It's not a Desert | Shorashim - Israel with Israelis
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It's not a Desert

Harris Stolzenberg, Natalie binder

"You don't look Jewish" said the scary man from El Al airlines. This was the first thing I heard as i tried to check in for my first flight to Israel. It didn't take long for me to figure out why they make you show up 4 hours early for your flight. It's because to get your boarding pass you must undergo an interrogation about your Jewish heritage. I guess my answers about celebrating Hanukah and my love for bagels with lox were good enough to pass, despite the fact that I apparently do not look Jewish. 9.5 hours later we safely arrived in Tel Aviv at 2:30pm local time.

We were greeted at the airport by our Israeli counterparts who were excited to join us on our Birthright trip. Eylen (our "tour guide") didn't waste any time. He immediately had us stand in a big circle, in the middle of the airport, with our arms around each other screaming "Achim Achim Simcha Simcha" which means "Brothers Brothers Hapinness Happiness". We then proceeded to the bus where a sketchy man exchanged our Dollars for Shekels. On our 3 hour drive to Kibbutz Afik we had a speed dating session where we all switched seats to try to get to know everyone better.

On the way to the Kibbutz, we stopped at a shopping mall. It was weird for me to see a metal detector and a security guard with a gun. We only had 15 minutes so I had one of the Israelis I met during speed dating guide me to the market where he bought Bamba for me. We got a big bag so we passed around this famous snack (basically peanut flavored cheese puffs) on the bus for everyone to share. After a long day of travel we finally made it to Kibbutz Afik. A Kibbutz is a sharing community that was the first form of living in Israel. We got our room assignments, put our bags down, and then hurried over to dinner. For dinner there was an assortment of vegetables and a small buffet of pasta and meat.

After dinner we had a meeting where we all introduced ourselves and shared our first good memory with each other which was meant to symbolize our first good memory on Birthright. I was too busy laughing at the memories to remember anyone's name. Once the meeting ended around 10, we did the only sensical thing: hit the pub. It was nice to > be able to get to know people better with the help of some legally bought drinks. Unfortunately our Israeli counterparts are not allowed to drink because they cannot drink on duty (although idk why Birthright is considered military duty).

After the pub everyone was > exhausted and went to sleep. Because I was so excited for our hiking trip (but probably more because I was jet lagged) I woke up at 4:30am. I ended up showering (because the 9.5 hour flight didn't help with my odor) and then going on a walk around the Kibbutz. I chilled in the room with my roommates who were also up until breakfast at 7:30. We're almost at our destination so I'll leave you with our word of the day (apparently every day we learn a new Jewish word).

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