Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Israel Experience 4: A Change of Landscape

Today began in the wilderness landscape of the Judean Desert and ended in the lush, green landscape of the Galilee. An incredible view of the Jezreel Valley, mentioned in the Tenach as the place where Elijah challenged the Priests of Baal to a sacrifice competition, provided our first sense of just how different this new landscape was.
We were treated to another lunch in situ, courtesy of Nir. Today was make-your-own wraps, with lafaa bread, goats chees, parsley, and zatar, which is Hyssop. Dessert was also wrapped up, but this time we were spreading Nutella and Halva onto the lafaa - yum!

From here we continued to experience the valley via another mode of transportation - ATV! Along the route we stopped at a naturally occuring watering hole - a popular kind of place found all over the northern hills around the Galilee where Israelis (Jews and Arabs) come to swim, eat, drink and hang out. In our short stop we saw a microcosm of the local society. Israeli arabs smoking a water pipe, an Israeli boy- and girlfriend picnicking togeter, and then a youth group of cyclists who came to take a break in their bike ride. Their leaders demonstrated how to leap into the pool and then gently encouraged all the children to have a go. So much fun!

We ended the afternoon, prior to an early dinner (where I had a brief reunion with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Shharone and Shlomo, who visited CBS and presented to our congregation lst year at Erev Sukkot), with some team games. I think we've discovered that our group likes games (and some of us are quite competitve!)

The day ended with a change of tone as we entered Yom HaZikaron with a very moving ceremony inthe region of Misagv, where our tour company owners, Nir and Guy, are from. They connected with friends and family and we bore witness to a very moving ceremony that brought out a very large % of the whole town. We stood together in silence while the sirens could be heard al around. This was followed by poetry, family  reflections, and music and the names of all those from Misgav who had died serving their country. As each name was read, along the date that they died, they were listed as 'father of so-and-so', 'brother of so-and-so' and more. This is how it is in Israel. Every soldier is someone's brother, sister, father, friend. And almost every single Israeli personally knows someone who died while serving. Memorial day is an emotional and heart-felt observance for all. We felt priveleged to stand witness to get some sense of what this day is all about from within.

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