Saturday, June 12, 2010

Okay, so I didn't write about the Galilee, but...

I'll write about the Chovek, instead.
The Chovek is a two-week trip from the north to the south that's supposed to be an everything-we-didn't-do/everyone-we-didn't-meet trip.
I remember last year, when talking to Daniel about the Mechina, he told me about the chovek and how it's the first two weeks of the last month of the mechina; at that point, mom still hadn't decided to move DD's bat mitzvah, so I was a) either going to have to leave a month early or b) decide not to do the Mechina because I wouldn't want to leave a month early. Glad everything worked out!
I don't have a super-lot of time, so I'll just write about a few things.

1. I spent all of Shabbat and all of Sunday about 2 miles from the Gaza strip. We were at Kibbutz Sa'ad, which is a religious kibbutz, for Shabbat. The first thing we did when we got there (after showering and dealing with the brunt of the lice infestation that about 8 people had) was do a "tatzpit" (lookout) on Gaza. You could really see it from the edge of the kibbutz, which was sort of a surreal feeling for me. Shabbat was really pleasant--a bunch of us left the regular shul about 5 minutes in because we heard there was a Carlebach minyan a few minutes away. We walked there, and it was this tiny little room cramped with funky-dressed women and men in khaki pants and white linen shirts and shoresh sandals. The singing was incredible! It felt like I was in a concert--Kabbalat Shabbat is definitely something that I only started going to this yea rand I want to continue doing at home and in college.
I sat with some of my favorite people at Shabbat dinner, which was special because it's the second-to-last Shabbat, and then after dinner I went for a long walk with Hadar around the kibbutz and we talked for about an hour, during which we saw lots of other groups of twos and threes doing as well; get in all those last heart-to-hearts! Shabbat morning I got up early for shul, because it's my favorite haftarah (with Rahab the prostitute putting a rope down her window to help the two Jews escape), but I had to leave early to set up breakfast.

2. We met three groups of people that either I had never heard of and/or didn't really know anything about: Charkesians, Samarians, and Ahmads. (It's funny writing their names in English, now). [We also went to the Druze Mechina, but the chanichim weren't there, only the head of the mechina. that was really interesting in itself, though!] I won't bother really writing about the groups, becase you could just wikipedia that. I will say that the conversations/meeting with the Charkesians and the Samarians were two of the most interesting things we did all of the Chovek. What caught my attention most, in both of them, was the language. The Charkesian language is absolutely dumbfounding! Made up entirely of onomatopoeia (DD? spelling?), but it definitely sounds like gibberish (I took a video). the Samarians speak ancient Hebrew, (well, they pray in ancient Hebrew) which also sounds pretty quirky, but at least it's somewhat decipherable.
In any case, it made me even more interested in studying languages.
The other thing that was especially interesting is that I've only ever learned about Russia from the Russian perspective--Russia's perspective on Chechnya's desire for independence. the Charkesians are another group that are in the 89 republics of Russia, but want their independence, so hearing it from somebody from that group was really really interesting.

3. On one of the two days that I planned--the first day in Be'er Sheva, the second at Masada/Dead Sea--we almost slept in a bomb shelter. We had arranged to sleep in a Tzofim youth group building, but somehow when we got there the woman said "you know you're in the shelter, right?" Ron (my co for the day) and I had gotten there early with Tal and our madrich, Eldad, and went down to check out the situation (too bad I didn't photograph!) The toilets were holes in the floor with cockroaches filing out, and the rooms are underground (because it's a bomb shelter) and unbreathable with no windows, because of the 30cm thick cement walls. There was no circulation, no nothing, and when we tried to start cleaning the room, the dust just rose into a cloud and settled down again on every surface. Then, when the rest of the group got there, Lian made an emergecny call to her uncle, who runs the JCCs (equivalent) in Be'er Sheva, and he arranged us the nicest place we stayed for the entire two weeks! It was some sort of science-y community center/JCC something, with a beautiful dance studio that we slept in an cool science projects all over.

4. Our shiur with Zevik on Masada was the first time--since the first day of the Mechina--that I've succeeded in listening to an entire lesson of his! And it was three hours! (Actually, that's comparatively short, for Zevik...)

Basic outline of the two weeks:
Sunday: Binyamina, Haifa (water research center!), Zfat (mayor)
Monday: Zfat (tour of the old city with great guitar-playing in the middle!), conversatio nwith a sculptor, Zevik's lesson on Zfat in th ewar in 1948 (didn't pay attention..), a speaker about Kabbalah (craaaaaaaaazy!), and one about caves in Israel--speleology (cool!)
Tuesday: cool town called Ma'aleh Tzviah (more about that later), Savta Jamila soaps (independent Druze woman!), Tefen industrial park, Charkesians,
Wednesday: Emek Beit Shean--hiking trail, with a pool in the middle! Then an archaeologist.
Thursday: going south: Druze Mechina, cool wood workshop, artists' colony at Ein Hod, Youth Village at Yemin Ord, volunteering in Ashkelon
Friday: more volunteering in Ashkelon, Kibbutz Sa'ad for Shabbat
SHABBAT: Kibbutz Sa'ad
Sunday: day in the areas around Gaza. Also the Strauss/Ilit chips factory (free food!), mayor of the regional council
Monday: Commanders' school, Ben Gurio nUniversity, mayor of Beer Sheva (totach!)
Tuesday: Masada, class about "swallowing pits" by the Dead Sea (cool because this week's parasha is about Korach getting swallowed by the earth!), going in the Dead Sea, Rabbi Dani (about listening to two sides of things), dinner at one of the chanichim's houses
Wednesday: Temple Mount!!!, school in Holon that has disabled kids and "regular" kids together, Samarians, Mechinat Tel Aviv
Thursday: Neve Tzedek (artists' colony/first neighborhood in Tel Aviv), Lechi Museum, tour of south Tel Aviv (HERE COMES GENTRIFICATION IN A FEW YEARS!)

Okay, for more things I'll have to think about, and I'm sure I'll actually post some more when I get home when I have time to process.

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