Day 1: Arriving in Israel
Whew, chile….I’m in Israel! Visiting the Holy Land has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember. Now that I’m here, I hate I waited so long.
We left Memphis at 5 p.m. August 5, and arrived in Tel Aviv around 4 p.m. August 6. Our flight was….interesting. We had a plane full of Orthodox Jews from New York who were heading to Israel for their Birthright trip; which is a trip designed to “ensure the vibrant future of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities and connection with Israel.”
No matter race, color or religion, all teens are the same. They were up and down the entire flight; sometimes praying, but mostly just hanging out with their friends. The hanging out part is what was interesting -- they pretty much ignored all calls to sit down, stay out of the aisles or buckle their safety belts. We were a little more than 10 minutes late taking off because of it. While it was nice to be able to observe prayer rituals, their defiance toward the flight attendants was a little frustrating to watch. And...it was hard to sleep without getting bumped into. AND, they trashed the plane. One of my teammates said that while the experience was annoying, she looked at it through the lens of religion. Let me tell you something -- that was not religion. That was teenage testosterone, lol.
We didn’t do much on Tuesday other than get settled into our hostel and head to dinner. We’re staying at Jerusalem Hills Inn in Abu Ghosh; roughly 20 minutes from Jerusalem. The accommodations are nice and there are fruit trees EVERYWHERE. Grapes, limes, plums pomegranate. We’re allowed to take small portions as long as we don’t go overboard. I haven’t had fresh grapes off the vine since I was a little girl. Pomegranate, we learned, has a very special significance in Israel. Not only is it a symbol of fertility, the amount of seeds in each fruit -- 613 -- also represents the amount of oral laws in Judaism. It’s used and displayed at fall festivals in the Holy Land.
Overall, we had a great first day. It was nice to have some downtime before we dive into serving. EAUX: Stray cats are a thing here. Our guide said there’s roughly 100 per block in Jerusalem.