[Tour of Israel Day 9] Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa

Wednesday, June 14 / יום רביעי, 20 סיון

The day started for me at 07:00. I got dressed in the same clothes as yesterday (for now). Taking the elevator down to Level H, the dining hall was just ahead after taking a right turn from the elevator. A set of tables for “Tiferet Israel” were right up front, and the Corens were there too. I had watermelon, salmon pastrami, croissant, and a few other items too. The spread was much bigger than any of the other breakfasts that I had seen in Israel thus far! When I first saw the pastrami on Charlie’s plate, I had to do a double take, because it sure looked a lot like something which would NOT have been allowed here.


Don’t these pastramis sort of look like a certain type of non-kosher breakfast meat? Photo credit: Seth Harris

The Corens, Hamicksburgs, and Ken then walked with me to the beach. The traffic of people was light, but there were a lot of cars moving around. We found the sandy beach near the Manta Ray restaurant. The kids and Ken got into the water, but I was content to just watch and journal. However, they violated the borders of the buoys, which made Nancy nervous. They also found a dead jellyfish washed up on the shore, and handled it, much to the chagrin of the parents.


Even if I wasn’t wearing a swimsuit, might as well have a beach photo!

Returning to the Dan Panorama, I showered before putting on my Nebraska Football “Hawaii-style” shirt, and also comfy shorts. Then, I stuffed my bags and got ready to leave as Seth showered. At 10:00, we became lobbyists, and checked out of the hotel before boarding the bus.

Next stop: downtown Tel Aviv! We were released from the bus at מגדל שלום מאיר (Tower of Meir’s Peace), which was the tallest building in the Middle East some 50 years ago. A different building in Tel Aviv, with a height of 613 feet (intentionally designed as such for the number of commandments), now dwarfs this tower, but is of course dwarfed by buildings like the Burj Khalifa. We entered the tower, and saw pictures of the development of the city of תל אביב from the early 1900s. The settlement started in 1909, and this tower used to be where the first Hebrew school (Gimnasia Herzlia) was. Seeing the old city maps was fascinating!


The map of Tel Aviv from 1935—all in Hebrew.

On the second floor, we saw old posters and items, and a (probably-to-scale) model of the city. The model included the Dan Panorama, but said model wasn’t structurally sound: one of the corners was peeling off! (I will have a picture of this on Facebook soon.) A mosaic awaited us once we took the escalator down to the first storey. Then, we exited the tower and continued walking. During the walk, we passed a friend of Gili who was leading a תגלית group. We passed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange too, including stock tickers which were in Hebrew. Eventually, we got to Independence Hall, and there was a large crowd waiting to get in.

Once inside, we went straight to the subterranean art gallery, which is where the State of Israel was declared. The seating up front, along with the flags and Herzl picture, remained. All the groups got to hear a lecture about the timeline, and I will reproduce some of the lecture now. Before the declaration of independence, Meir Dizengoff was mayor of Tel Aviv (insert your favorite pun here). Independence Hall used to be the mayor’s house until 1936, when he donated it to the city as an art museum. The building doubled as a bomb shelter, since the windows were high, the back room cavernous, and the back room not easily visible from the front. After World War II, Jews had nowhere to go unlike other POWs or refugees. As the British Mandate started to expire and a partition plan was found, the Jews accepted it despite the flaws. On 29 November 1947, the UN vote resulted in 33 Yeas, 13 Nays, and 10 abstentions. This led to joy in Tel Aviv, but fear from David Ben Gurion, and indeed, the next day Jerusalem was besieged and war broke out.

The vote by the People’s Council was held on 12 May 1948 in Tel Aviv — not in Jerusalem due to the siege. The vote for independence passed 6-4. Only 150 people were invited to the declaration ceremony, but the secret was leaked. The whole process on 14 May took just 32 minutes, starting at 15:30. This would give enough time to allow preparation for שבת since 14 May 1948 was a Friday. The declaration ended with the band playing התקוה (HaTikvah / The Hope), which then became the national anthem. David Ben Gurion then said, “The state of Israel is born. This meeting is over.” We heard the recording of the end of the meeting, including התקוה for which we stood and sang (without dry eyes).


The lecture about the declaration of Israeli independence.

We exited and re-entered the building to see a video that had a different perspective on the house and the events. I will skip the details, since I saw this video on תגלית (or so I think). As we left, there was a horse-on-rider sculpture, but not just any old rider. It was Mayor Meir on a Mare! (And blame Gili for this description — I’m merely the messenger here, for which he may also be a messenger!) We boarded the bus, which navigated some tight streets, before reaching the Jaffa clock tower near the flea market.

I headed to the clock tower to wait for אייל (Eyal, a friend from my Birthright trip), who said that he was on his way. The city offered free Wi-Fi, which I took advantage of, and the wait continued. At 13:10, he said that he just gotten on the train, and I should have realized right there that my attempted rendezvous would be a Mission Failed (or perhaps a Fission Mailed). But no, my unrealistically optimistic side continued to wait for him. A few tour groups came by the clock tower as well, but I didn’t engage in any conversation. And I didn’t journal either — said item was on the bus! At 13:35, I went to the Haj Kalil Express across the roundabout north of the clock tower to get שווארמה. Unfortunately, אייל did not arrive in time, so the rendezvous was indeed a failure. I feel horribly guilty for him because he wasted a lot of commuting time on account of me!


The Tower of Noah’s Disappointment.

The rest of our group had appeared at the clock tower, and our Old Jaffa tour guide, Sulaiman, had arrived as well. While he explained the clock tower, I was not paying attention, as I had one last hope of meeting up with אייל and inviting him to join our tour. We started walking and the hope was gone. We walked eastward and arrived at the mosque from which I had heard the call to prayer during my wild-goose-wait.

Outside the mosque, he began by saying that thinking of Islam by the reports of Daesh is “bullshit.” (Not my words, but I’m reporting significant things that I heard!) The major tenets of Islam are similar to Judaism, actually! He described the five pillars: monotheism, five-times-a-day prayer, Ramadan, charity (2.5% of income), and hajj. The lattermost word actually means “circling around in a clockwise direction,” referring to the method of people making hajj to Mecca. Sulaiman thinks that the primary problem of the fanaticists is their interpretation of their religion’s holy scriptures. He also explained that Ramadan is intended to give your own body a rest and to empathise with the poor. That idea sounds a lot like the הפטרה (haftarah) from יום כפור (Yom Kippur)!

Moreover, he talked to us about jihad. It does NOT mean religious war, but it means the struggle or effort for a JUSTIFIED cause. Violence is a bug that is built into everyone’s brain, unfortunately. He also made jokes about lamb being the favorite food of The Eternal, by mentioning the binding of Isaac, Passover, and a few other stories from holy scriptures.

We got to see the courtyard of the mosque, but weren’t allowed to enter because some of the group was wearing immodest-for-a-mosque clothes. The domes are used to promote air circulation. The minarets face the south, toward Mecca, just like how Arks face Jerusalem (or the Temple Mount). Their prayers are sex-separated in order to avoid distraction while praying.


The mosque’s courtyard and a dome.

We then went to a gazebo-fountain. In 1179, Napoleon conquered Jaffa. At the fountain, we learned about Abu-Nabbut, and after climbing a hill, saw his old place which is now a hideout for bats. Climbing further, to 45 meters above sea level, we got a bathroom break before going to the Old City Square, which had a Zodiac fountain to the east. We were under umbrellas as we listened to the next part of the story.


The fountain in the gazebo.

In Islam, fighting is only acceptable as self-defense — being the initial aggressor is not tolerable. As Sulaiman described it, the Shi’ite Muslims are those who are from the bloodline of the Prophet, but Sunnis are not. There are no imams in Shi’ite Islam. He believes that Sunnis are the radical branch, and claimed that Daesh is a break-off of Sunni extremists.

Moreover, Israel is a human cocktail! When speaking of the Israeli-Palestinianconflict, there are three big questions. First: What should be done about the borders? Second: What should be done about the refugees? And third: what should be done about Jerusalem? Whatever happens, the key word is RESPECT. Before we left the square, we headed over to the zodiac fountain, which had stone carvings of all 12 zodiac signs.


The zodiac fountain.

Ascending some steps, we saw a pistachio tree before crossing the Wishing Bridge, and I took a selfie with Cancer (the zodiac sign, of course). From the vista across the bridge, we could see the hills of Jerusalem to the east, and the city of Tel Aviv to the north and east. The red roofs that were close by were part of the first modern Jewish settlement. On this vista, an arch depicted the עקידה,  the ladder in Jacob’s dream, and the siege of Jericho, which were the three times in the תורה that the Land of Israel was promised to the Hebrews.


The three-story arch.

Going down a hill, we saw grey and black crows, as well as a hoopoe — the latter is Israel’s national bird. Down an alleyway littered with steps, we took a left into another alleyway, emerging at a suspended shamouti tree. This tree produces Jaffa oranges. The suspension of the tree actually brings our trip full circle: the idea of Above and Below can re-surface right here, right now! With this, we wished Sulaiman a Ramadan Kareem and went back into the alleyway for a new direction.


The suspended shamouti tree.

Following the Old City streets, we briefly stopped at Adina Plastelina, which makes medallions like a sushi chef would — the video showed how they make one with the face of Marilyn Monroe. A cavern behind the store had some interesting artifacts too, but I took no notes on them. We then walked on a street in the port in order to find restrooms. A map of locations’ distances to Jaffa was at our feet, to scale, but it only went to 4000 kilometers from Jaffa: not enough to reach the States!


Places close to Jaffa.

Boarding the bus and leaving Jaffa, we headed to our last stop of the tour. Along Kauffman Street, some motorcycles drove perilously. We heard a song from the group קפה שחור חזק (literally: Black Strong Coffee), and also passed Rabin Square. Gili offered a moral of the story after briefly talking about the events there: We must bring light and love into the world. The park had a book fair going on, and there are often other events happening there!

Not long afterward, we arrived at ליליות for dinner. Many of their employees are at-risk youth, and they get to learn valuable life skills. I sat at the “cool people’s” table, which had all of the Under-30s. Dinner started with bread and a ground-beef-and-spices on pita. Various conversations abounded, and we sang עוד יבוא שלום עלינו. We had both chicken and steak for the main course, and it was good.

(Alas, I have no pictures from dinner.)

Just like during the שבת dinner, we went ’round the horn, giving memories of the trip and bestowing blessings. Singing also continued throughout the dinner, but we were shushed and had to reduce our volume. Once everyone shared their memories and blessings, Gili blessed us all with a song about Jerusalem that he wrote in the airport one time when leaving Israel, and it was a tear-jerker for me. We then bentsched aloud but quietly, and boarded the bus for the last time. Gili further wants to make sure that we take a piece of Israel with us (in the metaphorical sense).

En route to the airport, a few facts came out, but my emotions blocked the information. As we got onto the highway, the triplets sang the songs “Leaving on a Jetplane” and “ירושלים של זהב”, both of which caused my eyes to well up. More hugs followed at the bus drop-off point, and then some of us (Seth, Hamicksburgs, Feldmans, and me) entered the airport.

The Feldmans got into line for check-in and boarding at 21:10 (their flight is at midnight). I joined the others near the bathrooms on the north (?) side of the ticket counters floor. We sat on benches near the elevators. I wasn’t allowed to check my bags and receive my boarding pass until three hours pre-departure (which would happen at 25:50 (i.e. 01:50 on Thursday). I journaled, and also took one Speed Sleep nap. Gilad had found an outlet, and let me charge my phone.

Writing continued until 25:50, but it wasn’t very efficient. I was amused by the “DING-DONG” that preceded calls to passengers—this should not surprise anyone!. I walked toward the desks, realizing that I should probably grab my bag for checking while I’m there anyway. The wait for check-in was short, but I was grilled by the primary security officer, more than what I was expecting. Granted, maybe my tiredness and absentmindedness made me seem somewhat suspicious. I don’t know! Once I checked my bag and received my boarding pass, I went through the remainder of security and the exit visa gate with no trouble. I went down the ramp toward the mall, and the time was about 26:18 at the time — quite interesting if you consider my clock photo from Day Zero!


Panning out on the clock just like on Saturday Night Live…

I inefficiently journaled for another hour or so, before walking around the duty-free mall and the food court. I saw the Rosses, and then saw them off (or they saw me off). Boarding of my plane started at 28:00, and once I was in my middle seat, I immediately fell asleep.

צאתכם לשלום!



(Dirty?) Thirty: 4 days

Nebraska Regional: 38 days

Semester Kickoff: 69 days

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This is the last post in this sequence.


[Tour of Israel Part 8] Along the Coast

Tuesday, June 13 (יום שלישי, 19 סיון)

When I woke up at 06:45, I headed to the dining room after donning today’s clothes. I had a potato boureka and an omelet, as well as cranberries. An unexpected face showed up: Gary Hochman! Yet another “Can’t take Nebraska out of Nebraskans” situation! He is on assignment for NETV, and needed to be here for some reason. I love bumping into familiar faces unexpectedly like this! Oh, and the scallion-spinach omelet turned out well. I should try their technique (beat an egg and add the ingredients to a rice bowl or similar bowl, and pour it all at once onto the griddle).

Loading up the bus, we checked out of נוף גינוסר. The road took us the same way that we came on Sunday, but though there was some traffic, there was no wreck or fire slowing us down. We got out the road toward Highway 6, via Highway 77. By the way, the Hebrew word for highway is כביש (kveesh). This road took us toward the town of זכרון יעקב (Zichron Ya’akov), which was a mountainous community.


Somewhere between Ginosar and Zichron Ya’akov.

The name of the town is a memorial to יעקב רוטסצ’ילד (Jacob Rothschild) (after all, the town’s name literally means “Memorial of Jacob.” A water tower or just a silo-like tower honors Rothschild. We walked through to the NILI museum. There was no entrance where we were, so we descended stairs on the west side of the museum to reach the auditorium entrance. Of course, people used the restrooms that were outside first. The seats in the auditorium were really low to the ground!


The tower honoring Rothschild.

NILI (or ניל”י) was an acronym for “נצח ישראל לא ישקר” (netzach yisrael lo y’shakeir / the eternity of Israel will not deceive). NILI started as a spy ring in 1914, and sought to drive the Ottoman empire out of “Israel” (since the state Israel wasn’t founded for another 34 years!). A movie explained the story of Aaron and Sarah Aharonson, Avshalom (didn’t catch the last name), and the fact that Aaron’s experience with agronomy allowed him to pull the double-duty. Under the auspices of science, Aaron was able to run NILI.

Naturally, the story, with war and spies, had a lot of death. One of these was Sarah, who committed suicide to avoid further torture by the Ottomans. She hid a gun in her house and used it to kill herself when the torturer allowed her to shower (there was strong opposition in the international community to torturing women) and change clothes.

The story was repeated through the relics in the museum, and since I was allowed to take photos here, I will tell the story through a few photos instead of words (wow, that’s unusual for me!)


Some of the faces of NILI


Information about Sarah Aharonson.


Intelligence in science leads to intelligence in the security sense.



Not heroes in the eyes of everyone…

Well, the next part of our tour had photos forbidden — the houses on the site of the museum. Everything inside the houses is original (well, maybe a few things are updated). In the east house, it was one long corridor, from kitchen to bedroom to dining room to study and back (front?) door to the living room. I noticed that there was no bathroom, but maybe it was in a blocked-off area or there was an outhouse. The house looked like a rustic place, but would have been comfortable to live in, methinks.

The west house opened into the study, and went into the living room, which had the slot on the door jamb that hid Sarah’s gun. A bedroom was beyond the living room, and there was also an entryway with kitchen, bathroom access, and cellar access. Sarah had shot herself in the bathroom, and the cellar was a stone grotto! This whole story was fascinating, but I know that my account is not doing it justice.

We exited the museum, and headed down the street and were on a shopping and lunch break at 11:30. Some restaurants weren’t yet open for lunch, and we had to return to the bus at 12:45. I went rogue, but ultimately got company. .אכלתי שניצל בפיתה במסעדת שווארמה גוטה והיזמנתי רק בעברית (I ate schnitzel in a pita at the restaurant “Shawarma Guta” and ordered solely in Hebrew.) The Hamicksburg offspring, Rosses, Cohen, and Watches also ate there.


Before we caught the bus, we saw an old tree that had its roots coming down rather than going up (see the photo below). It was interesting, but I should have wiped my wet hands on it — לא היו מגבות בשירותים (there were no towels in the bathroom)! There was also the Rothschild Synagogue at our rendezvous point, but no further stories were given since it wasn’t part of our tour.


The roots start at the top and go downward!

On our way down the mountain and on to Highway 20, Gili talked about the song אלף משיקות (Elef Mishikot / 1000 Kisses), which I have heard on the radio several times before. Evidently it is related to NILI due to the song being sung by the widow(?). Yep, I am fuzzy on the details because I might have started to reach Tour Overload. Others were also mentally fatigued, and some may have been physically fatigued. When we saw smokestacks near חדרה (Hadera), Gili gave a “Long Answer” with the joke of them being Roman columns. Be on your toes for that information! Oh, and the power plant was actually in Caesarea.

Our stop in חדרה was a school for Ethiopian Jews (specifically, it was בית-ספר הרב תחומי). We entered ביניין-תמר (the Date Palm building), and the principal and several students were there. Grace, the principal, was at Brandeis when she heard of Operation Solomon, which were the sequence of airlifts of Ethiopian Jews to Israel on 24/5/1991. An earlier mission on foot was Operation Moses, but only 8 thousand of the 12 thousand refugees in that operation survived. The Ethiopian Jews went underground after 0 CE, but re-emerged later, so that they have a lot of history to contribute to the overall Jewish story. The ENP (Ethiopian National Project) tries to aid these Ethiopian Jews with assimilation into Israeli life.

The project that our group visited was an after-school program where teens get to do activities. We played a version of “Chutes and Ladders,” where each square had either a question to answer or “DARE!” If you landed on a “DARE!” square, the dare was a physical activity or a question drawn from a deck of “DARE!” cards. The rules, cards, and board were English-Hebrew bilingual. This was fun! My group got to meet עופר (Ofer) and עידן (Idan), the latter who had a better grasp of English. The game seemed secondary to the socialization and sharing stories!


Ofer and Idan.

Our generation may be the last to hear first-hand stories of the שועה (Holocaust), as well as the Operation Moses: the walking to Sudan to catch the airlift. So we heard the story of טובה (Tova), in Hebrew and with Grace providing the translation. She lived well in Ethiopia until the age of 8, and loved school. One day, her grandfather kept her from school in order to prepare her to leave Ethiopia en route for Jerusalem. In 1984, the 3-4 week walk was survived by everyone in her group, but once their food ran out, the Sudanese food did not agree with their systems. In the refugee camp, she lost her mom and siblings to diseases.

I could tell that she was pained telling this part of the story. She mentioned that whenever something bad happens, something good is bound to happen soon. For example, her Dad remarried after meeting a fellow refugee on the airlift. She loves her current job with this program. Maybe a far cry from her background in graphic design, but college majors are not necessarily career paths!

The holiday of Sigd is celebrated in Israel, and it originated as a yearning for the return to Jerusalem. Moreover, the 4000 people who died during Operation Moses are commemorated on יום ירושלים (Jerusalem Day, observed 43 days after the first day of Passover). I should consider getting her book, סיפור חיים כעף שתול. Though it may be hard for me to read since it will be fully in Hebrew, I would welcome the challenge!

Back on the bus, we drove on the highway toward Tel Aviv. The road system has even numbers for north-south roads (and Highway 90 is the longest road in Israel), and odd numbers for east-west roads. We were on the Ayalon Highway: Highway 20. Gili explained how the Tel-Aviv/Yafo area is a megalopolis. My attention was split because I was trying to set up a lunch rendezvous with Taglit friend(s) for tomorrow. We quickly reached the Rabin Center.


Entrance to the Rabin Center.

Before our tour began, I listened to Aunt Lori speak of over-saturation on the trip — she can’t take more information. I could somewhat see that in myself as well, but push on I must! We entered the museum’s main part by ascending stairs and going into a circular room where footage from the peace rally on 4 November 1995 and the news reports immediately following were given.

The museum had a downward helical slope (wonder if there’s symbolism here akin to Yad Vashem?), with off-shooting rooms. On the helix was a chronology of יצחק רבין (Yizhak Rabin), and on the offshoots were exhibits about the State of Israel, both before and after its formation. I will just share what I found interesting. Another name for תל אביב (Tel Aviv) is עיר לבנה (White City). The pride of Zionism was pioneerism, farming, and labor. Rabin was in the IDF as a commander and later as a chief. The עולים (immigrants) helped to build up Israel’s economy, as the country was impoverished at its formation. These עולים lived in transit camps to start. Israel’s war victories were amazing to consider when thinking about how badly outnumbered they were.

Rabin became an ambassador to the US in 1967. Though Israel won the מלחמת יום כפור, it may have been a Pyrrhic victory. However, Rabin later became prime minister of Israel. When Israel later ceded Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace, the Jewish settlements there were dismantled too. His vision for peace caused factions in Israel including some that compared him to Hitler. Rabin’s study room was preserved for this museum, and the television program that he watched prior to the peace rally was an Israeli football match.

Before we left, we went to the porch for a group picture with Tel Aviv in the background. We then drove seaside on the bus toward the Dan Panorama, in a lot of traffic. Part of the drive went under a hotel, which is now the Leonardo Art. Six years ago, it was מלון מרינה (Marina Hotel), where my Birthright group stayed for one night.

In fact, during this stretch, Gili was in the back of the bus, and I commandeered the microphone to get some laughs: pointing out that hotel, as well as the bike-share bikes that were visible, and also the flashing חינם (FREE) on a sign for a parking area. Maybe I have some sort of tour guide impetus in my brain! After a while, we arrived, but before going upstairs, said farewell to Liz and the Slevins, who were leaving tonight. I had received no responses from Israeli friends, so I went to dinner with the Corens as well as Esti!


Yep, this hotel underpass passed underneath the room I stayed at six years ago! Noah being the proxy tour guide!

Walking down the crowded Kauffman Street, we looked for beachfront restaurants. Our first option was Manta Ray, but it was non-kosher, expensive, and crowded. Moving on, we left the beach and found the תחנה (Tachanah) district, which was a decommissioned train station like what we found in Jerusalem. The kosher restaurant רג’ינה (Regina) was full-up, but our next stop, איטלקית בתחנה (Italian At The Station), was available (albeit non-kosher-certified). We ate there anyway, everyone ordering something vegetarian.

I got a margherita pizza, as did Jemma and Nancy. Ken got… oh, I forgot, and Esti shared pizza with the Corens. We talked a lot about language, as I read the Hebrew menu for kicks. The talk about עלייה was mentioned, and how Israel supports its עולים in getting started on their new life in the country. The אולפן (ulpan/Hebrew school) model must work out well! Some movies were discussed at dinner, and it was outside of my area of expertise and interest. Oh, and we ate outside and saw them retract the awnings. That was pretty cool!


The dinner bunch. Counterclockwise from left-bottom: Jemma, Charlie, Ken, Noah, Nancy, Esti. Photo credit: Ken Greenfield. 

We all returned to the hotel together, before splitting up. I went to the pool deck: the door was open, but the pool had closed at 18:00. So I ascended to Room 529 and looked out the window at the sea and the pool at the next hotel over. For the evening, I listened to Israeli radio on the RLive app, and journaled. When Seth returned from his dinner with a friend that he hadn’t seen in 25 years, it was about 23:00. That’s a good time to fall asleep!



(Dirty?) Thirty: 5 days

Nebraska Regional: 39 days

Semester Kickoff: 70 days

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[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome

Today’s blog post reflects on the Sunday of the Birthright trip in 2011, when we went to צפת (Safed) and תל אביב (Tel Aviv). Click on this sentence to see the original entry.

When I look back on the Sunday of the trip, I can summarize it in three independent words:

  • Art
  • Awesome
  • History

And I will briefly reflect on what each of them mean to me five years later.

Continue reading

Yad Vashem and the Negev (Israel: Part 7)

ABSTRACT: The most trying day of the trip so far included an itinerary change, mentally-taxing trip to Yad Vashem, and a disliked seat on the bus.  But, there were plenty of good things about the day too.

The photo references are from Albums Shalosh and Arbah, available HERE and HERE, respectively.

Tuesday, July 26 / Shlishi, 24 Tammuz

The day was on at 624h.  Donning my black flowers Hawai’i shirt and navy shorts, I woke up Heedye and Jared.  The packing was quick and easy today, and I headed downstairs to the elevator. There is interesting numbering here [503-504] which I really like 🙂 .  Breakfast was a cereal that looked like Honey Bunches of Oats, and it was reasonable.  Conversations were not much, or at least I was unable to remember any of them.  In retrospect, I wish I would have taken either notes about conversations at meals or photos of who was at my table.

It was my turn to help load the bus, and I gladly helped others.  Good, and exercise for me!  As we drove toward Tel Aviv for that Birthright fair, the bus had a talent show, and I took some road and show pictures [505-518].  Meredith opened with a freaky act of “the little boy stuck in the closet,” and then I sang Pitkhu Li, afterwards making the claim “even though this is two days too early.”  Of course, because of my inexplicable skip of days in my physical journal, it’s really six days until Rosh Chodesh. In separate acts, Eric then walked the aisle with the “wave” in his eyebrows, and Becky stuck her tongue to her nose.

Gleb did a Jersey Shore-style act, of which I didn’t understand at all.  Then, Heedye did a dolphin impression after a significant amount of bridging (another way to say stalling in improv).  Lina and Mike sang “My Valentine” (?), and “Sexual Healing,” respectively.  Scott did 30 seconds of (c)rap (as Dan put it), and then Amanda said something in sign language that included an expletive.  Rachel barked like a dog, and Eric stuffed the ballot box with a Dr. Strangelove imitation.  Not as part of the competition, Dan did “Hot Cross Buns” recorder-style, using no recorder!

I’ll pass through the Tel Aviv thing in four short sentences: We came.  We saw [519-527].  We escaped.  Moving on.

The bus ride back to Jerusalem had the Israeli ladies talking about volunteer opportunities.  We couldn’t do the original volunteer opportunity that was on the original itinerary, but a pen-pal system or English book donation seemed the popular answer.  After they finished with that, I got a small amount of journaling done, and also made a PSA over the mic: “stay hydrated.”  As we approached Jerusalem, Nitzan explained that we will be going to a market place (shuk).

The first standout for me was the 6/24 market [530].  On the approach, in the lead pack (that teacher’s pet characteristic of me 🙂 ), I snapped pictures of the market and the opposite side of the street [531-534].  Under an arch, the area reeked of urine near the Dental LAB [535].  This is our return spot at noon (the current time is 1045h).

I went with a part of our group through the market.  Whether fruit, restaurants, trinkets, or even mini-gogues (failed to snap a picture of the lattermost), there was a lot in the market [536-544].  That “Nah Nakh Nakhma” thing popped up again [542] which reminds me of a song that ShireiNU did in the spring concert.  Eventually, our squad ended up at Rakhmo [544-545].  The conversation partners at the table were Rachel, Sarah, and Meredith.  Memories of vacations were brought up, from multiple sides.  They are more worldly and country-ly than I, thus far.  Of course, I aspire to do more travelling heading on.

With them, we returned toward the LAB.  A bit away, Aaron offered me chalva, which tasted great!  I also got a picture of a motorcycle license plate [546], just because I wanted one that shows the “IL” with the Israeli flag on it.  After “misparay barzel l’hitpakeid” in the alley, we got back to the bus quickly, and boarded to clear from the public bus stop.  En route to Yad Vashem, the road offered signs, stone buildings, and more for me to marvel at [547-551].  The [552] was especially salient given my song this morning.

Atop Mount Herzl, the gates [554-555] of Yad Vashem awaited.  With the triangular prism building, valleys, and trees, this place is a site to behold! [556-566].  Out of respect (or so that’s what I interpret), the walk toward the auditorium was mostly silent, at least with the people around me.  Ascending stairs and seeing greenery and Jerusalem on the right, it was a serene (but toasty) walk, as opposed to the next few hours.

Eliezer [568] spoke about his survival of the Holocaust.  Because the whole experience at Yad Vashem overwhelmed my mind, because my notes don’t do justice to his story, and because I was way behind on the paragraphs in the journal when I got to this point in the paragraphs, I merely summarize what I had written for notes.

  • Eliezer survived five forced labour camps, and met with Elie Wiesel 30 years ago to tell the story
  • Prior to the Holocaust, he lived in prosperity in Poland
  • When he was 11, the Nazis came in to Poland and it was clear to him that the Germans hated the Jewish people there
  • Jewish people there suffered humiliation and decrees, and the places became the Ghettoes 8 months later… intended as temporary housing before transport to death camps
  • In the Ghettoes, people died from starvation and “clean violence”
  • He worked outside the Ghetto, with a work pass that allowed access in and out
  • On August 14, 1942, he was separated from his family on a deportation day. His mom said, “You will survive because it is meant to be.”
  • The work-type protection ended in 1943, and he was deported again to a concentration (i.e. forced labour) camp. Depression set in, but he became a shoe-maker
  • Deaths in these camps were due to hunger, freezing, or disease.  At times, the doctors made choices as to whether to move people to another labour camp or a death camp
  • In August 1944, he was shipped to Austria in a box-car, and his number was 84991.  People who forgot their numbers were killed when asked for it
  • He dug tunnels in 8-hour shifts each day
  • In February 1945, he was deported to yet another concentration camp, and at wakeup call, people were forced to bring corpses that were next to them
  • In April 1945, he had a “death march” to another camp
  • On May 6, 1945, the roll call was a trick: “The war is ending. Go to the tunnels.”  These tunnels had dynamite, and the prisoners didn’t go.  The guards escaped and the Americans came in shortly thereafter
  • At age 17, Eliezer weighed only 39 kg
  • He moved to Italy, where he served in a Jewish brigade, before settling in Israel in November of 1945…
  • …and he and his girlfriend joined the IDF for the Independence War, getting married in uniform later.
  • Today was his 80th birthday.
  • His key point: “Make sure that the Holocaust never happens again. We must all speak out against senseless hatred.”

After this enlightening-but-frightening story, we went to the “school” building [569].  Descending two flights of stairs, I desperately used the restroom (gee… it seems that overactive bladder is my travel malady this time.  At least it’s a minor annoyance at worst!)  Looking at a hallway, some posters echoed Eliezer’s message: to never let the Holocaust happen again, and to speak out against senseless hatred [570-571].

Going outside, we walked around with static in headphones that we had picked up in the school building: they’re personal GuidePorts that track the guide’s voice, similar to that museum in Topeka that I visited in tenth grade on a field trip.  At the main entrance to the memorial, there were two paths.  The right led to the garden of the “righteous people of the nations” [573], and the left, across a bridge, was the “path of the Nazis” [581].  The details are mostly ignored, for a few reasons.  First, no photography was allowed inside the museum.  Secondly, this was very taxing on my mind.  Thirdly, for the same reason as before, when I got to this point in the writing of the journal, it was Thursday afternoon, and my mind was not clear then either.  (Ha–I get to throw in a cliffhanger for those of you hearing my story for the first time!)

  • Inside the triangle, the walls were all grey.  There was a montage of actual Jewish footage prior to the Holocaust
  • Life was diverse back then, kids went happily to school, and the montage included audio
  • In this part, the guide indicated that the floors here are all made of concrete.  Symbolism!
  • Klooga was a death camp in Estonia.  Soviets found bodies burning there and the guide told us the story of [illegible]
  • Hitler’s agenda was written in “Mein Kampf”
  • Anti-Semitism has been around since as early as 500 CE, back then when it was anti-religion. However, Hitler was against the “race,” not just the “religion”
  • Regular Germans gave in to anti-Semitic propaganda (such as games, books, and posters)
  • Laws discriminating against Jews started as early as 1935 in Germany
  • In a living room, a poster shows a two-fold message, with a Menorah in the foreground and a swastika in the background. The message: “Judaism will die,” says the banner. “Judaism will live,” responds the Menorah
  • After Kristallnacht, although Jews could still escape Germany, there was nowhere for them to go
  • The people who were anti-Hitler were killed first, and then religious Jews were systematically eliminated
  • Ghettoes, yellow stars, and plundering of Jewish places were the first things
  • There were no ghettoes in the west, and Lodz was the longest-lasting one.  The leader several times was forced to give strategic speeches
  • In the museum, the floor turns to bricks several times to return to the story of the Warsaw ghetto.  Each day, people only ate at most 184 Calories
  • In Warsaw, underground theatres and schools continued… they had the will to survive
  • The lowest point (elevation-wise) in this triangle memorial is for June 22, 1941.  This was the invasion of the Soviets, and there were killing pits with mobile killing units.  Many people were buried alive
  • The Final Solution was a plan to more efficiently kill the prisoners, as the repeated shootings were starting to take mental tolls on the Nazis
  • In 1942, the leader of the Warsaw ghetto committed suicide, which was bad news for the prisoners
  • We saw a diorama of Treblinka, and that was the straw that broke my back… I’m going vagal…

In the vagal reaction, I got dizzy, my sight temporarily blacked out, and I was sweating cold.  Although it was incredibly unpleasant, I knew I would be OK after leaving the situation–I’ve had these “garden-variety” reactions before.  A few members of the group helped me to sit down on a bench, and after re-hydrating, Dan led me out, as I kept my head down to avoid looking at the rest of the museum, to a “cool-down” room where quotes and names appeared on an electronic wall, to calming elevator music.  He said that most people feel nauseated by the end, and that it’s hard for most people to take.  Even though he’s been here several times, it’s still taxing on him, mentally.

Leaving the triangular prism with everyone else (about 30 minutes later), many of the group members showed the “are-you-okay” concern.  True friends are these, as empathy is a virtue!  Outside, the symbolism was the overlook of Jerusalem [574-577], the ascending floor, and the extended walls (but I failed to capture the latter two of these).  I went with Dan toward the entrance as the rest of the group saw the children’s memorial.  All of us walked past a pillar [578] en route, but I was the only one to see Schindler’s (of Schindler’s List) tree [579-580].  While waiting, Dan and I were in the gift shop, and the prices were exorbitant.  There was a Kabbalah book that I chose to have Dan pose with in [582]… aaaaawwwwesome!

There was no group post-mortem from Yad Vashem once we got on the bus—thank goodness!  Instead, the finals of the talent show came—a much more fun activity!  I did not make it to the finals, but we got Lina, Meredith, Eric, and Scott.  Before these finals, Shiran was interviewed.  Unfortunately, I could not hear a thing, as I was in the worst seat in the house (the aisle seat right in front of the rear door).  Next time, I will reserve a seat on the bus early!  Ergo, the pictures turned out pathetic [583-593].

The talent show finals NOW commenced.  Scott led it off with forty-five seconds of rap, which was not my cup of tea.  Granted, he still did well, and I won’t let personal opinions about the genre detract from the performance.  Eric repeated the eye-wave with “We Will Rock You” playing in the background, improving the presentation.  Lina sang “And So It Goes,” before Meredith did the ABCs with the boy-stuck-in-the-closet [594-596].  A bonus thing that wasn’t part of the show (and was DQ’d anyway) was Gleb’s improvised rap about our experience so far.  The “tune” sounded like something I have heard before, but I’m not sure.

A few more fail pictures followed [598-599], and then Eric was voted runner-up, to take Lina’s place if she has to go to the hospital again (ha).  Eric got a flower circlet [600], and Lina won a Winnie-The-Pooh fan/pen [miss].  We found a gas station, I went to the restroom, and saw a convoy of tanks fuelling.  Neat! [602-603]

The desert led us past some Bedouin cities, some greenery (!), and some barrenness [604-610].  The education here: Kibbutz G’vulot was founded before 1948, as Ben Gurion said that the Jews should settle in the Negev.  The greenery here is watered by dripping irrigation, a la my back yard in Lincoln, which I mentioned.  The rest I couldn’t hear.  For the rest of the ride, I journaled a bit, and helped out on a group crossword collaboration.  We landed at G’vulot around 1900h.

As I wrote this, my camera had burnt out so that I couldn’t get the photo references while the battery was charging.  Ergo, I’ll simply describe without the photo references.  The photos for the rest of the day were from [611-631]. We walked a seemingly long path, turning at a fence that had a mini-basketball hoop.  I was assigned to Room 41 with Eric and Mickey.  Taking dibs at the bed on the window, I then used the necessary room before going to dinner.

Refreshed, I proceeded down the sidewalk to the dining hall with others.  Dinner had steak as well as the usual suspects.  I am having difficulty recalling who sat at my table, but the conversations seemed quite blasé anyway.  As I saw the sun set, I asked anyone to snap my picture in the background, which turned out really well when Aaron obliged!

I ran back to the room to snag my light and Israel map.  The assembly room was still locked, but people were flowing in from the dining hall.  Nitzan had the key, and when we walked in, the room was a FURNACE!  For the group activity, we started with the maps, and a synopsis of our travels so far.  I couldn’t see it well from the opposite side of the room, but I’ll fill it out later.  Dan modeled the map in an interesting display of balance!

The activity was Agree/Disagree.  Five statements (not questions) were read, and we moved to corners of the room that corresponded to our opinion.  The northwest corner was strongly agree; southwest strongly disagree; northeast (regularly) agree, and southeast (regularly) disagree.  No “neutral” was allowed, but people were allowed to shift sides during the discussion.  The first was: “The “disagree” side, myself included, but the discussion seemed to degenerate into what makes “ultimate Jewry” instead.  As some arguments were given, people began to gravitate toward the “agree” side.  The wording can sometimes change a response entirely!

The second statement: “You have to be religious to really be Jewish.”  Since our group is mostly secular, I was one of only a few “agrees.”  The key point seemed to be (pardon my turning into the Wicked Child here), “what means religious to you?”  Although I go to services semi-regularly, that is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for religiosity.  The third question: “One of the roles of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is to protect not only Israelis, but also Jews worldwide.”  This received almost mutual affirmation, under the general idea: protection need not be only physical!  The fourth question: “Diaspora Jews should have a say in major issues in Israeli politics.”  Most people disagreed, using the USA as an analogy.

The most heated question was saved for last: “Jews should marry only Jews.”  Topics like compromise, tradition, and marriage into a family (rather than to an individual) were the major arguments brought up.  Several of the Americans in our group come from inter-marriages.  Obviously the most difficult and contentious statement among the Americans, civility somehow remained in the conversation, relatively speaking!  Toward the end, I also added a little bit of humour by literally jumping the space-object fence between “disagree” and “agree”!

After that, we all returned to the rooms.  I chatted lively with Mickey, and instead of journaling, I reviewed with him the chronology of my chronicles.  Extra interests came up too, and we have both done “solitaire” style tournaments, him in Monopoly and me in Pokémon TCG.  Sports and “the usual small talk” also came up.  After he went to the pub, I inefficiently journaled until 0030h.  On one hand, I wanted to go to the pub in order to be in the presence of the group and improve my bonding, but on the other hand, I was too tired to be able to enjoy it, so I’ll just sleep.  Laila tov!


Jerusalem of Gold (Israel: Part 6)

ABSTRACT: After learning about Yitzhak Rabin, we travel to Jerusalem and much of the experience is beyond words and pictures.

For what I did get in pictures, I have Albums 2 and 3, available HERE and HERE, respectively.

Monday, July 25 / Sheni, 23 Tammuz

The day started with an alarm at 645h.  I descended downstairs, excited for a big day.  Rolling the suitcase into the elevator, dropping it in the lobby, I then jogged to the second floor for breakfast [307-308].  The “potato pancakes” that they allegedly had were really just puff pastry.  Others in the group seemed tired, probably due to partying late after midnight.  I’m insufficiently-sufficiently rested.

Leaving the furnace (i.e. hotel), we headed to Rabin Square.  I took a snapshot of a street corner and a bike rental thingy [309-311].  Green transportation is good!  I sat on the left-hand side and a window-side of the bus.  In the shade in Rabin Square, Dan explained Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy, through Israeli wars, but then envisioning peace.  Rabin believed that Palestinians needed a state too.

Around the park [312-317], we asked a few Israelis about their flashbulb memories from the night of Rabin’s assassination.  (I collected names, but do not write them down here for their privacy).  One of them was in the Army in the North, and there was celebration in that area by some of the more extreme Jews who felt no mercy toward the Palestinians.  Another person who we talked to was a neighbor of the assassin’s family!  The killer was even Jewish, which made it perhaps even more surprising.  That has to be something scary.

Other stories, back in the shade, included a then-twelve-year-old at the rally who left prior to the assassination.  Some people interviewed actually saw it live; other people saw it on TV or heard it on the radio.  Surprise was sometimes characteristic, but sleeplessness, fear, and other post-traumatic things were rampant.  The phrase “shalom chaver” (i.e. good-bye, friend) uttered by Bill Clinton, the bloodied “Shir Shalom” (Song of Peace) [319], and other similar details made it easier to relate to.

Walking down the sidewalk past an excavation (?) zone, we reached the side of stairs where the assassination happened.  It was unbelievable how close the killer managed to get in the eyes of the bodyguards [323-326, etc.].  The rocks from the Galilee were a powerful symbolism [332] with the colour of the rocks (i.e. mourning), shape (imperfections in people), and more.  They say that Rabin’s vision died with him.  I could have written more here, but the pictures tell a lot of the story here.

The heat and humidity was stifling.  The thermometer on the bus was even busted [333]!  As we left Tel Aviv, I saw some of the neat buildings, and ANOTHER protest with cow paraphernalia.  It seems that Jewish people really do like to complain.  Granted, I suppose complaining is a natural tendency of all people. [334-341].  While further exiting Tel Aviv, we paralleled train tracks for a while, which reminded me of Interstate 55 in Chicago and the Orange Line.  One train picture succeeded, but the remainder were flubs [342-347].

Along the road, I chatted with Eric about group dynamics, people-meeting, and circles of friends.  He’s my photo-taking rival—he’s already up to about 1000 exposures!  Of course, I’m not strictly in competition for photos here.  My chronicles will be fine!  I took some roadside pictures, and Nitzan got on the mike at the 20-km sign, “Wakey-wakey!”

The road to Jerusalem is a valley.  In 1948, Israeli convoys would try to access the city, but the Arabs had position at the top of the valley, throwing bombs down to stop the convoys.  The remains were on medians on the highway [353-356].  From my vantage point, it was impossible to take pictures of the road signs or the approach of Jerusalem.  As we got there, an executive decision to play the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold) occurred, and my eyes welled up in tears of joy.

Oops… I screwed up.  Chronology… silly me!  We first stopped at a parking garage outside of Jerusalem [357] and got popsicles from Taglit.  I’m not sure what the main point of that short stop was for.  Then, I took some fail pictures [358] en route to Jerusalem, and as the aforementioned song played, we passed the Sakhorov Gardens [364].  The pictures I took were insufficient to show the whole way, of course, but include [365-372].  Heading up a hill and seeing yet another protest tent [373-374], Dan told us about the Gilad Shalit situation.  Shalit hasn’t been heard from in five years after being captured by Hamas.

The bus kept climbing hills, and my bladder became a ticking time bomb.  I got a few interesting buildings [376-378], and atop the hill, I hastily joined the group, and ha-shirutim (the restroom) called my name, where relief of the bladder came (yes, I know… too much information).  The top of this hill was a lookout over the city, and was breathtaking.  Some pictures where the scenery was either the foreground OR the background commenced [379-388].  In semi-shade afterward, the scenery was explained.  The Talmud says that there are ten parts of beauty in the world, and nine of them are in Jerusalem.  Further, it is true that eyes from two thirds of ALL the people on the whole planet look here.  The shear magnitude of this is awesome, to say the least!

Prior to us visiting The Old City, we had lunch in the German Colony.  Tons of restaurants were on this drag, and the ones strongly recommended were Baba or Big Apple Pizza.  I went with Rachel, Lisa, and a few others, and eventually ended up at Big Apple Pizza, where others also joined.  They had some, but not every, USA license plate (there were none from Nebraska 😦 , but one from Illinois) [389-396].  Without much cheese, the regular pizza tasted great.  During the lunch, a crazy man came into the restaurant, babbling nonsense toward the ladies of the party, and after he quickly left, he snapped at others on the street.  Freaky!

En route to The Old City, some interesting street names and buildings passed [397-398].  Walking to The Old City on the slippery stones, alongside Nitzan and others in a yalla-yalla (hurry up!) fashion, the pictures of the 500-year-old-stone and the stairs leading to the Zion Gate piqued my excitement and fascination [399-407].  Major Jewish history is just around the corner, and these steps!

The story of the Zion Gate is that the walls are nearly 500 years old.  The entrance is curved to confound marauders, and holes visible in the gate [409] were from the War of Independence.  A mezuzah sits on the gate, just like in any Jewish building, which I kissed as I entered (hopefully someone got a picture of this… I failed to!).  I’m home, in a spiritual sense!

Walking through this spiritual home, some vendors were on the south drag where cars and motorcycles passed, which seemed quite out of place.  Yet, at the same time, the Old City is the original “living history museum.”  The history and beauty of what I am seeing can’t be expressed in either my words or my pictures.  We were advised to not be offended by Hasidics who might drop water or garbage on less-observent-looking Jewish people.  I hope that doesn’t happen!  Through the alleys we went [410-423], until the rooftops.

The rooftops [424-426] gave some good views of the city, and a much closer view of the Temple Mount.  A bunch of fireworks blew up in the northeast, implying a wedding or something at that mosque.  Here, Dan and Nitzan explained that Jerusalem has “modern” houses atop the Old City, and further down, the years also decrease.  Kids play, ride bikes, etc. all around here, as the area is just like any other neighborhood, only with a lot more activity going on daily.  From this rooftop, we could see the Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and more.  Here, whether Muslim prayer calls from minarets, church bells, or synagogue services, G-d (whether Hashem, Allah, or any other name) hears all.  It amazes me to see all the harmony that could be here, when there probably is not.

Backtracking a bit, there was an undercroft that led to a cavernous area.  The group heard explanations on the mural [429], but I missed them as I had another need to use the restroom.  Past this area, which I saw en route to the restroom but returned with the group, pillars and a mural caught what this area may have looked like a long time ago [430-436].  With stories from the Torah [437-449], the old city’s walls in 900 BCE were evident later.  Seeing the story come alive before my eyes is a beautiful thing, as the road name [446] implied.

Walking on Tiferet Israel Road, we heard the story of the white-cap synagogue.  It is called “The Ruins” because it has been twice destroyed, although the arch there has survived both times.  I hope the third time is a charm—it was just re-completed last year.  It definitely DOES look brand-new [450-456]!

Continuing down an alley, we stopped short of the “Moriah” sign [457].  Forming two lines on the stairs, we put our heads down.  Holding hands, we descended stairs, ascended other stairs, took corners, and walked backwards. “Step. Step. Step. Step. …”  Once they turned us around, we got a live panorama of the Western Wall [458]!  In ancient Israel, it was the nearest wall of the Temple Mount to the Holy of Holies.  Eyes welling up again, a few photos were taken, and a path backing us up was the way to go.

After a few more steps of walking [459-468], we finally reached the plaza of the Western Wall, first having to go through security.  Before going toward the Wall, I took some pictures [469-476] and then proceeded.  I started by praying the Amidah, and after back-stepping, a Chabadnik asked me to don tefillin, which I accepted.  The pamphlet also contained the Sh’ma, which I silently recited before doing some personal meditation.  The moment was beyond emotion and mind—I simply can’t explain any more for a spiritual experience.

Leaving The Old City, happy/enlightened tears flowed again in my eyes.  These two days have really moved me, somewhat beyond my grasp. And no, I’m not the “thoughtless who cannot comprehend or the foolish who cannot fathom this.” En route to the hotel, Dan described the opportunity for anyone on the trip to undergo a B’nai Mitzvah or Hebrew-naming ceremony on the upcoming Shabbat.  The ride to the hotel simply involved some photos [478-492] while small-talking with Eric.  The ride led to Hotel Leonardo, where I offered to help others with their bags up the steps.  It’s the offer that counts.

Dinner at the hotel—now I forgot what it was!  I sat with Jen, Mike, Paul, and Michelle, among others, but conversations were pretty light.  I may also be muddling different things together, since I didn’t take notes on meals most of the time.  Oh well!  After dinner, we took our bags upstairs as I was paired with Jared H (again) and Heedye.  The TV was busted, there were no towels, but at least the room was bigger than Marina [493-500].

Downstairs, we went for the group activity.  A rep from Masa got us information about future post-graduate ways to get to Israel [501-502].  The main activity was a pre-discussion on Yad Vashem.  I won’t rehash all of the details here, (a) because I was way behind on journaling when I wrote this in the physical journal and (b) because of what will be accounted for in Part 7 of the journal.  Here are the notes that I took:

  • Six million is not a number that can easily be tangibly imagined.  Dollars? Grains of sand? Paper clips?
  • Survivors of the Holocaust may have flashbulb memories of it, and not have any memories prior to the Holocaust
  • Mental instability is very common, as it is a PTSD
  • The second generation has to deal with the baggage, and many survivors don’t want to talk about it.  There were many cases of fathers being killed right in front of their sons
  • One-word-to-describe: words like “unfathomable,” “sickening,” “unfair,” “helpless,” “massacre,” and such.  However, Heedye said the word “G-d.”
    • A German philosopher explained that G-d encompasses both the good guys and the bad guys… anyone can be either the monster or the victim
    • No words can fully describe the Holocaust
  • The name Yad Vashem literally translates “Memorial and Name.”  It gives a name and a face to the people who were killed… they are more than just numbers
  • One story was that of Aaron and Lisa (last name I failed to capture), who escaped together, but Aaron was nearly killed twice during the escape

We are forced to go to Tel Aviv tomorrow for some required Taglit fair, and a ton of complaining followed.  It sounds annoying, but I’ll roll with it.  Although some of the trip has seemed to be “Taglitch,” it’s still the experience of a lifetime, and I consider all of these glitches to be mere trivialities.  I showered, applied SeaBreeze, and journaled a tad before sleeping at 2300h or so.