Liz Alexander

Israel Trip Report: Negev Happy New Year from Israel

Happy 2015, everyone!

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to update this more frequently. I havent written since the end of October, so I have a lot to share!! The program I am on presents us with a lot of unique and interesting opportunities to learn and experience new things in Israel. They took us to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, speak and then afterwards there was a concert by Idan Raichel. Idan Raichel is very popular in Israel, and starting to be more known in the world. He has a project where he takes in young artists from all around the world and has them collaborate together. The music was beautiful!

Picture 1: IMG_9170 in Israel - Negev Picture 2: IMG_9209 in Israel - Negev Picture 3: IMG_9210 in Israel - Negev

Then my parents came to visit! It was a wonderful week. We got to eat lots of great food and see some awesome places! Here are some pictures from Haifa. We went to see the Bahai Gardens there:

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we spent a lot of time in Tel Aviv. Picture 8: IMG_9272 in Israel - Negev Watched the sunset on shabbat: Picture 9: IMG_9289 in Israel - Negev

We also visited Jerusalem together and took an awesome walking tour of a lot of the holy sites of the 3 big religions.

Picture 10: IMG_9336 in Israel - Negev This picture is up on the Temple Mount. There have been tensions between Jewish Israelis and Muslim Palestinians over the mount. I didn't feel any tensions, though. I think this building is beautiful!!

Picture 11: IMG_9317 in Israel - Negev This is in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the location where Jesus was crucified.

Picture 12: IMG_9318 in Israel - Negev This urn stands where the center of the universe is according to Christianity.

Picture 13: IMG_9331 in Israel - Negev Us in front of the Western Wall.

 

I also got to celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel! One girl from my program works at a company that arranges dinners where someone volunteers to host a group and random people can meet for dinner. This company offered to have a dinner for us for thanksgiving. It was actually an awesome meal, even though it was cooked by israelis who had never made thanksgiving dinner before.

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We took a trip to a nature reserve, which is right next to the Dead Sea. The program invited about 50 Israeli university students to join us in a "Dialogue Seminar." We had several sessions to talk about many different topics ranging from religion and judaism and the differences in being a Jewish person in Israel and in the Diaspora to the conflict in the middle east to other random topics as well. It was nice to be able to spend time with Israelis from all over the country! We also went on a hike in Ein Gedi, which is full of water falls and got to spend some time swimming in the Dead Sea.

 

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I have also been trying some new Israeli foods! Here is something called Kubeh. Its kind of like a big dumpling. Inside is beef (I promise myself I wouldn't let being a vegetarian get in the way of trying new things) and it is in a beet sauce. My boss made it for me. delicious! Picture 18: IMG_9696 in Israel - Negev Here I am with a couple of Sufganyot. These are basically donuts, but they are a Hanukkah tradition and they are delicious! They are in every bakery here by the hundreds around Hanukkah, and I ate way too many. They are delicious! I tried a lot of variations of fillings. Nutella, chocolate, jelly, oreo, dulce de leche.  Picture 19: IMG_9698 in Israel - Negev This beer is called Alexander! It is one of the most popular boutique beers here.  Picture 20: IMG_9770 in Israel - Negev

We also took a trip to the Negev (which means desert in Hebrew) Here we are looking out on Mahktesh Ramon. It is basically like a crater, but not made by a meteor. The negev used to be covered by an ocean, and as the water receded, this landform was made.  Picture 21: IMG_9790 in Israel - Negev Picture 22: IMG_9799 in Israel - NegevPicture 23: IMG_9804 in Israel - NegevPicture 24 in Israel - Negev I didn't actually take this picture, but I saw a bunch of these signs in the Negev. I think it's pretty funny. Definitely something you would never see in the US!   Picture 25: IMG_9809 in Israel - Negev Our trip was over the first couple nights of Hanukkah. Here is the group lighting the candles.

We also did a night hike through the desert. We started at 3:30 AM and walked through sunrise. It was freezing, but really nice! Picture 26: IMG_9820 in Israel - Negev Picture 27: IMG_9821 in Israel - Negev Picture 28: IMG_9823 in Israel - Negev Picture 29: IMG_9824 in Israel - Negev Here is overlooking what we just hiked as the sun rose.

The next day, we visited a goat farm that produces its own cheese! Here are the baby goats. Apparently, goats are nicer than sheeps. The woman there said that sheep will bite. Picture 30: IMG_9830 in Israel - Negev Picture 31: IMG_9849 in Israel - Negev Picture 32: IMG_9841 in Israel - Negev

Here is the view from Ben Gurion's grave. He was the first Prime Minister of Israel. He had a vision that Israel could settle the Negev. He met some young students who believed they could live off the land in the Negev, and who were establishing a Kibbutz in the desert. He asked them if he could join them, they agreed, and he resigned as Prime Minister to join them. Picture 33: IMG_9854 in Israel - Negev Picture 34: IMG_9855 in Israel - Negev

We also visited a winery in the Negev. Picture 35: IMG_9856 in Israel - Negev Picture 36: IMG_9858 in Israel - Negev A praying mantis in our room! I rescued it and put him outside. Picture 37: IMG_9862 in Israel - Negev

Here is a big celebration at the kibbutz we stayed at for Hanukkah. Picture 38: IMG_9863 in Israel - Negev

On the last day of our trip, we were traveling to visit a beduoin village, but got stopped at a roadblock because there had been a shooting on the road ahead. We happened to be stuck in a line of IDF tanks being transported. We were stuck for a few hours, and so people brought out their guitars and a bunch of people (Israelis and Americans together) gathered to sing and dance together. Picture 39: IMG_9869 in Israel - Negev Picture 40: IMG_9871 in Israel - Negev Picture 41: IMG_9872 in Israel - Negev Picture 42: IMG_9889 in Israel - Negev

Finally when the road block was cleared, we got to visit a farm on the border of Egypt and Gaza. We got the opportunity to sample all of there fruits and veggies. Picture 43: IMG_9906 in Israel - Negev This is the way they grow their strawberries, to keep bugs off them so they dont have to use pesticides. Picture 44: IMG_9907 in Israel - Negev Picture 45: IMG_9923 in Israel - Negev Picture 46: IMG_9924 in Israel - Negev Picture 47: IMG_9928 in Israel - NegevPicture 48: IMG_9914 in Israel - Negev They had so many different types of cherry tomates, it was delicious!

 

Last weekend we visited the town of Sderot, which borders Gaza. We stopped in the military base that control s the border crossing into gaza.  Picture 49: IMG_0028 in Israel - Negev Here is the view  from a kibbutz into Gaza.  Picture 50: IMG_0040 in Israel - Negev There are two walls. One is to protect the border from people entering. The one in this picture is to stop snipers from Gaza from shooting the residents of the Kibbutz. Picture 51: IMG_0042 in Israel - Negev  Here is a picture from the police station in Sderot. These are just a few of the rockets that landed in the town from Gaza over the years. About 24,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Picture 52: IMG_0044 in Israel - Negev Picture 53: IMG_0045 in Israel - Negev  There are bomb/rocket shelters everywhere in the town. Because they are so close to Gaza, they have only 15 seconds to get into a shelter once the alarm sounds. Here is a picture from one of their playgrounds. The play structures are reinforced so they can double as a shelter. Also, every bus stop in the town doubles as a shelter as well. Every home has its own personal shelter in it. Picture 54: IMG_0046 in Israel - Negev

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