Masa Israel Journey Blog

Published : June 04, 2012
By Tamar Gelb, Me'ohr Bais Yaakov
As nobody famous once said, "Dirt, dirt everywhere, but nothing to plant."
Driving for four hours in the desert of Israel, one can either go crazy from the mere desolation or crazy from the breathtaking beauty of the endless sand.
A blind person might see the endless peaks of sand mountains and go back to their music; but I, I just can't get enough of it.
As the cozy bus hums along  the winding road I stare out of the large window, my reflection dimly stares back at me. Yet all i see are the rolling hills of beige sand, then a few miles of flat nothingness with the towering mountains of Jordan in the purple distance, then the hills again.
Would an accomplished artist desire to paint such a view, not only would he need beige for the dirt and blue for the cloudless sky; he'd need thousands of different shades of red, orange, blue, purple, and then some beige's and browns just for the ground alone. The light falls into the cracks and crevices, leaving darkened shadows on the indentations and hot sun on the outer surfaces of every mountain.
Though I am in the cool interior of modern technology, I can feel the dry heat of the sun beating down on the millions of ancestors marching these grounds.
Though there is a feeling of desolation around, the feeling of hope, a new chance at life, a new beginning resonates much louder than the emptyness.
The original group of 600,000 Jews marching to Eretz Yisrael for the first time ever surrounded by white clouds, the Jews returning from Iraq and Iran to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash of seventy years before, the thousands of lost brothers coming back from Yemen to the stuff made of dreams; all these footsteps still echo between the faceted walls of the desert sand mountains. In the dry desert landscape this hope lives on, G-d willing, to herald the start of a new beginning for all of the Jewish brothers...any day now.   
Published : June 04, 2012
For the last nine months, in addition to participating in the normal volunteering and study program, the Arts track of Young Judaea Year Course has explored their own artistic expression along with Israel’s Jewish contemporary arts. Last Wednesday, May 30th, about one hundred people gathered at Jerusalem’s popular performance space Hama’abeda (The Lab) for the track’s closing event.
The evening began with an exhibition of the chanichims’ visual art, a combination of painting and photography capturing their thoughts and feelings about their time in Israel.  
Lauren Pinkney of Denver, CO with pictures from her volunteer experience in Africa
Following a short reception of cheese and beverages, the second half of the evening began with chanichim presenting their performance art including songs and readings. One highlight included an original song by Gabrielle Hashman of Calgary, Alberta, “The Core You See”, backed by Gaby Lapidus (Huntsville, AL) on piano and Matt Bernstein (Redondo Beach, CA) on guitar.

It was a great event to showcase the tremendous creative talents of Year Course’s artists and a lovely way to end a year during which their five senses were stimulated by new and exciting experiences at all times.

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