When I first realized I’d be celebrating my 21st birthday in Israel, I was honestly really bummed. Let’s be honest, a 21st birthday in America is kind of a big deal. In Israel, 21 doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t bring any new or special privileges. I had been looking forward to sipping my first legal drink at Sunset Cantina—a Mexican restaurant and bar in Boston—with my friends at home, as is the tradition amongst us for 21st birthdays. Realizing I would away from my friends and family for what is such a milestone birthday did make me sad, however the reality of spending the summer in Israel soon overtook the disappointment and I decided my 21st birthday could be awesome in ways other than enjoying my first legal drink.
Haifa is a charming city. It takes more time to explore Haifa and to really find the special things than it does in Tel Aviv, or maybe even Jerusalem, but Haifa has a different feeling and a special vibe. My first thoughts when moving into the downtown area of Haifa for my summer internship with ILH – Israel Hostels, was honestly, that Haifa a giant snooze. I had just spent a decent amount of time in Tel Aviv, and Haifa in comparison felt extremely quiet and empty. That being said, first impressions aren’t everything and this city showed me that—you just have to put in a little more effort and Haifa will reward you with wonderful things to see, do, and eat.
While I’m spending the summer working at this internship with ILH, I still consider this a vacation—I’m away from home, I’m enjoying beautiful weather, and I’m experiencing amazing activities and events. However, sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation where you really unwind and treat yo’self. My friend and I decided to take a weekend and travel as far south as we could go until we reached the city of Eilat. It was my first time experiencing Eilat, and his nth time.
Timing isn’t everything, but when you have it, things come together in ways far beyond what can be fairly expected. After viewing The Settlers last week in a screening where I was the only person in a room of 50+ to not have ever visited a settlement, after numerous discussions about the repercussions of the settlement movement, as well as speculation on motivation and organization of such ideology, just a few days later – I ended up on an organized group trip to Gush Etzion, a settlement in the West Bank.
I feel that it is in the best interest of humanity to interact with diverse groups of people in order to increase understanding of the unfamiliar and strive towards peaceful coexistence. As a citizen of the world, I have the responsibility of finding or creating opportunities for people of different cultures, languages, histories, races, ethnicities, and experiences to come together on common ground.
Coming from a country where cognizance of police brutality leads to conscientiousness of prevalent and systematic racism – which is used for polarizing political gains and gun violence escalates Islamophobia also used for pushing segregating politics – I was curious to see what leaving The United States of AmeriCan’t Pass Gun Safety Laws, at times referred to as the “melting pot” for melting-on-the-spot in the desert in Israel would be like.
The desert is really an amazing place. I always find myself in awe of it, even when at times it can seem so barren. I spent one night in Mitzpe Ramon this week and discovered the true beauty and magic of the desert – even with it being the off-season (summer isn’t the best time to visit the desert…).
I went to the Golan Heights after an adventurous three days stay in beautiful Clil, in the midst of the Galilee. The bus drive is kind of long, but I enjoyed every second of it. The landscape is amazing and when I saw the Sea of Galilee for the first time I almost fell off my seat. It’s beauty in perfection.
I open my eyes and am surprised. I was expecting to hear the noises of Jaffa Street – one of the main roads of Jerusalem. However, it seems like my room in the Jerusalem Hostel has well insulated walls. I open the curtains to my balcony and the first light of the day is entering my room. Only when I open the door, the noises come in, too. Cars, searching for a place to park, the tram on its way to the Old City, tourists asking for the way to the next sight. I imagined Jerusalem to be different than that. More antique. But instead it is a modern and young city with many students living here and a vivid nightlife.