Tiyul 2022 Blog / Day 8: May 4, 2022 | West Bank, Geopolitical Bus Tour, Mount Herzl and Yom HaAtzmaut
Abigail Spalding

West Bank Experience/Geopolitical Bus Tour

Wednesday morning, we put on our serious faces as we crossed from the Israeli side of the border, into a “gray area” between Israel and the West Bank. The reason I describe it as a “gray area” is because there are humongous walls on all sides, leaving us in an area that’s a little weird. After we walked and learned about the tension in this area, we went into the tomb of Rachel, one of the holiest sites for Jews, where we were separated by men and women. We saw extremely religious Jews praying at Rachel’s tomb, where we learned religious Jews go to pray for something special and want to make sure their prayer is heard. While we were here, we learned about the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis, about the history that happened to lead up to the situation that takes place in Jerusalem, and about the people who protect the Israeli citizens and do their best to keep everyone safe. We also heard from a resident of the Gush, in the West Bank, that what we see on the news doesn’t accurately reflect the positive relationships and friendships Arabs and Jews have with each other. In this area, they live peacefully and is a good reminder to talk to others about their story.

Yom HaZikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut

As Yom HaZikaron came to a close, we visited Mount Herzl and learned about various people buried at the landmark cemetery. We saw graves of many politicians like Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and other war heroes like Chana Senesh. After the powerful discussions, we headed back to the hotel and witnessed the mood change across Israel as we got ready and prepared for Yom HaAtzmaut. As we went outside and the sun started to set, we could instantly see the people’s faces light up as we ran down the street with LED headbands and Israeli flags. When the sun set, Ben Yehuda Street became livelier by the hour. We started out the night in Jerusalem by attacking each other with silly string and spray foam and eating delicious gelato, popcorn, crepes and more. As the night went on, we made our way to the stage where there was music playing and we danced with our friends. At the end of the night, we headed back to our hotel rooms both exhausted from all the fun that night but also energized due to the mood of our surroundings. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that night was a night we will never forget.