Dani B., a Spring 2016 participant, is a junior from Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of The Temple Hebrew Benevolent Congregation and participates in NFTY’s Southern Area Region.
Yom Hazikaron began with a siren and a deafening silence. Our group went to the tekes at the Kotel to hear President Reuven Rivlin speak about the great sacrifices the young people of Israel have made to insure its survival. It was fascinating to see people of all walks of life congregate in one place to mourn and remember together. The following morning we went to the tekes at the kibbutz to mourn the lives of their two fallen soldiers. As we listened to the long siren together, I felt the sacrifice that each and every person has made for this country, whether it be the loss of a friend or a family member. Our NFTY-EIE bubble got to see the real Tzuba community that we have been a part of for almost four months now. After the tekes ended, we returned to our classroom and discussed our feelings on the experience and learned about more fallen soldiers with Ariella. One of the soldiers we learned about, Michael Levine, was a lone soldier from the USA who had such a passion for Israel that he actually broke into the drafting office to join the army. I felt that Michael’s passion for Israel reflected my own and made me want to join the army like he did.
In the evening, we joined the transition ceremony on the kibbutz to begin the Yom Hatsmaut celebrations. It began with some sad songs about remembrance, but then quickly changed to funny skits and dances (one by our very own EIE group). I found it baffling that people were able to switch their mind sets so easily. Afterwards we made our way to Ben Yehuda street in the center of Jerusalem, where we found crazy street parties, cotton candy, and live music. It was a great time. The next morning we left to spend the day on the beach celebrating. On our way, we saw tons of Israeli flags attached to people’s cars and on the lamp posts on the side of the highway. When we made it to the beach, we had a fun day of Maccabee games, splashing in the waves, and barbecueing. I loved being able to share my pride and love for Israel with my friends here IN ISRAEL. It was truly an amazing experience.