Being in Israel these past five weeks has been amazing. The country is filled with so many different things to do and the vast change of landscapes here always keeps you on your toes. Last weekend we traveled to the Negev desert for our Shabbaton. We stayed in a wonderful kibbutz and celebrated Shabbat as a program.

We then enjoyed a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet-style dinner. After dinner we engaged in bonding activities and then stargazed well into the night. We saw countless shooting stars, clear constellations, and the Milky Way; it was a perfect night. We stayed there for two nights and left early Sunday morning and traveled to Jerusalem. We ate at the shuk and ventured to the Western Wall. I love traveling to the Kotel because everyone connects with their Judaism in different ways and for me, traveling here makes me feel very connected to my Jewish roots.

Natalie Hallagan, Lehigh University ’24, is a public health major from Needham interning at the Jaffa Institute nonprofit through the Boston Onward Israel program. 125 students from Massachusetts colleges have professional internships in their fields of interest in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa this summer. Visit for more info.

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