Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week Two

This week everyone went to The Shuk (open-air market), some of us more than once. The Shuk is a great place to get cheap fruits and vegetables, as well as clothing and pretty much anything else you could want. Bargaining is very welcome at the Shuk, although I am terrible at it. On Sunday I went to the Shuk with Shira, Jordan, and Emily. There is so much to look at and try and smell at the Shuk. (Did I mention they have spice stands?) If you ever go to Israel you have to go to The Shuk. They are all over the country, but the one we have in Tel Aviv is called Shuk Ha'Carmel. It is definitely an experience, but I had a lot of fun!

In Israel there are cats EVERYWHERE. I have no idea why they are literally everywhere, but they are. They are on rooftops, under cars, in the bushes, on benches, and apparently they also love the Shuk. As we were walking through, we passed a fruit stand where several people were laughing and taking pictures. There, in the middle of all of this fruit, is a cat just hanging out. This pretty much explains the cats of Israel. They could not care less about anyone or anything around them.

On Monday I finally started my first day of my internship! I found my way there just fine, and was on time. My boss, Naomi is really nice and helpful. She made aliyah from the Great Britain about four years ago, so she speaks English which is nice. I really am enjoying my internship so far. But honestly just being in the beautiful neighborhood where Batsheva is located is enough for me. In the middle of Tel Aviv is the very first neighborhood that was built, Neve Tzedek. It is a beautiful old neighborhood, with narrow brick roads and a lot of flowers and small boutiques and restaurants. Batsheva is located in the middle of the neighborhood, on the campus of the Suzanne Dellal Center. I can't even describe how peaceful it is there. It is in the middle of this giant city, but it is so quiet there. It is also one block from the beach which is an extra plus. I worked on Wednesday and Thursday as well. Everyone is very nice and really trying to make an attempt to speak in English around me, although my Ulpan classes start this week so hopefully my Hebrew starts to improve soon!

Street in Neve Tzedek

Entrance I walk through to Batsheva Dance Company

On Tuesday we had our first Educational Day. We traveled to Jerusalem for the day, and met with an ultra-orthodox representative, took a tour of the Security Fence, and met with Itzik Yarkoni (my social media mentor for the summer) and he spoke to us about the conflict and what we can do to help. As most of you probably know, there was a situation in the West Bank last week. Three Israeli boys were kidnapped on their way home from religious school. Jerusalem is right on the boarder of the West Bank, and you could feel the tension and stress in the air. Each individual who spoke to us said a little something about the missing boys. Itzik reminded us to use #bringbackourboys on social media, and I even saw that phrase posted on a bus that drove past me in Tel Aviv. Going to the security fence was actually kind of scary. We talk about the West Bank and places like Bethlehem and it all seems so far away. In reality though, it is right there. We literally stood against the wall between the West Bank and the Tomb of Rachel. On our tour of the security wall, our guide explained some of the struggles and issues that go on. He told us the Israeli government began building the wall during a very dangerous time where terrorist attacks were happening regularly. Our madrich, Lior, who is from Jerusalem, said that during this time he avoided buses and told his family goodbye every single time he left the house. It is so hard for us to understand what life was like for him back then. Then again, Itzik talked to us about the city of Sderot. Sderot is located less than a mile from the Gaza Strip, and they STILL have rockets being fired from Gaza to Sderot so often that most of the playgrounds there are also bomb shelters. When a rocket is detected, an alarm sounds, and the people of Sderot have fifteen seconds to take cover. FIFTEEN SECONDS. Itzik told us about a little boy who he spoke to who told him he couldn't wash his hair because it takes longer than fifteen seconds to wash out the shampoo. Although we knew a lot about these situations already, hearing about it from Israelis who experienced it was different.

Old City

On the right side of the Wall is the West Bank

On the left: The Tomb of Rachel
On the right: The Security Wall

The news we see in America and the posts we see online regarding Israel are not that reliable. Itzik showed us an example which clearly showed this. It was a photo of a young Palestinian girl raising her fist at an IDF soldier. This photo was sent around with negative comments about the soldier as if he was doing something to the girl. Itzik then showed us the actual video footage from which that picture came. In reality, there was a large group of soldiers and Palestinians and the Palestinian parents were pushing their children at the soldiers and encouraging the children to harrass them. Meanwhile the Palestinian parents were taking photos just like the original one we saw. This goes both ways though. I have seen many posts on Facebook in the past week of Palestinians supposedly celebrating the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys, but that is not necessarily the reality. I guess my point in writing about that is to teach a lesson. You can't believe everything you see online or in the media because most of the time it is probably not the whole truth.  

Overall, our day in Jerusalem was very interesting and eye opening, but it was very long. Pretty much everyone slept most of the hour bus ride home to Tel Aviv.

The next day after everyone returned home from our internships, we had a group meeting with Lior. We discussed some very intense topics like "what it means to be Jewish" and "Israel's rules on aliyah and marriage." We have a very diverse group when it comes to levels of Judaism. Each of us was raised in a different family with different traditions. It was interesting to see how heated the conversation got, and to see why those subjects can be so controversial and confusing. We didn't even get to fully finish the conversation because everyone had so much to say. Even though it got intense at times, I think that it was a very good conversation and it made us all think.

On Thursday we all went to our internships, and then it was finally the weekend! A few of us went to a beer tasting in the early evening on Tel Aviv University's campus. It was a beautiful campus and the event was really fun! Afterward we all kind of split up for the night. One group decided to go to Jerusalem for the night for Night Spectacular, a light show in the old city. Another group went to a club on the beach, and I went with a few people to the beach where we drank some wine and relaxed for the night. We all had a nice time at our activities and everyone made it home safe and sound.

Justin and me (Mom and Dad) at the beer tasting

Jeremy, Eli, Sarah, Justin, Emily, Nikki, and me at the beer tasting (with two new friends)

Jerusalem Light Show: from Jeremy

Jerusalem Light Show: from Jeremy

Jerusalem: from Jeremy

Friday was spent going to the shuk, Nachlat Binyamin (an artist's market), and to the beach. When we got home, everyone made pasta for dinner (the only thing any of us are good at making) and hung out at our building for the rest of the night.

*Extra Random Things*
-Justin had a thumbs-down falafel this week. He was drawn in by the 6 shekel price, and then highly disappointed by the lack of hummus! What is falafel without hummus?!
-Also, a big thank you to Noah for giving me one of his sour gummy worms on the way home from Jerusalem!




1 comment:

  1. Hi, this is Justin's mom, Janice. I LOVE reading your blog!!!! fun and informative and the pics are great!
    Regarding the West Bank and Rachel's this Rachel, Raquel, the nurse from Hadassah Hospital?

    I'm reading her book right now and aboslutely love it and the Israeli spirit.