Dear Friends, Family and Fans,
Introducing new bloggers Rachel N. and Jackie Z!
We woke up this morning bright and early at our beautiful hotel overlooking the water in Bat Yam. We were very tired from the previous days' activities but eager to start a new day in ISRAEL!
We ate breakfast with our Israeli friends and disscussed the bizarre food choices of each culture. When we first arrived we were shocked to discover salad, many different types of cheese and slices of white bread being served for breakfast. The Israeli's couldn't believe that we eat potatoes for breakfast (or even some of us *cough* Rachel *cough* eat bacon).
So then it's back on the bus to Tel Aviv! We experienced Israeli radio at its finest, with smooth transitions from Hava Nagilah to Beyonce. We traveled to Rabin Square where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. We went around and asked people what they remebered about the assasination. Funny thing about people walking around a city, they're usually in a hurry and don't want to talk to Americans. Luckily we were persistent and our Israeli soldiers didn't let us slack off. We heard interesting insight into the different moods people had toward the event and Rabin himself and it was fun for us to mingle with the locals, even if they were annoyed.
Next we walked what seemed like 40 years in the desert to the beach of Tel Aviv. Fun fact: Speedos are quite popular with the older generation of Israeli men. This trend only added to the beauty that was the beach. Our new Israeli friend Leah helped us order "shnitzel" which is basically chicken fingers. Shnitzel happens to look and taste the same all throughout Israel, and we have yet to meet a shnitzel we didn't like.
Then it was back to the bus for our 40 minute drive (by the way, everywhere we go takes 40 minutes, ample time to nap) to Jerusalem. En route, we learned some facts about our friends on the trip, Brandeisian Eli and Israeli Or. Eli considers himself to be a pear, a unique fruit. Or on the other hand is a Sambra, the hebrew word for cactus and native Israeli. Or is like a cactus; prickly on the outside yet soft on the inside. We agree.
Once we reached Jerusalem, we had a special guest. Our tour guide Yotam's mother joined us on the bus, which lead us to our hebrew word of the day: fadiha. Fadiha refers to when something embarassing happens to someone, which we can honestly say we have never experienced from our parents (shout out to Mamma and Papa Nelson and Mommy and Daddy Zais).
We continued our journey to Mount Zion where we saw a beautiful view of the Old City. It was interesting to stand in the place that, until 1967, was the closest place Jews were allowed to get to the Old City. Then we saw the Old City up close and personal. We went to the center of the four quarters: Armenian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. We spent a lot of time learning the history of the quarters, seeing structures that go back to the Byzantine and Roman Empires. Our group ended our time in the Old City at the Western Wall. Many group members had different reactions to this ancient site which we later discussed in our group meeting.
Lets talk food some more. We are currently on a Kibbutz just outside Jerusalem, and man was dinner good. Our group took "all you can eat" to a whole new level - hummus, guacamole, and don't even get us started on the dessert table! After dinner we rolled ourselves into the group meeting mentioned earlier where Abra, the recent birthday woman, lead us in a recap of our day and moved us into a powerful discussion of our feelings about the Holocaust in preparation for our visit to the Holocaust museum tomorrow. Our Israeli friend Aviv closed our discussion by showing the gold star her grandmother was forced to wear during the Holocaust.
We are very excited for tomorrow, and hope Dan Levine lets us blog again!
Don't worry moms and dads across the nation - we spend about 10% of our days applying and re-applying sunscreen (and/or thinking/talking about applying and re-applying sunscreen.) We are also all wearing our hats and drinking LOTS of water.
Rachel and Jackie