So I am back blogging with some new travel news. This spring break I went to Havana on a service mission with Northwestern University’s Hillel. Before we arrived at the island, we collected aid (mostly medical) from friends and family. Although we toured the country, we also brought the aid to places in need, such as: temples, a Jewish center, etc.
It has been a little over a week since I have been back, and I am still in shock. It is so unfortunate that only 90 miles away from my Florida home, there are people who can never leave their country. These Cubans can’t buy bulk groceries, or splurge at a clothing store or even own cars! Yet despite this lack of freedom, their spirits are high.
At night, everyone danced along the Malecon. They sung. They laughed. They had fun.
And this is why I will never forget the people I spoke with, the sights that I saw and the information I learned.
By the Israeli humorist, Efraim Kishon:
Israel is a country surrounded on all sides by enemies, but the people’s headaches are caused by the neighbors upstairs.
Israel is a country, where the same drivers who cuss you and flip you the bird’ will immediately pull over and offer you all forms…
T. O. M. M. O. R. O. W.
Yes, those eight letters are what I dread the most: leaving Israel tomorrow. It has been such an adventure: a roller coaster of emotions, a spiritual journey, a wave of fun, THE ride of a life time. And in less then 24 hours it is all going to end.
My last day of class was today, strange since I will never see the 12 people in it again. I will never see my professor, who I adored, and I will probably never see the inside of the Rothenberg Internation School again.
After my class, where we talked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today, I returned back to my dorm for one last time (well, at least from the school) and literally got ready in four minutes. Ugh, my last time rushing to make a bus into town…
Becca, Jesse, Sarah, Talya, Nathaniel and I had one last huuurah in town… dinner in style, well pub-style that is. We went to this hot spot bar/Irish restaurant and celebrated one last time. For me, it was my last time getting sweet potatoes on a salad… impossible to order in the US. For Becca, it was the last time drinking tap water that upsets her stomach. The list of pros and cons for everybody goes on and on and on…
Unfortunately, Becca and I had to study/ write my final paper so we could not join the other four for Mamilla Hotel drinks or cigars. (Don’t worry, no cigars for me… it’s more Sarah and Nathaniel’s style)
After writing my paper for four hours, well on my notebook since my computer decided to be difficult and not charge, I went to sleep in the little Ikea twin-sized bed of mine for the very last time.
Oh how I dread for tomorrow to come… tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.
Every day the clock is ticking. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The end of my trip is approaching. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. With less then three days left in Israel, my friends and I decided to go on an adventure… tick, tock, tick, tock…. and stop the clock…
Our destination: Gan Hashlosha, an Israeli national park with three beautiful, natural springs. An oasis in a desert, literally.
The entrance to the park. Notice the desert mountains and palm trees, crazy right?
The most spectacular view I have seen in a while, or probably in my life
On Sunday the park was full of children and families barbecuing and swimming
Our lunch for today: fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon and humus
Leaving such a fun, enjoyable, relaxing day… the perfect way to end my trip
ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, המבדיל בין קודש לחול, בין אור לחושך, בין ישראל לעמים, בין יום השביעי לששת ימי המעשה. ברוך אתה ה’, המבדיל בין קודש לחול.
Shabbat is unique from other days. It is the day of appreciation. The day of prayer. The day where the world, especially in Israel, is suppose to shut down. That means no cars, no buses, no opened restaurants, no open stores… nothing is in business.
Although this doesn’t always apply to things in the United States, in Jerusalem, Saturdays are like one big ghost town. In fact, the only things opened are the Arab market and the Israeli museum.
Sarah, Adam and I journeyed to the Israeli museum where we explored the Dead Sea scrolls. These documents were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in caves along the shores of the Dead Sea. They contain the “oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents and preserve evidence of great diversity in the late Second Temple.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Seeing such old documents and artifacts, like a Shoe and scissors, from the time of the Second Temple is mind blowing. Yes, I have obviously learned about the people living during this time but it is something else to realize it’s actually true; that there is actual evidence right before my eyes indicating life-a civilized, advanced life thousands of years ago.
After drooling over each and every exhibit, the three of us did what the people of the temple use to do: we actually walked to our destination. On the way to the Arab market, since that is the only thing besides the museum opened on Saturday, we passed the prime minister’s house and consequently the Gilad Shalit tent camp.
Each of us paid respect to his family, signed one of many banners and took the bright, neon yellow bands and a few bumper stickers. http://www.habanim.org/en/index_en.html
Although the market was filled with tourists, it turned out to be a fun, relaxing way to spend the afternoon. We visited Sarah’s family’s favorite vender and ate probably the best humus I have had in Israel. This restaurant/stand (it was not neither, but more of a mix of the two) was a little hole in the wall. But it had delicious, authentic food.
Shabbat is long time to go for with nothing open, so it is key to have a good meal to end the Shabbas. Tonight’s dinner definitely did the trick. Adam, Becca, Talya, Nathaniel, Louis (Nathaniel’s roommate) and I ate dinner on Jaffa Street. Amazing. Filling. Fresh. So good, just thinking about the dinner is making me salivate.
Shook, Shwarma, Shabbat- oh my! Shook, Shwarma, Shabbat- oh my! Today was stuffed with s’s.
It all started with the sound of my alarm, at approximately 10:30. Sarah, Becca, Adam and myself got up bright and early (well not so much, but still relatively early for a weekend) to go to the shook. Usually, the market is busy but nothing compares to the chaos of Shabbat.
The shook on a Friday is where tourists come to get trampled over. It’s where frail, old ladies push and shove their way through the market’s narrow lanes. It’s where Orthodox men run their grocery cart over people’s feet if they are in the way. It’s where constant screaming and shouting becomes like a lullaby: constant, familiar, and never ending.
Becca, Sarah, Adam and I divided and conquered the shook. Our missions: team Adam and Ariel- get challah, wine, chicken and schnizzle; team Sarah- get ruggalah, watermelon, grapes and figs; team Becca- get mozzarella cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes.
In between the challah and chicken, I introduced Adam to his very first shwarma. The reaction: complete and total approval. In other words, Adam loved it! Mission accomplished.
After several hours, which seemed like days, at the market, we all went back to relax and then cook. Two of my sister’s best friends, Karli and Jennifer, were also joining the four of us for Shabbat dinner.
On the menu: mozzarella and tomato salad, Israeli salad (aka cucumbers and tomatoes), pasta with garlic and olive oil, chicken and mini schnizzle, eggplant, challah (two kinds: plain and one with spices), watermelon, grapes, figs and of course infamous ruggalah.
For my first and last Shabbat in Israel, tonight was a superb Shabbat.
Thursdays: Israel’s version of the United State’s Friday. It’s the last day of work and school, and it is the day when you know you are finally done. It is also the day Adam Weiss showed up at my dorm.
Background: Adam Weiss is the son of David and Sheryl Weiss, brother to Amanda and Alex Weiss. Bar mitzvah newsletter sounding, I know. Anyways, Adam and his family are one of my family’s closest friends. Going more in depth: Alex is my brother’s absolute best friend; my sister and Adam will eventually get married (I kid, I kid); Amanda and I are extremely close; both of our dads work together; and for our moms, let’s just say they created a sushi roll together. Yes, our families are very, very close so I could not say no when Adam asked to stay a weekend.
Adam is currently doing a BBYO Israel trip and this weekend he has “family weekend:” a weekend where the kids on the program go to a relative’s house in Israel for Shabbat. Since Adam had nowhere to go, I decided to take him in and show him the real fun of Jerusalem.
Stop number one: Waffle Bar. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds: a restaurant dedicated to warm, wholesome waffles. And of course towering bowls of lettuce and vegetables, severely stuffed sandwiches, and fresh floury flatbread. Basically, this restaurant is the wonderland of waffles. Adam and I met up with Talya, Sarah and Becca here and needless to say, we all splurged.
Stop number two: Jaffa Street, Thursday night edition. After demolishing our healthy entrees and not so healthy desserts, the five of us headed to Jaffa Street- the only place in Jerusalem on a Thursday that is more crowded then the Kotel on a Friday night. The five of us took Adam to Zoolie’s, our favorite bar, where Jesse later joined us. It was a very fun night indeed.
It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by he man who does things.
- Theodore Roosevelt
The end. It’s when the curtain finally closes. It’s when the cast takes its last bow. It’s when the theatre becomes empty. And for me, it’s when I said goodbye to 37 Hillel Street.
Today was my last day interning at the Israel Resource News Agency. And I must say as I reflect on my journey this summer I am upset to leave this job. In the past three weeks I have learned so much from David Bedein (my boss) and working for him. I have learned how to cover press conferences, talk one-on-one with government officials, type up a news story within an hour, contact top news sources… the list can goes on and on and on. Trust me, I’ll spare you it this time.
But I will say this: while working at Beit Agron (the infamous journalism building) I have published three articles in two different publications. Not too shabby, eh?
In my last posts I have not really explained what I have been working on in the office so let me explain. I have been trying to contact this woman named Elisheva Milikovsky, to interview her about the Sudanese refugees she helps out. Here’s a news exclusive: the issue of Sudanese refugees coming to Israel is going to be a hot topic in the news. Watch out for it! Anyways, I was unfortunately unable to reach her during my last days. It was a total bummer. I really wanted to end my internship with a BAAM! But oh well, life isn’t always fair.
After work I went to class to turn in my dreaded, painfully long midterm- I kid, it was only 3 pages long: easy peasy lemon squeezy. For dinner Talya, Becca, Sarah and I went to Emik Rafaim for dinner at Olives, a Rothfield family favorite. Needless to say it was perfect. A perfect end to a perfect night. Cliché and already used on this blog, but as I said before… “oh well.”