Week 4 of Sulam was filled with fun, learning, and adventure!
We started off the week by splitting up into two groups. One went to Pantry Packers, an amazing organization that packages dried goods for poor families all over Israel. The kids worked efficiently and had a lot of fun manning the machines and packaging sealed bags of rice and chickpeas! They packaged nearly 800 bags (each with a “packed with love by Sulam” sticker) and were so moved by the organization that they pooled together nearly 1300 shekel in donations!!! The other group went to a home for children from broken homes, and, together they painted the house, bringing life and cheer to the children’s home. From there, both groups met up for lunch and a scavenger hunt around the old city, followed by mincha at the Kotel. We then departed on our journey to Arad, where we enjoyed a quaint picnic dinner in the park and games of frisbee.
At the break of dawn on Monday morning we began Rosh Chodesh Av by hiking up the famous Masada where we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, heard of the incredible stories that took place on the mountain, and davened an inspirational Shacharit.
From there we drove to Yerushalayim where we were opted for either basketball, soccer, Susan’s House (art with special children), or a photography course in the Mamilla mall. For dinner we were privileged to partake in Rabbi Fleksher’s siyum and we all indulged in a dinner of our choice on Emek Refaim.
Tuesday was a memorable day. We started off by going to the town of Elazar in the Gush to hear from our beloved counselor Yoni Hyman, who has been stationed in Gaza since the beginning of the summer. Though only home for a few hours, he took the time to speak with us. We went from there to the very fun and very dark mud caves and then went to the zipline, rock climbing, and ropes course. On the way we passed by the bus stop that Gilad, Naftali and Ayal (z”l) were taken from, which had a banner hanging in their memory. It really hit home for the kids, especially since it was their Shloshim that evening. Afterwards many kids were joined by family visitors back in Bayit Vegan while the others participated in the unforgettable (and kind of gross!) Fear Factor game for the night activity.
Wednesday came and the kids enjoyed their visit to the techelet factory, where they learned about the history of techelet and the complexity of how to make it. We then went rappelling down a mountain, which was enjoyed by both “veteran” rapellers” as well as for those who never did it before. From there the kids went to the Time Elevator ride in Jerusalem, learning about its history in a fun and interactive way. After dinner we had an optional bowling night at the Talpiyot mall where the kids got to let loose and have a good time.
A morning of inspiring learning was had on Thursday. The girls went to Amit and heard about Tefillah and the amazing chesed that goes on in the school and throughout the country. Meanwhile, the boys heard shiurim at Netiv Aryeh by Rav Leibovitz and Rav Hirschorn. Both the boys and girls were privileged to hear from Yitzchak, the head of Keshet, about his experiences in the army, leading us into the well- anticipated army night.
The kids worked hard and the sweat on their brow was worn as a badge of honor. They gained a newfound respect and understanding for Tzahal as the defenders of our country and just how difficult training can be. At the “tekes” we felt so proud of our kids and all that they accomplished. Hopefully they will take the lessons of teamwork, diligence, and respect with them way after Sulam ends. They were taught that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to in a hands-on way.
This Shabbat will be spent in the hot but beautiful Beit Shean, with very comfortable sleeping arrangements. We hope it will be an inspiring Shabbat Chazon, leading us into a hopefully amazing (and final!) Week 5.
Hundreds are more photos are currently being uploaded under the Sulam photo galleries.