Days 1 and 2 - Syracuse ➡ Jerusalem

We’re off again. For the second year in a row, Syracuse University professor Joel Kaplan and I are taking 15 students to Israel to explore the country, its culture, its politics and its relationship with Palestinians and the broader Middle East. We’ve been invited by the Jerusalem Press Club, which has organized our lodging, guides and itinerary.

Yes, the first two days are combined into one post because, good grief, we traveled non stop from 4:30 a.m. Syracuse time on Friday until 1:30 p.m. Jerusalem time on Saturday.

Our students all showed up on time for our pre-dawn bus ride from Newhouse to JFK, to catch flights to Istanbul and then Tel Aviv. And punctuality is a big thing with the Press Club. Last year, a student apologized for getting on the bus late and the reply from our guide was: “Don’t be sorry, be on time.” Bam! These guys don’t mess around - and with reason. Our schedule is jam packed.

Don’t be sorry, be on time.
— Jerusalem Press Club motto

Traveling that far is exhausting, but we made it through customs with all of our equipment, safe and sound.

Before: on the bus to JFK.

Before: on the bus to JFK.

After: at Tel Aviv airport.

After: at Tel Aviv airport.

Newhouse students setting up the video camera.

Newhouse students setting up the video camera.

We came all this way, might as well hit the ground running and see the sites, and maybe even get in a little reporting. After checking into the hotel, and only semi-coherent after negligible in-flight sleep, we headed out into town. Here are the students working together to make sure the shot is right.

Along the way we had the most wonderful, typical Syracuse University experience. Newhouse Broadcast and Digital Journalism student Sabrina Maggiore was shooting a standup and a woman came up to me. Here’s how the conversation went:

  • Woman: What are you guys doing?

  • Me: I’m here with journalism students from Syracuse.

  • Woman: Get out! I’m from Cicero!

Jacqueline Smart, of Cicero, N.Y., and Sabrina Maggiore, Syracuse University student, meet in Jerusalem.

Jacqueline Smart, of Cicero, N.Y., and Sabrina Maggiore, Syracuse University student, meet in Jerusalem.

One of the best things about traveling is the food. And this trip provides us plenty of opportunities to try new delicious things.

Already a Middle East favorite -  shoarma .

Already a Middle East favorite - shoarma.

Bartering for beautiful bread in historic Jerusalem.

Bartering for beautiful bread in historic Jerusalem.