Juniors spent Trimester 1 studying in Israel, and this year's BICEP Fellows wrote occasional updates to share with the Barrack community. Click on a date to read that day's message.
- Sept 19, 2021
- Oct 3-7, 2021
- Oct 8, 2021
- Oct 10, 2021
- Oct 21-24, 2021
- Oct 24, 2021
- Oct 26, 2021
- Oct 31, 2021
- Nov 14, 2021
Sept 19, 2021
Hi Barrack community!
This week was an adventure to say the least! To celebrate Yom Kippur, the grade traveled to Jerusalem for a spiritual and meaningful holiday. After an amazing lesson from Danny [Stein ‘02 Israel Studies Core teacher], the eventful week began with a walk through Hezekiah's tunnels. Holding hands and singing songs, we ventured through the underground water in the dark. With no flashlights, we relied on the person in front of us to direct us safely to our future destination. After we finished, a small walk led us through the beautiful city of Jerusalem and eventually to the Kotel. There, the guys had the opportunity to lay tefillin and wear a tallis, giving us the special Kotel experience. With my head on the wall, I not only felt close to God, but to the family of forty one I live with and the community I miss 7000 miles away.
To begin Yom Kippur I was able to experience an Orthodox synagogue experience for Kol Nidre listening and attempting to interpret a sermon in Hebrew. A late night turned into an early service the next morning. Struggling through the fast, the group was able to relax in our rooms, nap, and bond with each other. A final trip to the Kotel capped off the holiday. As we listened to the Shofar blow, thousands of prayers and messages to God flowed from ours and the mouths of other Israelis. Soon after this, the group flew to the snacks, water, and orange juice that awaited us outside the Kotel.
Concluding one night at home in Hod, we traveled to Tel Aviv for Shabbat! This trip was full of free time at the beach. To begin our trip, we had a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat on the sunset beach, following picture taking near the ocean. As we danced and sang, the Muss feeling flowed through my group. Hikes in the Hezekiah's tunnels and kabbalat shabbat help me feel at home and transformed the grade into the family it is becoming. The next morning, we were able to enjoy the beach. Intense volleyball games, playing in the ocean, eating good food, drinking Aroma, and enjoying time with friends summarized the day. After a long and sunny day, the whole group was able to sleep on the bus ride home and enjoy a night back in our newly cleaned rooms. Thank you all so much for reading!
Oct 3-7, 2021
Yam L’yam is a four day vigorous hike across the whole width of Israel. We hiked roughly 48 miles through flat, rocky, and wet terrain. For years I have heard about Yam L’ yam and how impactful it is on each and every person who goes on it. During this hike we stopped at many beautiful and breathtaking lookouts.
Day one: When I first stepped on the bus at 7:00 am I felt a rush of excitement go through my body. After our two hour bus drive we stopped at our first destination (our starting point) which was the Mediterranean sea. We did a little prayer, talked about our wishes and expectations for the long journey ahead of us, and started to prepare. The first hike was mostly flat. This hike made me feel worried for our journey ahead because I was so tired after just one day, so thinking about the next three days made me scared.
Day two: We hiked up Har Meron. I was very sore from the day before so going up and down this huge mountain was insanely tiring. Towards the end of the hike we went down a huge dried out waterfall which was one of the most amazing experiences. Watching everyone work as a team to help each other down these huge boulders and drops made me realize how much of a community/family Barrack, and my grade especially, is. When we finally made it to our camp site after day two everyone was tired and so drained.
Day three: We hiked through Nachal Amud. This was a very beautiful hike, my favorite day by far. We hiked through greenery and up on the edge of this mountain, essentially rock climbing. The whole day everyone was full of joy and kehilla. At the end of the day everyone slept under the stars outside the tents all together. While it was cold and buggy, having everyone around talking and having a big sleepover made all the negatives fade away.
Day four(the last day): We hiked to the kinneret. The three hour hike to the kinneret was full of energy and excitement. The whole hike everyone's mind was set on one thing, finishing. We were so close yet so far from the end of our four day journey. When we finally got to the sea I could feel the happiness of everyone. Seeing the place we have been hiking and working so hard to get to made me feel so accomplished. Overall this trip was very impactful and I felt it brought me closer to many people including myself. Pushing myself to my physical and emotional limits made me realize how strong and capable I am as a person.
Oct 8, 2021
This week was the biggest adventure yet! The latest journey was a four day hike throughout Israel called Yam lyam = sea to sea. While hiking throughout Israel, each and every person learned more about themselves and their peers.
Personally, the trip made me feel spiritually connected to my fellow grade members and friends. Following each section of the hike, we would ensure that everyone was together and in good spirits. After enjoying the first day of hiking (starting in the Mediterranean Sea), we had the opportunity to sleep near Mazad Abirim with our closest friends. After getting a somewhat good night's sleep (with a couple of wakeups due to sounds of cats and jackals), we went into our second day of hiking. The next two days in Henyon N Amud and Kvish Amiad consisted of learning, mini games, and sleeping outside together with the whole grade. On the final day of hiking, we began the morning with 20-30 minutes of silence. Here, I thought about the reality of God, my duties as a Jew, and the purpose of my life. Concluding the day, we swam together in the Kineret in dirty clothes and enjoyed the falafel and feeling of success.
I loved this trip and it will forever be in my heart and memory. To an amazing trip!
Oct 10, 2021
On our trip to the Kinneret on October 10th, we first went to the Kinneret Training Farm where we learned about how the pioneers of the second Aliyah learned how to farm and how it operated. The farm was established by two Jews who came to Israel, uprooted the Herzl forest because it was planted by Arabs and then replanted all of the trees. The security guard was in awe that they knew how to do this and so the three of them established a training farm. The people who graduated from this training farm moved out and started developing the land. For example the first graduating class moved nearby and established the first ever kibbutz (Degania). This training farm is also where A.D Gordon lived. He would go around sharing his philosophies about Labor Zionism and encourage all of the 2nd Aliyah pioneers.
Later, we went to the Kinneret Cemetery and learned about Rachel the poetess, one of the most important people ever to come out of the training farm. She got the opportunity to go to France to learn about advanced farming techniques and when she was done she couldn’t get back to Israel right away because of World War I, so she went to Russia and taught Jewish orphans about Zionism. Unfortunately, when she was able to go back, after a couple months of sharing her ideas she found out she had tuberculosis and spent the time before she died tragically alone writing poems.
I found this trip really meaningful because she wrote about how she did not actually get to do that much with her life aside from plant a couple crops, so we talked about what we did in our lives that we thought made an impact on the world and we went around telling each other what we do that makes an impact on everyone else. This activity brought our entire class closer together, probably closer than we have been before.
Oct 21-24, 2021
On October 21, we went to the north to Acco prison, and the Atlit Prison Camp. We learned about Aliyah Bet and what happened to all of the people who survived the Holocaust.
It seems truly miserable what they had to go through even after the Nazi’s were defeated. For starters, most of them did not have anywhere to go so they all ended up in displaced persons camps which were ironically in the concentration camps because that’s where all of the space was. From there, many of the survivors wanted to go to Israel, but in order to get there, they had to hike across the country, through the snow and mountainous region of central Europe all the way over to the far end of France where they could get a boat to Israel.
From there, though, they were not even sure that they would be able to get into Israel. They had to spend a week on miserable beds on a boat with no sunlight and most of them got off only to be sent to the Atlit prison camp, which just from the looks of it seemed to these survivors extremely similar to the concentration camps they had just come from (even though it wasn’t). When that filled up, they were sent to Cyprus instead, and some even sent back to Bergen Belsen in Germany.
In the Acco Prison we learned about the three different militias of Israel that fought against the British. The Hagana, Etzel, and Lechi and how each group fought against the British in both their own ways and also together. The Lechi went after British officials and assassinated them because they thought they were all guilty of killing Jews for not letting them into Israel during the Shoah. The Etzel believed in trying to get their own state and if they needed to fight with the British in combat they would. The Hagana believed in only fighting for self defense purposes.
The Lechi and the Etzel by the end started to work together a little bit more and act in similar ways and many of their fighters, specifically Etzel were imprisoned in the Acco Prison. We talked specifically about how the Etzel fought back when Britain tightened restrictions and hung people for carrying weapons or whipped them, and how they pretty much did the same thing back to British police and officials to get them to stop, and it eventually did work.
What I found most powerful about this trip was the hanging room in Acco Prison. I was really surprised to find out that so recently in our history people were still being hanged, and for as minor of reasons as carrying a weapon is what amazes me the most. I thought it was very cool that as these Jewish fighters were about to be hanged they sang the Hatikva and continued to do so until the moment they died. I had no idea that Britain killed as many Jews as they did and were the cause of as many Jewish deaths as I thought they were.
Oct 24, 2021
This week we learned about what happened to the people after the holocaust. After the holocaust, people started to get on boats and travel to Israel. Israel was very overwhelmed and would not let them in. Even though many of the Jews knew this would happen, they still went because Israel was a big part of who they are. Once they made it to Israel, officers would take them into camps. Imagine coming from horrible concentration camps, getting on a boat for a week once again in horrible living conditions to finally make it to freedom and get put right back into camps.
After learning about this, we visited one of the camps. Seeing this made me feel so terrible for them. The resemblance between the concentration camps and this camp made me empathize for the survivors who came here. This week was very educational and interesting.
Oct 26, 2021
On October 19, we went to Yad Vashem and it was a life changing experience. It was an incredibly meaningful experience for me because even though we went as a class in eighth grade, this time it was in so much detail and we talked about all the aspects surrounding the Shoah as well as what happened every year during. It was eye opening to the horrors that occurred and how I couldn’t even imagine being alive during that time as a Jew, let alone experience what so many Jews did during the Shoah.
The room that was the most meaningful to me was the room with the shoes and the clothing. Those shoes give me chills every time I see them. Each pair belonged to a Jew with a family and a story and their chance to tell their life story got ripped from their hands in the cruelest way imaginable. I’m reminded that we must share their stories for them in order to remember what Jews went through and so it doesn’t happen again. We must never ever forget.
Oct 31, 2021
Hello Barrack Community,
This week, our grade went on a trip like no other! We began our journey on Wednesday, in Sde Boker, stopping at David Ben Gurion’s grave as well as his home on the kibbutz. As we walked through Ein Avdat, and eventually through Ben Gurion’s memorial, we learned about his dreams for the Negev and how he made them come true. After a long day of learning, we finished our day with camel riding. Although we had a few problems getting on and off the camels, overall, it was an amazing experience that allowed us to imagine ourselves in biblical Israel. We furthered this experience by spending our first night in a Bedouin Experience tent, where we ate Bedouin food, and were fortunate enough to learn about their culture from a Bedouin himself. I really enjoyed learning about this lifestyle because it is something that I have heard about, but never really learned about in depth.
On Thursday morning, we got on the bus bright and early, and traveled to the sand dunes, something everyone had been looking forward to for the entire trip. We arrived full of excitement, and left covered in sand, a few bruises, and just as excited as before. Our next adventure began just a few hours later, at the beach in Eilat. We strapped on our life jackets, hopped on the boat, and we went tubing and banana boating. Out of all of the incredible experiences I have had in Israel, this may have been the most exciting and fun filled. Once again, we left with one or two more bruises, but still, just as excited as before. We ended this amazing day at Kibbutz Ketura, a beautiful non-privatized Kibbutz in the Negev.
Overall, this trip was an amazing experience that I truly will never forget. It will be one of the highlights of everyone's Muss experiences and I have never felt more connected to Israel.
Kate Hoffman Filler
Nov 14, 2021
Hello Barrack Community!
This is the last update that we have for the remainder of our Muss experience. It is unbelievable that it has almost been 3 months here, and we are coming home next week. We have made the most of our remaining time here, however, spending last week learning about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We spent 2 days around the town of Sderot near the Gaza border, and we learned about both the importance of towns like these and the danger of living there. We were able to meet with Israeli teenagers who deal with this danger everyday, and learning about their lives was incredibly interesting.
We also went to the Jerusalem borders and learned about the barriers put into place during the Intifada, specifically their impact. While they made life harder for some, they kept us safe. The most important thing that we learned is the complexity of the situation, something that I have never understood.
We will be spending our final Shabbat in Jerusalem, and I know it’ll be an incredible experience despite the fact that we are leaving soon. This experience has been one of the best in my life, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be here.
Kate Hoffman Filler