Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23rd

Today we traveled to the city of Jewish mysticism, Tzfat. There the group toured two very old synagogues where we learned about the origins of famous Jewish texts such as the Mishnah, Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch; each a book of law. Also we learned about origins of Jewish mysticism and its book, the Zohar.

After we visited the synagogues, we went to the Tzfat Candle Factory where we received a demonstration on how they make the candles and the symbolism behind them.

After shopping in Tzfat’s famous Artisans Quarter, we departed to Mount Bental, a former Syrian outpost in the Golan. After an explanation by our tour guide of the geography and the war history, we had a chance to explore the underground bunkers.

Once we were finished looking at the bunkers, we went to go rafting in the Jordan River. At night we walked around the city of Akko to see how people were celebrating the holiday of Ramadan. 

We decided to go onto a party boat where there was music and dancing.

- Sam Jaron

Monday, June 22nd

We started off Monday morning with a drive from Tel Aviv north towards the city of Akko. On our journey we stopped at the Givat Haviva kibbutz. Here we met and talked to two speakers. The first, Lydia, from Wales, explained her experience of discrimination there and then moving to explain her current mission of breaking down racial and societal boundaries between groups. After Lydia spoke, a man named Amir spoke of his life as a Palestinian-Israeli and the wrong doings his people face everyday. He spoke of the inequality of work, housing and safety but kindly staying away from discussion of the physical conflict in Gaza and the West Bank. The discussion continued on a trip to a viewing platform overlooking the West Bank showing for miles what this area truly looks like.

We then went on our way again traveling north. We stopped once again to exit the bus and experience a new, much smaller society located in northern Israel as well as a few other countries. The people of the Druze. We walked to one of the local Druze’s houses where we learned some of their ideologies and culture. We then had a full meal prepared by a Druze woman. The meal consisted of Israeli salad, rice and chicken, sausage in two sauces, a pizza dish, fig juice, hummus and many other plates. The meal was served family style being shared by five fellows.

After the Druze experience we traveled to the youth hostel in Akko. We settled in and then left for a walking tour of the castles and tunnels created years ago for military use by the Crusaders. We walked these grounds for about two hours or so and along the way experienced a Turkish bath house.

We ended our night by having a large group discussion talking about what we have seen and thought especially relating to the Palestinian conflict and views.

- Darian Greenfield

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sunday, June 21st

On Sunday, June 21, 2015, the Satell Teen Fellowship for Leadership and Social Activism had a full 12 hours of non-stop fun. The day started at the Marina Hotel, where our wake-up call was at 7:30 AM. At approximately 8:45, the 17 Fellows boarded the bus, starting our 15-minute voyage to the Jaffa Institute, where we packed food. 

After that, we went to Latet, another food packing warehouse, where we met up with a group of Israeli teensfrom Netivot, with whom we spent the rest of the day. After packing even more food, our combined groups boarded the bus, our next stop being Kibbutz Alumim. Everyone ate lunch in the dining hall, after which we were taken on a tour of the Kibbutz. Alumim will be celebrating it’s 50thyear next year, having started out as a simple sand hill before being developed into what it is today through a long process. Then, the Fellows and Israeli teens visited a memorial site close to Gaza and had a security briefing

After the memorial, we traveled to Netivotwhere we saw the command center and explored our artistic abilities by creating art related to the Israeli-Satell Partnership. Then, we went to a dedication ceremony for a mural on top of a water tower in the center of Netivot. The mural had been created with the help of the city of Netivot, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

After the ceremony, our group went to a dairy restaurant, having a delicious dinner before the Fellows and Israelis said good-bye to our new friends. The Fellows boarded the bus, going back to the hotel before going to sleep (although some Fellows slept on the bus).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday in Tel-Aviv

On Saturday, we were given choices as to what we wanted to do for Shabbat. I took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some sleep because I was still a little jet lagged (I’m not sure if that helps with jet lag or not, but sleeping in is always a great option in my opinion!). Before we were supposed to all have lunch together, a bunch of us decided to hang out at the pool on the roof of the hotel. It was really nice to just relax and talk about anything with my fellow Fellows (haha).

After a delicious lunch in the hotel, we all walked over to the beach. The sea was SO BEAUTIFUL. A bunch of us went into the water, and it was so warm and nice, and the whole atmosphere felt so great. The saltiness of the water really bothered my eyes, but I was having so much fun that I didn’t really care. One of us made a joke that it’s a metaphor for life, that when your eyes get sore from all of the salt, you have two options: one is to stay in the ocean and have fun, enduring whatever pain you feel from the salt, and the other is to quit, go back to your hotel room, and not have fun. The metaphor is that when life gives you pain, you can go on with your life despite the pain, or you can quit and not live your life. This exchange went on very jokingly, and I thought it was something kind of cool to think about.

We took a walk to Park Hayarkon and had seudah shlisheet, except there wasn’t much because Yoav forgot the burekas, the pita, and the hummus, which we all thought was hilarious. We had Havdalah outside, and then we had pizur dinner at the port. We all ate at Aroma, and then we split off into smaller groups and got ice cream or went shopping, that sort of thing. It was a really nice night. :)

- Arin Edelstein

Friday in Tel-Aviv

On Friday morning we traveled to Independence Hall where Israel was declared an independent state. We sat outside learning about the background of Israel’s physical land. I found it interesting watching all the Israelis going on with their normal day and how they look and act different than we do. At the museum we watched a short video on Zionism that focused on Theodore Herzl. After we went to the actual hall that Ben Gurion sat to sign the Declaration of Independence. 

Following this monument we went to the Yitzchak Rabin Museum. It lied out from when Rabin was born in 1922 to the Oslo Accords during Bill Clinton’s presidency. It was interesting learning and connecting things that we have learned about in school to what was going on and happening in Israel at that time.

- Bari Zweben

Dubbed as the New York of Israel, Tel Aviv’s downtown, although similar in many ways, largely begs to differ. An open market, filled with touristy attractions, kitschy artwork, or beautiful music runs along Nachalat Binyamin. Firstly, I bought shwarma.  Quickly realizing the superiority of Israeli food, I was also delighted to learn it was approximate 2 and half dollars cheaper than American food as well.

After wolfing down my lunch, I begin my march down the market.  Soon after, I spotted a young Israeli boy selling juggling balls. As an avid juggler myself, I asked him if I could try to juggle them, which quickly led to a ten minute juggling-battle, each attempting to outdo (politely) the other. Realizing I was equally matched, I thanked him for the time, and continued my walk.

Running parallel to Nachalat Binyamin is Rachov Caramel. Not nearly as tourist-filled as Nachalat Binyamin, I heard much less English, instead surrounded by almost exclusively Hebrew. I understood why immediately. Gone was the beautiful wood carvings and jewelry, instead replaced with bags of spices, heaps of fresh fish, and mounds of olives. Jostled forward by the eager throng behind me—all of who were at the market in order to buy food for the Sabbath—I vaguely drew a metal parallel with Times Square. The smell of rotting fish and loud vendors quickly brought me back to reality. But this is what I love about Israel. The beauty is never in the aesthetics, and Israel must be the proof. Downtown Tel-Aviv suggests that beauty lies in the preparation for Sabbath, the mix of different cultures, the heaps and mounds of candy sold to wide-eyed children, and the smell—whether good or bad—of home. My incessant desire to be treated as a native, not a tourist, reached fruition on the trash-strewn pavement of Rechov Carmel.

-Razi Hecker