Monthly Archives: June 2009

hiking up north

this past weekend, my friend kornit invited me to join her and a group of friends on a hike through nahal yehudiya, which is up in the golan heights. the hike is beautiful, and as you hebrew speakers might have guessed, it includes a lot of water hiking [the word nahal in hebrew means stream]. we started up above the stream, then hiked down and along the stream. during a few points, the trail literally goes through pools of water, necessitating a swim (not that anyone minded on a hot summer day!). it’s only a 5km trail, but it took us a while, mostly because we kept stopping to jump in the water. also, the hike back up the trail from the stream is pretty excruciating – it felt as though we were hiking straight up!
because of all the water, i didn’t have my camera out all that much (it was a bit of a pain to keep unwrapping it from the layers of plastic bags i wrapped it in to keep it dry), but below are a few of the highlights…mostly scenery. for more people pictures (taken by effi, one of the group members i was hiking with), go here. in the meantime, enjoy!

looking down at the stream at the start of the hike:

on the trail, heading down the side of the mountain towards the stream:

one of the water crossings. the first one was equipped with a metal ladder, but this one, later on in the hike, only had hand-holds. you can see the close-up of effi as he gets ready to descend (the 2nd picture). kobi is already across the pool and climbing out of the water, trying not to get bitten by the fish!

kornit enjoying the hike:

the rock wall over one of the pools we stopped at. it kind of reminded me of petra (only not pink). pretty cool nonetheless:

if you look really closely, you can kind of-almost-maybe see the kinneret (the sea of galilee) between the hills. only part of the reason it’s hard to see is my fault. the water level is so low that the sea is about to disappear:

these last pictures aren’t from the golan heights. when we got back to the tel aviv area, i was dropped off, and as i crossed a bridge over the highway, i looked back and saw the sun setting over a field in back of me. i’m a big fan of the sun and the clouds…

that’s it! effi’s pictures will give you a better sense of what the hike was like. and yes, when you come visit israel, we can go on this hike again…

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pictures…well, a few, anyway

ok, here’s the first batch of much promised photos. let’s take a tour of jerusalem…
first off: the shuk, or market – – produce, meat, and anything else you can think of, galore. my pictures aren’t as good as the ones neil took in tel aviv this past december, but here are a few to start off with:

on the left you see the shuk itself. the other pictures give you a sense of what’s sold there…and in what piles! the best part, in my opinion, is the hawking of wares – – “fresh watermelon!!! tomatoes – best price!! freshly baked pita bread!!” and, even though they say the army is the melting pot of israel – – you’ll see a full cross-section of jerusalem society at the shuk – hassidic jews in their various shades of black,

muslims, soldiers on guard and on break,
older russian women, younger arabs, nuns (i saw
two the other day – one in white and one in black), tourists, and more.

i walked to the shuk the other day and stopped there for a smoothie – banana, strawberry, mint, and dates on an orange juice base. mmmmmmmm. just the thing for a hot day…

on my way to the shuk, i passed by my favorite place in jerusalem – the montefiorie windmill:

the windmill stands in the neighborhood of yemin moshe, which was the first neighborhood built in jerusalem outside of the gates of the old city. the neighborhood is really beautiful (in my opinion, anyway), and it looks towards the old city. here are a couple of pictures of the old city as seen from the windmill:

i could spend hours sitting there…and i have, in the past.but on this day i was headed towards tel aviv, so the walk continued. i got my fruit juice at the shuk and headed onwards towards the central bus station…and was quickly confronted by the force of orthodox judaism:

for those of you who aren’t hebrew readers, here is a translation: “shabbat begins at 7:12. every wife and daughter lights shabbat candles.” [it sounds much better – and it rhymes – in hebrew…]. actually, this is a pretty mundane sign – much less offensive than most of the ones i see around here. but seriously – where else do you see signs (sheets?) hanging out the windows admonishing you to fulfill your religious obligations? what a place…

anyway, shortly after seeing that sign, i got to the bus station and climbed aboard a bus to tel aviv, so that’s the end of the pictures. next up: pictures from my weekend hiking trip to the golan heights…

quick comments

i’m working through photos of my trip this weekend and from around jerusalem – they will be posted soon. before that, though, a few quick tidbits of information from the holy land:

– israel had a ‘first’ this past week with the round 1 draft pick of an israeli basketball player to the NBA. Omri Kaspi was the #23 draft pick, by the Sacramento Kings (aren’t you impressed that i know this???)
– vending machines here are taken to a whole new level. in addition to machines selling coffee, soft drinks, and snacks, yesterday i saw a vending machine for…french fries. comes complete with 2 packets of ketchup and 1 salt packet. craziness.
– how often do you see an archeological dig on your way to school/work? today on the bus, as i passed by the walls of the old city, i looked out the window at the work that is being done to construct the new light rail in jerusalem, and saw not one, but two sites labeled “archeological dig.” just goes to show you – – people have lived here for so many thousands of years that you can’t dig anywhere without discovering the artifacts of a past civilization.

i started my arabic class today. it was enjoyable, but HARD. in the last 6 years i’ve forgotten much of the arabic i studied before that…well, here’s my chance to get it back!

always something interesting going on…

it took me more than an hour to get to the university today.
why so long, you ask? well, several main streets were closed today – as i knew in advance – because today was the day of the jerusalem gay pride parade.
as a result, today was also a day of many protests – specifically, from the orthodox jewish community here. lots of black hats on the loose – and lots of really infuriating signs and posters around the city. seriously – i go back and forth between being absolutely fascinated by the religious community here, and feeling like my peace-loving self is going to explode as a result of their closed-mindedness. arrgggh. hello, jerusalem.

in any case, the road closings meant that my bus to the university took a different route than usual, so i was treated to a different part of the city. i think my goal in the next month is to walk as much of jerusalem as possible – this city is such a treasure trove of history and character.

and yes, i promise to post pictures! i actually have some to post, but it’s too late for me to write the accompanying text. i promise to do it soon!

it’s a small world…

as a follow up to what i wrote a few days ago regarding israeli warmth and willingness to help/make connections, here is a short excerpt from a conversation i had last night with my mom’s cousin (roughly synthesized and translated from the hebrew):

cousin: so, what exactly is your doctorate about?
me: [something about israeli jews and arabs, education, etc…]
cousin: oh, you know, my husband’s son is involved with something in that area.
me: really?
cousin: yes, he’s finishing up his PhD and he also works for an organization that is involved in bringing israelis and palestinians together…
me: oh, what’s the name of the organization? i’m familiar with many of the ones here.
cousin: i don’t remember.
my aunt: well, what’s his name?
cousin: [names name]
me: oh! he and i have been emailing! we’re supposed to meet soon!

this person, who i reached via an israeli friend in bloomington, happens to be my mother’s cousin’s stepson. so typical for this country…

so, in any case – – i write this post from the apartment i’ll be living in for the next month. it’s located in the German Colony [in Jerusalem], a nice little residential/commercial neighborhood not too far from the city center. my apartment is located on a small side street off of the main drag. it’s nice to feel like i’m somewhat settled, and it’s wonderful to be back in Jerusalem – it’s been 15 years since i lived here. just walking home tonight, after meeting a few of my cousins for dinner, made me smile.

for those of you who have asked – i promise to post some pictures soon! i suppose that will require me to take some first 🙂

complexities of the conflict

i had a meeting today with one of the directors of Peace Child Israel, an israeli organization that promotes coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs by means of theater. in theory, the meeting was about potential dissertation research, but over the course of the 45 minutes or so of our discussion, the conversation brought up a lot of interesting thoughts about the israeli/palestinian, israeli/arab, jewish/arab conflict.

one of the interesting things that came up was the amount of disagreement within organizations about objectives of the organization’s work, and, more broadly, about desires for the future of an israeli state. what happens when a coexistence organization, staffed by both jewish and non-jewish israelis, tries to keep its momentum going during war (as in, during the gaza war this past winter)? the cracks widen, disagreements abound, and the true complexities of peace-building in israel (note: within israel, not between israel and her neighbors) become painfully obvious. as i was told today, an israeli and palestinian state might exist side by side…but even once they do, it will take 5 generations for relations between all the citizens of this state – the state of israel – to normalize. whatever ‘normalize’ means.

it’s an interesting dilemma, especially for an organization committed to working jointly to give youth an opportunity to see a different future than the one that exists. the words i heard today were, “we agree to disagree, and it’s a starting point.” but that can only go so far, when at the end of the day the political issues have to be dealt with.