Most people of Jewish faith experience a twinge of excitement when thinking about visiting Israel for the first time. Over the summer junior Rachel Wells visited Israel for five weeks to explore the country and its people.
As part of their final year experience at Camp Seneca Lake, Wells and her friends traveled to Israel. As her first time visiting Israel, this was a eye opening experience. The trip began in Jerusalem where they stayed for a night before heading south to Eilat. Over the course of the five weeks, Wells stayed on Kibbutzim (a collective community based on agriculture), the Negev desert and youth hostels in the north. Being surrounded by so many types of people is a key part of living in Israel. As Israel is a nation of seven million living in a space roughly the size of New Jersey, unique culture is everywhere you turn.
For Wells, seeing Orthodox Jewish people praying at the Western Wall was the most interesting and spiritual part of her Israel trip. “After seeing [the Western Wall] and seeing people pray, there is kind of an awakening,” said Wells.
Israel boasts a large variety of activities to do, as the far north of the country has a ski mountain and the south has a desert. It takes just seven hours to travel from the north to the south allowing for many activities to commence, especially when visiting for an extended period of time like Wells.
Wells said the most amazing experience was “being with all my friends and getting to travel around for five and a half weeks.” The group visited all the major sites in Israel including the Dead Sea and beaches along the Mediterranean, which Wells says were her favorite part. “They are beautiful, the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen,” said Wells. While visiting the Negev desert she slept under the stars and had the opportunity to sit down, have tea and chat with a bedouin about his coffee business.
The most powerful memory of her five week adventure would be all the nights at the kibbutzim and getting to meet so many different types of people. It is different living on a kibbutz because everyone uses everything together and they are all combined. Wells explains that they “always think about the welfare of the whole kibbutz and not themselves.”
Embracing a new culture and many different types of people can be eye opening. Going to her religion’s most sacred place in the world and enjoying it with her friends truly made for Wells a great and memorable adventure.
Wells gives three tips if you are looking to travel to Israel: “Remember a hat, bring water bottles (it’s really really hot), and be open to new experiences.”