Come On, Birthright-It’s Time You Hired Me to Blog

I wonder if they have a Google Alert set up….

Shalom from Eilat’s Cafe Hillel! Who needs the beach when you’ve got free wireless and cafe hafuch? While my 41 chanichim and co-staff are soaking up the rays on this Shabbat morning, I’m catching up on three days with no internet. Wait, so you mean the world continues when you’re offline? Memories of summer camp with no access to news…

So here’s a quick recap:

Things going great. Ech omrim “thank G-d I have 22-26 year olds and not college students?” How refreshing to not have to deal with barfing American youth but then again, I would never have agreed to staff that age group anyway. And since it’s an outdoors trip, it’s a self-selecting group which doesn’t complain and loves everything we do, and by the way are also totally respectful and supercool adults. Truthfully, the person most likely to complain would probably be the oldest one (cough). Everybody got that? Good, let’s move on. (And if he or she doesn’t blog after ascending Masada via the snake path, it’s probably because he’s in traction in Ichilov.)

  • I love watching a group of first-time visitors eating Israeli breakfast for the first time. It’s as if they’re quietly gossiping about the previous night’s hookups. “Did you taste the cheese? What’s up with the vegetables? The tomatoes and cucumbers are all OVER each other!”
  • We took a tour of Kibbutz Gvulot near the Gaza border. The guy showing us around says “have you played Farmville? A kibbutz is kind of like that.” I think I just heard Labor Zionist AD Gordon rolling over in his grave. Or burning his Facebook wall.We visit the “beit yeladim” where back in the day, babies would sleep together under the supervision of a babysitter. Wild, right? I wonder what the qualifications are to do that job. With that kind of major influence, hiring the right candidate is of critical importance. Can you imagine a stutterer as the m’tapel (caregiver)? Five years later, you have 100 Israeli kids walking around saying “b-b-b-boker tov!”Next stop: refet, where the cows live. First thing that catches your eye? The cow’s identifying number. Sorry to question farming practices but based on, ahem, recent history, seriously, we can’t think of a better way to differentiate these animals? Cow tags? Colored bows? Leg warmers?
    On second thought, maybe it’s just his direct extension. “Thank you for calling Cowtech. To speak with Bessie, please dial…” Ok, moooving right along….
  • We visit the tunnels in the Judean Hills outside Jerusalem where during the Bar Kochba rebellion, the Jews hid out and stored supplies. Our tour guide tells us that the Romans figured out that the best way to combat this strategy was to light a fire and smoke them out. Twenty-four hours later, we’re in Sderot learning about Gaza. Tour guide teaches us about the illegal tunnels from Gaza to Egypt where terrorists smuggle in weapons. Participant asks me, “Why doesn’t Israel just smoke them out?” Ha ha! Genius-I love it.
  • We did camel rides yesterday. This always drives me crazy: from an old post

    And seriously, the Israeli tour operators are as much to blame as anyone but can we decide once and for all if we’re promoting the camel angle or not? Average pro-Israel marketing material: “If you think this is a land of camels and deserts, think again. (pause) Now come visit your homeland and ride camels!!!”

    So yeah, camel rides. It had been about 15 years since my last ride and I probably don’t need another one for another 15. Just not such a big deal although there sure are a lot of rules. Stand at least 30 meters from the camel. Do not touch the camel’s head. Lean back while they stand up as to not fall off. What are these, Gremlins? Do not get the camel wet. Do not feed the camel after midnight.

    If you’re trying to reach this camel directly, try him at 6402. Camels and cows are known to fraternize from time to time.
  • And on the topic of Bedouins, my brain can never wrap its arms around their desert lifestyle. (I think I just mixed metaphors. Does a brain have arms? I need to look into this.) Living in the middle of nowhere, tents made of sheepskin, living off the earth. Do they know that there’s other stuff out there? Can you imagine discovering the internet and being like “What?! You mean we don’t have to live this way? And this electricity stuff has been around HOW many years? (pause) Now tell me more about this Youtube you speak of.”


Beautiful, ain’t it? Tomorrow (Sunday), Dead Sea and hiking. Monday, Masada and long drive north to the Golan. Another post coming later this week, I hope. Hope you enjoyed!

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