I realize it has been an enormous amount of time since I have last written. I apologize for my negligence. I rarely get to a computer and when I do, I find myself checking emails and then off to do the next best thing. I guess I have been living life more than writing about it, which no one can hold against me. Now, I’ve finally found some time to write. Here goes…
Birthright trip continued…
Monday May 22, 2006
After a night of dancing it up in the Bedouin tent, we wake up at 3:30 in the morning to climb Massada and watch the sunrise. No, that was not a typo…we woke up at 3:30 am. So, I basically never actually slept. It was so worth it though because Massada was beautiful and I am so blessed to have had that experience. We spent pretty much the entire day on Massada. Well, we actually spent 8 hours on top of Massada and you would think that would be a whole day but because we were on there at 4 am it was only noon when we made or way down. Needless to say, we were tired and exhausted, but still having tons of fun. On Massada one of the guys on our trip came down with a kidney stone…poor guy.
We actually had a really funny experience at Massada. They were filming a birthright video on the mountain and asked us to participate. We had already hiked down it when they asked us so the paid for us to take a cable car back up. When we got there some old man wouldn’t stop yelling at us and the other 5 birthright groups that were up there too. We were forced to change into these ugly t-shirts and hats and then they said that it would be 2 hours before actually were filmed. So, we left. We got intoa big waterfight and had fun stealing the birthight shirts and hats. Not that we will wear any of them ever again.
Next we hiked to Ein Gedi and played around in a beautiful natural spring. Ein Gedi is the oasis in the desert Negev. It is really beautiful and I wish I hadmore pictures to illustrate but my camera was out of order that day.
Next was the Dead Sea. I floated, my butt burned like it was on fire, I got some salt in myeye, and we ate some bad food. The dead sea was less eventful than I had hoped. It was pretty cool to floatlike thatand because of all thesalt in the water my skin was soft and exfoliated when Igot out. Up to this point in my trip, I had been in the Dead Sea and Med Sea and now I need to see the Red Sea and the Gallilee! (my friend taught me that line…I’m more excited about it than I should be)
That night we all hung out at the hotel and listened to music. Another good bonding night.
Tuesday May 23, 2006
This morning we were joined by 7 Israeli soldiers. The soldiers all want to join the birthright trips because they are like vacation for them. They get to hang out with people their own age and party. So they were just as excited to be on the trip as we were. We went to the old city and the city of David and learned a lot of really interesting stuff that I can’t remember. I know that helps none of you any but there was honestly so much information I can hardly remember it all. The ruins were beautiful and we went to the place that supposedly David lived and determined this from some interestingarcheaological findings like the early version of a toilet that only the wealthy would have had.
In the old city we toured the Jewish quarter and then made our way to the Western Wall. This trip was so fast paced that at the wall I felt rushed. Shelly and I have been retracing our Birthright trip steps so that we can visit everything again and see it in full. This particular visit to the Kotel was nothing special for me because of the limited amount of time. However, my second visit was much more meaningful.
I had one experience in the old city that stands out. A little Orthodox boy kicked me and I really didn’t think anything of it. Then, he and his friends chased me down a bit later and kicked me again. One of the soliders we were with told me it was because of the way I was dressed. Of all the people who were wearing shorts and tank tops that day, I was the one kicked. I am normally not a cryer but this upset me to no end. I was in the holiest place in the world, as a Jew yearning to experience in more depth her Judaism and the culture of her people, and here I was being kicked by the very people I was attempting to connect to. Even worse, out of all of the people on my trip, I am the most observent and yet I was the one being “punished” for my lack of observancy. Back in the states, I defend these people and look how I am treated! Above all, I was hurt because his parents had taught him to do this. I know that I cannot let this experience dictate my feelings for this country or for ultra Orthodox Jews, and I don’t. However, this really opened my eyes to the war between sects of Judaism and how the tension should and needs to be eased. The problem is how…
That night we all chilled at the hotel…details can be assumed…
Wednesday May 24, 2006
In the morning we went to an expensive, beautiful town that a lot of writers and artists come for inspiration and then leave when their works of art are finished. It was beautiful but our time there was brief.
The rest of the day was spent at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum. I don’t have a lot of pictures because you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. Yad Vashem is very different from the museum in Washington D.C. because the D.C. one is meant to scare and shock you whereas Yad Vashem is meant to humanize the people and make sure you never forget.
After the museum we had a group discussion about the continuation of the Jewish people. It became a heated argument over weather you should/would marry a Jew or not. I have my own opinions on the topic I won’t get into nowbut when it comes down to it, you fall in love with who you fall in love with…
Thursday May 25, 2006
Today we went to Safat and saw all of the old synagogues. When I walked into these little synagogues I felt a powerful presence you can only know by experiencing it yourself. Everything from the mosaics on the floor to the paintings on the ceilings were dripping with mystical awe. I wish pictures could do them justice but nothing can except visiting them yourself.
I learned some interesting things about the color blue besides that it is avery holy and sacred color, but apparently flies will not land on anything the color blue. I don’t know if that is true but that is what theytold us today…
We went kayakingon the Jordan river and stopped frequently to get out and play in the water. It was a bit chilly and Neta and I got harrassed bysome random men on our way.
We then went to a movie theatre to watch a short movie about the Yom Kippur war.
I started feeling sick but I went out at night anyway because we got to go on what we affectionately call the “booze cruise.” We basically rented out a ship on the sea of Gallilee for a couple of hours in the night. We danced and drank and had an all around good time.
Friday May 26, 2006
I woke up feeling horrible. My sickness has begun to set in…not fun at all.
We went to Golan Wineries and watched a really funny movie about the wining industry. We then got to taste three of their wines, which was really nice. If you know me at all you are aware that I am a lightweight. So, three tastes of wines was enough to make me a bit lightheaded.
Everyone then went on a water hike and I really wanted to go but I felt horrible so I slept on the bus. For me not to do something as cool as a water hike is a big deal so I obviously wasn’t feeling my best.
After that we had a surprise planned by the soldiers where they basically yelled orders at us for a while to make us realize what they go through. It was a bit pointless and not fun for me because I was sick and then had to do many pushups in the dirt wearing my regular clothes.
I wish I could write more insightful and interesting things for yall but as I began to feel sick I was unable to really take in all of the wonderfullness that was going on around me. Also, I’m playing catch up so I’m sticking to the important parts. But I digress…
That night we celebrated Shabbat with a young Orthodox family. We played some improv theatre games and had the first actually good meal on our entire trip.
Saturday May 26, 2006
Because it was Shabbat, all I did was sleep, lay out by the pool for a bit, sleep, read, and eat. Basically, what I should always do on Shabbat.
I felt a bit better and was able to go out for our last night of birthright. We all danced and I had to chase some creepy guy down who was taking gratuitous (sp?) photos and my friends and I. It was a really fun night and a good way to end the trip. I was sad that this would be my last time ‘living it up’ with these people.
Posted from Israel:
posted Sunday June 2006