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Stories from a birthright, part 1…

Submitted by Mali on June 8, 2009 – 2:39 pmComments

israel.  it was a wonderful, wonderful trip, and not in the ways i expected it to be.  i didn’t come back feeling MUCH more jewish  - at times, in fact, being around so many orthodox jews had an alienating effect - but it made me at least engage more with my religion, and question it, and spend two weeks thinking hard about something other than work or relationships, which was utterly refreshing.

it was also great in the way that freshman year was great, like when a bunch of really cool people commit to being enthusiastic and earnest about something, and high-five each other at the top of mountains and heartfully sing the stupid campy-songs they’ve been taught.  i mean, there was SO much singing.  on hikes, in caves, on the bus, during dinner.  a few people knew how to play instruments/sing well, and everyone else was just game.  certainly one of my favorite moments on the trip was our first shabat (friday night sunset - ringing in 24 hours of “rest”) which we spent in jerusalem, on the rooftop of some old building in the jewish quarter, singing and dancing and then lighting candles as it grew dark, and you hear all these voices from around the city singing the same prayer songs, and it’s beautiful (reminded me a bit of the islamic call to prayer).

as anyone could have guessed, i was pretty wary going into the trip about all the advertised hiking.  like, that was the big joke - you signed up for what??  and, amazingly, that turned out to be my favorite part.  from the moment i made peace with my boob sweat, i just gobbled up all the physical stuff.  it totally made me think more about my relationship to my body and how i don’t appreciate it.  like, i’ve so branded myself an unathletic, lazy person, and then there i was bounding up these huge mountains, and hiking for 8 hours without any whining(!), and one of the few who luckily didn’t suffer from dehydration or a stomach virus that went around, and it just reminded me that my body’s a machine and a GOOD little machine!  and we did the 3-hour bike tour of Tel Aviv’s shorline, and it was just so amazing in this sensory way, all this outdoor activity, sweating, and reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours.  oh, to that point, i felt sooooo pale.  because i WAS soooo pale.  with each passing day, as the people around me get darker and darker, i am that much easier to find in the photos.

To be continued…

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