Today we went to Rosh HaNikra, a beautiful stone cliff on the border between Lebanon and Israel filled with amazing sea grottoes. The grottoes – formed by rough waves and rain on the soft stone – were filled with shining turquoise water and an abundance of animals. Equally as interesting is Rosh HaNikra’s past. Rosh HaNikra was subject to countless wars throughout time. Thousands of years ago, Alexander the Great ordered his builders to chisel steps into the rock faces of Rosh HaNikra so they could pass through the Galilee mountains. Because Rosh HaNikra sits on the border between Israel and Lebanon, in 2006 it endured countless Lebanese missile strikes.
We learned more about this conflict when we met with Tomer’s son, Guy, and his girlfriend, Noa, both members of the IDF. They shared with us their experiences of being in the military and how it affected their professional and social lives. All Israeli citizens are required to enter the IDF when they turn 18 and are expected to serve a minimum of 32 months. After their military service, they can choose what path they follow, whether it be staying in the military, going to university, or going straight to a profession. Guy is currently enrolled in an officer academy and will continue serving for at least 2 years with aspirations of going to university to study food engineering. Noa is almost finished with her service and will enroll in university soon to study economics. They also gave us a synopsis of Israel’s relationship with its neighboring countries, including Lebanon. They told us about the guiding principles of the IDF and how it values ethics and honor to the highest degree. This is what makes the IDF standout from other militaries.
We also had the opportunity to visit Tsipy’s hometown, Haifa, one of the biggest port cities in all of Israel and is also home to the Bahá’i Gardens. The Bahá’i Gardens are a beautiful tribute to Báb, one of the first followers of the Bahá’i faith. The gardens showcase some of the central pillars of the Bahá’i faith: the balance of beauty and freedom through aesthetics. We also went on a short hike where we tested our fear of heights on a series of suspension bridges.
We traveled back to the village to have Shabbat lunch with our families. My family made a delicious beef stew with potatoes and rice. We also presented our families with karaoke machines provided by the village. We gamed and celebrated the night away as it was our last individual time with our families.
Our group ended the night by bonding over a pickup football game on the village pitch. This wiped us out and definitely helped us go to bed on time!