We were all very excited for our first weekend in Israel. When the weekend comes in Israel it is very different than in America. First of all, the weekend is on Friday and Saturday, since Shabbat begins Friday at sundown. At around 4:00 pm on Friday the buses stop and most supermarkets and restaurants shut down for Shabbat. In Tel Aviv a lot of the stores and restaurants in the downtown area stay open, especially on the beach. As the afternoon ends, things get quiet as people are preparing for the Sabbath.
On this specific Friday, Tel Aviv was holding the Tel Aviv Pride Parade. A good amount of us woke up early and went to join in the festivities. There were so many people there and all over the city. It was an awesome experience. Since it was Pride, there were drag shows and rainbows everywhere, and some people in risque clothing, but as I walked through and observed everything I realized something. Everyone there was having a great time together and we were all celebrating the same thing, Life and Love. It was beautiful to see how many people came out and supported. It was cool to see the diverse group of people who attended as well. There were soldiers, children, elderly people, and boys and men wearing kippahs, among the crowd. After the celebration which was held in a park, we all marched through the streets of Tel Aviv and to the beach. There was music, laughing, dancing, drinking, and tons of fun. As we walked through, there were supporters squirting water guns and throwing water down on us, which was gladly welcomed since it was so hot. It was a fantastic experience and one I won't forget.
|Eli, Emily, Me, Michelle at the Pride Parade|
That evening we had special plans. A friend of some of the interns, Stephanie (who is also the daughter of our coordinator from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Karyn), left Cincinnati a few years ago and joined the IDF. She put some plans together for us to have dinner and then go out to a club in the city. Before dinner we all went around and talked about what our Shabbat moment is, when it really feels like Shabbat. Liora mentioned that her family sings Bim Bam. Our madrich, Lior, had never heard of this so we all sang it together to teach him. I think that was probably my Shabbat moment this week. Then Shira blessed us all for Shabbat and led Kiddush. After that we had a falafel dinner outside. After dinner we all finished getting ready for the club. A couple hours later two private buses came to pick us up (since the city buses were stopped) and took us to Clara, a top night club in Tel Aviv. When we arrived we had a private area and special attention. It was outside and right on the beach which is something we definitely don't have in Cincinnati. We all had a great time together, and had a lot of bonding time. All of the girls were getting a lot of attention from the Israeli men at the club, and the guys from our group were there to save us from anyone who was really creepy. I think each of the guys was one of our "boyfriends" at some point in the night. Overall, the night was a lot of fun and we got to experience clubbing in a new country!
|Nikki, Sarah, Me, Michelle, Tessa, Shira, Liora before Clara|
|Tessa, Emily, Me, Sarah, Justin, Michelle at Clara|
Today most of us spent a good portion of the day at the beach. Since it is Shabbat, and the buses weren't running, we walked a couple miles to get there. Once we reached the beach it was well worth it! It was a beautiful day and the beach was very nice. The Mediterranean is beautiful. We swam, collected seashells, laid out in the sun, and some of use buried Noah in the sand! It was a great way to spend our first Shabbat in Israel. We had a beautiful view from our balcony of the sunset closing Shabbat.
|Eli, Jordan, Sarah, Me burying Noah in the sand|
|End of Shabbat|
Now it is back to work tomorrow (for most of us).
I will leave you with a quote from our own AJ Goldhoff: "The answer to a lot of "why questions" is why not?"