GAZA, THE NEGEV, AND…AUSTRALIA?

By Eric Feldman, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies

 

Hey, I’ve certainly been keeping busy over the past few weeks but I’ll hone in on this most recent week since a lot has been going on recently.

 

This week was the Fall Tiyul (trip/hike) that my yeshiva took down south to the Negev, and it was great. We stayed over for two nights in a beautiful Bedoin tent place with awesome food and amazing star gazing opportunities right outside. 

 

During the second night that we were there, I stepped outside of the place we were staying to lie down on the farm across the road and look up at the star-filled sky, and as I was doing so, I heard my peers playing guitar and singing “Hallelujah” in the distance.

 

For those of you that don’t know, that’s

(a) one of my favorite songs and (b) very fitting of the reflective moment I was having, so it was a very special experience.

 

Each of the three days, we went on a different, 4-6 hour hike through the Midbar (Desert) in which we were able really get out and see Israel in all of its glory. We also got to see some amazing views of the Dead Sea, the mountains of Jordan, and saw incredible sunsets over the mountains.

 

Overall, it was a great trip to do something different and get out and really be able to access a totally different part of myself than that used in the classroom, while still learning just as much.

 

Then, an interesting experience from the Shabbat that just finished up was that, last night, I attended a Shabbat dinner with some fellow students in which three Australian diplomats also joined us.

 

They were stationed in Afghanistan, the UK, and Cairo, and were on a two week study tour of Israel and were given the chance to meet some “locals” (us) and see a more authentic side of Israel aside from the touring by having dinner with us.

 

It was a really great way to meet people from outside of my world and swap stories and experiences which were vastly different. They were very interested in all of the customs and rituals associated with the meal which definitely gave me a new appreciation for the process that I have become accustomed to over the months.

 

It was really amazing to see that every person at the meal, coming from completely different places and experiences and perspectives, was able to sit down at a meal and eat and drink and laugh together and really connect with one another.

 

We all went around at one point and shared our most memorable experiences in Israel, and all three of the diplomats said that it was the dinner we were having, and that was certainly very special.

 

Originally posted on the Pardes Institute's Blog

 

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