I am going to be 29 in one week. I am going to be 29 on the 29th of June. I am going to be 29 on the 29th of June and I am doing so in Israel. Some say for this reason it will be a blessed birthday. I say, this whole past year of my life has been blessed and having made it to Israel has been a great part of my blessing for sure.
Although I am not yet savoring the country in all of its intricacies, I feel I am getting to know my way to its soul and indirectly also to mine.
The people I have met so far, the courtesy and the welcoming attitude I have encountered has been beyond what I could have imagined. I have slept on six different couches/beds in less than one month. I have moved back and forth from Jerusalem at least five times and I have made easily 5 new friends a week, which makes 20 total as of today. I have had a different Shabbat experience every week and I have eaten and drank different types of food and coffees daily. I took part to two weddings in three weeks and I am even teaching my very first yoga class in a month in a little studio in a very nice neighborhood of Jerusalem tomorrow because the yoga teacher who I just met finally delivered her baby girl and needs me to sub for her. This is only outside of my orthodox Jewish women project…
The only thing, I have not yet tasted is any controversy about the conflict. I have not made myself go into the more “dangerous areas” of the country. Partially I think because this is not the essence of what I am here to do, and also, most importantly, this is no joke and I do not want to go play “war photographer” where I do not belong since I am on no assignment.
But today, going mountain biking in the hillsides of Sur Hadassa near the West Bank, I changed my mind.
On my way up and down the hill, I encountered Arabs trying to get through the security border because they were looking for work in Israel. A sight baffling to me, but completely normal to any other Israeli living here.
“This happens every day. They are not looking to fight, they are just looking to work,” said my friend and newly-discovered biking mate Alain. “Too bad most of them do not have permit to work in Israel and this is why they get stopped by the border control and sent back and why we see them walking in the open forest.”
Well, we passed them like nothing every happened. I even said “shalom and shavua tov” to them and then went down the hill on my way back home through vineyards and olive trees completely sure they were Israelis hiking in the mountains. *(this shows my naiveté). In any case, this is not to say that I should not have said hello to them, but maybe a “salam alechem” would have been more appropriate for the time being.
Oh, well…I really think I am do for a trip inside the settlement to see what goes on behind the green line. Not sure where and when, but certainly I am intrigued to see if what they say in the news and what people often report about it’s even half of the truth.
I remain a strong supporter of the State of Israel, not only as a Zionist, but as a true believe in the strong role of only Democracy in the Middle East and as a supporter of it’s pool of young-successfull-bright minds. I, although, do not encourage violence among the Israeli and the Arabs, quiet the opposite indeed, but I still think, as an outsider, I can only weigh in the conversation very little since I have not lived the wars this place has had and I have no idea what it means to walk around with an M-16 on a daily basis, or have a bomb shelter for any necessity inside your own house.
Today I remain an observer, tomorrow who knows, and maybe when I turn 30, I may even become a citizen…