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Emmy - Posts
When I first started writing blogs for Travelujah, I thought, yeah, I’ll have a blog done every week, no problem. Oh, but it’s been a problem. I’m so busy!
The point of that is really to say that here in Israel, life happens. Life doesn’t come to a halt because a rocket was fired. People don’t go indoors and live in fear. Things don’t shut down. People don’t shut down. The only time anything shuts down is regularly, every Friday, on Shabbat! But Shabbat is another story… The fact is that life is happening here in Israel, and life is a busy thing. I’m busy living it in a place where people back in the States ask me whenever I want them to come and visit, “Is it safe?” Well, no, but I thought you could at least have some interesting stories to tell when you get home – if you make it home, that is. Of course it’s safe. I live here. Every day. I’m having life here. And it’s keeping me very busy!
Sushi with friends from school on a Friday night after shabbat ended!
I took this on November 21, 2012 - the day a bomb was thrown onto a Tel Aviv bus.
Somewhere along the lines when we’re kids someone tells us not just to believe whatever people say; not just to take someone else’s word for it, but to find out for ourselves. As you get older you have to start to back up things you present. Likewise, as you get older, if you’re in the habit of just believing what people say and make no effort to know the truth… something is wrong there. Funny, though, how when it comes to Israel, it’s not only acceptable, but if you don’t just believe what people say, even if it’s on the news, then there’s something wrong with you.
When I was about four years old I remember becoming aware of a plaque my mother kept tucked into the bottom left corner of the big mirror that went along with the big dresser in my parents’ bedroom. The plaque was a thin, black plastic rectangle, unassuming, that said in big, green
I recently went into a little convenience store one night. The young man behind the counter, probably in his early 20’s, was unbelievably handsome. He rang up my things and asked me in English, “Anything else?” I responded, “Just your love.” He looked at me blankly. Little did I know that “anything else” is about the only English he knows. Hebrew… Oh, Hebrew. Had I only known you!
There’s always culture shock. Even in my times in fellow English-speaking countries (although, I swear at times they were toying with me) such as England, Wales, and Scotland, there is culture shock. Of course it’s wise to study up on a new land and culture before heading there, but there are little things about life that I would never think to wonder about. Like, I wish someone had told me that you’re hard pressed here to find coffee that isn’t instant. That has been the number one hardest adjustment for me, believe it or not. Midol and Monster energy drink are non-existent, which has been a hard adjustment for everyone AROUND me. And there are all of about 2, maybe 3, kinds of cheese in the dairy section at the grocery store, none of whose names contain words like “cheddar” or “jack”. These are not flaws; just things I wish I had known.
A person’s first trip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem is an unforgettable thing. In order to get to the wall, one must wind through alleys and alleys of shops filled with trinkets, wares, and treats. Shopkeepers watch the corridors like hawks, doing all they can think of to lure tourists into their spaces. The walk from Damascus Gate to the Wailing Wall is an experience in and of itself, but once one has passed through the actual entrance to the plaza where the wall stands, it is an all-encompassing feeling of awe. The bustle and energy of the people giving way to some sort of electricity is an actual current in the air. Descending down the stairs to the main square, one’s eyes see not just the crowds, and the square, but as a backdrop to the wall one sees the minaret lit up in green, a glorious symbol of Islam.
Approaching the walkway from the plaza towards the wall one encounters stone sinks with several spigots and plastic watering containers. The point of this is to cleanse onself before approaching the wall. For me, this is when the experience really began.
This Christmas season I had, for someone from the United States, a probably once-in-a-lifetime experience. I spent time in the West Bank staying with a Christian Palestinian family and had Christmas season experiences I will probably never have again.
What is on my heart this Christmas due to my new experience? I don’t have to describe or point out the beauty of Bethlehem, the lights, and the sights. It is something different that is on my heart.
This is not meant to be judgmental. I want to present a contrast. The same day I was in Bethlehem, I was in Jerusalem. I was in the Old City. “Anaa wa’ahlee” (Arabic for “my family and I” - I am referring to my host family who has welcomed me, loved me, and made me a true member of the family) made an attempt to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque. I’m not sure what possessed my host father to attempt this, but we tried. We were abruptly and hostilely confronted by a guard, for we were all Christian. Religious postulation requires an armed guard in fatigues. I did not feel endangered, but that is not the point. The mere presence of a certain religion is that much of a threat. Meanwhile, Muslims were free to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and tour all of the religious Christian areas.
Christmas in the West Bank