01.12.06 So unbeknownst to most of you happyrobots and the other two flakes who read my page, the dude and I embarked on a two week vacay with my entire family to Israel. When I say entire family, I mean my two parents, my two brothers, one set of aunt and uncle, two of their kids (my first cousins) + significant others and their little chickens (I am referring to my adorable second cousins, all six of whom are smart, gorgeous and charming in their own way.)
We were part of an organized tour set up by Emunah women (a Canadian zionist organization that helps under privileged and abused Israeli children) and three modern orthodox synagogues out of Montreal. In addition to 18 members of my family, there were another 80 participants including three (yes, three!) rabbis.
Now as some of you may know, I grew up in a fairly traditional Jewish home. We kept kosher. We went to synagogue and sadly, we were forbidden to celebrate such pagan indulgences as Halloween. Since then, I have become kinda secular, much to the chagrin of my loving parents... As such, I faced this trip, with it's zionist, religious leanings, and loads of family, with much trepidation.
To my thrill and surprise, it surpassed expectations. We had an AMAZING time. I even cried as I hugged my mom and dad goodbye in front of the kotel.
Highlights: - Going for an early morning run w/my cousin through Meah Shearim (ultra-orthodox black hat neighbourhood) and not getting stoned. Frankly, I was more afraid to look them in the eye in my running garb, then they were to see me, a female. It was amazing, not only the sunrise through Jerusalem, but to see men wearing tefilin and pray even while waiting for the bus. - Also running to the border of Jordan and back when in Eilat (again with my speedy cousin, Sunflower Pete.) This sounds impressive, but really it was down the street from our hotel - The four and five star hotels we stayed in. - The twice daily buffets. Oy! I had dessert for breakfast. - Shwarma!!!! My bros and the dude were OBESSESED with this middle eastern chickeny delight. - Hanging with younger cousins, naive youngesters, they thought we were cool and either asked us for dating advice or wanted to listen to our ipods. So cute, so sweet! - A walking tour of old Jerusalem on Shabbat. - Seeing the world before us shutdown for Shabbat. - Going out for a beer in one of the few bars open in Jerusalem on Shabbat. It was like stepping into a speakeasy. So risque! - The dude discovering a Homestar Runner kippah when my mom "strongly suggested" that he buy a kippah. - Buying Ahava hand cream and Michal Negrin jewlery at Israeli prices. - Hiking in the Negev in Timna.. this was an optional outing that ended up consisting of just my family (minus a few members) and full-on hiking of ancient egyptian copper mines. It was amazing. - The weather.. Isreal can be chilly in December but we totally lucked out. - Of course spending time with family and meeting new people. - Seeing good friends like Tal and Dave. - Realizing how incredible a country Israel is, thanks to its history and in spite of its religious politics. Especially compared to how it seemed to me as a teenager when all I really thought about was peer pressure and partying. - Standing in line to get the best rugelach in the country at Marzipan near the Mahaneh Yehuda in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon with my bro. - My dad's insistence that we polish off the bottle of scotch he brought before we changed cities (essentially it was sucked dry in 4 days!) - Celebrating Silvester instead of New Years.. Going away takes the pressure off, I like it! - Being disconnected from the Internet, cellphones, and work. Can't beat that!
Lowlights - Our first tour guide. He was so right wing and offensive, I ended up dreading the outings. Eventually my family members continuoulsy complained until they put him on the other bus and we got a great new tour guide. - Only one night in a true king size bed! Every place we stayed in other than Tel Aviv stuck us with two twins pushed together but made seperately. - Constantly feeling fat and bloated from our indulgences at the twice daily buffet.
I will stop here for now, as I had a size XL martini with dinner tonight.. but I promise to post more soon (including photos), if only to please Kat - u rock!