March 8-11

Whoa. A three day tiyul. There’s a lot to talk about.

First I just wanted to request that you who read this comment! I as well as the rest of the group here enjoy reading them 🙂

To keep up with tradition I present to you a photograph from our tiyul:


Yossi enjoying some...pie?


The first day of our tiyul began Thursday morning. We grabbed our stuff and headed off to breakfast where we made sandwiches before going to the bus. Once on the bus we made a quick stop to pick up our late shomer (Hoorah Dovy! The shomer is the former soldier who accompanies us armed for protection) and turned on the television to watch the beginning of Gladiator starring the always-violent Russel Crowe. We arrived in Jerusalem and took a tour of the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, as well as a 1/50th scale replica of ancient Jerusalem (complete with giant man ravaging the countryside!) Oh yeah, and Brandon shaved off all of his hair.

It's Godzilla! Ahhhhh!

I know, scary right? It grew out a little and looks cute now. Plus it’s all soft and fuzzy 🙂 But enough of the hair. On to the rest of the tiyul. We walked through Jerusalem and grabbed ourselves some bagellas – giant oval bagel things that were freshly baked. We ate and walked before arriving at the Kotel – but not the western wall. We went around through an excavation site and ended up at the southern Kotel. We lined up, linked arms, and marched up the steps to the wall that once held up the Temple. We touched the wall and had a few moments of reflection, then turned to go see some more pieces of our past. We sat on the long dented sidewalk of the Temple – giant stones that had been crushed when the walls of the Second Temple were destroyed. Yossi led our eyes to one of the stones in the wall that still stood upon which was inscribed in Hebrew, “You shall see and your heart shall rejoice, Your limbs shall flourish like grass.” That is Isaiah 66: 10-16, and it was carved in the stone by a boy or man who dared to sneak into the bounds on Jerusalem under penalty of death long ago. It is amazing that someone risked death, perhaps even died (the line stops before the end), just to write these inspiring words for his people.

Jacob and Carly enjoying their bagellas. Touching the southern Kotel.

We then headed to Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered when an Arab boy threw a rock into a cave in order to scare his goat out. The rock, however, did not hit a wall as expected, but instead shattered something. It was a pot, and inside were ancient scrolls, written by the Essenes 2,000 years ago. Before fleeing from the Romans, the Essenes stored their writings (including many books from the Tanach) in pots which they hid in caves in order to protect and preserve them from the invading army. After seeing the cave, we ate our bagged lunches, bought some mud, and hopped back on the bus for the Dead Sea. There we slathered the mud all over (not without complaints of stinging sensations) and fell back into the salt-laden water. We read some news papers, did some synchronized swimming, and our skin became baby soft as we rubbed the mud off in the water. We showered off, hopped back on the bus, and headed Masada to stay at a five star hostel. When I say five star, I’m not kidding – it was gorgeous. The best shower I’ve had since I’ve been home. Dinner was fantastic…breakfast, however, was lacking. A few of us sat that evening on one of the balconies overlooking the Dead Sea and listened to a Christian choir group sing until about 9:00pm – bedtime. Why so early, you ask? Well, my friends, we had to set our alarms for 3:30am. Yes, 3:30am. Why, you ask? Well, my friends, we were to climb the mountain at the foot of which we were housing.
The boys showing off their mud...and muscles. Micah relaxing with a paper.

In the middle of the night, we climbed out of bed, slipped on our hiking boots, and went to the foot of Masada to hike up the 1,300-feet-high snake path. That’s right – we don’t do no pansy Roman ramp or cable car. After our near-fatal trek (for some of us…Matty Killip says, and I quote, “it was eeeaaaasy”) we drank some water and went to the oldest Beit Kenneset in existence today for a morning shacharit service. After praying we turned to watch the sunrise – it was beautiful. We spent the rest of the day learning how to pizazta and assassinate like the Sicarii Zealots, a tribe famous for their knifing skills. We recreated Masada, where the small group of 900 Zealots faced the attacking Roman army of 15,000. We became the Sicarii Zealots. We had to decide how we were going to combat the attacking Roman legions intent on our destruction. Would we murder the Jewish slaves constucting the ramp that would allow the Romans to storm our fort? Would we stay and fight the Romans once they made it up the mountain? We couldn’t escape, for an 8-foot wall was built around the entire mountain; the Romans were looking to kill. What about the women and children? What would the Romans do to them when the 200 male Zealots died by the swords of the 15,000 Roman soldiers? We sat in a water reservoir dug in the mountain and discussed how we would die and came to the same conclusion the ancient Zealots did; we will commit mass suicide and burn the city – we cannot let Rome have this victory. After the heated discussion we silently ascended from the reservoir and stood at the edge of the cliff (no worries, there was a railing). Yossi told us that he would say a word, and we were to yell that word as loudly as we could straight ahead. He began with “Sheinit!” and as instructed we all screamed in unison “SHEINIT!” only to hear it be yelled back at us in a ghostly but clear yell. I was in awe. The next word “Mitzada” barely came out of my lips – I was actually speechless for the first time in my life. Words failed me as I could feel something not of this world. I don’t quite know how to describe it, except that it truly was awe inspiring. We continued one word at a time until all four words had been said: “Sheinit Mitzada lo tipol” – a second Masada will not fall. We then yelled “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel lives) and silently left the spot, saying no more into the echo.

On top of Masada! The sunrise from atop Masada.

We climbed down the mountain, hopped on the bus, watched some more Gladiator, and ended up back in Jerusalem, where we got ready for Shabbat. We got ready at our hostel and then went to a spot overlooking to Kotel where we could all pray together. On our way while I we were walking down an alley I hear “Jamie! JAMIE!” Who the hell is calling me? I went and looked down a tiny little doorway in a building only to see my cousin, who didn’t even know I was going to be in Israel, on the other side. It was really weird…Just thought I should share it. Anyway, I skipped the rest of the way to our spot and we did our short ma’ariv service and finished by singing “Yerushalaiyim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) and learned about the history of the song. We went to the Kotel for a bit then returned back to the hostel for a yummy Shabbat dinner, an amazing tisch, and some fun out-of-the-blue dancing in the courtyard and re-enactment of Matt Killip’s Bar Mitzvah in celebration of his birthday (Happy 19th birthday Matty!). It was so much fun that some of the less timid JDS kids even decided to join in our crazy dancing.

The next morning we woke up and went to nearby shuls. Most of us attended a small Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue (which happened to be composed of almost all Americans) – we even met someone there who knew Sim! We walked back to the hostel, ate lunch, then took a nice stroll to the park. I went on a see-saw and spinny thingie with Adam while Carly and Yair (Yossi’s son who’s our age) napped and the others either chatted or played basketball. After our visit the park we headed back, played some cards, chatted a little, and packed up before being treated to the story telling talents of Yossi. Yossi told us of his childhood, why he made aliyah, and how he ended up where he is now. Yossi is an amazing guy, let me assure you. Oh, and to explain that first horrifying picture, Yossi was enjoying a bit of lemon meringue pie right before leaving the hostel. Although I personally did not partake in the scrumptious sweet, I was told it was delicious. We ate and then got on the bus and came back home where we amazingly were able to say up chatting until bedtime without collapsing first.

Max doing the Generic Facebook pose. Micah doing Zoolander's *Magnum!* pose.

And that, my friends, was our three day tiyul. As tiring as the actual trip was, I think just writing about it was pretty exhausting too. Today is day 12, and there is absolutely nothing to say except that we had classes, and the more I have them the more I like them.

Tomorrow we have a tiyul, so be sure to check back soon 🙂

-Jamie out


14 Responses to “March 8-11”

  1. Ellen Sichel Says:

    Your descriptions are absolutely wonderful and I can feel myself there. I don’t know if I could have made it up Masada, but I hear there is a whimpy tram for those of us not in as good a shape as you guys. Glad classes are getting better. The pictures are great and really give us the feeling of your experiences. Love, Mom

  2. Jennifer Sichel Says:

    mom is cheesy.

    i love you.

  3. Cheri Levitan Says:


    I cannot thank you enough for keeping all of us up to date on your adventures….especially since Brandon never seems to have time to talk! (Too busy buzzing his head and piercing things????) 🙂 Seriously, David, Jessie, and I love reading your entries. Please try to keep it up!


  4. cherson Says:

    Jamie, thanks for keeping us so up to date. You are great…Nancy

  5. hyde Says:

    So wait, Brandon cut off all his hair?

  6. Miss Vann Says:


    Greetings: Monday: daylight savings time. What?

    Is that terrifying picture M. Chervin? Tell him not to make that face ever again, it made Lily cry. Lily, by the way is at school with me today and she misses you. I loved the picture of the sunrise and the muddy people. More later…

  7. Doryn Says:


    great as always. please tell me why Micah is making that face…


  8. Stanley Scheff (Zades) Says:

    Please deliver this note to Brandon. It’s a great blog. Keep it up. Much thanks.


    Quite a look. Remember, Zades is always watching.

    Love from Bubs.


  9. Mindi Says:

    Jamie – Your minute- by- minute, thought- by- thought descriptions are awesome!

    Please give Matthew a belated Happy Birthday greeting! We miss all of you and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks. Mindi

  10. Miss Halpern Says:

    It sounds like you’re having a blast! Please tell Yossi hello for me. HSI was really a turning point in my life. Glad to hear you’re having some of the same experiences…

  11. Debbie Levinson Says:

    Jaimie- I owe you big time. Without your blog we would be clueless!
    Although I am following your trip on the paper itinerary, your writing brings it to life for us. Thank you.

  12. Cheryl Miller Says:

    We are loving your updates. Keep up the wonderful work. Cheryl Miller

  13. Grandpaverby Says:

    Hi Jamie. I love reading your descriptions and experiences in Israel. From reading all the comments I am not the only one. Nanny reads along with me and we are as proud as can be. I keep looking for pictures of you. I must have missed it. Love-Hugs and kisses Grandpa

  14. Tess Mendel Says:


    I won’t be as cheesy as Ellen (maybe), but your descriptions and pictures are great. I totally understand your need to renumber the dates, so just ignore all of those un-ocd types out there. You seem less far away when I read your entries. Lucky can’y wait to jump all over you, knock you down and give you slobbery kisses!


    Your 2nd Mom

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