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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Hello From the Holy Land

It’s going well with my son on his special spring break to Israel. With both Passover and Easter hot on our heels, this is prime time to be in the land: go into the shuk (outdoor market) and you’ll see everything from Passover Plates to Crowns of Thorns (see if airport security will rummage through your bag with that one– ouch!). Israel will always be a destination of choice for our family: it’s safe, it’s special, and it’s spiritual.

Not necessarily in that order, but close enough.

Here, we try to speak non-stop Hebrew, and I try to be playful, rather than inflicting non-stop pain upon my son. The Ben Yehuda Experiment is fairly successful after a few days in the country. But the benefits of being in Israel far outweigh whatever educational merit I may try to squeeze from every spare second.

“Lighten up,” as Benedetto would say.

Where else can we hike up the mountain fortress of Masada, swim in the nearby oasis springs of Ein Gedi, pause inside an historic church or synagogue, walk the paths of the Patriarchs? For my son, he knows it’s the Promised Land because he can play a set or two of tennis at the local club, and then grab a felafel downtown.

Being in such a rarified atmosphere raises the deep questions of life: if a felafel is all-vegetarian, but deep-fried, can it still be considered healthy? Dark chocolate is currently said to be healthy. Are eggs still on the bad list? What about shwarma, or kubbeh, or shakshouka?

There’s always so much news of the unusual variety here, for instance, Gazans digging tunnels into Israel. I heard for so long that the Palestinians wanted their own state, and now all they can think of is how to infiltrate Israel. Like, make up your minds, already.

A camel on the Mount of Olives has been recalled for not being up to date on his shots. No more tourist photos with furry face in the foreground and the Old City in the background, until his owner takes care of business.

The postcards are all fascinating here– you have bathing beauties with Dead Sea mud all over, soldiers praying at the Western Wall, an aerial view of one site or another, and a flower growing out of the crack in a stone wall.

While the above are artistic, I would like to nominate the double-long, accordion-style city buses designed to take up a whole city block, or maybe the security agent bag checkers who rifle through your purse or pockets every time you enter the post office, a cafe, or the supermarket. Of course there is the contingent of cats who live in garbage dumpsters throughout Jerusalem, where, when you throw your family’s trash bag in, about five or six cats come flying out at you, always good for an early-morning heart attack. But I suppose most tourists buying postcards can’t really relate to riding city buses, throwing their trash out, or going to the supermarket.

And that’s a shame, because even a trip to the grocery store can be a trip.

“Do you have any weapons?” the elderly security guard smiles and asks Petya in Hebrew.

“Not today,” I answer on his behalf, laughing, as the gentleman squeezes our bags like a kilo of Jaffa oranges.

Give me an achaeological element any day for a picture-perfect postcard view: a Corinthian column close-up, or a mosaic floor. Israel, herself, is a mixed-bag mosaic, with something for everyone, whether fun in the sun, diamond dealers, Biblical scholars, or travel adventurers seeking fitness. The country is old and new, religious and not, with an interesting twist around every corner.

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    I was wondering when you were going to be there. I thought of you when I heard the news earlier this week. My dad went to Israel shortly after my oldest was born (24 years ago). I never thought I would like to go there thinking I would be disappointed that things would not be as I pictured them in my mind. But the way you describe it, I could thoroughly enjoy the present-day Israel just fine! Have a wonderful week!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks Phyllis, Everything changes and at the same time nothing changes. That’s what makes this land so enthralling. One never leaves disappointed. There is just enough modern change to keep us comfortable mixed with enough scenes and images of bygone ages to keep us fascinated. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. Maybe you can say “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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