All of my travel posts thus far have been based by city; for this particular one it is easier to do it more in a region since most of my time was spent hopping from place to place around the Northern part of Israel. I started off in Moran.- I decided to participate in the Birthright, program in September, if you have any questions about Birthright or how to apply, please send me an email through my contact page and I can help point you in the right direction.- We arrived at Kibbutz Moran on our first night. We landed in Tel Aviv about an hour earlier. We were joyfully greeted from our tour guide, Bar, and Israeli soldiers, who were traveling with us for the trip, Hofit, Lior, Meital, Idan, Omer, Miki, and Yuval. We also met Itiya, who is working in Chicago, yet originally from Israel. There was 47 of us, we also have our Rabbi, Megan, and another trip leader, Jonah. I also must not forget Slava, our bus driver for the trip, he is an amazing driver and we even deemed him with his own hashtag, #slava, for his excellence. We were all tired and hungry from the flight, yet the first thing we did was circle up in the middle of the airport, put our arms around each other, and shouted at the top of our lungs the Hebrew words for brother and happiness/joy. It brought this sense of welcome and family instantaneously into our newly formed group; it was something about just being silly and spontaneous with each other right off the bat that just sparked this sense of excitement and wonder.
We found our bus, 423, and headed off. At the Kibbutz, we enjoyed our first Israeli dinner with eggplant, hummus, soup, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, potatoes, rice, and other little odds and ends. I received my room assignment with Morgan, a spunky girl from Ohio State, and Hofit, one of our Israelis,-we became quite fondly possessive of them all, they are ours and not allowed to be with any other groups.- We spoke with Hofit, learning about her army experience and learned that she just ended her service. She is a beautiful person inside and out with such ambition and grace. At 20 years old she has seen and done so much. I greatly admire her and I am so happy to share this experience and friendship with her. In the morning, we finally saw where we were, on the side of a mountain!
We went to the dining hall for breakfast, yet we were stopped by all these cats! There are so many cats! They did not really belong to anyone, but they just hung out at the Kibbutz. After breakfast we went set off to hike! Slava took us through the mountains and Bar lead us on hike in the Jilaboon along a river that leads to the Sea of Galilee. We ascended in the hike to the waterfall. It cascaded down and made the river vigorous and serene at the same time. It was a bit of a rough hike, it was muddy and we had to be careful to not slip, yet the views were breathtaking.
We continued our hike and made it back to the bus. Slava navigated around some pretty tight turns to get up a mountain to our next stop, Har (Mount) Bental. Here we observed several things, the history of Israel’s relationships between Syria and Lebanon, we saw the Syrian boarder, and we interacted with a few United Nations workers who were posted there. It was a very interesting perspective from the Israeli standpoint on the recent conflict. International perspectives are integral to the way we understand foreign conflict. I think we need to push ourselves to look further into a situation rather than just take what is reported at first hand value. Reporting is incredibly skewed and many times incorrect, we were able to see this here. We looked over into Syria and what did we see? Rolling hills, mountain ranges, and a few cars going about. Even though several miles away such terror and social atrocities are occurring and all we can see is a calm foreground, expanding perspective is crucial in these situations and being open to experience and the value of learning is critical.
From Har Bental, we were exhausted. We made our way down the mountain and drove through the Golan Heights, which has been the general area we had been in all day. About 45 minutes later we arrived at a hot spring. It was glorious, just what we needed to relax. although the outside was pretty cold and we had to put bathing suits on, the water was steaming and perfect for relaxation. The air had an egg smell to it, which was not so pleasant. Note to self, take off all silver jewelry, I almost lost it when I found my ring completely tarnish when I got out of the sulfur infused water. Luckily, it was not extreme and it rubbed right off. We lounged for an hour in the water and then got back on the bus to head back to our Kibbutz.
I had a whole week all over Israel after this day. I am so thankful to have this experience and I am eager to write more. I journaled each day and took a plethora of pictures! Look out for a new post next week.