In some ways I can hardly believe it, and in other ways I have been planning and hoping for this opportunity since I left slightly less than a year ago, but I am back in Israel. This time for 15 nights, and mostly on my own. This trip is not to plan for a study abroad trip, which might eventually happen, but to conduct research on co-existence projects, and to get a better sense of the challenges that are faced by those promoting the two state solution. I’ll write a lot about that, but today is just an intro.
The travel here was, as expected, exhausting. Peoria Charter to O’Hare. A couple hours waiting for a plane, a flight to New York, then 4 hours in JFK (I really am not a fan of that airport), before a full flight on Delta to Tel Aviv. Julie asked me when I got here, “how was the flight?” I guess it was about what you’d expect for a 9 hour and 50 minute flight. Did I sleep? Maybe, but not deeply. Anyway, I arrived here at 1pm, quickly cleared customs (amazing how easy it is to get in to Israel, once you’ve dealt with the hassle of flying here, but how hard it can be to get out!), got my bag, exchanged some money, and then took a “sherut” or shared taxi to the hostel in Jerusalem.
A hostel you say? Isn’t that for 20-something backpackers? Well, sure. But the Abraham Hostel has private rooms, a full bar, free breakfast, a kitchen that is always open, and its a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Tonight was Shabbat, and that means pretty much everything Jewish shuts down. The Hostel hosted a shabbat dinner, which employees and guests prepared. It was a feast, and about 50 people were present. We did the traditional shabbat prayers over the bread and wine, even sang “shabbat shalom.” It was a lot of fun.
I am running out of coherent thoughts, so this will be it for Day 1 of the journey. There is a LOT of really cool stuff to come. Tomorrow I will adjust to being here again, and go see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum.