Shalom Chaverim! (This means “Hello Friends” in Hebrew … go ahead and say that next time you are around a big group of Jews. You’ll score some points!)
Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming influx of responses to my “update”! I am trying to respond to everyone individually, but please forgive me if I am not able to do so. My access to this computer is limited, and it will be even more sparse when in Bulgaria, which I am finding out is a rather backward country that missed the last 50 years of advances.
Day Two: I got drafted into the army, handed my M16, and sent to Lebanon to fight the Hezbollah (a group of Lebanese “militants” who are fighting a guerilla war with Israeli soldiers occupying a southern portion of their country for security purposes, so they say). Just kidding! I wasn’t drafted, but if anyone follows the news, the big story over here is that Israel decided to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon by July, if they cannot reach a peace agreement with Syria. Ironically, Syria doesn’t want this to happen (they are the main power broker in Lebanon), because it would decrease the leverage they have over Israel in negotiations for a complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights (territory that Israel won from Syria in the 1967 6-day war). For more info on this just search for Israel on Yahoo, and you’ll find plenty of good stuff.
Today I woke up at 2:45 am Israeli time. Let me tell you that jet lag is a real problem, and I am basically losing my mind from lack of sleep. I killed the early morning strumming softly on my guitar so as not to wake my hosts. Thank God I brought my guitar.
I went downstairs to forage for food, only to find my father awake as well. We shared our first game of chess together, then treated to an Israeli breakfast of bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Israeli cuisine is quite good. Those of you who frequent the falafel places in the village are experiencing a pale likeness to the goods over here.
My father and I decided to take a drive, which ended up being an all day event. If you look at a map of Israel, the town I am near is called Netanya, which is about an hour north from Tel Aviv on the coast. Israel is a very small country, roughly the size of New Jersey, with a population of about 6 million, mostly crowded into the dense Tel Aviv region.
We drove from our Kibbutz to the Galilee (for my Christian readers, yep, it’s where Jesus lived and did his thang). We ended up in a city called Tiveria, or in English, Tiberias, named after the Roman Emperor Tiberias. This is a beautiful city sitting on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret, Israel’s second largest internal body of water, next to the Dead Sea that it shares with the Jordan.
We dined at a touristy, overpriced restaurant, but good Humus and some fresh fish. From Tiveria, we took a drive up to the Golan Heights, the territory in dispute with Syria. My father fought in the 6-day war to capture the Golan from the Syrians, and he wanted to see it one more time before it returns to Syrian hands, which it most likely will in an eventual agreement. Check out a wine called Yarden, which is made from vineyards on the Golan.
From the Golan, we drove straight across the country to the coast in just an hour and a half. It’s that small that you can traverse it so quickly. We passed through Haifa, Israel’s main seaport city where most of the shipping comes and goes. Then from there, we drove back down the coast to Netanya and the Kibbutz.
More about a Kibbutz. I got a question on the philosophy behind Kibbutz life. The basic philosophy behind kibbutz living is “everyone does what they can to contribute to the collective, and everyone takes what he or she needs from the collective”. All property is collectively owned, and most Kibbutzim (plural) are in the business of producing something. My kibbutz produces various drugs, baby food, dog food, avocados, milk, and cheese. In recent years, the inherent social values of some kibbutzim have slipped toward capitalism and private ownership, but others struggle to resist the tempting global market and retain their traditional ideals.
Thanks for reading. Please pass these emails to friends and share them with anyone who may be interested in what I am doing. Again, I want to hear from everyone, and if you have any questions, please ask and I will do my best to answer!
Until next time,