Snow in the Holy City

Now that I’ve been back in Jerusalem I have wanted to update my blog for a while… I never finished updating about my holidays because it began feeling a little like a chore. This blog is first and foremost for me, a log of things that I have done and enjoyed or not enjoyed, a record of things I have experienced and witnessed. It’s supposed to be exactly like traveling is – sporadic.

In any case, I left the wild winter in Montreal (though I am so happy I stayed long enough to see the crazy, record-breaking snow storms in the Laurentians and in the city itself) and arrived in Israel shortly after midnight on January 1st. Nervous, but hiding it, I was surprised to have glided easily through immigration and I was out – back in Israel, back to somewhere I had been dreaming of for a good long time. Continue reading

Breezing up north

The eighth of January was rainy and I spent much of it crying as the boyfriend and I parted ways. The gloomy weather seemed to complement and soothe my mood (I’m sure, however, that my parents disagree) and I cried with the skies as we drove from Isfiya to Akko, which I had been dying to visit for a long while. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions we only had time to pop into the Old City for an afternoon visit, in which we spent much of the time exploring the excavations of medieval buildings that belonged to the Knights Templar. We enjoyed it thoroughly, and for me there was a certain satisfaction in being alone (I moved off from the parents for a bit and explored alone) or on the phone to my best friend who was doing his utmost to cheer me up.

Following that, we entered Old Akko proper and wandered through the market place looking for certain landmarks and historical sites and – to my mother’s great frustration – failing to find them. It was a grey and windy day, as I had said, so we stepped beyond the walls and by the sea at one point, but the hard-hitting spray and strong wings resulted in us quickly stepping back in to protect our cameras and finding a place where I could grab a hummus sandwich before heading back to the car and driving up to Rosh Hanikra.  Continue reading

The Carmel Mountains

On Friday morning we woke up early and checked out of Chef Hostel, piling into the car to drive up to Haifa. The drive there was easy enough and quite pleasant, but once we were in Haifa and had to find the home of my mother’s friend, we were completely lost. While we made the journey from Tel Aviv to Haifa in record time (about an hour and a half) we spent another 30 minutes driving oh so slowly up the Carmel mountain and going in circles to find the little street that we had to get to.

We finally found my mother’s friend – a man who had been her leader in a Jewish youth group when she was 15 or something and the man who was responsible for my journey to Israel – and we got into his car and headed up to the Druze village of Isfiya, which I had visited once many months prior. My mother was elated, chattering away while my father and I watched the scenery and enjoyed the beautiful views. Once in Isfiya, we stopped off at a Druze restaurant and ate until we were stuffed. Honestly, we all ordered a main dish but we could have just as easily satiated ourselves on the many salads that our table creaked beneath.  Continue reading

Tel Aviv with the family

Early in January, my family and I headed to Tel Aviv for a brief visit. In case it hasn’t yet been made evident, I’m not crazy about the city, but everyone else wanted to see what it was like and my mother had a good friend from her kibbutz days there that she wanted to see.

We arrived just before 3pm and checked into a hostel (prices are absurd in Tel Aviv) right in the city center before hopping into a cab, at my insistence, and heading to Abu Hassan in Jaffa for hummus and masabacha. The food, as always, was divine and I stumbled through my orders in elementary Arabic. My mother wasn’t crazy about the masabacha because somehow, she had decided she didn’t like the taste of too much tahini in humus. Continue reading

Welcoming in 2012 in Israel and Palestine

After our devastatingly exciting New Year’s Eve (note sarcasm, in case it’s unclear) we woke up very early on New Year’s Day to start 2012 with a refreshing dip in the Dead Sea. Even though I had been living in Israel, only two hours from the Dead Sea, for 7 months, I hadn’t yet visited so my first dip into the salty water was as exciting as it was for my brother and father.

It was wonderful. I didn’t want to leave and only got out of the water when my parents insisted we leave. My brother and I spent the entire time giggling and trying different ways to turn in the water, to execute complicated yoga poses, and to swim despite the current. I was so tempted to go out a long way. However, it seems the water can be quite lethal and no one wanted to accompany me, so I forgot about that. Continue reading

New Year’s Eve, Israeli style

We left Jerusalem a little later than planned because I was printing my father’s Christmas present (a lovely personalized calendar for 2012 made up entirely of photos of the family on holiday in different parts of the world) and proceeded on a long long drive to kibbutz Kfar Menachem, where my mother had volunteered forty years ago. I was a little disappointed by the fact that we didn’t actually drive through the ultra-orthodox city of Beit Shemesh to get there, and my parents refused to detour through the city – they said they’d seen enough in Me’a She’arim.

Kfar Menachem is sweet enough. We toured the kibbutz with a friend of my mother’s from her late teenage years and then met with another friend of hers for supper at a very very taste Druze restaurant located beside (or as part of) a gas station. We stayed at a nearby kibbutz, where we felt that the lodging was over-priced, the cafeteria was hard to find, and the people were hardly friendly. This being his first experience of Israel outside of Jerusalem, my father was unimpressed. Continue reading

Ir David and Me’a She’arim

On our final day in Jerusalem, my family and I finally visited the City of David, which I had been wanting to go to for a very long time. I was excited and slightly apprehensive as the organization that runs the City of David, Elad, has a very political agenda and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable giving them my money.

Elad is an organisation whose stated mission is to “Judaize East Jerusalem” and has been behind the controversial eviction of Palestinian families within the City of David, which is in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. In recent months, a Palestinian community center in Silwan has been slated for demolishment to make room for a parking lot and tourist center near the City of David. This Palestinian community center was the only one of its kind in this neighbourhood. Elad has also backed the settlements in Silwan. Continue reading