By Adam Moelis '14 and Todd Albert '14
After an unusual New Year's celebration with our flight attendants at 40,000 feet, we arrived in Jerusalem late on January 1st, ready to get some rest in preparation for our first full day. We departed from the hotel at 8 AM, eager to get started. (To all U2 fans, on the radio we discovered "Ordinary Love" is a good new song)
While overlooking the hilly old city, we started the day by reciting the "shehechiyanu" blessing, which we learned is done before one undertakes a brand new experience. We also had some delicious challah. We spent the rest of the morning at the Israel Museum.
The museum was much bigger than we expected, with beautiful views and architectural design. We also took in the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, Israeli art, and the new King Herod exhibit, which was particularly cool because it was discovered less than 6 years ago. At the museum, Jake Lasker met his very first Israeli model!
"How are the Israelis supposed to learn how to read good if they can't even fit inside the building?"
While less Bar Rafaeli and more something Derek Zoolander would take issue with, the open-air model depicting the old city of Jerusalem was an amazing sight. Also noteworthy - Adam abided by the shehechiyanu blessing by taking his very first selfie (picture below caption: The shehehiyanu blessing: Baruch atah adonai).
Following a trip over to the old city, we broke for lunch (schwarma was had)
We even ran into another Penn group on an interfaith trip. Shany, our amazing guide, then led us on a tour of the Jewish Quarter, where we visited the Western Wall and the Southern Wall excavation. It was remarkable to see so many people so deep in prayer and thought.
Afterward, we spent free time in the Mamilla pedestrian arcade and had an early dinner (waffles were had) before crashing on the bus after a full and exciting first day..
Things we also learned:
1. Todd Albert can make an uncanny shofar noise with his mouth
2. Jake Albano learned never to use hand sanitizer #ShanyKnowsBest
And finally, the random quote of wisdom from the day: "If you have to have dinner when you're not hungry but you won't have another chance later, sweet is always the way to go because it's just dessert from lunch."