Delayed Departure

Sam Berns, Reporter

The seniors cheered with joy as they left the building on Jan. 22, their last day of school, eager for their capstone trip to Israel. They went home to pack and prepare but ended up waiting over two months until Israel finally began to open.

Upon arriving in Israel, the seniors went through a 10-day quarantine at Alexander Muss High School in Israel. But after an initial lull in the action, the pace quickly picked up, according to senior Addie Bassin.

“We have all felt that the days have been packed with activities every single day,” Bassin said. “We are all passed out at the end of the day. We have gone from doing absolutely nothing to doing so many activities.”

The seniors have recently been in the south of Israel doing volunteer work. They picked onions and tomatoes at local farms in Hatzeva with the goal of helping people in need.

Israel recently ended its outdoor mask mandate as most of the country is vaccinated. When outside, the seniors do not have to wear masks, so they can bond in an environment that feels somewhat normal again.

Senior Brian Epstein is excited to be out and about in Israel with his friends.

“[Being with friends] is awesome. It makes the experience so much better,” Epstein said. “Even though it is my first time in Israel, my friends tell me how much better it is being in Israel with their friends”

Due to the trip’s month-long delay, the seniors missed their visit to Poland where the original itinerary had them scheduled to learn about the tragedies of the Holocaust. The seniors are also unable to have free weekends where they could potentially see family.

“The delay of the trip was the biggest unknown to us but was a huge impact. Obviously, we would have loved to have sent them earlier but we are glad that we were able to do this,” middle school history teacher and Israel Trip Coordinator Dr. Eytan Apter said.

Due to the Israeli lockdown, the trip was cut from twelve to eight weeks. Last year’s seniors were able to stay in Israel for only four weeks before being sent home. Even though this year’s trip was delayed, the seniors are very happy to be in Israel, as they were one of the first groups of non-Israeli citizens allowed in the country after the lockdown.

“The trip has been so incredible. All of us are having the best time ever. Just looking at everyone, we can all see that we are all so much happier than we have been in such a long time,” Bassin said. “Everyone who has been seeing photos of us have been saying that we look so happy, and we really are. It is so incredible that we are here right now, and all of us are living every single day so happy.”