Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend in Tzfat!

Well, what an interesting weekend. So it started off on Friday morning as we left Jerusalem at 5:30 am. The bus ride was okay for the first part, but once we got up into the mountains it was like a snake road that kept winding allllll the way up the mountains. Northern Israel is beautiful. I could spend an entire day just sitting on a ledge and staring. It is really weird as one mountain is olive trees, one is spruce trees, one is rocks, one is grass, one is grass with rocks sticking out, and then in between you will find random houses. And these houses have no electricity or water running to them. It was so different to see that there were a few houses living in a cluster in the middle or on the sides of these mountains. Around 8am we stopped at this tiny park to have breakfast. There were two other schools that met us there, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University were in the buses behind us. So we get off, have an orange, "shocko" (really good chocolate milk, but nothing can beat Wicked Good Chocolate Milk) and some rogalah. Rogalah is pretty much mini chocolate croissants. But don't say that to an Israeli. So we are all standing around and talking to people and a lot of people are excited to see their friends from the other schools. And you know how I said that I would never see anyone in Israel that I knew?!?! Well guess who was standing right in front of me! This girl that I went to St. Paul's with...her name was Samara and she was really good friends with Sarah. No joke, we just looked at each other and were like OH MY GOD what on earth are you doing here?! Like, words couldn't come out of my mouth as I was in such shock that I knew someone, but that it was someone from St. Paul's. Even more creepy, I was wearing my St. Paul's sweatpants. Ha! So after we talked for a few minutes, we got back on the buses, and we saw each other for the rest of the night and stuff, we headed to go ATV-ing. We had to pass this little test to see which kind of ATV we could drive. I got a check dash (orrrr as the guys told me it was a check minus) ha. Anyways, I wasn't the best at the ATV's but I was still good enough. So my parter was a grad student from Ben Gurion. He has his own bike at home and was a good driver. We went through mud puddles, up rocks, on the roads, it was insane. I sat on the back just taking a ton of pictures. The rocks were so sharp that I was surprised the tires didn't pop. Once the rest of the group was at the top of this mountain we were there and took a lot of pictures. The tour guide was showing us where Syria and Lebanon were. We were about two miles south of Lebanon.

On the way back down, I got to drive! The tour guide kept looking back and telling me to slow down. Opps :) It was so cool though just be on a dirt road swerving everywhere. After we returned, we had lunch and then headed to the caves. So these though the lemon squeeze at the Flume was bad?!?! So we had to first climb down about three stories just to get to the entrance of the cave we would be climbing in. It was so moist that the rocks were really slippery that I just sat and slid down. You really had to hold on tight to these rocks as it was so dark you couldn't see. The flashlight I had was running on half a battery. Oy. Once we were in the caves the guide told us stories about how people had died in there and blah blah blah. But they entire time we were listening we had to have our lights off and I was clinging onto the ten year old next to me because I was so scared. Ha. It was really creepy though. After we finally made it back alive, we then got to swing from the top of the cave into the entrance. It was so much fun! I was really scared before, I kept telling the guy to make sure my harness was strapped on correctly and then everything was sealed tight, and I just stood there shaking as he then just pushed me off and I went flying. Boy did I scream. It was so cool just go be flying towards the cave, and then getting so close to the rocks above you. It is really hard to explain, but it was just great. When I got back on the ground I just stood there for a second holding onto the guy because my legs were jello.

So we had to rush back to the bus as the sun was almost setting and we needed to be ready for dinner as Shabbot was starting. So this was my first Shabbot weekend and it was very interesting. I had a great time doing all the activities but the religious aspect was too spiritual/mystical/Kaballah for me. Tzfat is one of the holiest cities in Judaism and it is a strictly Jewish town. It is more like an artists colony. But we make it back to the hotel and I am staying with three other girls who are Jewish. Some more orthodox than the others. But they all wanted to be showered in ready within a half hour as you are not supposed to be doing work once the sun has set. So they got ready and then I got ready last. We kept the bathroom light on and shut everything else off and it would stay like that all day on Saturday. You couldn't turn on or off switches. When they weren't in the room, I turned the TV on and watched some of the olympics. Once we were ready we went down to dinner. Before dinner there was about 45 minutes of prayers out on the deck. I sat in the back and just observed. Then once we ate there were more songs and prayers that went along with the whole ceremony. And Friday night dinners are different than all the other dinners, but this was big as it was the beginning of Shabbot.

After dinner, we stayed up for a little, had snacks, and most of the people just sat around and sang songs. I only knew one of them. They were all in Hebrew and everyone knew that from going to camp. I'm pretty sure that out of the 100 students that were there, I might have been the only non-Jew. Don't get me wrong, I am very glad I experienced a Shabbot weekend, but it wasn't the most exciting thing. I felt uncomfortable during some of the prayers/song singing as it is completely different from going to Sunday school and Church. Saturday morning comes and the other girls get up to go to morning services, I slept in and it was fantastic. This was when I watched TV as they were out of the room. We then had a tour of the town, but I wasn't allowed to bring my camera as you can't use electronics on Saturday. It was almost pointless to have a tour as nothing was open. It was worse that Jerusalem. However, for those Jewish people that are more Orthodox and do believe in all the spirituality, this town was the place to be. After experiencing this past weekend, I can see how those that have been raised in a household without religion would think that most religions are some sort of cult. It was just a confusing weekend as you don't find just a Jewish person that fits into this category. I realized that Judaism is more of a way of life, more than a religion. These people fit their lives according to what the Torah or Talmud says. Each person I encountered had different beliefs and traditions that they were raised with. It is very confusing and I still question it. I did enjoy the weekend, but I wish I had experienced a Shabbot weekend before experiencing an Orthodox Shabbot weekend. And when I throw all these terms around, Orthodox and conservative and reformed mean different things to different Jews. It's weird and hard to explain. Once Shabbot ended we packed up and headed back to Jerusalem. I tried to do some homework, but got a little sick. We followed the Sea of Galilee for a while and then finally made it back to the Student Village. I was very excited.

I didn't make it to class on Sunday, I hadn't done my homework, I was really tired, just needed an extra day. It was fine, we are given two days to miss if we want. I was nervous that I would miss a lot of Hebrew, but I was fine. Today being Monday I made it to class and we were learning about the infinitives. Ugh. Ulpan ends on Thursday and we need to start getting ready for our final. It was gorgeous today, about 90 degrees Fahrenheit! :) So the week ahead looks like a lot of studying and then on Friday we have a trip to the Negev desert. Wish me luck on my final!

1 comment:

  1. Seems like you are settling in pretty well in Israel. Good Luck on your exam! Miss you!