Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Helpful Israelis: Travel Diary 2/12/2020


Israel Diary for Wednesday, 2/12/2020. A visit to the holy city of Zefat (Safed or Tzfat). Image
The pilgrimage to the graves of the holy rabbis and mystics was really important to me. I prayed for our country there, for the victims, for @POTUS @realDonaldTrumpand his family. For me and my loved ones. For my Twitter family. For those who asked here.
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This is the structure where you stand. Men and women separate as Orthodox people practice. It is very solemn. Last time I was here was 30 years ago. Image
The graves look like this. People put stones on the graves when they visit. It's like flowers. Our custom is stones. Image
Exterior of what looks like a portable Army structure. It says "Be the change you want to see in the world." Image
The area is incredibly plain. This is not Disneyland. You have to work hard to find everything. It's mainly about asking a million people and using the "epp" (app) — Moovit. Image
We ducked into a small grocery store due to my violent motion sickness. Image
613 is the number of commandments in the Torah. Here, a snack from Elite named 01613. Everything communicates. Image
The bus to get here is the Nateev Express. Don't bother trying to figure this out until you get here.

Top of photo, sign "Na na Nachman" - there is a lot of Breslover fervor here. (18th c mystic/hasid Rabbi Nachman of Breslov). Image
There are no photos of me being violently motion sick, obviously. It started after the rest stop. Just before we got there. The ascent was incredibly steep and the roads twist and twist and twist. The driver drives REALLY fast. Image
The driver was an Arab and he was talking loudly In Arabic as my Jewish neighbor prayed, not loudly but audibly. Image
Interestingly when I jumped off the bus to puke the first time, we had stopped in the very mystical town of Merton. The yeshiva men headed off. The driver, who spoke no English, offered me paper towels and water.
When I almost jumped off the second time a religious Jewish lady was trying to comfort me.
In between the puking and the almost jumping I was crying and shaking because this area is very holy. As I approached it was overwhelming.
It's funny in America you are paranoid about your belongings but here in Israel with an Arab driver I felt safe jumping off and puking. I stuck my hand out. I knew he would wait and not drive off.
Finally (we were almost there) I did just jump off. I couldn't take one more minute. Thus began a walking route that looked something like this. My Hebrew is not great. Image
The last part of the journey became like that movie Harold and Kumar except we weren't high and we were nauseous. It was fun to be with my kid. What should have taken 20 minutes took...hours. 
We got lost. Saw more stuff. Image
Interesting Kabbalistic art. The tree, the DNA looking thing, the hand and the heart. I am so traumatized from the research I get triggered by the hand-heart stuff. Image
On the way, passing Herzliya (sort of like Virginia off of 495) saw tons of big name companies on the sides of buildings - from the bus. Image
Had to go to the very religious town of B'nei Brak first. My father's side of the family is from there. I loved it. Image
Bus stop totally confusing. Image
You would think very religious people wouldn't talk to a woman in pants but this was not true. I asked for directions and got nonstop help. Israelis are tough on the exterior but the most helpful people. (They can't stop helping - ie they also butt in!) Image
I find that you get more help when asking in public though. Then you become an object to be helped, which is good. Image
Israelis also like to publicly discuss how to help you. They debate it. "Are you walking to the Old City? You can't do that.""Yes she can." It's fabulous.
When we got back I took a little walk. Here is a dog dejected that I won't stop talking to him. "Hello dog, can I take your picture?"

He barked and then gave up. Image
There are never too many coffee shops and Israel has coffee everywhere, in every store and separately. Cofix and Aroma are the big ones. Image
Israel also is the land of the confusing billboard. The religious neighborhoods have billboards with overlapping signs because people cover each other's signs. Image
Did I share this already? Many charity boxes. Image
Lots of alleys in Israel. Mysterious. Image
Mom pushing a baby stroller now seems revolutionary to me. Image
With all the ordinariness, it's hard to believe the nonstop discussion about Israel...the attacks seem like the same thing as what they do to President Trump.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Opinions are the author's own. Public domain.