OJC Israel Experience Day 8: Lessons from the Edge

People say that life is lived on the edge here in Israel. Today we learned to specific examples of living on the edge.
We were welcomed into an example of a traditional tent for Bedouin hospitality (and of course The requisite camel rides) in order to experience something about this proud people who live on the edge of Israeli society.
Zalman, our guide, taught us about the complexity of the situation: How does a traditionally nomadic people manage in a land of boundaries and governmentally established cities and towns? How does one generation pass on ancient tradition to the next generation that desires to be part of modern society? How is one people citizens and soldiers yet outsiders, tent-dwellers yet also students in university, shepherds but also hopelessly unemployed? We enjoyed coffee and baklava even as we came to understand the precariousness of Bedouin culture in the Middle East.

We visited Kibbutz Alumim along the Gaza border and learned about life on the edge: of the boundary of the state of Israel, of the socialist tradition of kibbutzim, of living a religious life as kibbutzniks, and of the potential for a normal life despite the threat of tunnels and missiles from neighboring Gaza.
Yes, it was an intense day. But we also laughed a lot, starting out with Zeke’s masterful joke telling on the bus, the kids’ coaxing all of us into participating in a mannequin challenge (if you don’t know what that is, ask a 12-year-old!) and continuing through our hilarious escapades atop camels.
As for me personally, I had to say goodbye to Josh who returned to base this afternoon, but rejoiced in the opportunity to light candles with Sarah and Sagi in their new apartment in Tel Aviv.

I have so much gratitude to my fellow travelers on this pilgrimage in the land of Israel. We are experiencing a week beyond all expectations.
Thinking of everyone on night four of Hanukkah from the shore of the Mediterranean sea,
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill

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