Finally… bus #979 is Jerusalem-bound! We made stops along the way, such as taking in the pleasant view of the Mt. Gilboa, and other sights mentioned in the Bible. Being here made me appreciate our book more, and made me want to read it. We then drove southwards along the Jordan Rift Valley. We were suddenly surrounded by desert instead of the mountains and trees we were getting acclimated to. The landscape was surreal. It looked like a picturesque backdrop. While driving through this area, eight of our bus members got the pleasure of interviewing the Israeli soldiers, and I was one of them. We then presented our soldiers. I showed off Almog, a soldier in the Navy who is from Tel Aviv. We got to be good pals. During the interview, we compared life in America and life in Israel for Jews. For example, he taught me about the doughnuts eaten during Hanukkah in Israel, and I taught him about latkas, because I guess they do not eat them in Israel.
We ate lunch in a mall near Jerusalem, which was fun because I got to have an Israeli mall experience. I had simple chicken in pita and fries, and for dessert, I had a mixture of Ferrero Rocher and coconut ice cream. It was fantastic! Much better than the ice cream in the US!
The best part of the day was when we finally pulled up to Jerusalem and stopped before entering. We had the best view of the old city. Bus 979 met up with the other Taglit-Birthright buses and we all recited the “shehechiyanu” blessing, which is when you do something for the first time. We all had challah and “wine,” and one person from each bus came up to talk about how they felt about coming to Jerusalem for the first time. We then had a dance party and I felt so alive and free. Almog placed me upon his shoulders and I was high above everyone. At that moment, I really embraced my Judaism, because to me, that is what it is all about: people coming together for a common purpose in celebration of something unique. I cannot wait to see what Jerusalem has in store for us tomorrow!
Miranda Lapides, George Mason University