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 mountain and driving 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 and 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 enjoyed the beautiful views. Once there, we stopped off at a Druze restaurant and ate until we were stuffed. We all ordered a main dish but could have just as easily satiated ourselves on the many salads that our table creaked beneath.  Continue reading

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Christmas, Yad Vashem and Haram al-Sharif

Christmas morning we woke up and it was raining. It was also a Sunday and thus, most museums were closed (though Sunday isn’t a weekend here, this is similar to how museums in the West often close on Mondays).  After much deliberation, we chose the most cheerful place we could possibly go on a rainy Christmas Day: Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum). It was one of the only places open.

We took the newly installed Jerusalem light rail, a 10 year construction project that runs from East to West. Unsurprisingly, the construction of the rail, like much in Israel, was plagued by controversy as it passes through settlements in East Jerusalem as well as through Arab East Jerusalem. I also read an interesting article about how the light rail served, in a way, as a connecting bridge between East and West, with the author observing Palestinian families who evidently didn’t often come into West Jerusalem take the train to the end of the line and then get straight back on a return train taking them back to the East, as if they were on a sort of sight-seeing venture.  Continue reading