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Israel Day 1: Shalom, ma nishma?

Written by Jessica Shi, student blogger

After our 10 hour flight topped with long lines of waiting for security and customs, the 20 of us finally arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel. The local time was roughly around 4:30pm. To our surprise, we were greeted by a lovely spread of chocolate croissants and iced coffee hosted by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ) staff that met us in Israel.

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Iced coffee in Israel is different than the iced coffee we are used to back at home; the iced coffee here is more slush based! With our bellies full and coffee pumping through our veins, we left the airport and loaded the bus for our two hour ride to Haifa. We all watched as the buildings and scenery passed by the windows of the bus and talked about what we were most excited about for this trip.

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Finally arriving in Nahariya, we drove straight to the beach where we met the Israeli students whom we quickly learned to call our new friends. Starting with ice breakers to learn everyone's names, we moved onto team building exercises. These exercises emphasized the importance of mindfulness and knowing when to be a leader and when to be a follower. We're not going to lie... As a complete group of strangers living in different countries, we were a little skeptical when we were asked to move in synchronization without using our voices or untangle ourselves from the human knot we created. These challenges were tough, but they were worth it in the end!

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After the challenges, we all sat and ate together on the beach. Casual conversation between ourselves and the Israeli students included how excited we were to visit their school tomorrow and see what their daily school life is like. Stay tuned to see how it went!