Alison Hortig | Masa Israel

Alison Hortig
participant year: 
Acre’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and our home for five months, was the perfect setting for conservation studies. In addition to taking courses that included earthen building techniques, traditional plasters and masonry, pottery and object conservation, underwater archaeology, and fresco painting, I worked on an individual semester-long project in which I conducted architectural documentation and created a proposal to conserve Ottoman-period fountains in Acre. My work was multifaceted and led me to study the fountain from various angles—historically, religiously, and architecturally.
Acre is not the typical place for young Jews to live. With a large Arab population in Acre, Arabic is spoken just as frequently as Hebrew and it was difficult not to be able to communicate extensively with my neighbors. Still, we tried to immerse ourselves in Acre as much as possible, purchasing the local Arab farmers’ produce and the fishermen’s fish in the nearby market. One night there was a terrible storm and my roommate and I could not return home. Arab neighbors saw that we were getting drenched and mostly through gestures, invited us to their home, to stay warm and eat with them until the rain let up.
Authentic experiences like these and the autonomy we were afforded in our work really defined Saving the Stones for me. Working alongside top professionals, I soaked up new skills every day and was able to imagine a career in this field.