Written by Mike Perry

Waking up, I am sure we all shared the same sentiment; how can it be our last day? This group, which started as seven strangers, had now explored the Old City of Jaffa, shopped in the shuks of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, rode Segways, and explored Yokinam-Megido while experiencing Kibutz life. We traveled through the old city of Jerusalem, walked in waves in Tel Aviv, and rode camels in the desert. Yet here we are. This is it. The LAST day.

After breakfast, we secured our luggage and boarded the bus for one final day of magic, however, traffic forced an audible and our morning plans were altered. We no longer had time to plant trees in Neot Kdumim, but instead headed straight to the headquarters of the United Hatzalah Organization in Jerusalem where we learned of the amazing work that their cast of over 6,000 volunteers continue to accomplish on a daily basis. Simply put, THEY SAVE LIVES.

After a long visit at UHO, we were off to the City of David and had an impromptu picnic in a public square featuring falafel pita. From there, we spent a couple of hours walking the streets of ancient times, dating back more than 2,800 years. Our guide (Yona) continued to wow us with his knowledge of the old city and he led us below street level where we explored the ancient ruins of King David’s palace. As if that was sababa enough, he led us into a tunnel that connected that section of the City of David to the Western Wall plaza. A real treat for me, kind of like an Indiana Jones kinda moment. To walk the streets where so many historical figures may have walked was a surreal experience. We had a little time to do some last minute shopping and then we walked the beautiful streets of Jerusalem back to our hotel.

Once everyone had cleaned up, it was time to load our luggage and head to our last dinner together, at Joy Restaurant. An array of fresh salads, breads, wine, fish, pasta and beef then flowed onto our table and our conversations delved into our favorite moments, our moments of laughter, and our moments of tears. Our glasses were raised and toasts were made to the Rubins, our group, our future, and of course, our guide Yona and our security specialist Yosi. Soon after, desserts followed by coffee were served and we were then enroute to our van. Now reality quickly sets in as we make our way to Tel Aviv and the Ben Gurion airport. We said our goodbyes to Mindee and Jennifer, as they were staying behind and then to Yona and Yosi. Without the four of them, our trip could not have been as successful. Into the airport we went…

Looking back, I could not have picked a better group of leaders to have taken this journey with. I know that each of us arrived home with full hearts for Israel. Israel is a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people, for which we will stand up for and voice our appreciation of all it has to offer.