USIC Blog Archive

US Israel Center Blog

  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 29, 2014

    December 29, 2014
    by Eric Yang

    After spending the night at Kfar Hanokdim, a remote Beduin camp located in the desert, the group got off to an early start as they deliriously piled into the bus around 5:30, running off sweet tea and crackers.

    After a short nap, the group arrived at Masada, 7 minutes before it opened. As we were the first group to arrive, and it was pitch black, we wondered, what was the rush?

    This question was answered instantly, as numerous other groups arrived soon after. We made the short hike up the mountain in the dark, not fully sure of what to expect.

    Our guide Jonathan described to us the story and history of the secari, a group of Jews who rebelled against the Romans and made a self sustaining home in Masada. Though they created amazing innovations in terms of agriculture and water retention, their story, shrouded in mystery, seemed to end when they decided they could not defeat the Romans, and it was said that they committed mass suicide; however, no remains were ever found.  Though this was a bit of a dark history, the ruins and artifacts the rebels left in their wake were beautiful and feats of humanity.


    At approximately 6:30am, the sun arrived, and the group was treated to a spectacular view of the Dead Sea, with a gorgeous sunrise. The light was warm, and the view of Masada now illuminated in its full glory was awesome.  As we continued through the buildings and caverns, it was amazing to bear witness to what the people who lived in Masada were capable of, from creating purifying pools, to heated spas, to sophisticated systems of conserving plenty of water, despite being centered in the middle of a desert.

    Afterwards, part of the group took the 3 minute tram down the mountain, while others hiked down, a couple even running. We had a quick breakfast and again were on our way.

    As it was still technically morning, most of the group knocked out on the bus as we made our way to the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi Spa Beach.  Though tired, the group was excited about a unique and special experience as they took the shuttle to the world famous body of water, covering themselves in skin promoting mud and floating around like buoys in the salty clear, blue water.  Be sure to wear flip flops!  Sharp salt crystallizations under the water cut up some of our group.  However that didn't stop people from going in and enjoying the water.  Coupled with the warm sun, the beach certainly invigorated the crew.

    Lunch was fish, sniztel, or beef. After everyone was refreshed and full, we returned to Tel Aviv.  

    The group reconvened for the final farewell dinner at the Le' Entrecote restaurant, leading to a bittersweet moment as Professor Gneezy and the group discussed various aspects of the trip of what stood out to us in the program, a final review of our trip.  We met those critically involved behind the scenes, including those from Israel Experts, to allow the possibility of this well put together program.  It was a great time to reminisce on our new memories and to gather our thoughts from this unique and life changing trip.  Many of us parted ways and some even returned to the States after this dinner, but we knew we all shared a little bit of Israel on our personal return trips home.  It was the perfect ending to our trip.

  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 28, 2014

    December 28, 2014
    by Mark Kondrat

    This morning we left Jerusalem for more adventures in the Negev desert. After almost getting lost enroute due to the Waze app trying to navigate our bus through the West Bank, we made our way to the Nevatim Air Force Base in the middle of the desert.
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 17, 2014

    December 17, 2014
    by Christina Littler

    The end of the first day in Israel has come and already the complexities and promise of our surroundings have revealed themselves...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 18, 2014

    December 18, 2014
    by Issa Moody

    Our group stayed at Nof Ginosar, a kibbutz hotel by the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday night. Staying at this hotel was a great idea. As you can see, the water was beautiful in the morning...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 19, 2014

    December 19, 2014
    by Pete Moellenberndt

    The third day of the immersion trip started with a visit to the Independence Hall...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 20, 2014

    December 20, 2014
    by Damon Olson

    Today is Saturday and the Rady crew, as well as, the city of Tel Aviv celebrated Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath)...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 21, 2014

    December 21, 2014
    by Anne Shah

    We started our morning like all the others, gathering in the hotel lobby for the Mediterranean buffet breakfast consisting of green salads, fruits, assorted breads and pastries, and the best dish of all...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 22, 2014

    December 22, 2014
    by Brant Walz

    Today was a busy day that included four meetings jam packed between traveling around greater Tel Aviv.
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 23, 2014

    December 23, 2014
    by Will Bigham

    Today was our first full day in Jerusalem, and aside from the change in setting it marked a significant departure in tone...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 24, 2014

    December 24, 2014
    by Leszek Lisowski

    We are in the Holy City of Jerusalem, only 20 min from the birthplace of Christ – Bethlehem. But before the celebrations of Christmas begin...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 27, 2014

    December 27, 2014
    by Ryan Sheidt

    Today is our last full day in Jerusalem. As we head down to the lower lobby for breakfast together we have to make sure to avoid...