Tiyul '24 Blog | Day Ten: May 16
Class of 2024
As we prepared to return home, we took some time to reflect on these experiences together. Students were asked: What did you learn about yourself on this trip? And, how did the Jewish experiences on this trip have an impact on your Jewish identity? Read on to hear snippets of the discussion. We are so looking forward to see you all back at home soon, and tell you all about our adventures in person!

What did you learn about yourself on this trip?

Dylan- I learned how important it is to take in the moment. 

Gabe- I learned more about how to deal with situations when I am not in control or when I'm overwhelmed.

Sam Si.- I learned that I love to meet new people even if I may not see them again.

Ethan- When I think I'm bored or that there isn't anything to do, I can find some way to entertain myself that doesn't involve screens. Also, it was cool to see some Jewish history. It made me feel like I am part of a group and not just a religion.

Frankie- I learned to try new foods. 

Omer- I learned two things about myself on this trip. Number one, I am pretty good at blackjack. And number two, it is really important to be patient. 

Joely- I learned to be more open-minded. 

Sloane- Before the trip, coming to Europe seemed like a gamble. But I feel like it paid off and we won. We now have all of these really amazing memories. 

Zoe- I learned that I really like to be organized. Every night, I would reorganize my duffel and clean up our room. 

Jesse- I learned how to take care of myself and keep myself healthy. 
Savannah- I learned that I really need alone time sometimes. Alone time can be just as important as group time. 
Sage- I learned that I have to adapt to things around me. An eight hour bus ride doesn't seem so bad anymore. 
Evan- On the hike, I realized how important it is to take in the moment and be present.
Teddy- I can always find things in common with people. 
Ori- I learned that I can tune out annoyances and take in the moment. 
Nathan- It is important and easy to just be friendly to people. Anyone can be your friend.
Alon- Making friends here doesn't have to be hard. You can just walk right up to someone and start a conversation.
Anna- I learned what kind of services I like best. I like ones with more familiar melodies. They feel welcoming. 
Jake- After Shabbat services on Saturday, we walked around Prague and did not spend money or use our cameras. At first, I was pretty upset about this. But then I realized that if I had been using those things, then I would have missed all of the views around me. And the views were amazing. 
How did the Jewish experiences on this trip have an impact on your Jewish identity?
Sydney- The Friday night service was different than what I am used to. I learned that services don't have to be boring, that they can be different, and that they can be interpersonal. 
Eli- The memorials allowed me a deeper interest in the generations that came before us. They made me want to ask more questions about our past. 
Haley- I learned that I don't have to go to synagogue and say prayers to connect with my Judaism. I connected with the history.
Sophie S.- Being in Berlin made me think about all of the Jews who weren't able to be publicly proud of their Judaism and had to hide it. I can be proud of my Judaism and that is really lucky.
Sadie- I learned that no matter where you are, Jews can alway find each other and stay true to ourselves.
Max- Even though the melodies and styles were different in a new synagogue service, I learned that I can find elements that I understand and connect to. I was able to pick up and participate in certain melodies even in a new place.
Jack- The orthodox service I went to was so different than what I know, but I was struck by how everyone was so involved and engaged. The room was totally full and energetic.
Jonah- At the orthodox service, everyone was dancing and an old guy invited me to join in. He didn't even know me but still wanted to welcome me. It didn't matter to him that I was a complete stranger. All that he cared about was that we were both Jewish. 
Sam So.- It's one thing to learn about the Holocaust in school, but going to the camp made it seem so much bigger and real than just the numbers in class. 
Sophie A.- I learned a lot more about the Holocaust. Being in these places was so different than learning about it in a classroom.
Lauren- It was so surreal to be able to go to a concentration camp. We wouldn't have been able to do that if our Tiyul was to Israel. Seeing pictures of camps in movies and books was interesting, but it was way more intense in person. 
Ben- Before this trip, I didn't understand what the Holocaust really meant. I had a lot of numbers in my head, but I couldn't really grasp it until I visited Terezin and the train platform.
Ilai- I remember watching videos of planes flying over Auschwitz onYom HaShoah. It felt overwhelming seeing places in person. It was all so real. 
Carly- I learned about the importance of memory by seeing things that had been destroyed.
Elle- I learned that I respect and appreciate my religion more when I am sitting with other Jews. 
Lola- There are a lot of different types of Jewish, but you're always connected and you're always a family. 
Emma- I learned that Judaism is universal. Judaism is much bigger than just the U.S or Israel. You don't need to know the language of a place to know the language of Judaism. 
We are so grateful for this amazing experience that allowed us to learn so much more about our past and ourselves. Thank you so much for following along on our blog!
Tiyul '24 Blog | Days Eight & Nine: May 14 & 15 | Berlin
Ms. Steele, Sam Si., Sam So., Lauren, and Sloane
Our Berlin itinerary was jam-packed with meaningful stops and thought-provoking moments. Let's dive into some of the highlights.

First up was the Stolpersteine project, where we wandered the streets and stumbled upon these small, brass-covered stones embedded in the sidewalks. Each one tells the story of someone who lost their life during the Holocaust. We split into groups and took on the task of learning some individual stories, and honoring their memory in a unique way- polishing the brass. 

Lauren: Something I found really cool about the stepping stones was hearing other people's stories and then finding out that not all the people were able to come to the planting of those stones but that their families later came. Though not everyone was in favor of adding these stones to the streets, the people that were in favor would want to add them even if they weren't necessarily Jewish. When we were cleaning and polishing the stones, people would come up to us and offer to help clean the stones, and I thought that was really fascinating. I also liked how every time we would get to another stone, Ben would read the story out loud, I would hold the flower, Frankie and Sloane would bend down and start cleaning. 

Sloane: And it was really meaningful to see the dirt wipe off of the stepping stones and realize that you're almost cleaning off the bad memories. Seeing the stones clean and shining again, and adding a rose on top, felt really significant. 

Lauren: I liked doing this as a group. Because it was a group of Jews saying "we are still here, we are doing this for our ancestors, and we are cleaning up for them."

Next on our agenda was a visit to the New Synagogue of Berlin, followed by lunch in Hackescher Markt, a bustling square filled with cool cafes and stores. But things took a somber turn when we visited the Holocaust Memorial. Walking among the rows of concrete slabs, many of us were overcome with a sense of sadness and reflection. On this same note, we made a stop at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, as well as Hitler's bunker.

It felt important to end the day in an upbeat way, so please ask about our hilarious and haunted adventures in the Berlin Dungeons immersive experience. It doesn't sound upbeat, but trust us, it was hysterical! 

We kicked off the following day with a visit to Teufelsberg, the Cold War spy station atop an artificial hill made from the rubble of World War II. Standing amidst the remnants of this once-secret facility, we marveled at some panoramic views of Berlin. 

Sam So.: The Spy Station, used by American and British forces during the Cold War, to spy on east Berlin and later other parts of the USSR, has a lot of personality. Teufelsberg, standing on a man-made hill of debris from WWII Berlin, was first a ski-resort, then a military base, and now houses art tours and parties. When the military stopped using the facility, it became a canvas for all sorts of artists from all over the world. When we parked the bus, we had a 15 minute up-hill walk, where we chanted army songs and blasted music (videos). When we arrived, the grade split up into our travel groups. In 8-1, we had an Israeli tour guide who taught us the history of the grounds, and then we walked around. The ground floor was mostly names and graffiti text rather than murals, but when we arrived on the second floor, we were amazed. As we walked around and traveled the floors, we learned about the different artists, the parties held there, the different walls to hang off of and door frames to swing on. We saw arguably the best view of the trip - Berlin from above. 

In fact, we saw, and even made, a LOT of graffiti today. We saw the east side of the Berlin Wall and admired the vibrant murals that adorn it. We rolled up our sleeves for a graffiti making workshop, where we learned about the art form's cultural significance and techniques from local artists. Armed with spray cans and stencils, we designed two of our very own Tiyul murals. 

Though, a particular highlight today was visiting Platform 17, a poignant memorial outside of Berlin that commemorates the thousands of Jews deported from this spot during the Holocaust. Standing on the platform, we paid tribute to the victims and reflected on the importance of remembering and honoring their lives.

Sam Si.: Platform 17, or in other words, where the Jews got deported from Berlin to the concentration camps where they would eventually perish, we felt the emotions of how other Jews must have felt when they were on the trains going to the concentration camps. We felt bad for what they experienced and how they did not even know what was going to happen to them. I couldn't help wondering if any of my family had been there. 

We feel grateful for the chance to dive into Berlin's history and reflect on the lessons it has to teach us. Tomorrow, we head home…but please look out for our last post, in which we will all share a personal take away from this incredible experience.

Tiyul Eats

Tiyul Sleeps

Ms. Bernstein

Ms. Johnson

Ms. Crane

Mr. Shapiro

Dr. Ellison

Ms. Steele