We just got back from the Mi Yam Le Yam hike! In English this means “From Sea to Sea”, and that is exactly what we did. Starting early Sunday morning, the Workshoppers, along with all the other English speaking Habonim program participants (that’s Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, a total of about 100 chanichim all together) met on the Mediterranean coast for an opening ceremony. A bottle was filled with sea water as a symbol of the journey we were about to embark on. The chanichim were split up into mixed groups in order to meet the different people from across the world, and the hike began.
Every night we spent sleeping in a campground, lunch was eaten on the trail, and we woke with the dawn. The chanichim climbed the 2nd highest peak in Israel, Mount Meron, and slept on the quite chilly peak (can you imagine it being chilly in Israel?!). On Wednesday afternoon, the chanichim set foot on the beach of the Kinneret and hastily changed into their swimsuits and jumped in to joyfully celebrate the journey that was. The water was symbolically poured out, and all in all the experience was an amazing success. This year can duly be noted for there being an excellent meeting between the countries, which will set the stage well for the next worldwide Habonim event – the Yitzchak Rabin Peace Seminar, which will occur two weeks from now.
During the hike, as we all know, there was a major historical event that happened here in Israel – the return of Gilad Shalit. The chanichim were updated as events unfolded throughout the hike on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, once we arrived at our campsite, the chanichim sat and watched a presentation of news stories from the day’s events to see for themselves what happened and what was being said. The general feeling in Israel this week is one of relief and elation. There is certainly a serious discourse happening surrounding the price paid for the release, but even the detractors by and large express their happiness for the Shalit family at the return of their son. The chanichim were interested and engaged, asking questions throughout the day. In the coming weeks, more discussions and questions will be raised for the chanichim to understand the situation more fully and talk about their thoughts on this complex but ultimately joyful event.
Now the chanichim are back on Kibbutz, celebrating the final holiday of the season, Simchat Torah. After today, the chanichim will enter a relative routine for the next month or so until Boneh ends. Upcoming events include, as I said before, the Rabin Peace Seminar, a MASA mega-event including Israeli singer Idan Raichel, and another tiyul (hike) in late November.
A final Chag Sameach to you all!