Bus 140 -- Har Herzel and a visit to the Shuk!
Har Hertzel (Jordan Klebanow)
Stories of suicide bombings and fallen warriors, an encounter with a 23 year old American lone soldier two months away from the front lines, silent tears as Rabbi Elyse opens up to the group about her time in Jerusalem during the war with Lebanon. Several plaques reveal seventeen and sixteen year olds killed in this indiscriminate conflict. I thought of losing my younger brother; barely a strand of facial hair on his boyish face, seventeen in February. What if he was riding that bus or eating in that restaurant or serving in that unit. In this cemetary boys and girls are no longer soldiers. Sons, daughters, athletes, future activists scholars and professionals, friends and loved ones lie within sandy stone caskets, plants and flowers blanket each grave, perhaps a photo of a smiling young man or woman. Whether or not we let these ten days in, Birthright will shake us up. Har Hertzel was that moment for me.
Machane Yehuda (Simone Ippoliti)
Roaming the shuk in Jurusalem, I relished in the ability to soak in all the colors, different languages and abundance of culture and beauty. I witnessed Spanish-speaking tourists haggling with Israeli merchants after which I myself attempted to do the same to no avail. I ate the most incredible chocolate ruggalah from a small bakery near the shuk, which was nothing short of a religious experience. Needless to say, I bought two kilos worth of these delicious ruggalahs. After my stomach was full of yummy treats, I headed to a little store where a well-known healer checked my blood pressure and examined my eyes and, after noticing I had a bad cough, gave me 3 drops of some unknown spicey liquid and a cup of ginger apple juice-- promising that I would feel better very quickly. I was later pleasantly surprised to realize that my cough was already feeling alleviated. After the whole experience of going to the shuk, I realized that strolling through the small streets and attempting to speak all 4 words of Hebrew I know has given me a deeper understanding of what Israel is really about and why it is so worth fighting for.