Monday, August 12, 2013

Joint Travel Days Boston/Haifa- Journey of the Water Part II

Monday, August 5th Written by Julia Habbe We woke up Monday morning exhausted after a night of dancing in the final goodbye party at congress. We packed our bags and met with our tribes for one last feedback session. After saying goodbye to all our new friends, the Boston-Haifa cohort piled on the bus for some long awaited nap time on the way to the Dead Sea. When we arrived, the heat was crazily intense. We did the usual routine of drenching ourselves in sunscreen, and then headed for the water. We had so much fun floating in the water and rolling around. There was a mud bath right on the shore so we covered ourselves in mud (and did a quick photo shoot) and then ran back into the sea. Once we couldn’t stand the heat and the stinging anymore, most of us were lucky enough to hitch rides on a golf cart driven by the area’s staff to and from the sulfur pool/spa area, changing rooms, and store. (It’s a rough life in the desert ;) ) Then we were on route to the Bedouin tents! The moment we stepped off the bus the Bedouin’s led us to a pack of camels and the famous camel rides began! As someone who has never been to Israel before, I had been waiting for this tourist attraction the entire trip. With two people on each camel, we were led around in a circle in the desert. There were a lot of screams and laughs, a fun experience all around! We then met with a Bedouin man in a tent, where he told us about his culture and we had the opportunity to ask him questions. He told us that he had three wives, and a separate tent for each family. He also said that the women’s role in the Bedouin culture is to take orders from the man. After we got over that initial shock, we learned about how Bedouin culture is being influenced by modern technology, and that many children choose to leave their homes to get an education in the city. Many Israelis were curious as to whether the Bedouins serve in the army and pay taxes (they do both). We then had dinner in a huge tent with all of the other groups staying there. The meal was served without utensils, and we laughed eating rice and salad with our hands. Then the Boston-Haifa cohort went to our tent (split down the middle to divide genders when sleeping) and had a program about the 6th leg of Judaism. We talked about parts of Judaism that were important to us other than memory, family, covenant, Israel and Hebrew. Even though we were extremely exhausted at this point, the JCs then insisted on leading a Boston maagal. The maagal was modeled after our first maagal Lila in the fall. (The rumor is that it was put together very last-minute). We were all instructed to wear a blindfold. I put my neck pillow around my head. Then we were arranged in a line and our hands were put together. We were led in a blind trust walk, not knowing who was ahead of us, who was behind us, or where we were going. After what felt like ages, we finally stopped. The JCs separated us and had us lie down on our backs. Then- remove the blindfolds. We were staring straight at a sky filled with endless amounts of stars. There was no moon or clouds, so it was one of those fantastic skies that appears impossibly more full than the one at home. We lay individually in silence, taking in the beauty around us. This experience is what many fellows have referred to as their real “Israel moment”. We were filled with peace and love for both each other and the country. We came together to talk and everyone was happy. A few of us stayed out later than others. Some crowded around AJ’s fancy camera, trying to adjust the exposure time to capture the sky on film. Others of us lay in a heap together on our backs, opened our palms to the sky and literally tried to inhale the energy of the stars. We wanted to capture the beauty and awesomeness of that sky and that moment. There was an indescribable sense of unity between us, the specks of dust lying on a tiny planet looking through the window to the vast universe around us. It was difficult to get rid of that “energy”. I personally could not fall asleep and ended up staying outside the tent and laughing and talking with other hyper people. We finally went to sleep around 2. We would be hiking Masada around 4:30 am. This day was so full of happiness and new experiences, and we felt more awake than ever.

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