We started off the day as usual with breakfast and Tefillah, but the mood was different because it was Yom HaZikaron.
First, we went to a museum called Machtesh Ramon and the Ilan Ramon Center, which is dedicated to the first Israeli astronaut. about the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the explosion of The Columbia in 2003. After watching a video about Ilan Ramon’s life, the screens open and show an amazing view of a big crater in Mitspe Ramon.
We had to hurry up from Mitspe Ramon, because it was almost time for the Yom HaZikaron siren. We went to another Tekes (ceremony) to see the siren. While we were waiting for the siren, our tour guide Yoav told us a story about his childhood friend, Roi Klein, who is one of three soldiers to ever receive the IDF’s highest honor. Yoav told us about how almost every seven year old in Israel knows the story about how Roi Klein in the Second Lebanon War, but he wanted to talk to us about how Roi lived as a person. After Yoav’s story and the tekes, we sang Hatikva together and headed back to the crater for pictures before hitting the road to Jerusalem.
On the way to Jerusalem, we stopped at another mall for a Pizur lunch. Most of us went to Kosher McDonalds One of the biggest differences in McDonalds back home isn’t just that it’s kosher, it’s that in Israel, McDonalds isn’t very fast. It’s actually pretty slow!
Once we finally got to Jerusalem, we were all so excited to finally be there, but we quickly shifted moods because we were visiting Mount Herzl. We got the see the graves of fallen soldiers and heard stories from some of their friends who were spending the day visiting their loved one’s grave.
Next, we went to our hotel and got ready to party for Yom HaAtzmaut!!! We had a short ceremony to transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut and then we headed out to party on Ben Yehuda Street. We spent an hour or so in small groups getting snacks and gear for Yom HaAtzmaut like light up headbands, Israeli flags, or giant inflatable hammers to bop other people with.
At about 10:15, we left Ben Yehuda Street and headed to HaAtzmaut Park for a concert, which turned into a massive dance party!! We spent time there watching fireworks and dancing together as a huge group. It was a late night but we eventually made it to bed at midnight.