Our fourth day in New York started at the Nasdaq. Our Belev Echad soldiers were escorted through security right to the opening bell where we had an up-close, first-hand view of how the market opens—definitely a unique experience!
We breakfasted at the brand new Cafe Muscat in midtown, where each soldier had a turn to speak about themselves and their experiences. Out of gratitude and appreciation to our IDF guests, Owner Alon Assayag insisted on footing the bill. He refused to even consider otherwise.
After breakfasted we took that helicopter ride over Manhattan that we’d had to cancel a few days earlier because of President Obama’s New York visit. The views over Manhattan were breathtaking, and the actual helicopter experience was emotional for soldiers—many of whom last travelled in a helicopter when they were evacuated under fire. General consensus pegged the helicopter ride as the best part of the trip so far!
With our feet firmly back on the ground, we enjoyed the spectacular Broadway show, Aladdin.
From there we went to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, where the soldiers got a glimpse into American culture and New York life.
The day ended with a fabulous Lag BaOmer event with 500 members of the Chabad Israel Center community. Shimon ben Ishay spoke about his own experience in 1982 as a wounded soldier. His father dropped everything and nursed him back to health. His son, Ohad, was injured this past summer—the most severely wounded soldier in the war. A missile hit him and he suffered serious head injuries. Currently, he cannot even speak. But, like his father did 30 years ago, Shimon dropped everything and now cares for his son full time.
Throughout the night, friendships were formed, l’chaims were shared, beers were drunk, burgers and steaks were consumed, and a memorable time was had by all.