Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Israel adventure of a lifetime - Part ONE

I am finally back from Israel (actually, I got back yesterday), and I wanted to get out all my thoughts on the trip while they are fresh in my mind. I went to Israel with many thoughts on my mind, and questions in my head. I was bouncing around political, personal, and even spiritual questions and ideas for quite some time. I think this is what drove me to blog, that deep need to connect with others who are grappling with these same issues, and discuss my ideas with them. What did I see? Gosh, I saw so much. My itinerary was as follows: Day One: Get off the plane after little to no sleep on the plane, but I am greeted by the Birthright crew, who are singin to us upon arrival. It really brought a smile to my face, to see such a greeting. The group then got into a big circle and shouted "ACHIM (brotherhood), ACHIM, ACHIM, ACHIM, ACHIM, SIMCHA, SIMCHA, SIMCHA, SIMCHA SIMCHA!" This was right in the airport! We then went to Kibbutz Sdot Yam (sp?), near Ceasaria, for a breakfast/lunch. I sampled my of many meals containing hummus. Afterwards, we went to another kibbutz to change, and then went straight to Mount Arbel in the Galilee for a hike! This was a mountain where the zealots had their last stand against the Romans. This mountain was also very muddy from a recent rain, and I ended up nearly falling off! I held onto a rope for dear life, and one of the people from my group ended up helping me down. Mount Arbel is beautiful. When I reached the top, I was able to see down into an Arab village that was actually quite pretty. (not sure the name of the village at this point) After the hike, we went to dinner at a 'Small Mall" (in Qiryat Shemona, a town heavily hit by the Katusha rockets from Lebanon) where I had the first of many shawarma meals, and then tried to get sleep. Day Two: Wake up call at 7 am. I am a bit jet lagged and confused over this early wake up call, but heed the call nonetheless. The group wakes up at the kibbutz and eats a kibbutz breakfast of many cheeses, and then we are off to Tzfat. This is a Jewish city devoted to the study of Kabbalah. I purchased a Chai necklace, that I am wearing today. Chai, for those who do not know, means "life." We also got to speak with artist David Friedman about Kabbalah and his art. He spoke of meditation and numerology, and all sorts of things I really was not aware of re: Kabbalah. I can see how it is a trendy 'religion' with the glitterati. We also went to a synogogue in the classic Sephardic tradition, and saw a completely different layout than the normal synogogue, with the bima in the center, rather than in the front. The color of blue was siffused throughout, which is a color that has great significance to the Jewish people. (just as green is the color of Islam) After touring the town, we hiked up the Golan Heights. From the top, we saw very clearly into Lebanon and Syria. The phrase "antennae of Lebanon" became a catch phrase for the trip! After the beautiful Golan (pictures of all this will eventually follow), we went to hot springs, and then dinner at the Kibbutz again. The hot springs were lovely - just what was necessary after the two hikes. Of course, my bathing suit stank of sulfur after the hot springs, but I didn't care, as it was something that really eased my aching muscles. After we got back to the kibbutz, I joined many in the group for a lovely chat, and songs. We stayed awake as long as we could, not wanting the perfect day to end...but then sleep eventually overcame us. And then onto day three...which I will leave for another post. I hope you are enjoying this! Love, Red Tulips

1 comment:

Irina Tsukerman said...

I can't wait to hear more - and see the pictures! My tour of Israel was mostly architectural, so I didn't get to see most of the places you've mentioned.