Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Israel Trip Part 3

Part 1 Part 2

So this post will be a little more serious than other posts, for reasons that will become clear fairly quickly.

On Monday we began by visiting Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum. For me this experience was amazing. I'd studied the Holocaust before, and visited the D.C. museum, but Yad Vashem was something completely different. For one, the museum is very focused on telling the stories of the individuals involved. If you've ever heard the expression "One death is a tragedy, 1000 is a statistic," that seems to sum up the philosophy there. They don't want the horrors that occurs to be brushed aside. They make it about the people. One of the things that struck me most was their dedication to trying to identify all the Jews who died in the Holocaust. If a person died, and all who knew him are also dead, can we say he ever existed? Yad Vashem seeks to remind us that we need to remember all the people who existed here, and who died.

The other thing that made this visit feel more special to me is that for the first time since seventh grade Sunday school, I was hearing about the Holocaust, and learning about the people, completely surrounded by other Jews. When I visited the Holocaust museum in D.C. many of my classmates were sympathetic, but it just wasn't as personal for most of them. I had moments when it became very personal for me, and it felt nice to know that everyone I was with got that. Everyone was having there own moment at some point. I'm not trying to say that non-Jews can't fully comprehend the Holocaust, obviously they can, but for the most part, the person who starts sobbing in a Holocaust museum is going to be Jewish.

We were only allowed to take pictures on the museum grounds, not in the museum. I only took a few pictures, and I don't feel comfortable posting most of them. But there is one I will show. The view from the museum overlooks the city. I think it was a beautiful reminder that out of something terrible (the Holocaust) can come something good (the state of Israel).
After the museum we took an emotional breather and went to a local market place for lunch.
I love pomegranates.

This smelled amazing. All the spices mingled together.

Then we went back to having an emotional day. Our next stop was Mt. Hertzl, the national cemetery. At the cemetery, the communal feeling of getting it, wasn't as strong. The Israeli soldiers who were with us very clearly had a more powerful reaction to what we were seeing. At the same time, moments popped at me. When I saw the grave of a soldier who was my age or younger when he or she died the realities of being an Israeli became even more strong.

Once again, out of respect for where we were, I will include just the one picture.
It says "Hertzl" in Hebrew.
Monday night ended with a trip to Ben Yehuda Street. Many people in the group went to bars and clubs. I, with a friend I'd made on the trip, simply wandered, looking in at the little shops.

Part 4 is now up!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Israel Trip Part 2

Part 1 here.
The next day of the trip was Sunday. We were introduced to the Israeli soldiers who would be traveling with us. This wasn't a "we have soldiers for protection" thing, it was a "we have soldiers because they're the people our age in Israel" thing. We did have a security guy though. After doing some getting to know you activities with the soldiers, we ventured out into Jerusalem.

Once again, foreign countries have prettier streets.

And street signs.

And pretty roof gardens/spaces.
Then in the Old City we were crashed by a Bar Mitzvah.

Then we left them to constantly wonder "Who are these people on the video of our son's Bar Mitzvah?" and went to an archaeological dig site.

We followed up on that with lunch, I had shwarma. The Avenger's food. It was really good.
I horrified someone else on the trip by referring to it as a kind of "Israeli taco".
Then it was followed by gelato. But not just any gelato, Ferrero Rocher flavored gelato. It was soooo good. Then we went back to the Western Wall.

The divider between the men's and women's section.

Prayer books for use.

World's Holiest Pigeon
We finished the day's activities by climbing down a mountain.

On the way down we crawled around through wet caves.
And that was Monday.
Part 3 now up!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Israel Trip Part 1

So I went away to Israel a few weeks ago (a peer trip, not a family vacation) and it was a great trip. So I thought I'd share some pictures and stories etc. for all of you. This should take a few posts. If you saw my Italy series, it should be like that (Link to Part 1 of that trip here).

Okay so the first step was simply to get to Israel.
I thought I would do a sort of travelling gnome thing with my owl, but that ended up not happening beyond the first day.

View from the sky.
 We didn't have a direct flight. Instead we had to stop in Switzerland on the way over. At this point it was around 2-3 AM in our heads so we were pretty tired. I may have baa-ed as we all walked in a group to go through Swiss security.

Also, I learned that Swiss security people are really nice. I'd brought a reusable water bottle on the trip with me and filled it in the US airport, after I went through security. When I went through Swiss security they pulled my bag off for extra searching...and pulled out my completely full water bottle. My options were to either drink it all (about 18 oz of water) or to go and find a bathroom to dump it in, and then go through security all over again. I drank it. One of my friends from the trip started making me laugh (admittedly not a difficult thing at 2 in the morning) but the airport security lady told her to stop and sort of cheered me on. She seemed really happy for me when I managed to finish the bottle. I was proud and also really had to use the bathroom.
Swiss Airport.

Hotel Room
So we got to the hotel in Jerusalem and changed for Shabbat. Then we went to the Western Wall, by bus. We did a small Shabbat service there (hence the lack of pictures for this part) and then began our walk to the hotel. Before we left we were told to wear shoes for a 2 1/2 mile walk. We were told the walk would be about an hour.

To put it simply, they lied. For one thing, they neglected to tell us about how hilly it is in Jerusalem. Or how steep the hills are. They are very steep if you were wondering. Also while I can't comment on the distance the walk ended up being, I can say this. It took two hours. We were told it would take one. We also were making this hike with no dinner (that was waiting for us at the hotel). Additionally, they gave us huge water bottles so that we could stay hydrated (I'm talking 1 1/2 liters). What they did not give us were bathroom breaks on the walk back. But we did make it back the hotel. We got dinner and access to a bathroom and we all went to sleep.

The next day was very chill. We couldn't really do much since it was Shabbat so we got to unwind, swim in the pool, read. All that lovely stuff.
View from the hotel window
We also did some getting to know you activities. Then after dinner we had a Havdalah service. Then we went out. There was a Music/Art festival. I like crafts fairs. A lot. Here's some pretty pictures.


This guy dressed as an elephant


Wire crafts and Knitted crafts

Toilet paper holders
That's it for today. There will be more about this trip over the next week or so. Part 2 is now here!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Just because I've already seen a Town Called Mercy doesn't mean that this review is super late.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Asylum of the Daleks

Okay, this is late, but I'm getting it in before the next episode airs, and that's what's important.

Beware, Spoilers Ahead!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Coolest Pencils Ever

I was at CVS today doing boring things. I needed to take a new passport picture and I needed to replace the tissue pack I keep in my bag.

It was a normal, boring, trip to the store... until I looked at the back to school section. And saw these:
They're pencils where, instead of sharpening them, you pull out the tip when it gets run down and stick it in the top so a new sharp tip comes out. Obviously there's a limit to how many times you can do this until you get back to the start and have no more sharp tips but still, it's really cool! I had one or two pencils like this in elementary school and I loved them. So as a college student three weeks away from classes starting, I bought them. And I will have so much fun using them.

Note: I haven't written in a while, between work and traveling and everything this blog has been a bit neglected. Not to worry though. I plan on writing a bit extra to make up for it, and then eventually get back on a schedule.