Reflections of the Earth

Reflections of the Earth
In a field in the outskirts of Rome

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Couch Surfing Across Jerusalem

This past weekend (6/10/10-6/13/10) I spent my time in Jerusalem visiting friends that I am now saying goodbye to instead of hello. I guess it is coming full circle. My second week in Israel I took a couple of days and went to Jerusalem to see a great friend I hadn't seen since I had been in Israel four years ago in 2006. Now, I went to that same friend, watched the USA vs. England World Cup game and celebrated my last night in Jerusalem with some great pizza. This weekend started before last night, but it was a highlight of my visit and since it was full circle, I felt it needed mentioning right off. It all started by helping two friends (Dana and Lauren) move down to Jerusalem from Haifa. We went out as a group to רחוב בן יהודה (Ben Yahuda Street) and met another friend (Ayal) who studied with us at Haifa University. So the four of us enjoyed some Shwarma and spent the rest of the evening walking around Ben Yehuda. I stayed on the first couch that night at Dana's. The next morning I joined Ayal in going to Hebron with a group called "Breaking the Silence". This group has former soldiers guide tours through Hebron talking about their experiences serving in Hebron. We got to hear a settler's perspective and a Palestinian perspective, all the while being trailed by 4 regular police officers, 4-5 Border Policemen (and their vehicle), and the occasional Nachal soldier at a checkpoint. After meeting with the Palestinian from Hebron, we came out only to be met by two angry settlers who were shouting insults at us and our tour guide ("Michael, how much did the EU pay you to come here?").

The man reminded Ayal of a redneck with a potbelly poking out of his shirt, barefoot, and shabby looking. It was a great experience to say the least. After we left there, Ayal and I went to the Shuk in Jerusalem. Later in the evening we went to an Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem that is unique because it has the mechitza, but both sides are equal and next to each other and women are able to lead prayers and read from the torah. After Shabbat services, Ayal and I went with a woman from the synagogue to her home for Shabbat and had a great time speaking with her daughter, son, and cousin. They are really a great group of people. I ended up walking back to Ayal's place to meet Steve so we could go to Dana's and get his stuff, and then finally back to his place so I could stay on his couch. The next morning consisted of HUC Shabbat Morning services and going with Dana to meet her sister who goes to Clark University with me.  That night I met David and we watched the US vs. England game over pizza and beer (great combination!) and we said our goodbyes at the end of the night and I returned to Dana's couch. Sunday morning, my last day in Jerusalem, I had the great opportunity to meet and have coffee with Josh, my Jewish History teacher from 4 years ago in Israel, and we had a great conversation catching up on 4 years of life, Aliyah, what life in Israel has been like for him, and much much more. This was a great weekend, it is sad that it is my second to last weekend, but I will always look back on this weekend with fondness. I was great to be with everyone and to see those that I have not seen in many years.

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