Adulam France Park in the Lower Judean hills has become a favorite stop for many groups of young people visiting Israel, but the group that worked excavating the site of the Talmudic village Burgin was truly unique. It was comprised of 19 young Americans aged 15-18 who are participating in the United Synagogue Youth's "Tikkun Olam" summer mission, a number of Border Patrol police, and 16 mentally challenged adults who live in nearby Neve Michael. This meeting of people with very different backgrounds was the initiative of Yirmi David of KKL-JNF's Education and Youth Department, and as the day progressed, it turned out to be a huge success."Today's (26.7.11) activities are part of KKL-JNF's Nof Moledet program," Yirmi said, "which gives young people visiting Israel the experience of actually working on the land. The USY group's KKL-JNF week began with a lecture by Dr. Ben-Zion Bar-Lavie at KKL-JNF's Nes Harim Field and Forest Center, where they are staying. Dr. Bar-Lavie spoke with them about the challenges and importance of 'ecological Zionism'. Today the group will be doing some archaeological work and working in the forest around Neve Michael. This is also an opportunity for them to connect with some of the different sorts of people who are part of Israeli society, like the army policemen and the people from Neve Michael. We've been working with the Border Police for years, and KKL-JNF activities have almost become part of the border policemen's basic training. "The theme of the USY group is tikkun olam, and they have been volunteering in a number of different frameworks throughout the country. We thought it would be a great idea to team them up with Israeli soldiers, who inevitably have instant chemistry with young people from the United States, and with the mentally challenged people from Neve Michael. The idea was to have them all work together at the dig in small groups comprised of Americans, soldiers and the Neve Michael people. This is the first time we've worked with Neve Michael, and we weren't sure how it was all going to work out, but as you can see for yourselves, it’s been wonderful!" Tel Burgin, or "Kfar Bish", as it is referred to in the Talmud and Josephus, is the site of a Jewish village that thrived during the Second Temple era and afterwards. The group descended into a cave and tunnel complex that served as an underground refuge for the Jewish community in 130 AD, during the Bar Kochva rebellion. Their task was to fill buckets with material dug out of the floor of the cave and then to take the buckets up to the surface, where they were dry-sifted to discover archaeological remains such as pottery, bones, Roman glass and more.Michelle Rich, group head and Senior US Conservative Judaism Kehila Relations manager, said that this was the third week of a four-week visit to Israel. "This is our KKL-JNF week. Tomorrow and the day after we'll be going to work at the USY forest grove near Beit Shemesh, where we'll be pruning, cleaning, creating fire breaks, and doing all sorts of forest maintenance. We are part of USY's Social Action/Tikkun Olam program, so we've been working with developmentally challenged children, painting apartment hallways in Kiryat Shemona, helping older people, and many other such activities. For about a third of the group, this is their first time in Israel. Experiences like the one we're having today helps cement a relationship to the land and the people in a way that won't easily be forgotten."