After a restful night, we began our first full day of Pre-Convention with an uplifting Shachrit service and making our bagged lunches. We were then off to our jam-packed day in Washington DC.
The first stop was to the Spy Museum where the USYers had the opportunity to see if they would be successful spies through different interactive exhibits. We learned about some Jewish connection to the industry of spying and espionage and took a trip through the decades of James Bond, or ‘007’. After a quick visit to the gift shop we ate our bagged lunch before heading to the National Mall.
We had so much to explore at the National Mall, and most of the USYers wished we had more time to wander around. The teens were given the opportunity to spend some time at a select few of the Smithsonian Museums: The Air & Space Museum, The Museum of Natural History, and The American History Museum. This was also the first time that we were able to meet up with friends from other regions, and the screams of joy were beautiful.
After spending some time in the Smithsonian Museums, we had the opportunity to show our Canadian pride by skating on the rink in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The warm weather did not deter us, and we all had a great time on the rink!
By this point we had worked up an appetite, so it was off to the DC Jewish Community Centre for a delicious deli dinner. We were thrilled to be welcomed into the DC JCC on Christmas Eve, and the day before they were hosting a major mitzvah day initiative. We were given space in the kindergarten wing and had some fun sitting in the mini chairs. We want to thank the DC JCC, and have made a donation in appreciation of their hospitality.
Now that our bellies were full, it was time for our last portion of this day – an evening walking tour of the monuments. The monuments we visited were the Washington Monument, World War Two Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Monument and Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. At each stop, the USYers were given a brief history lesson from Beth Shalom Congregation’s Education Director, Rabbi Daniel Plotkin, after which they were given a chance to experience the spaces on their own. We concluded our experience by saying the Ma’ariv service at the Lincoln Monument and the Mourners Kaddish at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. This brought our day to a somewhat emotional conclusion.
With that, it was back to the synagogue and our host families for a well-deserved nights rest.