I arrived in Israel after some minor drama at the airport (I didn’t have a return flight confirming my eventual exit from Israel). But I made it onto the flight landed in Ben Gurion Airport and then found a shared taxi to Jerusalem. My cultural experience began in the shared taxi. The driver won’t leave until every seat is filled and that can depend on flight arrival patterns. So we ended up waiting over an hour and people were angry. Though I’m quite accustomed to the arguing of Jews so I wasn’t that bothered.
I was luckily the second to be dropped off. At the moment I’m staying in French Hill on Mt. Scopus with a friend of a friend. Where I’m staying is actually east of the Green Line.
I spent the last day and a half buying batteries, a cell phone, plug adapters, and maps but then last night attended an amazing gathering in Almog, right outside of Jericho.
I somehow figured out how to take the bus to the Central Bus Station and then found the bus to Almog. The Central Bus Station is interesting in and of itself. It’s filled with such a diversity of people- soldiers, students, Arabs, Orthodox Jews, etc. I took a few pictures. I’m still getting used to the presence of large guns so freely in the streets.
From the balcony of the apartment. On a clear day you can see Jordan.
Two soldiers in the Central Bus Station
An Ultra-Orthodox family waiting for their bus to arrive
Little Orthodox boy waiting for the bus
Soldier without his uniform
The gathering was incredible. Almog is accessible by both Israelis and Palestinians so both came together at an Eco village (a sustainable living camp) for a night of music, food, dance, and sharing circles. There was a lot of holding hands, looking for peace within out hearts, and sharing our experiences and desires for change. Everyone was so welcoming, the called me the “international girl” and I met so many different people, both Israeli and Palestinian.
Sleeping IDF soldier
The Sulha gathering in Almog
Music at the Sulha gathering
Singing together about peace
Another musical performance
(Unfortunately the gathering was outside during the night, so the lack of light greatly limited my ability to photograph the event.)
I was lucky enough to participate in the women’s circle and made a lot of connections. For example, I was invited to come stay amongst a house of Palestinian women (and one American who has married into the family) in Jericho. Another woman told us about losing her brother because of a soldier invasion in Bethlehem. I also met a South African Jewish woman who started yoga classes for Palestinian women.
I will continue to seek out women’s circles as they are full of interesting women who want to share their stories.
Dancing in the light of the fire