birthright. day 4: Svat, Camp Refugee, Haifa, Tel Aviv
We are packed and ready to say goodbye to the Golan. Our final breakfast in the kibbutz was the regular meal: lots of veggies, yogurts, cereals, and eggs that were slightly tasteless and overdone. The veggies are truly the best though; so fresh, light, and refreshing that the Israeli breakfast never really gets old.
On the bus to Svat we go. Svat is a really old, orthodox town. Knees and shoulders must be covered at all times, and inhabitants usually have some form of interesting facial hair in addition to hat+kippa (sp?). There are some beautiful, beautiful old synagogues there, which I have pictures of but I took with someone else’s camera because mine was dead. Ideally I will be able to find them, because it was a really awesome place. Apparently one of the synagogues used to be in Spain, but a bunch of Rebbi prayed really, really hard and it managed to apparate (MS Word doesn’t think apparate is a word…tsk tsk) to Israel, along with the ancient Torah that is only allowed to be touched once a year.
oh yeah. everything is also painted blue.
For those of you that don’t know, Torah can have absolutely NO mistakes, and it must be written by hand. That means that if the poor bastard hand-writing the Torah makes even the most marginal of errors, the entire sheet is thrown out. Each sheet is sown to the next and each end is wrapped around a pole, so that when the Torah is unrolled, it is the exact spot of that week’s Torah “portion.” There are Torah that are hundreds and thousands of years old kept in ancient synagogues, and many more of these historic scrolls were destroyed over the course of the anti-Semitic eras.
Anyways, our next stop: Refugee camp for children. What sounds like a depressing place where kids line up and are served different kinds of goop out of ladles for every meal was actually a beautiful place filled with success stories. First and foremost, the camp is a family for children who are simply not welcome anywhere else and whose parents can no longer care for them. At the camp, they primarily go to school and work on the grounds, in addition to playing sports and all the things kids usually do.
needs a lot of work, but it was quite beautiful.
Basically, the region was devastated by a fire that was not even put out until a huge tank flew over from the States and dumped a shit ton of water on the area, which leaves a lot of work rebuilding in addition to prevention of another fire. When we got there, we learned about the camp’s graduates and how they were then able to apply for work permits and sign up for the army so that they can become citizens. After hearing this woman with her wonderful Brooklyn accent speak, we actually went down to the grounds that they were working on and were divided into groups. My group was responsible for clearing these fields (oh, did I mention everything is by hand? You know, character building) of dry weeds that had been a big part of sustaining the fire. I looked like the Grim Reaper for about 30 minutes, but damn I cleared a lot of weeds. How out of character for me.
quality. souls, right this way.
After getting completely drenched in sweat and feeling absolutely disgusting, I think it was lunchtime. We stopped at another shopping mall place and got perhaps the worst fake Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life. And after tasting almost every shitty Chinese food restaurant in the greater Boston/Cambridge area thanks to campusfood.com, that is saying something.
We were supposed to go to this amazing place in Haifa where you can see an amazing view of the port and the Navy, but we were short on time and couldn’t go. Instead, we stopped at this random but nice picnic area and listened to the Israelis tell us about their daily life, including school, the army, night life, fun things they like to do, etc. Basically, Israelis like to “see and be seen.” But actually. Also it was at this time that a wasp decided that it had a serious affinity towards the toes on my left foot, and insisted on not only just crawling all over my foot but also in the space between my sandal and my toes. I almost had a heart attack, but I believe the calm, cool, and collected David was sitting next to me coaching me through the entire episode to avoid getting stung. Mission accomplished.
ze israelis tell us about zeir life.
We then got back on the bus and began the journey to Tel Aviv, which we were told was voted to be the 3rd most interesting city in the world to visit. Not a bad ranking, and it is a fucking awesome city. Unfortunately, we did not see too much of it because we were dropped off right at the hotel for dinner. We were then given some time to shower and get ready to go out.
We are dressed and ready to go, and then we are told that we will be dropped off at a location and, from there, have a 1 block radius of where we could go. There was roughly 1 bar in the area, so we ended up not buying separate bottles of alcohol and not going to the beach to drink it because we were not allowed to do that. However, there were 2 real highlights to my evening. The first was that Noalee came to hang out with us as we wandered like idiots around, but it was so so so so amazing to see her. This was also the moment when I realized how fucking funny Marlee is, so then we spent a good 20 minutes just laughing at everything Marlee said. The second highlight of the evening was when, all the sudden, some horses came cantering around the beach where we were chilling! Naturally I had to say hi to the horses and the guy who owned them was really nice, even though he never called me back so that I could go riding with him :(.
marlee is going to visit us at MIT. everyone…be prepared.
After cleaning up after everyone and subsequently cutting my finger on broken glass (thank you medic Ran for the band-aid), we hastily brushed the sand off our feet (well…I did) and made our way back to the corner so that we would be on time for the count off.
And the day was supposed to end there. Naturally, we decided to have some shenanigans in and around the hotel, which was actually quite lovely. Except drunk bitch. Now, if drunk bitch was 9 shots deep at the kibbutz, you can only imagine how she was in an actual city with real bars and clubs. Here’s the situation. We are all hanging out outside, enjoying ourselves with a wonderful group of people and all the sudden there is a crash. Drunk bitch, who was sitting with three friends on the steps at the entrance, had decided to throw her beer bottle against the bus parked in front of the hotel. She stumbles up and with her eyes barely open, she simple holds up 2 fingers in the traditional peace sign and says, in a daze, “YOLO.” Naturally, the concierge yells at us all to get out and stop smoking in front of the hotel and most of us go inside back up to the rooms. The girl’s friends? “I’m not going to do the whole apology thing. She’s just drunk.” I swear my jaw dropped to the floor and I just said, “How about you put her to bed now?” What. The. Fuck. Other than that, a beautiful evening.