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unknown territory Posts

Western Wall

When you are sitting on a bed, propping your tablet on your knee, and hoping beyond hope that your Bluetooth keyboard won’t suddenly stop working, it is hard to think of deep-felt meaningful experiences. But as it is, this is where I am and what I have to work with.

I wish I could write about visiting the Western Wall while I was there, however, I feel as if I would receive many glares for working on a computer. I would do so if I did not fear someone may berate me because I love to sit and watch the world go by while I write, it makes the process so much smoother.

This was my second time at the Western Wall. I think I may have written briefly of my last experience there but for those who haven’t read it or I haven’t told you the tale I will briefly recap. It was right before Passover during spring 2014 when I found myself in front of this wall. I had heard of the Wailing Wall before but I had never really given it a thought; to me it was just some wall. As I approached this first time I had the sense that, to all these people visiting this ancient bit of wall hidden amongst the curves of this old and crooked part of the city,  it held a profound sense of both sadness and exultation. Unprepared for this type of energy I felt too dazed to really take in the full effect of what was going on here. It wasn’t until the urging of a friend that I wrote a letter and steeled myself to walk to the wall. Not a moment after I found a safe corner to tuck the piece of paper into and I laid my hand on these rocks that so many hands had worn smooth, an elderly lady in a wheelchair, thinning hair covered by a kerchief, elbowed me hard in the ribs as she wailed something unintelligible and moved herself into the spot I had previously occupied.

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what am I doing here?

This journey felt as if it would never come until I was in the airport hugging my parents goodbye. Even then it felt like I was standing in the line for security, dumping my water, taking out my tablet, etc…just for the heck of it and when that was done I was going to head out and eat dinner at an overpriced airport restaurant with my family. Even through security it still didn’t feel quite like I was going anywhere. I am supposed to be headed off to the valley (Pioneer Valley) to go to school soon, right? To top this off I ran into an old schoolmate from my days at Pine Hill; this was not yet the real world, as much as it tried and pretended to be. I talked and schmoozed with those around me until I made it onto my flight.

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as the season rolls along

As the warm season comes to a close I think of the desert and its variable weather. True, in the late spring/summer months it is very hot, dry and stiff. But at the start of the program the day might be hot but the nights were cool and refreshing. A day in March at the Arava Institute I would wear comfortable shorts in the daytime and switch to long pants and a sweater for the evening. By the end though, the weather had settled to be hot or hotter. It was quite a transition, though I never thought it would be as dramatic as the weather shift in New England. In the northeast, when the warmth of summer has left, it has really left and it is cold, to the bone, everyday. I find the shift quite comparable to that in the desert, just in the opposite direction, obviously.
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there is something about shoes

A quick story about shoes and mud (that are unrelated)

The other morning a group of us woke up to take a hike. It was a nice morning, a little overcast with a breeze. There were clouds, small patches that drifted somewhat lethargically across a beautiful blue sky. It is almost intuitive to figure out direction here and the shape of the Arava Valley makes it even easier. The valley runs north to south and Jordan is to the west, Egypt to the east.

A note on myself: I won’t wear shoes unless I really have too.

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birds and new beginnings

I left off shortly after my arrival in a country in which I knew nothing of the language or even the alphabet; if I got lost here it would be very hard to get back! Not true, as I soon found out in the streets of Ra’anana and from my cousins that most of the people in this area can speak English and even odder in some sense, French. When I first set out on this journey I was under no impression that I would get to practice the only language other then English that I am semi-proficient in. Ra’anana in particular is home to many people from all over, so there was quite a plethora of languages.

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from winter to spring in less than 24 hours

As a new person the blogging world anyone who, by chance, reads these posts will have to bear with me as I work to understand this new form of communication. When I started planning for this trip initially I had promised myself that I would not use a blog, but upon my arrival first in Tel Aviv and then to Ra’nanana I have realized that this may be the best way to let everyone know what is going on without having to individually retell my story (perhaps this is a little selfish? If there is anything you want to know please let me know! whether on this public forum or in private, also any questions that make good prompts would be much appreciated).

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