A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Israel Chronicles #6

click here for more on my trip to Israel

The alarm clock went off at 630am and about 7 of us put on swimsuits and took a dip in the Sea of Galilee. We tried, though none of us was able to walk on water! This is one of my fave pics of me on the trip:

OMG, I know!! (ed note: remember, sometimes I'm pretty comfortable with myself. Sometimes)

After breakfast we took a great walk through the Tel Dan Nature Preserve...

Next, we went to visit the site where in 1997 73 Israeli soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash. There’s a beautiful memorial to these kids (KIDS!!!) and we were escorted by the commander who was in charge of those troops. Later, he took us on ATVs through the Golan and around the border of Lebanon. We saw the area where in 2006 the Israelis and Lebanese engaged in a war. It was actually pretty awesome to see the land that was helped by our donations when the Jewish Federation set up the Emergency Israel Fund to raise money for these refugees. It's one thing for a solicitor to describe the region and the people who will benefit from your donations, but it's really quite another to actually see the land for yourself, to speak with someone whose families were among the refugees. Perspective, people. Perspective.
Whatever. The ATVs were pretty fun.

We visited an Army base at the Lebanese border...

Took a trip to Safed (Tzfat), one of the four holy cities in the Jewish faith. A very spiritual area, and home to an amazing man we met named Avraham Lowenthal. Some of us on the trip might never be the same after spending a little time with him. He grew up here in Southfield, but began his journey to spirituality through Kabbalah and moved here. He is absolutely mind-blowing amazing. Not sure if I've ever seen anyone so blissed out. Seems like the kind of guy who took way too much acid, but he is the happiest person I've ever seen. Fun and funny to see the reaction of others in the group to this guy who is so out there, but in such a beautiful way.
He spent some time explaining the basic ideas behind Kabbalah as a means of reaching enlightenment. Each struggle is a means of reaching a new level of enlightenment; rather than resent our struggles, we could embrace them as a means of reaching acceptance, and thus enlightenment. As someone who feels like I've had enough struggles and I can't reason out the WHY for the struggles, this is hard to hear. Once I wiped away my tears (yes, I was emotionally overwhelmed) I asked him if he thought that the harder the struggle, the larger the enlightenment. Yes, the more difficult struggle means we've reached a place where we can handle it and are more ready for the next level of enlightenment. UGH

You'd think that was busy enough, but we actually went horseback riding later that afternoon. Most of us had fun. I didn't like it. Like, really didn't like it. I feel so uncomf with the idea of these animals being used only for the pleasure of asshole tourists. We went on a trail in the woods, on what seemed like a cliff. I couldn't bring myself to kick the horse per the rancher's instructions. Then I saw the knees of the horse in front of mine buckle a little and I was so done. I do look kinda cute on my horse, Grace, though.

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