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Reunited and it feels so good!!

IST 2017 is now back together after the host family weekend.  Everyone had a wonderful experience as you will see from some blog posts and thrilled to be back together.  When the group reunited on Sunday, we went straight to the Israeli Olympic Training Center outside Tel Aviv to have a Krag Maga lesson.  Krav Maga is an effective, modern, and dynamic self-defense  and combat system developed in the 1950’s.  From there we went the Palmach Museum (http://www.palmach.org.il/Web/English/Default.aspx).  After dinner, we hear from an amazing organization called United Hatzalah.  (https://israelrescue.org/).  When emergencies occur, rapid medical treatment increases chances of survival exponentially. Using specially equipped motorcycle ambulances, United Hatzalah’s network of more than 3,200 volunteer medics help save thousands of lives each year across Israel by providing medical treatment in an average response time of 3 minutes or less. Our humanitarian services are free, universal and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


On Monday, we drove back to Haifa where we had the great honor to meet with Zev Kedem who is a Holocaust survivor on Schindler’s List.  He shared his inspirational story and took many questions from the group.  He spent 2 1/2 hours with the group and I’m sure an encounter we will never forget.  From there, we headed back to the beach in Tel Aviv where we had the chance to relax and then chose between one of the options: Surfing lessons, Stand up paddle boarding or yoga on the beach.  Below are more blog posts from the students so enjoy!!!


Blog post by Alex H.

On my host family weekend, I stayed with our family friends in a small city east of Jerusalem.  Being away from the group for the entire weekend allowed me to experience Israel without 70 other teenagers around me. After a nice walk around Jerusalem and a relaxing Shabbat, my family took me to the Kotel last Saturday night.  In just a 20 minute drive, we arrived at the holiest place on earth for Jews.  I asked them how often they come to the Kotel and they responded “as much as we want to”.  It was that simple.  No plane, passports, or buses. It was then that I realized how special living in Israel is.  Although the pretty beaches and the tasty food add to the country’s appeal, its real beauty lies in it’s Jewish soil and holy essence.


Blog post by Jared R.

For the home stay weekend, I was at the Kibbutz in Ramat HaNegev. Having the amazing opportunity to spend Shabbat with the kibbutz community was amazing.  I got to become friends with so many new teens on the community.  Although it’s hard being away from home for 5 weeks, staying on the kibbutz reminded me of home.  I will take this experience with me by making more of an effort to have more family Shabbat dinners.


Blog post by Maddie F.

I really enjoyed the home stay weekend.  It was really awkward at first and we didn’t know what to talk about.  As the weekend went on, we developed more of a relationship and the language barrier began to disappear.  We spent a lot of time at the pool which was nice to relax.  On Friday night, we went to our host daughter’s grandmother’s house for Shabbat dinner.  This was really fun and one of the best ways to learn about the culture.  There were about 23 people at dinner and luckily about half of them spoke English.  This gave us a little sense of relief from trying to keep up with Hebrew conversations for most of the weekend.  It was really fun to relax and really be thrown into Israeli culture.

Host Family Weekend in Ramat HaNegev

Blog post by Megan G: (Haikus)

This weekend was wild

I stayed in Kfar Saba

We went to Zumba


She made us schnitzel

We went to the mall with them

We went to the beach


The beach was so hot

Turned into a red lobster

Morning traffic boo


Blog post by Maggie A.

Our host family weekend was incredible!!  The past 3 days we have been staying in Jerusalem with distance relatives.  The whole weekend we connected not only with our family, but with each other.  It was so nice to just have time to relax and have the opportunity to connect with people who you would normally not even have known.  It gave us all an experience that was so unique and well needed.


Some highlights

  1. The best food!!!
  2. Clean, yummy smelling clothes
  3. Israeli exercise parks
  4. Relaxing hikes and picnics
  5. 6 episodes of Vampire Diaries
  6. Sleep
  7. The love of family


Blog post by Penn B.

I have to start off by saying that I can’t believe the trip is almost over!! I’ve been fortunate enouh to see such incredible places with my new friends.  This past weekend was definitely one of the major highlights of the trip.  Each of us go to stay with a family whether they were relatives, friends or families on a Kibbutz.  We were all situated all over the country with these families and we each had such different and amazing experiences. My friends and I stayed just outside of Tel Aviv with one of our friend’s family friends.  They took us all around Tel Aviv to show us their favorite spots.  My favorite definitely had to be the indoor food market though, I highly recommend it!  But the best part of the whole experience, besides the food, was the ability to see the city through the eyes of locals.  For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been touring around like typical tourists so it was really interesting to see how these people lived.  The one thing I learned was that they’re just like us, just a normal family that lives on the other side of the world!


Krav Maga

Blog post by Sydney F.

Being able to participate in an Orthodox style Shabbat service was so renewing.  During Shabbat, we didn’t have the energy and we couldn’t drive anywhere.  I got a ton of sleep and played lots of board games.  I was speaking with my host family about how I wish that my family had the opportunity to have Shabbat dinner every Friday night together.  In Israel, everything closes around 4:00pm on Fridays so everyone is able to spend time with their families on Shabbat.  In American, it is so hard for my family to all be together on Shabbat because me and my sister always have after school activities or sports.  This weekend has inspired me to try to clear my schedule for Friday Shabbat dinners with my family.



Blog post by Mara O.

Going into host family weekend I was nervous.  I don’t have any family out here in Israel so I was going to Ramat HaNegev where I would be paired with an Israeli teen’s family.  When I learned who my Israeli teen was, I automatically felt better and like I was home.  Here name is Oron and she is the sweetest person I have ever met.  We started to talk about tv shows, movies, and music that we likes.  The amount that was had in common surprised me.  She know so uch about American culture, but whenever she would ask about a popular Israeli movie or sing, I would have no idea who she was talking about.  Over the course of the trip, I have started to look at how almost everybody I have talked to in Israel knows enough English to hold up a conversation, yet me, an American, came to their country without learning anything about it beforehand.  Some of interesting things I talked to Oron and her family about was their political views on Israeli policies in the US, seeing the different aspects they care about and how that affected who they supported.  Along with helping me understand cultural differences, she also took me to a comedy show, a pool, and the most important one of all, did my laundry.  All of these things made my weekend I was nervous about, one of the best so far.

Hear from Zev Kedem – a Holocaust survivor who was on Schindler’s List

Surfing, Yoga and Stand Up Paddle Board

Gorgeous view of Akko at sunset

Blog post by Sam Rosenbaum (on the Sea-to-Sea hike)


Day 1:

Here at the Mediterranean about to start out journey across Israel.  I’m very excited and a bit nervous for the trek ahead.  We’ve started our hike across Israel and now taking a break alongside a national pool & creek.  There’s a waterfall and in the pool there are these fish that eat the dead skin off of your toes.  We also met a dog here and named it Marty.  It’s following us on our hike now and I don’t know what to do.  Also, as we hike the sun gets hotter and hotter and the humidity doesn’t make it any better.  This is probably the most I’ve sweat in my entire life, jeez.  Now we’re at the camp sitting around a campfire playing guitar and bongos and having fun before day two.

Day 2:

We started off the day by summiting the second highest peak in Israel (the highest mountain completely in Israel) and we hiked for most of the day.  But it was sooo hot that we had to get on the bus and hang out of the heart for the day.  We went to a poll and got to swim around, super fun.  Then we got to go get some ice cream!!!  Now we have to keep hiking, but it’s a bit cooler now…NO IT’S NOT!!  I was wrong, so wrong, it’s sooo hot and we finally made it to camp and I’m very glad that I can throw Frisbee and do fun chants around the fire.


Day 3:

We made it to the Kinneret!!!!  It was even hotter today so we had to take the bus again.  Who cares.  I got to feed my ice coffee addiction at this amazing gas station.  I wish gas stations in the US we like this because they are beautiful.  Anyways, we made it to the sea and got to dump our bottles of Mediterranean water in the sea (it’s really a lake).  I now feel fulfilled and accomplished from this journey and feel like it is something that I will remember the rest of my life.

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