Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Israel Day Five (Oct. 12)

Our first full day of the tour was interesting. The breakfast buffet at the Carlton was incredible -- it puts the cocktail hour at a b'nai mitzvah to shame. All sorts of cold things -- different smoked fish, fruit, yogurt, salad, cereal, breads; any kind of eggs (including waffles); any kind of hot drink; halavah and dates. (There are photos.)

First stop was at an Ethiopian community center where we heard the story from an amazing woman who came to Israel from Ethiopia, through Sudan, in 1984. It was a fascinating story and afterwords they served us spiced coffee and their version of cornbread. Hospitality is very important to them. We also had the opportunity to buy some of their handicrafts.

Next stop was with Lecket -- an Israeli organization that provides food for those in need. Lecket means "gleaning" and refers to the mitzvah of leaving unharvested crops in the corners of the fields for the poor to gather (Book of Ruth, among other places). The group both collects leftover food from catered events and restaurants and from farmers' fields. Our job was to harvest pomegranates. We spent about 1/2 hour and filled two large bins.

We then went to the other extreme -- an upscale mall in Ramat Aviv, an upscale neighborhood of Tel Aviv. We visited the food court for lunch -- falafel for me. You'll see photos from the mall -- lots of familiar stores. On the one hand, how annoying that it's the same places I could shop at back home. On the other hand, how nice to know that these brands are not boycotting Israel.

Our next stop was close by, on the edge of Tel Aviv University. We went to the Palmach Museum. This group was the original Israeli underground, working during WWII to try to help Jews escape Europe and also working first with the English against the Arabs in Palestine and then against both the English and the Arabs. It was thanks to them that Israel won the war of independence. It is an amazing museum -- entirely multi-media with some exhibits and films (we had English translations to listen to). It was very moving and inspiring.

The bus made a stop at the hotel before heading to the next stop, which was a walking tour along Rothschild Blvd. As Mike and I spent three days walking along there and seeing the same sights, we got off. And finally success -- Mike was able to rent a kayak and paddle in the Mediterranean.

We had dinner at an outdoor restaurant just south of our hotel, next to the Tel Aviv marina. It was very pleasant. Later in the evening, a friend of the family who lived in Englewood for a few years, came by. Over cups of tea, we chatted and caught up on the doings of his family and ours. Jeff originally came to Israel to work as a lawyer. He decided that he wanted to be a rabbi and came to the US to go to JTS. He now still works as a lawyer but has founded a small conservative congregation that has grown to about 70 families in three years.

We finished packing in preparation for moving on tomorrow.

Day five photos

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