We had a great night at Kibbutz Gonen and we loved our day today. We began our day at Har Bental. The overlook is beautiful and provides stunning views of Mount Hermon and the Golan. From the overlook one can see Mount Hermon (3,000 meters above sea level), several Druze villages as well as a network of old bunkers and trenches. Just to the east of Mount Bental is Syria, with Damascus lying just 60km away. We learned about the strategic nature of the Golan and what took place in the Yom Kippur War. Because of the intensity of the war here, the long stretch of valley in between Mount Bental and Mount Hermon became known as the Valley of Tears. The Israelis did eventually prevail, but not without suffering heavy casualties from the Syrians.
From there we went to the Tel Dan Nature Preserve where we enjoyed some hiking and learned a lot about the area. The modern day preserve is on what is believed to have been the biblical city of Dan, and was in modern times a site that was important to the events of the Six Day War.
After our great morning, we traveled into Haifa and met our friends from Ironi Gimmel at Bet Halochem, a rehab center for injured soldiers that has locations throughout Israel. Prior to leaving school, our 8th graders collected money to be donated to Beit Halochem and we had the opportunity to present $450 to the center to help in the work that they are doing. We also heard the first-hand story of a soldier who was injured and is at Beit Halochem. The story was very moving and struck home with quite a few students and teachers in our group.
After Beit Halochem, we went back to Ironi Gimmel where we were greeted with a wonderful reception. We were welcomed by the local representative of the Boston-Haifa Connection who facilitated some getting to know you games and we were treated to a sumptuous spread of Israeli foods (because no Jewish parent wants their guests to go hungry!). Our kids were very excited to have the opportunity to really connect with their new friends. Tonight, many of the kids came to the mall, called here the "Grand Kenyon," where it is great to see packs of American and Israeli kids talking, laughing and walking around the mall.
The connections with Ironi Gimmel are a definite highlight for everyone and we are looking forward to spending tomorrow and Shabbat with our new friends!
To view today's video, click here. As you will see in the video, we had a really great day and are so excited to be with our new friends from Ironi Gimmel.
Head of School