So yeah I got back last night from 3 days up north with school. It was an interesting time. I don't even know what to say haha. It was really different being with all the people from school outside of school and for like 24 hours a day each day. The tiyul kind of felt like a birthright trip or something of the sort. While it was a little overwhelming at times (I am very much into alone time every now and then) I do feel like I bonded with some of my classmates more which was nice.
So we left super early on Tuesday morning and headed up somewhere. I am so bad at place names. Since it was really hot out (heat wave!) some of the programming was changed around so we wouldn't all die. The overarching theme of the trip was halutzim (pioneers). This term halutzim is very loaded here in Israel and is what the people who first came to Israel and helped to settle the land were called. Many were Jews from Europe who came and worked the land and helped to establish the state. I could go on, but I won't.
Anyways we talked a lot about pioneers both of the past and also modern day pioneers. One place we went to, which was actually technically in Jordan, was the "Island of Peace" which is basically this failed hydro-electric plant. The Island is rented out by Israel every 75 years or so and people from nearby kibbutzim work there. The guy who made it (I'm a fail and don't remember his name) did so because he wanted to help make Israel better and use the water to create power. Now all there is are very interesting (not) tours. But hey at the end of the day we got fake passport things as souvenirs, and they are pretty cool. They even have a real life stamp that says we were there OMGGGGG
Next we went to the Kinneret cemetery. This is a special cemetery for people who helped in the beginning of the Kibbutz movement, very much halutzim. The cemetery was really pretty and it was nice to walk around. There are a bunch of Israel's "greats" buried there such as the poet rachel and nomi shemer, also Moshe Hess who was the originator of the zionist ideal, along with many others. We spoke about how hard it was in the beginning to be here and how many people died, and a lot of those deaths were suicides (I think our guide said like 1 in 10). These were the people "drying up the swamp" in Israel which means many also died of malaria.
After that we went to our hotel and got to swim a little, since is was right on the kinneret. The place we stayed was actually the same place I stayed on my nfty summer Israel trip like 6 years ago, so it was pretty weird for me. I kept having little flashbacks to what I did at the hotel wayy back in the day. It was nice though so no complaints. I also liked their breakfast.
That day we also heard this guy Muki Tsur (I think that's how you spell it) speak. He was a great speaker! He was one of the founding members of the kibbutz movement. He said a lot of interesting things. One thing he mentioned was how the generation that lived to see Israel become a country really treasured Israel as such and felt that Israel's existence was/is a miracle. On the other hand the youth now who were not around for the same hardships are going to accept Israel's existence as fact and will not fight for Israel the same way the previous generation did. I guess this can be seen in Israel today, but at the same time we did see (will elaborate later in this post) younger Israelis working to improve the conditions in Israel. He also spoke about the kibbutz movement. Everyone these days says ohh the kibbutz movement isn't what it used to be, but he pointed out people have been saying that since 1912, 3 years after the movement was started (at kibbutz deganya). He also talked a lot about trumpledore, he seemed like a bamf.
That night we also had a program on Yitzhak Rabin, a former Israeli prime minister who was assassinated. It was the anniversary of his death on Tuesday, so we spoke about him and about how his death was experienced by different people in Israel. As usual everything is more complicated and nuanced than it seems, but it was really informative to hear people talk about what it was like to be in Israel when everything was happening. I can't imagine it. I was also about 7 years old when it happened and all I remember is going to my synagogue to watch a movie and it was cancelled and people were being somber, but I definitely didn't fully get what was going one.
The next day we got going early again and we went to kibbutz tel hai. Tel Hai, depending on what angle you view the development of Israel through is either an important part of this narrative or a not so important one. Tel Hai was a kibbutz before Israel became a state, and it was attacked by arabs. The settlers fought back but eventually lost and had to evacuate, 8 people died in these various attacks. This settlement is significant because it helped expand Israel's boarders to where they are now, so when land was being divided up for Israel this land was given to the state. This is especially significant because of the important water sources in this area that help give water to the majority of Israel's population.
After that we went to a moshav and heard another speaker who was an important person on the moshav. He spoke about what it was like to live up north and also about the cooperation that they have and that is important on their moshav. Living so far up north can be pretty dangerous because they are right near the Lebanon boarder so at certain times there are rockets shot into Israel. Just in 2006 Israel had a war with Lebanon, so yeah relations still aren't so great. I'm no expert in this conflict, but I think it mostly has to do with Hezbollah the terrorist organization there and not so much the actual government.
Then the chaos started...kinda. So the original plan was to go hiking but since it was so hot there was a change of plans and we had 2 options. One was to go to the naot factory (shoes) and then go swimming for a while and the other option was to go to this place where you could see into both Lebanon and Syria (?) and then go swimming for a shorter time. I chose the first option because I wanted to go swimming, and no I didn't buy any shoes. So after we finished at the naot factory we went to the park where we were supposed to go swimming. Turns out it closes after sukkot. Of course it didn't say that anywhere, even on the website it said it was open til november. Ooops. So then we had to go somewhere else so we went to this other park and hung out for a little, but it took us a while to get there. One of the leaders of our program got us ice cream because he felt bad haha. I mean hey things don't always go according to plans, so I didn't mind. It was an honest mistake, and I'm sure this will happen to all of us all the time when we get into our congregations...
Afterwards we went to this place on the Hula lake and did a night safari. It was funny because we didn't see much, we were laughing because the leader was like oh and there is a swamp cat, wow, but we see cats all the time. We also saw a few owls which were cool, a fox, some birds, and some buffalo that were having a fight. It was pretty cool. They say it is better to come in the day, so next time...
At the same place we did the safari, we had a little campfire where we were all Jewy and sang songs. We also had s'mores, well kinda because graham crackers don't really exist in Israel. It was a pleasant time, but I think most of us got eaten alive ahhhh mosquitoes.
The next, and last day (we were all super exhausted), we met with the president of Tel Hai college. Tel Hai college is very unique as it is trying to make the area of Tel Hai a better place and get the students to interact with the community. There is a phenomenon up north that the people who live in the towns are getting older and older and all the young people are moving to the center of Israel (like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), so it is harder to find good teachers here and improve the industry, etc. Tel Hai is trying to fix this problem and build up the job market and really trying to revitalize the area. It's a neat idea and it seems to be working. He said that a bunch of high tech firms have moved their branches up north, so we will see...
We also met with people from this cool program called Ayalim. It is a program for students either up north in Tel Hai or down in the Negev and the people on the program compare it to being modern day halutzim. The Negev desert makes up like 80% of Israel's land mass buy only 6% or something like that of Israel's population, so the goal there is to build and revitalize villages and neighborhoods down there so more people will live there and it will be a better place. Up north in Tel Hai they are also working to clean up the area so that it will be a nicer more attractive place to live, so that Israel's population will spread out and use all of the land they have. It was cool to see people my age involved in these projects and taking an interest in making Israel a better place.
After that we went to Tel Dan, this really significant archaeological site up north, very close to the Lebanon boarder. My biblical teacher came to join us which was super cool because he was one of the main people who worked on this dig. He just knew so much and had all the insider information which was crazy. Tel Dan is also in a beautiful park, I would recommend going. All the stuff you see there is mind bogglingly old, like from 2000 bce and before (also also after). NUTS.
Then we started our eventful trip back. One of the buses part of the way back got a flat tire so we all had to squish onto one bus. Good times. OY. I was soooo ready to go home by that point so I was happy when we got back to Jerusalem.
And that brings me basically to the present. I went to the gym today and took a hip hop class, it reminded me why I am not a dancer, but it was super fun. Maybe I will incorporate some of my new moves into my future pulpit (?).
Ok now time to go get ready for shabbat, it's nuts it starts at like 4:25 or something like that. I have sunday off of school this week which is going to be awesome. YAYAYAY for a real American sunday :-)