Backstage Travels

All the world's a stage…

Day 8: Snow? In the desert?

We were supposed to go to Jerusalem. Imagine our surprise when we could not go because mother nature decided that the Middle East seemed like a good place for a snow storm. I remembered that little boy from Safat, and imagined he’d have the time of his life having a massive snowball fight.

Anyway, we were rerouted. We went to Jaffa, and toured around there for a while.

So much art!

There was also this fountain with weird caricatures of zodiac signs…

Then we stopped for gelato. Our guide said that if we ever wanted to see her at her happiest, this was it:

We also went to Independence Hall. This was where Israel was signed into a State.

There was a man who gave a very passionate, but a little preachy speech. I was very sleepy throughout the whole thing, but I woke a bit when he started telling us all to have Jewish babies.

Then we went to our last hostel/villa/kibbutz. We were supposed to be in a different one, but the snow happened. This place was beautiful though.

That evening, we had a pretty heavy political discussion about Israel and Palestine. It seems that if you make a decision on the subject, you’re ignoring some of the facts…

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Day 7: We’re starting to lose track of the days…

The morning started later than usual, and we just gathered in the permanent-looking tent outside of the hostel. There was a heater, but…it was chilly. We started out with a Torah passage, and broke into pairs to discuss it. I was paired up with one of the Israelis, Ofer, and we had an intense discussion. We both have very different ideas about a lot of things, but the thing that made our conversations meaningful and deep was our respectful listening and responding to each point. I don’t usually have religious discussions, and I tend to look at things secularly while trying to be objective. We ended up getting off topic a bunch of times, but I was never sorry for that.

We also played what we were told was a card game. It was not a game, and it was not fun. We were given a set of cards with things written on them like “Praying,” “Living in Israel,” “Raising Kids Jewish,” and other things that we were told people think are important to keep the Jewish religion and traditions alive. We were split into groups of five or six. We were a group of five, and were the only group to not have an Israeli. It showed. Eventually we were told little by little to whittle our choices of things that kept Judaism alive to three cards. Many of the groups kept “Supporting the IDF,” “Having a Jewish State,” or “Visiting Israel.” Meanwhile, our group kept “Raising Kids Jewish” (because children are the future), “Keeping Jewish Traditions” (because we decided that included keeping kosher and holidays and praying and reading the Torah, all cards that we eventually threw out), and “Remembering Jewish History” (because we decided that included things like anti semitism and the Holocaust).

That non-game got intense quickly.

That night, we blew off some steam in Tel Aviv. Our tour guide said she knew someone who owned a bar, and we spent the evening there. I’m not usually a going out person, but I had a good time. It started to feel like I’d known all these people for years and years…but it’s been a week.

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