January 1, 2013
Hebrew word of the day: Tizrum (תזרום) = Go with the flow (as in "Yalla achim tizrum")
This morning we got up early after a late night, so after five hours of sleep I was exhausted for our walking tours of Tel Aviv and Yafo (Jaffa). Still, the cities are beautiful. Tel Aviv is a really cool mix of architectural styles. We stopped first at Independence Hall and in the introductory video, they mentioned the Maccabiah Games! Woo! Afterwards, we went to Yafo and walked around the bell tower outside the old city walls and up to the palace at the top. Yafo is an ancient Muslim port city on the Mediterranean, originally the city on the coast. Tel Aviv has since taken over in size, population, and economic importance. Yafo is still about 80% Muslim, according to our tour guide, Ariel.
On another note, it is strange to be surrounded by other Jews and to talk about Judiasm, culturally and religiously, in a completely open way. We all come from different Jewish backgrounds; I have discussed Jewish spirituality and practice not only with our Chabad rabbi, Berel, but also with someone new to Chabad, someone who is Modern Orthodox, people along the Traditional-Conservative spectrum, and cultural/secular Jews. We talk to each other on the bus, on hikes, and out at bars about our individual beliefs and practices to understand each other without judgement (for the most part). These discussions with other participants and with our soldiers and staff are the kinds of conversations that I want to have at home all the time. I want Jews of different "denominations" and different levels of practice to talk to each other without prejudice. I want to talk about string theory and God and gender roles on a regular basis, not just within the Birthright mindset. Maybe that's an unrealistic goal for everyday life, but wouldn't it be great?
Masada and the Dead Sea are next!