The Little Things In Life

As most of you reading this post know, I spent a month of last summer on a program in California (it’s not like I haven’t talked about it a lot…..). It was the most remarkable program and experience I have ever been through. I left Brandeis, California with a whole new understanding of myself and appreciation for other, but most importantly I left with a new group of friends. It is often hard to stay in contact with people after programs end or time goes on, but after finishing this summer program in California I knew it would not be hard to keep in contact with the people I became closest with.

During the 28 days spent on the program I had the opportunity to meet and become close with participants from around the world. I was able to hear others stories and share moments that no one outside of the program would ever understand. After leaving BCI I stayed in close contact with my friend Carli, from New Zealand. During the program the two of us were inseparable. We had never met prior to the start of the program, but immediately clicked and felt as if we had known each other most of our lives.

I never stopped to think about how amazing it is that here I am, a year later, still in contact with Carli. Carli just left Israel a few days ago and although we only had three days together it was so special to have had that opportunity to catch up and reminisce. No matter how much time pasts or how busy our lives are, we make sure to stay in contact and up to date on each others lives. Also while in Israel, I ran into my friend Jordyn, Tamar, Emily and Lauren (all from BCI). It was crazy to be at various places throughout this country and run into friends from different states back home. After running into these friends and saying goodbye to Carli I started to really appreciate the value of my friendships with people I have become close with and had the occasion of meeting. No matter where we are in the world at the points in our lives, friends are such a special thing to have. I know that no matter where I am, I have friends like Carli to call and chat with… even if she is in New Zealand.

One of my favorite parts of all these different worldly opportunities I have had and continue to experience is the chance to meet people from all over. It is amazing to see what different lives everyone live, but how similar so many of our interests are and outlooks on life.

The simple things in life I tell ya…. quite amazing.

Exploring Tel Aviv... hopefully next it will be in New Zealand

Exploring Tel Aviv… hopefully next it will be in New Zealand

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Our Journey Continues

MONDAY, JUNE 2: After Anna and Carli explored the Carmel Market, the three of us walked to Jaffa and Old Jaffa to check out their flea market and shuk. It’s starting to get quite hot out.

TUESDAY, JUNE 3: Anna, Carli and I walked for a few hours along the beach promenade up to the Tel Aviv Port, then ventured back to the Carmel Market (shuk) which was packed, because Tuesday evening would begin the holiday of Shavuot. We got separated in the throngs of people, so I finished my grocery shopping while Carli and Anna attempted to bargain for a bag Carli really wanted.

That evening Carli had to leave to return to New Zealand for the summer. Anna and I sat on the beach and talked. Being so close to the beach is one of the things I will miss most about Israel. Especially spending relaxing evenings watching the sunset.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4: I met Tzipi on the beach early in the morning, then returned to the apartment because it was getting unbearable hot and humid. We spent most of the day in the apartment and ventured to the beach in the early evening. It felt wonderful to walk in the sea to cool off. The beach wasn’t very crowded and I even attempted this popular paddle ball beach game with Anna.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5: Not as hot today so Anna and I walked for over over 5 hours exploring areas we had not yet seen, especially beautiful Rothschild Blvd. which is lined with lovely apartments and many of the famous Bauhaus architecture that gives Tel Aviv the name of the “White City”.

“It is perhaps ironic that Tel Aviv houses the largest number of buildings designed in an architectural style that developed in pre-Nazi Germany, a style that came to an abrupt end in Germany, with the Nazi’s rise to power. This architectural style is so prevalent in Tel Aviv that it almost seems as though it were a local style, but it is not.” Quote taken from the Jewish Virtual Library.

We took in a visit to the Hagana Museum. The Haganah was a paramilitary organization when Palestine was under the British Mandate, but later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.

 We had lunch at a famous, and very crowded restaurant known as Benedict’s and continued our walk to Rabin Square, where there is a memorial to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated in 1995.

 We explored a bit of Dizengoff street, which is crowded with stores, cafes, and LOTS of people, then headed back to the apartment with a brief stop in the Carmel Market where we found that coming late in the day, rather than early in the morning, seems to afford one better prices !!

 FRIDAY, JUNE 6: Went to the Nahalat Binyamin Arts & Crafts Fair near the Carmel shuk. There were some lovely items, especially jewelry. We also stopped to hear a famous Israeli folksinger – Miri Aloni, – who performs there every Friday.

 Her most popular hit from the late 1960s, “Shir La’Shalom,” suddenly became a reminder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and the deep social rift that continues to plague Israeli society. Even now, over 14 years later, the memory of that night brings tears to her bright blue eyes.

“I was invited to sing ‘Shir La’Shalom’ at the ‘Yes to peace, no to violence’ peace rally, which was itself very successful. None of the 150,000 people who came to support Rabin’s way of making peace knew what was going to happen afterward,” she explained. “It was not the first time I shared a stage with Rabin, but it was the first time I succeeded in getting him to join me, because he was shy, and singing was not his forte.” The applause of the crowd as they heard Rabin’s voice was deafening. In the euphoria, the normally stoic Rabin even gave Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres a warm embrace.

Aloni remembers shaking hands with Lea Rabin after the performance and asking her to take good care of Yitzhak for the Israeli people. “‘I’m doing the best I can,’ she answered.” Shortly after the rally ended, Aloni and her family heard the shots. Her husband, a former commander in the first IDF parachute unit, knew they were real and ordered Aloni and their two sons to hide behind a car. “I get choked up when I talk about it, but I was so naïve to think that it was not real shots. I thought someone made a joke and shot from a toy gun,” she said. A copy of the song’s lyrics was later found in Rabin’s jacket pocket, soaked with blood.

 Anna and I then shoved our way thru the shuk, which is crazy on Fridays, to buy the few groceries we needed.

 Friday night we took a long stroll along the beach to the Port of Tel Aviv where we had dinner at another lovely outdoor café overlooking the water. A pleasure I will truly miss.

 SATURDAY JUNE 7: Anna, myself and 5 million other people went to the beach. Being Shabbat, the beach was packed. The surfers were out in force because of the high waves. A beautiful sight. We managed about two hours in the hot sun, among the crowds, before we went back to the apartment for a Shabbat rest.

 At night, friend Tzipi joined us as we returned to the beach to watch another lovely sunset. While there are still a lot of people there in the evening, it is much less crowded and noisy.

 Tzipi then walked with us to Bialik street to see the lovely home of the late “Father of Hebrew Poetry”, Chaim Nachman Bialik. The home, which is now a museum, was built in 1927 and is just lovely. Check out photos of The Bialik House, Tel Aviv, on the internet. At the end of Bialik street is the first City Hall, all white and lit up in the evening sky. Exquisite architecture.

 Bialik Street also includes the Rubin Museum !!!

 Anna and I finished the evening at a great pasta restaurant in an alley near the shuk where one finds lots of great little eateries.

Photo Addendum

 

Little kid heading to the Western Wall

Little kids heading to the Western Wall

Anna and I enjoyed our shabbat at the King David Hotel

Anna and I enjoyed our shabbat at the King David Hotel

The pool at the King David

The pool at the King David

The King David Hotel

Laura Myers and I

Laura Myers and I

The Old City

The Old City

Our view during our dinner in Haifa, overlooking the port.

Our view during our dinner in Haifa, overlooking the port.

Our visit in our partnership region with participants of the Future program

Our visit in our partnership region with participants of the Future program

Views from our partnership region

Views from our partnership region

Walking in the German Colony, the lights are from the Bahai Gardens

Walking in the German Colony, the lights are from the Bahai Gardens

Walking through the artist colony in Ein Hod

Walking through the artist colony in Ein Hod

Anna walking through the Flea Market in Jaffa

Anna walking through the Flea Market in Jaffa

Anna's favorite juice stand in Jaffa

Anna’s favorite juice stand in Jaffa

Anna and Laura at the famous Abu Hassan humus eatery

Anna and Laura at the famous Abu Hassan humus eatery

Laura, Tzipi and I at the Moshav

Laura, Tzipi and I at the Moshav

Walking along the Promenade to Jaffa (in the distance)

Walking along the Promenade to Jaffa (in the distance)

 

 

Jerusalem, Haifa and our return to Tel Aviv

Please excuse the length of my ramblings and feel free to scan or skip parts, but this is also for Anna and I to keep to remember our trip.

 So what should have been an uneventful flight from Eilat to Tel Aviv and a cab ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, turned into over 24 hours of aggravation-they sent Anna’s luggage to Haifa instead of Tel Aviv and we did not receive her baggage for two days. Instead of driving it to Haifa to us in Jerusalem they sent it back to Eilat and then to Tel Aviv and then it finally made its way to us in Jerusalem.

 WEDNESDAY MAY 21, we went to our hotel in Jerusalem – the Hotel Arthur – located near the always jumping Ben Yehuda Street. It’s like a mini-version of Times Square, except on Erev Shabbat, Friday evening, when miraculously, around 4:30 p.m. everything goes quiet. Stores and restaurants close, most transportation, including the light rail stops, and the streets fill with people either going to the synagogue or going to family and friends homes to celebrate the coming of the Sabbath. It is a wonderful feeling, as if time stops for awhile and we can get off the merry-go-round.

 The rest of our time in Jerusalem was wonderful. We first checked out where Anna would be doing her internship. It turned out to be in an office building quite near where we were staying, but not very close to where she will be living.

 Our first night in Jerusalem we had dinner with a friend of mine, Eleanor that I had not seen since we were in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization together in high school.

 THURSDAY, MAY 22: Not remembering what Anna and I did the earlier part of Thursday but later in the day we rushed through part of the Old City to get to a tour of the tunnels under the old City of Jerusalem. It was quite a fascinating tour. We even passed a little cubby hole where Jewish women go to pray because it is considered the part of the wall of the Old Temple closest to G-d (or something like that – not sure if I’m repeating it accurately). There were many women squeezed into this little area praying.

 When the tour ended we found the open area at the Western Wall overflowing with people as one of the special units of the Israel Defense Forces was being sworn in. Family, friends and the community were out in force to cheer them on.

 FRIDAY, MAY 23: My dear friend Laura Myers, whom I met in Israel 40 years ago, and lived with for many years in Massachusetts, met Anna and I at the Israel Museum.

Anna and I had not been to the Israel Museum, so we saw some interesting exhibits and also went into the building (I’m blanking out now on it’s name) that holds some of the actual Deal Sea Scrolls.

 Friday evening we walked to Eleanor’s house for Shabbat dinner, shared with her husband Mike, and several of their friends, including another friend, Cheryl (Cherie) Gitlin that I knew from Detroit and had visited when I lived in Israel 39-40 years ago. It was a lovely evening and Eleanor served up a wonderful vegetarian feast for us !!

 SATURDAY, MAY 24: Anna and I spent a quiet Shabbat lounging at the King David Hotel. After sundown we watching the City of Jerusalem come alive again and at 10:30pm we again walked to the Old City to see a light show of the History of Jerusalem, shown on the walls of King David’s Citadel.

 SUNDAY, MAY 25:

Anna and I returned to the Western Wall. This time so we could get close enough to touch it and to leave our written prayers in the cracks of the wall. It can be a very emotional experience. For my non-Jewish friends, this 2000 year-old Wall was not itself part of the Temple, but part of the massive retaining wall that King Herod built to create the vast plaza now known as the Temple Mount. It is the “most important existing Jewish shrine” because of it’s connection to the ancient Temple, the House of God.

Haifa

 We drove from Jerusalem along the cost to Haifa. We eventually made our way up the winding roads and crazy round-a-bouts to the Crowne Plaza Hotel where we were staying for the next three nights. We then all had a lovely dinner on the merpesat (patio) of friend Anita Weiner’s apartment (which is in a building connected to our hotel). It was a glorious evening that included a vegetarian feast consumed while overlooking the lights of Haifa and cities to the North.

 MONDAY, MAY 26: Anita, Anna and I went to the Central Galilee Region – Michigan’s Partnership Region in Israel where Metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids partner with three municipalities in Israel: Migdal HeEmek, Nazareth Illit and the Jezreel Valley to build long-lasting people-to-people relationships and collaborate on a variety of programs and shared resources to strengthen both communities.

 I had the opportunity to meet Ziva Ohayon Recht, Director of the partnership, when she spoke in Detroit several months ago. I told her of my impending trip to Israel and my interest in learning more about the partnership. She connected me with Einat Rafaeli, a lovely young woman who spent the day with us showing us around the region. Our tour included a visit to an elementary school for high-risk children, where we met with a wonderful group of 4th and 5th graders. They are part of the Youth Futures program. They shared with us how much the special services they receive mean to them.

 We also visited the Lavido factory where they make skin care products. Their products are extracted from organic products grown under their supervision, which reflects their respect for the land and its produce. Their factory was started with seed money from the Partnership.

 TUESDAY, MAY 27: Anna, Anita, Laura and I visited Ein Hod, an artist colony near Haifa, but only a few shops were open. We then went to Zichron Yakov, a little town with a couple lovely streets of shops and restaurants.

 Anita found a charming little restaurant overlooking the valley and the sea, where we enjoyed lunch. It was then on to Yehuda’s apartment. If I understood them correctly, he has the largest collection of Baroque classical music that he has put onto 1600 CD’s and has an elaborate system to play the music on. He wanted us to listen to a few of the selections as the sound is better than sitting in a concert hall, and the view from his apartment, overlooking the mountains of Haifa, was breathtaking.

 In the evening Anna and I walked along a promenade high in the Carmel Mountains, overlooking the lights of the City and the Haifa Harbor.

 WEDNESDAY, MAY 28: Anna and I took the train from Haifa to Tel Aviv, where we found the street our apartment.

Tel Aviv

 The apartment is 1-1/2 blocks from the beach. It is in an area of some new hotels and new apartment buildings, right next to structures falling apart or being torn down and renovated. We are close to the open-air market called HaCarmel market where we walk to buy our groceries. It is an experience everyone should have!!

 Because we are trying to keep the place cool, we leave windows open. Don’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, but most Israeli homes, apartments, hotels, etc. do NOT have window screens. We were told it is because they like to wash their windows every day and screens make it too difficult. I have yet to see anyone wash their windows, but I have seen a lot of bugs flying in the open windows. Anna has welts on her to prove it. Although I will say there are far fewer flies and mosquitos sharing our quarters than I would have expected.

 Have I mentioned the cats? For those of you who have never been to Israel, you can not fathom the number of homeless cats EVERYWHERE. Breaks my heart to see them on the streets, scrounging for food. This is a problem of long-standing that this country, with all it’s high tech inventions and medical breakthroughs, has been unable to solve !!!

 THURSDAY, MAY 29: I woke earlier than Anna and spent 1-1/2 hours walking along the beautiful promenade built along the Mediterranean and then Anna and I spent the afternoon relaxing at one of the many beaches along the sea.

 In the early evening Laura arrived. While Anna was busy online, Laura and I took a lovely walk along the promenade, where we witnessed a breathtaking sunset, and a wedding taking place near the beach. Tzipi and Anna joined us for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

 FRIDAY, MAY 30: Tzipi picked us up and took us to the shuk in Jaffa, where we did some souvenir shopping among the throngs of shoppers, and had lunch at a mid-East restaurant well known to the locals !! We then walked a bit through the Neve Tzedek neighborhood – established in 1887 and the first official Jewish district of Tel Aviv, outside the walls of Jaffa. The neighborhood is filled with homes with red-tiled roofs, colored walls, cafes, restaurants and boutiques as well as many synagogues. The neighborhood is home to the internationally famous Batsheva Dance Company.

 In the evening Tzipi took us to meet one of her daughters, Adi and Adi’s charming husband and two beautiful little girls on their Moshav. We then ate dinner at a great little Italian restaurant that was sort of in a back alley of the HaCarmel Market..

 There seem to be so many little finds of cafes and restaurants in areas I would never walk through alone at night in the States, but people don’t seem at all concerned here as there are lots of people out, cars and cabs passing through.

 SATURDAY, MAY 31: Still battling a bad cold, sore throat and cough so Laura and Anna went on a bike ride to Old Jaffa while I rested and drank “nana” – hot water with mint, picked from Adi’s garden.

 In the afternoon, Anna, Laura and I spent a relaxing time at the beach. It was Shabbat so the beaches were very crowded, but it was a beautiful day, full of sunshine and crashing waves. I ventured into the ocean a short distance, while Anna and Laura went further out to enjoy “riding” the waves.

 In the evening the three of us went with Tzipi back to the Neve Tzedek neighborhood where we saw the lovely Suzanne Dellal Center, which was renovated and restored in the 80’s as part of the neighborhood renovation plan.. “The large plaza in the front of the renovated site is used for open-air performances for the general pubic.” When we were walking around it, while waiting for our table to be ready at a nearby restaurant, we came across a party that had ended in the courtyard. They had a lot of little sandwiches, wine and desserts left, and told us to help ourselves, so we had appetizers before dinner at another charming little outdoor restaurant !!

 SUNDAY, JUNE 1: Laura returned to Jerusalem today for the remainder of her stay in Israel. Anna and I trudged through the Carmel market to do our grocery shopping and came home and had a great lunch of fresh bread, cheese, veggies and fruit.

 This afternoon Anna’s good friend Carli, from New Zealand, who was in Israel on a Birthright trip, has joined us for a couple days.

I am exhausted after trying to recall everything we did the past days, so I am off to bed! Enjoy.

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