Friday, April 25, 2014

Pesach and Yam L'Yam

Hi everyone! I have not blogged in a while because we have been so busy here in Israel! I cannot believe I have been here for three months already. I recently spent Passover in Israel and went on Yam L’Yam (Sea to Sea) hike.

For Pesach, I was at a random host family for two nights. EIE set up my arrangements for this and I was at this family with my friend Michelle. Our host Shirley was sixteen years old and a part of the Reform movement in Israel. The seder was with about 20 other people that were mostly family of Shirley. The seder was all in Hebrew and was about four hours long, but besides that was pretty similar to what I was used to. It was very interesting to really get the “Israeli experience,” especially during Pesach. This year, “Next Year in Jerusalem” really came true for me. The day after the seder, Michelle, Shirley, and I just hung out, played Israel Monopoly, and went to the movies. It was sad to be away from our EIE family over these two days, but the next morning we were reunited. We were picked up in a bus and began Yam L’Yam.

Yam L’Yam is a five-day hike from the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) to the Mediterranean Sea. We hiked 55 miles over these five days and really got to see the land of Israel in a completely different way than usual. We camped out in tents, cooked our own food in small groups, and did everything in nature. It was amazing! Our group bonded a lot and worked together very well. On the second day, we climbed the second tallest mountain in Israel, Mount Meron. It was challenging, outstanding, and very rewarding. It took us the entire day to reach the peak, but the view was incredible. The next few days consisted of hiking down the mountain. Literally everywhere we hiked was absolutely gorgeous (pictures to come later). On the last day of the hike we biked down the remainder of the mountain and reached the Mediterranean Sea! At this point, we forgot about all the challenges and were very rewarded by the beautiful water.

Throughout the semester, we have been learning about Am Yisrael (people of Israel) and Torah, but Yam L’Yam really connected us to Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel).  Israel really is an outstanding country and I love it so much.

I hope everyone had a great Spring Break, Passover, Easter, etc. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, March 9, 2014



Riding a camel!

After climbing Masada

An Amazing Adventure

After 10 long and fun days traveling the holy land, I am back at Kibbutz Tzuba. In these ten days I woke up at 3am to climb Masada, hiked at Ein Gedi, relaxed at the Dead Sea, spent 5 days in the Israeli Army, and had some beach time in Eilat. After this long journey, we have already returned to our regular school days.

First, was Masada. After a bus ride at 3am, we arrived at the base of Masada, where we could only barely see the outline of the mountain we were about to climb. As we started our ascend, the sun slowly began to peak from the mountain in Jordan and we could see the Dead Sea. After a long hike up the “snake path,” we made it just in time to the top for the sunrise. It was truly an amazing experience. But this would not be enough for our group. It was 7am and we had already hiked a mountain, and we still had a Jewish History class ahead of us. This history class was one of my favorites so far. At the end of the trip, we all stood at one end of the mountain, with the desert surrounding us, and all screamed “Am Yisrael Chi” (the people of Israel live). Our voices echoed throughout the desert. It was another very powerful experience. We had a very steep hike down Masada, then a couple minute walk to the Masada Youth Hostel.  We were all very excited to have lunch, as we already had had a very long day. After lunch we went repelling down a 50-foot mountain (picture to come soon). We finally had time to relax and shower back at the hostel. The next day, we woke up for a hike at Ein Gedi. It was alongside a stream and lead to a waterfall. Once we reached the waterfall, we all had the opportunity to swim in it. It was a great bonding experience for us all. We then had a relaxing Shabbat.

On Saturday afternoon, we were on our way to the Bedouin tents. The Bedouins are a nomadic people that live in tents and have a large value on hospitality. We had an amazing dinner, sitting on the floor together, with large plates for everyone to share. It was a great last dinner before going to the army. For the rest of the night we just hung out, had a campfire, showered, etc. That night, we slept in a large tent with mattresses on the ground. The next morning we learned about the Bedouin culture and rode camels! My friend Gali and I named our camel Marsha and we had a fun ride. After that, we loaded the buses and headed to Sde Boker (the army base).

The bus ride was filled with many anxious teenagers that didn’t know what to do with their “last few moments of freedom.” As we pulled up to the army base, the bus driver started playing “You’re Going to the Army” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” on the bus stereo. During the songs, my friend and I made a video showing how happy and excited we were on this bus so we could look at it during Gadna. As we got off the bus, we immediately were taken to our Mamem (the commander of the entire group). She gave us a little introduction, and then we split into our Tzevets (groups) and met of Mefakedet (commander). Over five long days, we ran almost everywhere, slept in tents, ate not the most appetizing meals, bonded with our tzevet, stood in many “chets” (a Hebrew letter that is a formation in the army), did many pushups, learned how to run from a grenade, how the Israeli army works, how to hold and shoot a M-16, Kravmaga (Israeli self-defense method), and much more. I loved having this experience even though it was hard at times. At the end of Gadna, we talked to our commanders and they told us their names, ages, etc. My commander’s name was Tirtza and was only nineteen years old! I have a lot of respect for all the Israelis in the army especially after being in the army for just five days.

After leaving the army base, we had a long bus ride to Eilat. Eilat is in the south of Israel and is on the Red Sea. While in Eilat, we snorkeled, relaxed on the beach, walked and shopped on the board walk, etc. It was very nice to relax after non-stop days in the army. We returned to Kibbutz Tzuba around 10:30 that night, got new roommates, and unpacked our stuff. The next day we returned to our normal schedule.

Thanks for reading! If you want to hear more please let me know! 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Preparing for a Journey

This post was written before my trip, but I was not able to post it until now.

Hello again!

So it has been about a week since my last post, and again I cannot believe how fast this is going by.  This past week has been pretty “normal.” And when I say “normal,” it is obviously not so normal that I am going to school in Israel. With that said, the next couple weeks are going to be very crazy (fun) and busy.

Today we had a half-day tiyul (field trip) to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. We saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, Second Temple Model, and of course the Ahava sculpture (picture to come soon). The weather was perfect for a Jewish History class outside. When we returned to Kibbutz Tzuba, we had lunch then general studies classes.

We have also begun to pack up our rooms because we are switching rooms soon and are about to embark on a 12-day trip. I am very sad to switch rooms because I love my roommates and I feel like we are all starting to settle in. On the bright side, I will hopefully get another set of amazing roommates and/or get to know other people better. At 3AM on Thursday, we will wake up to climb Masada for the sunrise. I am sure it will be an amazing experience after we get over the drowsiness. We will then have Jewish History class on Masada. After that, we will go to the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Gadna, and Eilat. Gadna is a five day basic training program for the Israeli Army (IDF) that all Israelis take part in during High School so they can learn what it is like in the army (if you don’t know, all Israelis must join the army at age eighteen). We will be taking part of the same training program that the Israelis have and will be at the base with other Israelis. It will be a very intense and challenging program. I am both nervous and excited for it, but mostly excited. After leaving the army base, we will head to Eilat which one of the most southern cities in Israel. While in Eilat, we will snorkel, hang out at the beach, and RELAX. I am clearly very excited for this break after Gadna and many long tiring (and fun) school days.

If for whatever reason you would like my address, it is:

Sadie Hurwitz
NFTY EIE High School in Israel
Kibbutz Tzuba
M.P. Judean Hills 90870

I hope you all are doing well, and thanks again for reading my blog!



Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Two Weeks

Hi everyone! 
So I haven't blogged in a while, but that just means that I have a lot to say 
in this post :). I cannot believe that we have already been here for almost two weeks 
Here is my daily schedule if we are not on a tiyul (field trip):

      7:00 Wake up (Boker Tov!)
      7:45 Breakfast
      8:15 - 11:30 Jewish History 
      11:40 - 12:55 Hebrew
      1:05 - Lunch
      2:00 - 7:15 General Studies (English, Math, Chemistry)
      7:15 Dinner
      8:15 - 11:00 Homework and hanging out
      11:30 - Lights Out (Lilah Tov!)

As you can see, it is a very long and intense schedule but I'd say it is definitely worth it. Most of my classes have anywhere between 6-15 people. 

Last Friday we all went on an archaeological dig which was really cool and fun. 
Last Saturday night, we went to Jerusalem. First, we visited the Kotel (Western Wall) as a 
group. Before when went to the wall, the counselors gave each of us a piece of rosemary 
that we were supposed to smell so we could remember that moment. It was really powerful 
for me because it was when I really realized that I am in Israel and I will be living here for 
the next 4 months. That night, we went out for pizza, then to a Debbie Friedman tribute 
concert at Hebrew University. After that, we had some free time at the Mamilla mall. 
It was really fun to get out of the Kibbutz. On Sunday for Jewish History, we went on a 
field trip to Tel Gezer. A "tel" is a hill that consists of multiple ancient cities on top of 
each other. It was amazing for this to be my history classroom. I could get used to this :). 
For class, we would walk around, stop to take notes, then keep walking. There were some 
pretty outstanding views during history class. On Thursday (Feb 6), we had a very long day. 
In the morning we had another tiyul (field trip) for Jewish History. We went to Sataf which
was ancient ruins on a mountain with forms of agriculture. It was beautiful and a fun history 
class! At the end of the trip, we got to climb through a cave that our ancestors used for a 
water system. Following the trip, we had a full day of general studies classes, then went 
out as a group to Malcha mall. Yesterday (Friday), we did not have any classes but we went 
to a farm for a Tzedakah (social justice) project at a farm. The farm is for kids in Israel that 
have dropped out of high school and want a place to learn and work. We helped them 
clean up the rocks on the land. It was a really nice day out and was really nice to help out.
During free time on Friday a group of us went up to "The Tel." A 10 minute hike got us up a 
hill to ancient castle ruins. I have to stay it was one of the most outstanding views and 
experiences of the trip so far. We walked around and hung out up there for about an hour. 
Finally, Shabbat came! It has been very relaxing so far. Right now, a group of us are sitting 
outside doing homework. I could also get used to this :).  I hope all is well at home. 
Stay warm! More blog posts to come!



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm Here at Tzuba!

We arrived in Israel on Monday the 27th after a long two days of travel. It was fun seeing old friends and meeting new ones at the airport. After the flight, we drove to Kibbutz Tzuba where we are staying. The view from everywhere you look is amazing, and it has finally hit me that I am in Israel and will be staying here for the next four months. We then got our roommates and began to unpack. There are four people in each (very small) room. My roommates are very nice and are from California, New York, and Ohio. I am looking forward to getting even closer with them. Even though the living situation is very  small, the view from our balcony certainly makes up for it, as you can see in the picture. Yesterday, we had an orientation all day. We learned about the rules, our classes, etc. I got to meet my Jewish History teacher, David Alon, and my class. Jewish History and Hebrew are each 2 hours and 45 min. Today was our first real day of school! So far, my teachers and classes are great! It is very different from ETHS in so many ways: walking from class to class is outside, my math class has six people, we call the teachers by their first names, and so much more. Don't get my wrong, I love ETHS, this is just different :). I have three free periods in the middle of the day (right now) which is very nice. So all in all, everything is going great! Thanks for reading! 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Packing, packing, and more packing

Hello again! So I guess I lied in my last post when I said my next post would be in Israel because I am still in Evanston. This week of being a "high school dropout" has, surprisingly, been pretty boring. I have been doing a lot of packing, watching Netflix, shopping, and getting very excited for Israel! My biggest challenge right now is fitting my life for four months into 2 fifty pound bags, especially because we have to pack for basically every type of weather. It will all be worth it though! I cannot wait to leave for New York on Sunday morning and then Israel Sunday evening!! It is amazing how quickly everything has happened and how real it is all becoming. Thanks for reading my blog!



Saturday, January 18, 2014


Thanks for checking out my blog! For the next semester, January 26th - May 30th, I will be in Israel on NFTY-EIE. There are about 80 other teens on the program, and we will be living on Kibbutz Tzuba which is about 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem. Throughout these four months, I will be taking Jewish History and Hebrew in addition to my general studies classes including Chemistry, English, and Math. On the program, I will climb Masada, train in Gadna, spend a week in Poland, and go to the Negev. I am very excited and a little nervous for this amazing opportunity in eight days! I am not sure how often I will be able to post on this blog, but I will try my best to update you as much as possible. My next post will probably be in Israel!! Thanks again for reading my blog and I hope you continue to follow me through my travels!

 - Sadie