Saturday, July 27, 2013

Community Week Haifa: Coexistence Day

July 25th- Coexistence Day Written by Arianna Dines We woke up at Yemin Orde on Thursday and after breakfast and a brief maagal boker borded the bus and headed into Haifa towards the Bahai gardens. Upon arrival, we all held hands facing backwards and turned around to look at the gardens at the same time. It was breathtaking and immediately everyone started taking pictures. We found our tourguide and began our journey down the 700 steps through the amazing landscaping of palm trees, flowers, and fountains. We also learned the basics of the Bahai'i faith which was new to many, especially the Americans. One of the most interesting things was that children born to Bahai'i parents choose if they too would like to be Bahai'i at the age of 15 rather than being born into it. The information was interesting but the group seemed to enjoy more the beautiful view and trying to snap the perfect Instagram picture. I wish we could have spent hours there but it was soon time to travel to the next destination: an Ahmad's mosque. Ahmadiyya is an Islamic reformist movement which has different views than the Muslims that we usually hear about, especially in the news. A missionary from India told us about Ahmadiyya and and answer questions about how they condemn terrorism and preach for peace and coexistence. It was slightly difficult to understand what he said because of his accent but also he never directly answered the question. It didn't really take away from the experience but just required more attention which for me was a challenge that kept me engaged. We then viewed the actual mosque which looked very different from a synagogue because it only had a carpet and minimal decorations. After a quick snack we headed to Isfiya, a village near Haifa, and went into a Druze home. We sat on built-in-benches lining the wall and man told us about being Druze. He told us about daily life and their beliefs but something that was surprising to many was that if you choose to be secular, you are not allowed to pray or anything else religious, so it is simply cultural. They also are loyal to the land they live in which means they have a high rate of people serving in the IDF. Learning from the Druze man was so interesting and his passionate speaking kept everyone awake. After we enjoyed a typical Druze meal with pita with za'atar, rice, vegetables, tea, and meat (I didn't eat it because I was too full from the other things before I even realized there was meat.) It was so delicious and afterwards we enjoyed some fun time to relax. A small miscommunication of the timing of the Druze home led us to make a last minute decision to go to a nearby market which turned out to be one of the highlights of the day. This experience stretched many of us out of our comfort zones but it was very fun. . Each store was similar to the next and we bought funny pants, ethnic hats, and gifts for others. To asses the legitimacy of the sales and stores, Debbie and Arianna would talk in Spanish so the workers would not understand. The invigorating part was haggling. Although some mastered the skill more than others, it was a new Israeli experience for many. Eytan used his strong Hebrew and English skills to threaten a store that we would all leave after being cheated for his money. It was a big affair but Eytans strength and confidence showed and we commend him for it. I haggled for a bag from 40 shekels to 25, but since they cheated Eytan I only gave 24 shekels in revenge. This was a moment of Glory for me and Lihi said I was becoming Israeli!! Liana bought the cohort traditional desserts (thanks Liana!!) and we got on the bus in the busy street. We drove to Beit Miller where the Haifa cohort usually has their meetings. Hannah lead us in an amazing and well-written program about Jewish identity, the differences between Judaism and Israel and America, and how Judaism fits into our lives. This lead us to talk about how this makes Diller pluralistic and experience new things but coexist together to make this (amazing) cohort. After dinner we had a maagal Lila. We discussed what coexistence is like in Haifa and Israel and what the ideal would be. We also talked about the extent one should go to to learn about and interact with other religions and also within Judaism. One of the most amazing parts of this maagal was seeing people step up and talk who usually refrain from speaking in front of the group. We concluded by singing "Imagine", a great way to wrap up and be together. It turned out to be hilarious because barely anybody knew the words. We all just looked around and laughed and ended with hugs. I'm not sure if I am supposed to write about this because it was not part of official programming but after, most of the fellows got ice cream and pizza then walked on the Louis Promenade to Lihi's house. Along the way were AMAZING views of Haifa at night and we stopped to take pictures. Lihi's house is gorgeous and we also saw all of her talented paintings. We hung out on her balcony singing songs. Her little brother Gal put on a fabulous magic show that we all watched together. It was one of the most fun nights and I won't forget. The time flew and before we knew it, curfew was approaching fast! We tried to arrange rides as quickly as we could but almost everyone got home late (oops?). Even though we got a short lecture, it was very worth the memories made. Thursday was one of the longest days in community week (so is this blog post) and was extremely memorable. Time to go to the beach. Thankfully for us the jellyfish are now in Syria. Written 6 hours later: we all got stung. Shalom chaverim. #haggleteam2013

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