Today we had some really interesting discussions in the morning about political issues surrounding Israel, Israelis and Jewish culture (compulsory military service, marriages that are and aren’t recognized by the state, etc.) There was a surprisingly diverse set of opinions in the group and it was also really cool to get the Israelis’ we have on our trip perspectives on these multiple issues. The group hung out together and played Heads Up for most of the afternoon. Shabbat is a day of rest so along with programming we did have a few hours to relax and bond with the whole group. To mark the end of Shabbat we took part in a Havdallah service in the center of Jerusalem with many other Birthright groups. Once Shabbat was officially over we listened to a talk from a former Hillel International director. Although he did speak about as incredibly long as all college-related people seem to, there was a really strong emphasis about the disconnection between Judaism and religion that I’d never really heard before with much emphasis, and I found it to be really validating. We spent the night out at a shuk, where they somehow actually have better American food than Americans (seriously, that pizza was amazing.) Altogether its been an amazing trip so far and I am so excited to see how the rest of the trip goes.
— Beth Fried