Monday, December 20, 2010

Trip to the Galilee

December 20, 2010

This weekend we went on a trip to the Sea of Galilee, which is called the Kineret in Hebrew (pictures already up on facebook!). We started Friday off by canoeing on the Jordan River, which, where we were at least, was quite still, small, and quiet. I was in a canoe with Jodi, and both of us were in heaven. Canoeing makes me think about camp and Lake Homovalo and wave canoes, so how could I not be happy? Plus, the scenery was gorgeous, and we saw wild donkeys! They were just chilling, drinking from the river. Including a baby one! I tried to befriend them, but they didn’t seem into it. Their loss.

After canoeing we went to Tzfat/Sfat/however you want to spell it, which is a traditionally religiously Jewish town. We went to the artists’ section, which is made up of narrow twisting alleys in pale yellow brick – super Israeli looking. Unfortunately, as it was approaching Shabbat, pretty much everything was shut down when we got there, but we still got to wander around and see the layout of the place. We had 25 minutes to wander around, which Nancy, Katie and I took to listen to Bette Midler’s “From a Distance” and interpretive dance our hearts out. It was actually really fun. The people of Sfat were very confused.

Then we sat in a little courtyard and talked about the issues/challenges facing Sfat. The two big ones are the push between the orthodox, who want it to remain an orthodox community, and the more secular people, who want it to be more touristy. The other major issue is the Jewish/Arab tensions, which resulted in the recent letter by Rabbis telling Jews not to rent apartments to non-Jews, especially Arabs. I’ll write more about this letter after I’ve actually read it, because I don’t want to talk about things I don’t have first-hand knowledge of, but I do feel comfortable saying that this is atrocious and needs to be stopped.

After Sfat we went to a sort of commune/gated community. It’s not a kibbutz, but not a regular town, but there is no real American equivalent I can use. We had a Shabbat service/thinger outside, led by Amy and Dante. Amy is Reconstructionist, so she created a service that everyone could get into, which was nice. During it, I snuggled with Katie, who both kept me warm and, as a relatively non-religious person herself, kept me feeling good even when I didn’t know the songs/prayers that everyone else was singing. Then we went inside and had a delicious dinner, followed by a variety of shenanigans and a vigorous sing along that covered the hits of Disney, Rent, and everything in between.

The next morning we had a storytelling workshop with two people from the community. It was very dialogic in a sense, but was also, subtly, about how to tell a story in a compelling and concise way. This is something that I think we can all benefit from, and something that as volunteers and Americans in a strange land, we can use all the time. We are constantly being asked for our stories, or for some story about our lives (“Why did you chose to come to Israel?” “What do you do in America?” “What kind of Jew are you?”) and it will be good for all of us to be able to be able to tell that better. Some more than others, of course, but good for everyone. We had the workshop in a yurt, which also made me deeply nostalgic for camp and the KILT yurt. Good times.

After the workshop we drove up into the mountains for a hike, which I sadly could not go on because my hips have been acting up. L But apparently it was a very fun hike, even though it was raining a bit, so I’m glad everyone else had fun. After that we headed back to Tel Aviv.

It was a very fun trip, with lots of group bonding time, which is always excellent. Our next trip is in January to Eilat, which should be amazing too.



  1. Hm... One of Ronen's friends owns a canoe-on-the-Jordan company. I wonder if the one you did is that one... That would be funny. :)

    Also, randomly, I was just looking back in my LiveJournal about MY trip to Tzfat/Sfat in 2005, so it was fortuitously timed that I should then see if you'd updated your blog! Which you had! And it was about Tzfat/Sfat! Heh.

  2. We were in Sfat and heard a talk from a funny and totally wacky Kabalah guy. And I bought a nice kippah, probably overpaid but hey, I got it in Sfat.