Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tiyul to Jerusalem

A few days ago we got back from our 4 day tiyul (trip) to various places around Israel, which has definitely been a highlight of making aliyah so far. After leaving Ortal on Monday morning, we travelled to a natural spring quite near to Jerusalem called Ein Mabua. It was a really fun afternoon, as we all jumped into these freezing cold springs and went through this pitch-black, narrow tunnel. There were also waterfalls and rivers; and, although unlike some of my other friends, I don't marvel over nature, I did recognise how beautiful of a country Israel is. From there we travelled to Jerusalem and arrived at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, where we stayed for the night. That night we went out to a bar on Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem, a place which, as the country's capital, seems so far from the danger that is associated with Israel.

On Tuesday, we visited the Old City, the Jewish quarter and David's City. First we went into the Chain of Generations Center, which is situated next to the Kotel. This interactive museum really got me in the mood for what was to happen next, as the translated narration talked about how for 2000 years Jews have prayed to return to Jerusalem and, even after all the persecution that we have faced, we have made it back to the eternal city. I could feel goosebumps forming and my hairs tingling, but I generally didn't feel like crying, or anything like that. In fact, I think I had worked out that the last time I cried was two years ago. After this museum we were given time to go to the Kotel. I walked there alone and stood facing the Western Wall. As I pressed my head and hands against it, I suddenly and unexpectantly burst into floods of tears. Now I am very passionate about Judaism and Zionism but I honestly can't truly explain the feeling I felt when I was there, but it was amazing; not tears of sadness, or neccessarily happiness, just tears of general emotion. Without shame, I can tell you that I cried like a baby for a full ten minutes. For a long time I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, I was just letting it all out. Once I felt that I was done, I thought about my aliyah to Israel (and the miracle of how easy it is to make aliyah compared to much darker days in the past) and how I felt like my parents were there with me... then the tears started again. It was crazy experience that I will never forget and will hopefully give me the inspiration and determination that I will need in harder times to come.

My Garin at the Kotel

The rest of the day was interesting, even though I saw stuff that I had seen before (on Lavi and tour), I remember thinking that I could have been the tour guide. During some free time, me and my roommate went to the Arab market in order to buy a rug for the room. Although I only spoke a little, it was my first time of haggling in hebrew; we bought a miniscule Persian rug and managed to haggle the guy down from 200 to 100 shekels. From Jerusalem we drove to Ein Gedi beach where we slept for the night. Definitely one of the most uncomfortable nights of sleep of my life; there was no room left for me on the mat so I slept on the rocky ground in just my thin sleeping back, no pillow. I was woken by about 50 flies on my face and, the most annoying birds ever quawing loudly, at 5.30 in the morning. On Wednesday, we did a 4 hour hike in the Judean desert and then went into the Dead Sea, where a rope burn on my palm from the earlier hike was unbearably painful in the water, also, I mistakenly farted while in the water, also very very painful. That night we slept in Bedouin tents, in order to wake up at 4am the next day for Masade. Thursday, we climbed Masade (the shorter trail) and watched the sunrise, been there, done that. Later we returned to Ortal. It was a truly fantastic trip, memorable moments and great times with friends.

During the trip, the girls found out if they got the jobs that they wanted in the army. It was a dramatic scene, as some of my friends were delighted they had received their jobs, while others were distraught that they didn't get what they wanted. It showed how important it is to some people about where to go in the army, for me, I have a preference to a specific unit but I will be happy with any combat unit that I am placed and I will learn to love where I am. I will just feel privileged to put on that uniform. Regarding this, along with my two flatmates coincidently, I will be going to the gibush (trial day) for the paratroopers unit at the beginning of November. This means I need to start training if I want to pass through the physical part of the test, which I have heard will consist of running with sandbags, sprinting up sand dunes and other horrendous tasks. But I still have some time before I start worrying about that.

My host family on the kibbutz, who I haven't mentioned yet, the Shoshana's (Dror and Amir, with their three sons) are amazing to me. I go to their house around four times a week for meals and to play with the children. They really make me feel at home and I feel so lucky to have such a great host family. Along with all the other host families and the rest of the kibbutz, they came last Saturday night to see the garin show that we put on for them. The show was a way of declaring ourselves as a group and generally entertaining the kibbutznikim. It was a great success and here is a link to one of the videos that we made for the show...

A scene during the show

So it was a really fantastic week, with the show and the trip, this week everything goes back to normal with ulpan.

The 'striptease' during the show, I am in pink, wearing the light blonde wig!

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