A Day of Christian Sites


sea of galilee

The Sea of Galilee. The other side is the Golden Height taken by Israel in 6 Day war

meeting at Church of Beattitudes

Bible reading at the Church of Beattitudesjordan valley

On the way back, we drove along West Bank and Jordan border. This is Jordan Valley where the hill and the villages belong to Jordanchurch of anunciation

Church of Annunciationservice at church of anunciationA public service in the Church of Annunciation


Day 4–Mishmar Ha’emek Kibbutz

Kibbutz kibbutz2 SPJ_2976 Kibbutz 3

Socialist Practice in Israeli Kibbutz

Location: Ramat Hashofet

Tuesday, March 5th

Today, I witnessed the success of Socialism at Lydia Aisenberg’s kibbutz. Members of her kibbutz work for businesses the kibbutz owns; everyone receives equal salary annually; people’s any living, medical and educational expenses are paid by the kibbutz.

A traditional kibbutz is a community where members live, work together and share the profit of their work equally. In the capitalist country of Israel, there are 273 kibbutz where 2% of Israeli population reside. Kibbutz movement was first developed by Jewish pioneers to support their work as well as to take care of their children.

In Lydia’s Mishmar Ha’emek Kibbutz, there is a plastic product manufacturing factory, a chicken farm, a horse farm and multiple fruit fields. Members of the kibbtz work at either these industries or at other aspects of the kibbutz campus. In January, each person, no matter what work he/she does in the kibbutz, receives the year pay of 25,000 shekels which is the equivalent of $2,000. Besides employment for adult members, there is a complete day-care to high school education program for children as well as a nursing home for the aged.

While socialism practiced at majority of rest of the world, Lydia has proved to us that this ideology of lifestyle is possible. She mentioned that there are more and more kibbutz choosing to be privatized where members are paid proportional to the work they do; these kibbutz, however, then have just become the “normal” world. After a few years of economic difficulty, Lydia’s kibbutz has thrived. Members last year gained additional bonus beyond the annual salary; more social activities are organized to enrich the community life; the kibbutz is also closely involved in four humanitarian projects across Israel. It’s a completely different lifestyle,” Amir said on the way back, “they just seem so devoted.” Members of the kibbutz always have a choice to continue or to quit this lifestyle; the people who choose to stay really commit to it throughout their lives.

Lots of aspects of her kibbutz have characteristics of Westtown. People in the kibbutz live in a close community where everyone cares about each other and is involved in each other’s life. The community is trust based that people take responsibility to complete their work well. And the leadership of the community is based on a committee system. There are over 40 committees dealing with different parts of the kibbutz. The committees make recommendations to the whole community who then collectively vote on each issue.

Lydia also explained some challenges the kibbutz is facing. As the new generation grows up in the more modern Israel, they are more attracted by the individual lifestyle in which high living standard is emphasized. Lydia concerns if the kibbutz will be able to keep its identity. The community values democracy that everyone’s voice is heard. This, however, has caused much inefficiency in committee’s decision making process.

The Green Line

Location: Ramat Hashofet, Israel

Monday, March 4th

The Green Line, officially called the 1949 Armistice Line, is not actually a green line painted between Israel and Palestinian West Bank. 1949, in Rhode Island, several Israelis and American Ralph Bunche drew the line based on geography; Israelis then planted trees along the border therefore gave it the name the “Green Line”. But today, on a tourist map bought in Israel or a map in an Israeli geography textbook, the Green Line is nowhere to be found. Instead, a fence is built nearby.

In the beginning, the fence was built along the line, but it diverges to include more Israeli settlers. We stood on the top of a hill over the town Anin. Hundreds of residences cluster in the valley and on the side of the hills. On the hills not far from Anin, there are a couple Israeli settlements on the other side of the fence. This is where the fence diverges with the Green Line. In between the two lines are Israeli settlements and Israeli Arabic communities that can no longer be in contact with families in the West Bank.


Continue reading “The Green Line”


Sunday, March 3rd

Location: Azzahra Hotel, East Jerusalem

Flight for Property Right IMG_0262 Overview of Old City The Dome The West Wall At Old City

When talking about settlement, most people would think of Israeli Jews building residences and settling into Palestinian areas. But settlement can also mean cultural invasions. This morning, with a tour guide who is a Muslim born in Jerusalem, we strode through the Old City and covered the Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Armenian quarters. Each quarter has its own culture and religion; each cultural group tries to present themselves in the most prominent way. Christians have the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the site where Jesus was crucified; Muslims have the Dome of Rock with the Koran carved on the inside walls; Armenians also built multiple churches; and Jews pray at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Each group wants more power. There is constant fighting among religious extremists, but the most controversial issue is the idea of rebuilding the Jewish Temple at the Western Wall. I realized that Israel-Palestine conflict is only part of the big conflict. Continue reading “Settlements”

Day 1 in Israel

“We are not bad”

Mar 2nd 11:26pm

Location: Azzahra Hotel, East Jerusalem

Our flight took off at 9:30pm on Mar. 1 from Philadelphia Airport. 10 hours later, we landed in Tel Aviv. When the plane was in the air but low enough to see the landscape, I saw that the majority of land is covered by green, not like how I had pictured Israel before.

Before boarding, we were informed about the questions we might get at the Israeli immigration gate and how we should answer them. But luckily, everyone passed immigration smoothly.

We met our driver and headed to our first location, Ramot’s house. Our trip leader, Teacher Melissa, has had a personal connection with the family since graduate school. We were welcomed by a supper that included bread, turkey and various delicious hummus and cheese. At dinner, we also met their children and a friend who is an American-Israeli. Continue reading “Day 1 in Israel”

T-1 Day to Israel and Palestine!

Date: February 28, 2013
Location: Westtown School

My name is Junda and I am glad to be on this awesome trip to Israel and Palestine. My last class before Senior Project has just ended, so I figure it is time to post the first blog of my journey.

My interest in this trip dates back to Freshmen year. My friend Wyatt Pace, a senior 4 years ago, went on this trip and did a photography project. As a photographer myself, his work fascinated me and inspired me to follow up on this journey. I have also always been interested history and political theory. After being told that my schedule would not allow me to take Hiroshima to 9/11, a course on international politics and affairs in post WWII, I decided that I will go to Israel and Palestine for my Senior Project. On my own, I have been following any related news posts, learning about the roots of the conflict as well as doing research on various factors that are contributing to the cause. Continue reading “T-1 Day to Israel and Palestine!”