A Stranger in a Strange New Place: A Jewish Right of Passage

It’s 12 am, the end of my second day in Tel Aviv, Israel.  I just finished writing 15 pages in my journal and have yet to cover today… so yes, a lot has happened, and yes, I am exhausted.  The thing they don’t tell you about traveling is how challenging it is, especially alone.  At Westtown I can go into a friends room, but here I am my only support.  Thankfully I have wifi and can keep in touch with my friends, but in the end when I turn off my phone it is just me here.  I still try to dive into every situation with an open mind and have learned so much already.

 

The El Al flight was easy and, luckily, I slept through most of the chaos.  I have never been on a plane where people walk around so much.  At day brake, the Orthodox Jews stood in the aisle to do the Amidah (morning prayers) while crew maneuvered around passing out glatt kosher breakfasts and children ran around.

 

My first day in Tel Aviv was warm like the sun and cool as the sea breeze.  I had a wonderful roof-garden lunch with Nurid (with whom I am staying) and went out that night with some young Israelis.  The people here are so friendly and open, but they are very intense.  Everyone has served in the military and there is a sense of urgency about the impermanence of life.

 

Today I went to the Pelmach Museum and met young visionaries who work to improve the lives of Ethiopians and Palestinians. Tonight I had a very interesting talk with Avishay about Israeli politics and it is just as, if not more complicated than American politics.  I feel like this trip is a “right of passage” for a Jew because I am facing the contradictions of a Jewish state.  It is a state founded in the name of freedom, to be a refuge for the suffering, but has not fulfilled its promise to all its people.

 

I am safe and am in good hands.  My mind is expanding!  Part of me wants to run away and return to the safety of my own bed and the other part is filled with the adrenaline of the adventure.  Tomorrow, I am of with Amos to tour Haifa and Akko and then I will spend the Sabbath at a Kibbutz.

 

Until then, much love,

Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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