This was no ordinary tour – UIA Australia in Israel

January 25, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Miriam Lewin reports on a recent UIA study mission to Israel…

 

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This was no ordinary tour … 17 of us from Sydney and Melbourne were treated to a diversity of Jewish and Israeli phenomena in Eretz Israel for nine rich, wondrous days.

We were privileged to have UIA CEO Yair Miller onboard, accompanied by our well-informed and competent Shaliach, Roni Shorer and our outstanding Israeli guide, Ori, who navigated us through a myriad of exhilarating events, we blended into a group wanting to absorb every impression.

One of the most enlightening features of the tour was the opportunity to gain an insider’s view of a range of initiatives supported by the Keren Hayesod-UIA, testimony to the intensive commitment to social justice projects. We were privy to

1) the Net@ Project, which provides technological training to 1,000 disadvantaged high school youth

2) Masua Elementary School in Kiryat Gat, providing social, scholastic and cultural enrichment to students in disadvantaged areas

3) the Ayalim Project where 900 young adults in 21 student villages and neighbourhoods spearhead social, cultural and educational projects designed to empower the residents.

4) Youth Futures, enabling thousands of children-at-risk to become contributing members of society

5) Meron Absorption Centre for Ethiopian immigrants

6) Ben Yakir Youth Village, a religious educational home to 120 severely disadvantaged boys.

Amongst the experiences relating to the beginnings of the establishment of the State of Israel was a visit to the Nili museum in Zichron Yaakov, where the Nili espionage network was organized by local residents to spy on the Ottoman Turks for the British during World War 1; the Ayalon Institute which served as a secret underground ammunition factory operated by the Haganah 1946-1948; the Palmach Museum with a unique 3D interactive presentation of its legacy; and the Atlit “Illegal” Immigration Detention Camp, for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe and Holocaust survivors between 1934 – 1948. Finally, Independence Hall where David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence. Our visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, concluded with a moving memorial ceremony with a chazan.

And then Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel (the remaining Western Wall of the Second Temple) where our group sang and danced to “Haveinu Shalom Aleichem”. This was followed by a beautiful Shabbat dinner at the hotel with 2 “lone soldiers” who impressed us with their fascinating stories of their Aliyah to Israel. On Shabbat morning there was the opportunity to attend morning prayers at the Great Synagogue and participate in a walking tour of the Old City. Later that night we accessed the Western Wall Tunnels at the Kotel. In Jerusalem we also toured the Knesset, the seat of the Israeli Parliament.

Exposure to the military included the Israel Military Industries which manufactures weapons mainly for Israeli security forces and Metzudat Adumim Border Police Base with its Elite Dog Unit whom we observed in training. Near Sderot in the south we viewed the Gaza Strip from a lookout. During our stay in the North at Kibbutz Hagoshrim, we went to an Observation Point into Lebanon, and then onto the Golan Heights, with a view into Syria, all accompanied by a security guard. On our return we toured the Old City of Safed, walking through a colourful arcade of galleries and shops.

At the famed Dead Sea, some indulged in the obligatory dip and float in the densely salinated water, enabling floatation without any effort. A short distance from here is the fabled Masada – the mountain fortress overlooking the Dead Sea. We took a glorious cable car ride up to Masada and toured the ruins. The surrounding Judean desert has so many fascinating shapes and curves.

The incisive talks from a number of inspiring, erudite speakers included Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, a writer for the Jerusalem Post, and Professor Arnon Sofer speaking on “Israel’s Demographic Challenges over the Next Decade”

Indulgence in the superb (and substantial) range of culinary delights energized us for our comprehensive 9 days and reinforced our pleasure. Our tour concluded with dinner in historical Jaffa.

The sincere appreciation by the group of the impeccable organization and efforts of the UIA to provide us with a truly unique Mission was unanimous. Toda Raba.

Miriam Lewin was a participant on the Mission.

 

Enjoying the mission

Enjoying the mission

Our next mission is the Yom Ha’atzmaut Mission, 21 -30 April 2015.

For more information call 9361 4273 or missions@uiansw.org.au

 

Comments

One Response to “This was no ordinary tour – UIA Australia in Israel”
  1. Michael Kremer says:

    I have only been to Israel (1973) and my wife has never been.

    We probably would not be able to make April but would be interested in a mid year tour if one exists.

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