(Editor’s Note: Chronicle Correspondent Abby Gordon is on the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Centennial Mega Mission to Israel. This is her latest entry. Her complete blog can be found on the home page of thejewishchronicle.net.)
Once everyone had arrived in Israel, we all met at Mount Arbel in the Lower Galilee region. From atop Mount Arbel we saw incredible panoramic views of the region, including most of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.
Everyone met and mingled, some even dancing, while a traditional band played and a banner hung that welcomed the region’s “dear partners.” We ascended to the top, snacking on local dates, almonds and various fruit. We heard opening talks from both American and Israeli group leaders before descending and heading to Kibbutz Lavi as a group.
Our hotel at Kibbutz Lavi has beautiful gardens and outdoor areas, including patios and balconies outside of our rooms. The entire mission ate dinner outside along with many hosts from our sister cities.
My dad has both hosted and visited a Karmiel woman named Magi and her family in the past. She and some of her friends who were at the dinner were instantly warm and welcoming to my family and the other Americans at our table. They were so excited to see my dad again and to meet the rest of us.
I could see immediately why Pittsburghers and our brothers and sisters in Karmiel and Misgav have formed such close bonds. All of the locals we’ve been spending time with have treated us like family right away, and have been curious about our lives and informative about their own.
The dinner included more opening talks and a trivia game about both Pittsburgh and the sister cities. Afterward everyone had dessert by the pool before turning in for the night.