Thursday morning all the bochurim excitedly packed their belongings and headed onto the buses for the most exciting trip we have had yet.
Our first stop was lunch at Park Britania, from where we entered the caves of Bar Kochva. Climbing through the tunnels in the rock, at some points just tall enough to crawl through on your hands and knees, you really appreciate the fresh air when coming out the end of the tunnels.
Our tour guide then took us on a short hike up the nearby mountain, from the top of which we could see the surrounding mountains and valleys of Eretz Yisroel. Returning to the buses we were greeted with refreshing cold water and snacks.
From there we headed on to Kever Rochel, where the bochurim davened mincha, said some Tehillim, evoking the zechus of Mame Rochel, for many bochurim for the very first time.
We then headed, finally, to our most anticipated destination, the holy city of Yerushalayim.
The buses pulled up on Har Tzion, the bochurim unloaded and walked a few steps, past Shaar Tzion, to the Yeshivat HaTfutzot where we were to stay. We then enjoyed a delicious local Yerushalayim Shawarma for supper, and a speech from General Bentzion Gruber about the ethics of the IDF nowadays. After such an action-packed day, the Yeshivas Kayitz then finally went to sleep in our beautiful accommodations (just a few steps away from Kever Dovid HaMelech).
On Friday, after Shacharis and breakfast, the bochurim took the short walk to Ir David, where we were shown the archaeological findings of the original city of Yerushalayim under the rule of Dovid HaMelech, and even the structure which they believe may have been the palace of Dovid. We then walked through the Siloam tunnel, which was chiseled out of the rock on the directive of Chizkiyahu HaMelech, to bring the water closer into the city of Yerushalayim, in preparation for the advance of the army of Sancheriv king of Ashur.
After wading through the waters of the ancient tunnel, it was time for an essential Erev Shabbos experience; the Shuk Machane Yehuda. There the bochurim navigated the massive crowds to pick up some treats for themselves, and spend money they each received for lunch.
Then it was time to go back to our base on Har Tzion to prepare for Shabbos.
As Shabbos came in, we headed down to the Kosel HaMaaravi. Everyone felt the emotion of the moment, as the golden stones of the last remaining wall of the Beis HaMikdash came into view in the setting sun. The bochurim gathered their chairs in a circle and sang together seder nigunim, with Jews of all backgrounds and types gathering around to join.
The next day, on Shabbos afternoon, we enjoyed an afternoon walking tour around the old city of Yerushalayim, with our knowledgable tour guides showing us remains from as far back as the first Beis HaMikdash, to Shuls and buildings from the last few centuries.
Motzei Shabbos we enjoyed Melave Malka, heard a presentation from Yossi Frenkel about his work in Emergency Medical Response teams and Zaka. And then, just when we all thought the day was over adn it was time for bed, the head counselor announced a surprise trip to the Old City, where many bochurim took the opportunity to enjoy a delicious crepe or iced coffee. Then, it was time to call it a day, for real.
Sunday morning, after Shacharis and another delicious breakfast, the bochurim enjoyed an action-packed day, beginning with the Kosel tunnel tours, followed by the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial museum, packing food for the poor at Colel Chabad Pantry Packers, and finally going around Geulah and Meah She’arim, where the bochurim were again given money to buy supper, before finally heading back onto the buses to Tzfas.
But before we could call it the end of this incredible trip, we stopped at the Kever of the Rambam in Tveria, where we made a Siyum HaRambam, an incredible opportunity to fulfill the directive of the Rebbe to mark the completion of the Rambam cycle in a grand fashion.
Then, and only then did we finally head back to the Yeshivah in Tzfas, where after Maariv, the bochurim could head to bed, resting and relaxing after a trip that all will remember for a lifetime.