This post is dedicated to ALG, one of my loyal readers who definitely didn't ask me to mention her in a blog post.
I realized today that it's been 6 days since my last post. A quick glance at my post history indicates that 6 days is the longest gap between posts since I started blogging (astute readers will notice that the URL for this blog post indicates that it was initially titled "5 Days," as I started writing it yesterday and fell asleep before finishing). Sorry about that-I've been busy! In the past week, I:
- Went to Tel Aviv for a weekend. Despite the fact that this is my third trip to Israel, this weekend was actually the first time I'd spent a sustained period of time in Tel Aviv (I'm not counting the jet lag-addled night and morning I spent in Tel Aviv on the way from Washington to Jerusalem last month). I really like Tel Aviv. It's secular, progressive, worldly, and modern-all adjectives I wouldn't associate with Jerusalem. If I were to make aliyah (and I'm not planning on it), I'd probably live there. I had a great time reading and hanging out on the beach, eating some delicious meals, and participating in a hipster Kabbalat Shabbat service on the beach. I did not have a great time staying in a decrepit hostel that seemed to be populated by middle-aged Russian tourists, but grim budget travel is all part of the fun of being young, right?
- Attended a speech by PM Netanyahu! I bet you weren't expecting to read that in this blog, right? Since I took a stipend from Masa Israel Journey, a quasi-governmental agency that provides funding for young diaspora Jews to spend time in Israel, I was somewhat obligated to attend the "opening ceremonies" for Masa's fall programs, which featured Bibi as the keynote speaker. It was really something special, and a full post will be coming soon.
- Took another trip into the West Bank, to a place called Tent of Nations. Tent of Nations is a farm about 15 minutes from Jerusalem that's been operated by the same Palestinian family for nearly 100 years. In recent years, they've also started running community programs like adult education classes for local women and camps for children, and these programs have attracted many volunteers from overseas. The farm's also been under an Israeli demolition order since 1991-it's on a hilltop in the middle of the massive Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and the settlers in the area are interested in expanding to this hilltop, as well. They've been fighting it in court for almost 25 years now, for almost my whole life. I'll be doing some research and writing for them, working on a history of the farm and its legal case for foreign visitors. More to come on this in the coming weeks.
- Was (mildly) victimized by a crime. My program facilitator drove me to Tent of Nations in her car, along with another volunteer. Visitors to Tent of Nations have to park some distance away, as the IDF tore up the most direct route to Tent of Nations from Jerusalem during the Second Intifada and they haven't repaired it. While we were at Tent of Nations, someone popped the car's door locks and stole the car's radio and my program facilitator's cell phone. Since we were some distance away, we don't know when or how it happened. I did learn a little bit about what you do when your car is burglarized in the West Bank-first, you check under the car and under the hood for car bombs, because, well, West Bank, and you never know. Then, you try to figure out if settlers did it (presumably for political reasons) or if Palestinians did it (presumably for economic reasons). The people I was with concluded that it was probably Palestinians-if settlers had attacked the car for political reasons, they probably would have done more damage, apparently. Everything is a learning experience here.
- Started putting more effort into my language study. I'm supplementing my Hebrew classes with Rosetta Stone, since I get it free from the Brown alumni association. I don't know if I'm learning anything, but it's sort of fun and game-like and it's a better use of time than reading thinkpieces about Donald Trump and Ben Carson while I'm 5000 miles away.
So I've been busy, but I've also been busy in the past, and it's never prevented me from posting before. The other reason why I've been remiss is that I'm not sure where I want to take this blog. I've been doing a lot of writing about the situation here, mostly as an outlet for my fear and anger about it, but I'm not sure if that's what people want to read. I can do more travelogue-type stuff too, but I'm not sure if anyone's interested in that, either. Would it be appropriate to mix grim political and social commentary with lighthearted writing on the Jerusalem bar and falafel scenes? Both are absolutely part of life here, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate or desired. I'll try it for a bit and see how it goes-let me know your thoughts!