The travels continue. This time, we’re hopping a plane for a place that I’ve heard about for my entire life, but know next to nothing about. I cannot properly explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My Hebrew is on a kindergarten grade level (at best). I really only know one word of conversational Hebrew (or, more generously, three if you translate into English). Shalom!
With this in mind, Birthright, or the free trip guaranteed to all Jews between the ages of 18 and 26, provides an incredible (and cheap, it’s almost completely funded by some outside organizations) opportunity to experience an ancient civilization with a unique, modern culture. Israel is the nexus of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and the concentration of religious history and sites in the country is almost unparalleled. The people are resilient, tough, and (according to the same grandmother who never steered us wrong in Europe) surprisingly kind and welcoming. The desert environment that covers parts of the country is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Here’s another interesting thought: I’m not in the least bit religious. I have some kind of cultural connection to Judaism, I learned that in Germany and the Czech Republic, but there’s no religion at this point in my life. I don’t think this trip will change that, but it’s going to be interesting (maybe even stressful or uncomfortable) being in a place that is built on religion. I also have an expectation that all Israelis are religious. This is probably a pretty global stereotype, and I’m not sure that it’s true. I guess we’ll find out in a few days.
I could keep going about my excitements (is this a word?), hesitations, and more about my upcoming departure to Israel, but if I start off with too much coverage of this trip, I’ll feel bad when I can’t keep up. So expect photography and maybe a few anecdotes over the next ten or so days as I end this crazy year in the only way possible: a trip back across the pond to Israel.