylon. Last Sunday, we held our “Babylonian Bash,” where all the students arrived dressed as ancient Babylonians. At the appropriate point in the lesson, “King Cyrus” (Shira) entered and declared that all Jews could go back to the land of Judah and rebuild the Temple. This was the trigger for a discussion: Should we stay in Babylon, where we are established socially, economically, and religiously as Jews, or do we undertake the challenge to rebuild the land of Judah?
We continued to learn about the reestablishment of Judah and the beginnings of Rabbinic Judaism. The Temple was rebuilt; Ezra the Scribe and the Prophet Nehemiah proclaimed the Torah as constitution of the Jewish people and a representative ruling body of 120 was created: the Knesset Hagadolah. Once the students return to Kibbutz Tzuba, they will delve into learning about the advent of Hellinisim and its affect on Judaism, the rise and fall of the Hasmonean (Maccabi) dynasty, the true story of Chanukah and the developing reform in Judaism known as Rabbinic Judaism. Before returning to Tzuba, however, our student will complete at 5 day hike from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean Sea.
Friday we started our fist water hike entering at the north end of the Kinneret. The Madrasa Trail, the last leg of the stream flowing from the Golan into the Sea of Galilee, is one of the most amazing water hikes in the Israel. We were protected from the sun most of the time by a canopy of brush overhead. The hike took us through water throughout the trail, mostly up to our knees, but with several deep pools along the way. The hardest part of this hike is staying on your feet!
Even though we did not pray for rain yet, we had intermittent light showers through Shabbat. These showers did not impede any of our activities. This morning the group started up Mt. Meron, a hike to an elevation of over 1200 meters (approximately 4000 ft.). On this tiyul, the students learned how to read topographical maps and navigate through mountain areas.
Monday, the students continued to hike the Khaziv riverbed walking westerly toward the Mediterranean which they reached today. Wednesday evening, on Simchat Torah, we will join the celebration with the members of Kibbutz Gezer, a progressive community, and Thursday morning we will dance with the modern Orthodox of Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem. By the end of the Sukkot Holiday, our students will be ready to get back to a more normal schedule.