Junior Journey: Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: A Transformative (And Fun) Journey

Sam Arneson
The Class of 2019 has certainly not stopped moving since I last wrote. We’ve explored cities, the desert, and everything in between, while managing to get some sleep. We’ve been having a blast in Israel and have just touched down in Jerusalem: our final landing place on this magnificent journey.

To start, on Friday we explored the wonderful city of Tel Aviv — we rode bikes, explored local art and culture, and went to the beach. Along with a meaningful, student-led Shabbat program, we were able to bond as a class and enjoy a tradition together that typically people celebrate on their own.

On Saturday, we rested thanks to a late wake-up and chill daytime programming. We broadened our cultural horizons by hearing from a Palestinian man from the West Bank describe to us the experience of living in this Jewish state as not only a non-Jew, but as someone who has witnessed oppression from Jews. His speech gave us hope for unity and peace in Israel’s future, and definitely got everyone thinking about the situation. Later that day, the mood was lightened when we went to the beach, and when we had time to visit our families (for those who weren’t visiting, a walk to get dinner was on tap).

Sunday brought us away from Tel Aviv and down into the South; to start, we learned about the ‘startup-nation’ that Israel is by visiting a venture capital fund and other various organizations. We took away a nuanced understanding of Israel’s progressive nature. Later that day, we traveled farther South and ended up in a kibbutz in which we spent two nights.

Our class traveled throughout the desert on Monday, leaving from the kibbutz quite early in the morning. We embarked on a short but sweat-inducing hike and later on we visited a bedouin community. There, we hung out with bedouin teens our age and learned about how differing groups in Israel coexist with one another. This was extremely interesting and showed us that although Israel is full of very different ethnic groups, common ground can always be found.

Today, we left the kibbutz for a day packed full of activity. From hiking either Masada or a desert trail (we were able to choose which we prefered to do) to floating in the briney Dead Sea, we were soaking up experience after experience with gusto. Today, and throughout this whole journey, we’ve been having such a blast learning, growing, and having fun in the holy land with each other.

On tap next is an in-depth exploration of Jerusalem in political, religious, and historical contexts, which sounds very exciting. We can’t even believe this trip, this incredibly transformative journey, will come to a close in just four short days.
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace their Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.