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by Rhonda Spivak June 18, 2017

This year, the largest graduate class in over a 100 year history of Jewish education in Winnipeg, went on an Israel Trip. Twenty three of the 47 graduates of Gray Academy embarked on a two week trip to Israel  made up of touring, hiking and volunteering components throughout the country.

Before leaving on the trip the graduates left a  parting gift to the school in the form of a video which is a collage of their ethical wills. The video has already garnered over 5000 views.(The ethical wills are a testament to the experiences the graduates had had while at Gray Academy, as they have grown as people, friends, and members of the Jewish community.

To see the video go to:

The group provided daily updates of their action packed trip to Israel. 

They began by touring in the Tel-Aviv Jaffa area where they went to Independence Hall, where David Ben-Gurion declared the creation of the State of Israel. 

As we walked along the Jaffa port, we learnt about the events that shaped Jaffa into the historical landmark it is today," Cari Slayen wrote.

Bennett Garber was excited about their hiking in the Carmel area : "We started with a relatively easy hike into some very cool caves ... It was interesting to learn about how humans have been in the area for hundreds of thousands of years. After deciding that we needed a more challenging hike we took off up a tough but climbable trail. The second hike gave us some great views of the area around Mount Carmel, and some great exercise. ... After lunch we went to some ancient roman ruins in Zippori and saw some beautiful mosaics from ancient Roman times.

Brett Koffman  wrote about their volunteer experience on a kibbutz " The girls on the trip helped out with the zoo, and the guys helped out with yard work... Following this we had a refreshing water hike that left everyone with a smile on their face. To end the day we traveled to Beit Shean, where we saw ruins of a miraculous city that has been preserved for around 4000-6000 years old.”

The group spent their first Shabbat together in Jerusalem. Shaked Karabelnicoff, Marli Cohen and Emma Boroditsky wrote about the the special  experience. ""We all went to the kotel to pray and sang songs afterwards together." Then,on Saturdayevening,"we all made our way to the old city to watch a light [and sound]show at David's Citadel which was projected on the walls of the old city" and "was a really cool experience."

Micah Grubert Van Iderstine and Nicole Margolis also wrote of their travels in Jerusalem: "We went to the City of David... and traveled through Hezekiah's tunnel, which is an ancient aqueduct that was built under the City of David in the 8th century BCE. We walked through the dark tunnels in knee deep water for about half an hour.. We visited the Herzl museum which displayed artifacts from Theodore Herzl's life, and taught us about the Zionist Conferences through an interesting set of films..."

Noah Lieberman and  Dov Corne "We went up a rock climb to Samson's grave. We read that part of the text that explains Samson's great strength and then we saw exactly where David triumphed against Goliath in one of the most famous stories in Jewish history. .."We went to an archaeological dig. We entered a cave with two different rooms and began to dig. We were instructed to fill black buckets with dirt from the cave, then sifted the dirt in order to find hidden items. We found pottery, bones and even items as rare as arrowheads, iron and bronze.

Annie Chochinov wrote "We embarked on an adventurous jeep ride through part of the Negev. The view of the mountains was breathtaking ...We then headed to David Ben Gurion's burial site. In addition, we were also able to visit David Ben Gurion's hut in  kibbutz Sde Boker that he lived on for the last 20 years of his life. All of the furniture and books from the time he was alive were still in place

Adam Donen and Jacob  Stoller summed up the feelings of the graduates when they wrote that at the end of Shabbat in Tel-Aviv, " We came together as one group to partake in a beautiful havdallah ceremony." They added, "This day and every other day of this trip have been amazing."


Lori Binder CEO and Head of School of Gray Academy told the Winnipeg Jewish Review "I am so proud of this special group of graduates and can't wait to see them grow in the future. The community is fortunate for the contributions that each of them will make as they begin a new chapter. It was very exciting to see our largest graduating class embark on this trip of a lifetime. I vividly remember my own Israel trip as an important moment in my development not only as a graduate, but also as an educator and member of the Winnipeg Jewish community."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.