Tiyul Tzafon!

Last week we had Northern Tiyul. Now, I’m going to skip over the mornings because every morning was a hike… aka me sitting on the bus, and I’m sure it will be just as boring for you to read about as it was for me to do. There was a lot of sleeping, sudokus, bejeweled, and 3G usage (sorry, Dad) Also, remember that like with every Tiyul each day we have a hard and easy option. I’ll tell you about both but I was always on the easy option because it had more things that I could do. 

The first day we started off with lunch at a Druze village. The Druze are very interesting people, and I don’t really want to go into their history/ religion/ story here, but it’s pretty fascinating and I’m sure our good friend Google will have lots to say about it. From there we split into hard/easy. The easy group went to Caesarea, and we had a little walking tour and then some time to spend on the beach (it’s not a beach you can swim in, but it’s absolutely beautiful) When we were about to leave our bus broke down, so we sat in the parking lot for an hour which was great. Then we headed to the hostel for dinner and whatnot and bed. 

The second day both groups started with a hike and then we came back together at the Galil winery where we had lunch (not fancy winery lunch, boxed sandwich lunches) and then got a tour and tasting. It was some delicious wine! ImageAfter that we split into two options again. There was a bike ride option and a tour of Tzfat. I obviously went to Tzfat which was great because it’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to go all year but never got to. We had some time to look around at the artwork and jewelry and then got to meet with a really cool artist. His name is Avraham Lowenthal and I would highly recommend checking out his work on http://www.kabbalahart.com I really loved one piece in specific and I was going to buy a small print but the price was well… a little out of my range.  That night we had some free time in Tiberas where Sarah and I just walked around for a bit and had a delicious pizza and pasta dinner! 

The next day after hiking we went to Kfar Blum where we had a wonderful all you can eat pizza lunch followed by rafting down the Jordan River. It was the exact same thing we did on Pilgrimage, but it was still so fun! I was able to take my air cast off and just wrap my ankle and it worked out just fine. I was put in charge of paddling and steering because I was the only one who knew how to do it, and we had a really good time splashing other boats too. 

Wednesday, the hard hike was something I really wanted to go on. They got up at 5:30 for services and breakfast then headed out on a 7ish hour hike in which they got to repel down waterfalls, jump into huge natural pools, repel down more waterfalls, and be genuinely cool and do insane cool stuff. Not gonna lie, I was pretty bitter about missing that one. This was also the longest hike for the easy people too so I spent an awful long time on the bus. After that we went to the viewpoint where you can see Syria and Jordan and we could see the booms and hear the smoke from the Syrian civil war, it was pretty crazy. We ended our day at the De Karina Chocolate factory where we got a tour and tasting and then had the chance to make our own chocolate bars. Really, they had all the chocolate out for us, we just got to assemble the truffles and decorate them and design our chocolate bar. We had big squeeze bottle of chocolate to use and most people drew designs or wrote their name in theirs but I got creative and I love how it came out!Image

The last day we went to the Sachne pools. They are huge, BEAUTIFUL, natural fresh water pools. When we first got there I thought the water was dyed blue because it was so bright and clear. We got to swim around and explore the 3 pools for a few hours before having lunch and heading back to our locations for a final Shabbat. Image

The Shabbat itself was nothing special. Thursday afternoon and friday were full of packing, then for Shabbat we had potluck meals. I made 17 challot, chocolate cake, and cookie brownies! ImageI did read Torah though in honor of my Bat Mitzvah portion! 

Now we’re back in our final week in Jerusalem, which maybe I’ll post about Sunday before I leave? I don’t really know, but you’ll probably hear about it! 

Can’t wait to be home in less than 5 days! Also, RIP to my laptop and thanks Arielle for letting me use hers :) 

Israel Advocacy, Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Haatzmaut!

Whew, that’s quite the title! Let’s get right into it, shall we? 

The Israel Advocacy Seminar was a 3 day, really intensive seminar put on for us that focused on the conflict and how we can stand up for Israel on campus next year. It was a really full schedule with a lot of sessions and lectures, but it was very educational and informative and I think a lot of people really got a lot out of it. For me personally, it gave me a lot more information about the conflict and really helped me form my own informed decision. One very interesting piece of the week was when we had a Palestinian speaker come to share her point of view…. let’s just say it wasn’t even close to any of ours… shocker. 

Yom HaShoah is national Holocaust Remembrance day here in Israel. That Sunday night we went to a ceremony attended by thousands of others. The ceremony was all in Hebrew, but it was still beautiful with lots of incredible singing, wreath laying, and lighting of memorial torches by family members of Holocaust survivors who have since passed.  The next day at 10am the siren went off around the country. Every year on Yom Hashoah, at 10 am a 2 minute siren can be heard throughout the country. During those two minutes everything stops. People pull over their cars on the free way and step out to pay their respects. Grocery stores stop, people on the streets stop, the whole country stops for 2 minutes of silence and remembrance. That night we also had a little program within our group as well. 

A week later came Yom Hazikaron. This is Israel’s Memorial Day. However, memorial day here isn’t celebrated with sales, BBQs, and a jolly good time. It is an incredibly somber day, and the military cemeteries are packed to pay respects to the fallen soldiers and victims of terror. The night before, we went to a MASA (the umbrella organnization of Nativ and the organization responsible for almost every gap year program in Israel) English ceremony for Yom Hazikaron. We heard stories of fallen soldiers including Michael Levin. He was a solider from Philly who made the decision to serve Israel in the IDF Paratroopers. While he was home visiting his family, the second Lebanon War broke out and even though he didn’t have to, he went back and requested to be put back in with his unit, even volunteering to lead them into their mission. He ultimately fell during that battle, but thousands and thousands of people remember and recognize his life. Everyone in Israel knows his name, and even though he has no immediate family here, thousands of people arrived for his funeral in 2002. He was also on Nativ 22. 

The next day we visited Har Herzl, the military cemetery. It was totally packed. At 11 am another siren rang for 2 minutes and once again, still and silence. Immeadetly after the siren a ceremony was projected through loudspeakers throughout the entire cemetery. I visited Michael’s grave. Image

After that we had the chance to meet Michael’s mother Harriet. I met her before on Pilgrimage as well, but she never fails to amaze me. She is so proud of her son and this country, and even though his loss was horribly painful for her, she says that she knew it was what he had to do, and he died fighting for everything he loved. 

That night, the celebrations began. Yom Haatzmaut is Israeli Independence day. It was CRAZY. I started at Yemin Moshe where they had a musical, festive Ma’ariv service along with singing and dancing. From there I made my way to Ben Yehudah and Hillel street where they had live music, DJs, and insane numbers of people everywhere. From 11-3am at City Hall there was Israeli Dancing, so I was there for some time as well. There were 2 firework shows, street vendors everywhere, huge crowds, shaving cream fights in the street… it was a lot of fun! By about 2 am I could barely keep my eyes open though so I called it a night. ImageThen today we had a big Nativ BBQ in Independence park (along with the rest of the country, you could smell BBQs everywhere you went) and I also headed over to my Aunt and Uncle’s for a little BBQ lunch with them and my favorite first cousin once removed! Image

It’s been a crazy past 2 weeks, and the next 2.5 weeks are going to be just as crazy, but then I’m home! 

Pesach!

For those of you who don’t know what pesach is (aka passover) then I would highly recommend you hit up our good friend Google before you continue reading. 

Anywho, we started off by cleaning and kashering our apartment Sunday. It wasn’t too difficult because our kitchen is so small and we weren’t going to be there for the week anyway. We did some major scrubbing, mopping, sweeping, and then tied our chametz cabinets closed. 

Monday morning I headed off to Jerusalem with Jake to my Aunt and Uncle’s for the seder. The seder was wonderful! We read the Hagadah, stopping for short discussions between sections. We didn’t start the seder until after 8 and we didn’t start eating until almost 10:45! I was blown away by the time because it really didn’t feel long at all! As usual, my aunt made a wonderfully delicious dinner and dessert that left us stuffed! We finished up the seder and to bed we went! 

After sleeping in and having a nice lunch Tuesday I decided to take a long walk around the neighborhood, I walked for almost two hours before going back to the house and laying down to read a book… I woke up 2 hours later. Tuesday night I went out to dinner with Arielle (my roommate from last semester) and her parents who were in visiting. We had a lovely kosher for passover dinner and when they found out it was my birthday the next day they got me a dessert with a sparkler and everything! It was lovely! 

Once midnight hit and it was officially my birthday, Jake and I went to Ben Yehudah for celebratory milkshakes before heading back to my aunt’s for bed. Image

The next day I traveled with Maya and some of her relatives who live here to Tel Aviv. It’s normally about an hour drive, but traffic was horrible and 5 of us plus a dog were trapped inside a hot little car for two and a half hours! Once we got there we dropped our stuff off at Maya’s friend’s and we headed to lunch on the beach. After lunch we layed on the beach for a bit but it was already well into the afternoon and pretty chilly, so that didn’t last long. That evening we met up with Sammy and spent the night window shopping in Tel Aviv and having a wonderful dinner!Also whoops for cutting off our heads, but I’m way to lazy to go back and fix it :) Image

I spent Thursday night back in the apartment and then met Jake in Haifa for Shabbat. We stayed at a nice little place, but made the final decision that Haifa is far from our favorite city in Israel… it’s not very pretty, and there is nothing to do. We ended up going to see the movie Noah Friday night. It was a pretty cool movie but definitely not funny enough for my attention span to last that long.. actually, it wasn’t funny at all. Saturday we went to the science museum, if we were about 10 years younger it would have been great! ;)  Sunday morning we checked out and I headed back to karmiel. I spent all day yesterday and today in my room watching Hart of Dixie on netflix. Sorry Scandal, but this show was made for me! Image

This week we have our Israel Activism Seminar, not so sure yet as to how it will turn out. I guess I’ll let you know next week! 

Hope you all have a wonderful week! One month and 5 days until this girl is home! 

I’m Completely Unsatisfied

I tried my best. I tried my best to get my points across and I felt like I got nothing accomplished. Every issue I brought up was replied to with a “well that’s because you’re doing this wrong” or “that’s not what we do here”. I don’t feel like my opinions were valued, and I don’t feel listened to.
Do I appreciate that I was given the time of day? Absolutely. And I respect that.
But I don’t feel like anything I said had any influence on anything. I don’t even think I was taken seriously. And that is a problem.
I got no apology for the fact that their actions made my first semester hell on earth. It’s not their fault that I have depression, and I’m not blaming that on them. Is it their fault however that I wasn’t given the help I needed? First semester was some of the absolute worst months of my life. And I feel like no one cares about that, no one is listening. And yeah, I’m aware that there is nothing they can do about it now, but all I want is an apology. And they won’t even give me that.
The fact that so many people are unhappy on this program right now should mean something to them. It’s not our faults at this point. But I feel like they really don’t care, because if they did something would be happening. And nothing is happening. Instead, it’s our fault. Our fault for not taking opportunities, our fault for letting the fact that we dislike our staff “affect our experience”
This is a college leadership program. Where we are expected to act like adults, and to me, that means standing up for myself. That means seeing problems and demanding change. And that’s what I did and I have no shame in that.

Shabbat, Shabbat, Shabbat (because the stuff in between is a lot less exciting)

It’s been 3 weeks since a post about my actual daily life… sue me. 

Really, the Sunday- Thursday schedule never really changes. It’s an early wake up, work, internet/shopping/cooking, promising myself I’ll go to bed early, and then only sometimes going to bed early. It’s not that it’s boring, it’s just the same thing every day and you all really don’t have the time to hear about it every day! 

But the last 3 Shabbatot have been not the same old that you’re used to, so I figured you might like to know about them. And if you wouldn’t, then why are you even on this blog? 3 weeks ago, Jake had 2 friends from Kfar (still Nativers, just another track) over and so I cooked lots of yummy food, we took a walk to our favorite giant park, and we slept. A lot of sleeping happened. 

The following weekend I went with a lovely group of 6 other girls to Tiberius. We stayed in a cute little apartment, but it was a weird mix between a hotel and apartment really. We had a nice little Friday night dinner, and then spent Saturday at the hot springs and pool that we had access to (but it was an hour walk away which made no sense to any of us) It was so nice to have a relaxing weekend out of Karmiel with some truly wonderful ladies!Image

This Shabbat we had a closed Shabbat at Kibbutz Hannaton. ImageThis is a Kibbutz very close to Karmiel and is actually the Kibbutz we stayed in for our Northern week of Pilgrimage, it brought back so many memories! We just did the classic closed Shabs stuff, prayers, food, a session on Pesach. We also had a chance to meet with the mechina kids on the kibbutz. A mechina is a gap year program for Israelis to take before they join the army. Most of them were very Americanized and spoke perfect English so it was pretty interesting to get to talk with them and hang out. ImageImage

As far as the ankle goes: my MRI came back clear and as far as the doctor is concerned I’m perfectly fine. But here’s the thing. The doctor didn’t even look at my actual ankle, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t see that my ankle is actually STILL swollen… he literally just looked at the MRI report. Frustrated is an understatement my friends. 

And to those of you who have been badgering me to take my last 2 posts to a higher level of Nativ power, in the words of Olivia Pope “Consider it handled” 

And if you can’t tell, Scandal is my newest obsession (3 cheers for Netflix, hip hip HOORAY) 

Pesach starts Monday and my birthday is Wednesday so bring on the next week!

Love to you all and Chag Sameach to those who celebrate! <3 <3 

Let’s Clear Things Up

I want to make something very clear. The last blog post wasn’t for you to worry about me or feel sorry for me. Please don’t. I don’t want people to worry about me or feel sorry for me because I am fine. I have amazing friends here, I work at a rewarding job, and smiles and laughs definitely outnumber the hard moments.

Yeah, it’s been pretty rough lately. I got my MRI and the doctor (without even asking me anything or looking at my ankle) told me I was fine, even though I still can’t walk properly, am in constant pain, and my ankle still swells constantly. It’s hard, and frustrating, and annoying, and sometimes I just want to be home with ice on my ankle an a hug from my Mommy. Working out has been my stress reliever for the entire time I’ve been here, and I can’t really do that anymore and that sucks.

But I’m okay. I’m a pretty tough girl, you should all know that. I’m surrounded by friends who love me and supported by even more amazing people at home. In 53 days I’ll be back I’m my own bed, and so through the pain, through the homesickness, and through the weight gain (it’s happening people, don’t judge) I’m going to make these 53 days count.

Also, a lot of you have told me to send that post to the nativ office. That’s not really something I’m comfortable doing right now. Would I care if they somehow see it? No, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it. But do I want to straight up send it to them? Not really.

Thanks for all the love and support, it means so much to me. Now stop worrying and go do something fun ;) (I will, I’m going on a girl’s weekend to Tiberias and I’m gonna soak myself in those hot springs until I’m a raisin!)