Who would have thought that I’d get the reaction that I did to my initial blog Kokoda? With over 3500 people reading my blog over the course of the two months it was quite surprising really. I’ve had such an overwhelming number of you write and email encouraging me to keep writing so I’ve decided to continue with my blog, albeit shift gears a little and share with you some of my other adventures, so with your indulgence here goes. Enjoy!
|Zach at the foot of Masada - yep, we climbed it!|
The full on Israel experience starts from the moment you get in the line at the airport to pre-check in (yes, still in your own country and not quite in the actual check in line at this point). The El Al agent is extremely sweet, but with a series of questions that ends up feeling more like an interrogation that a check in, or should I say “pre-check in” cos we’re still nowhere near the actual check in counter just yet.
Ours went a little like this – May I see you boarding passes and passports…. Welcome Mr. & Mrs. Wallis. What is the purpose of your visit to Israel? (We’re going to Israel for our son’s Bar Mitzvah), wonderful – what congregation to you belong? (Oh, we don’t belong to a congregation) Perhaps you attend a synagogue on the high holidays? (No, not really) Well, which Hebrew school do your children attend? (Oh our children don’t attend Hebrew school), Well, then who taught your son in preparation for the Bar Mitzvah? (I did says my wife - Jodie) If you’re not part of a congregation, and your children don’t go to Hebrew school how did you know what to teach him? (I’m Jewish my wife says) Forty questions later, and a rather exasperated pre-check in complete we were now permitted to go to the actual check in. Now would be an appropriate time to use one of my favorite sayings – Oi vay mate!
It was particularly interesting for the non-religious Terence I can tell you; just to be in a country that is so united yet so divided within, to be so religious and yet not so all at the same time - full of contrasts and contradictions like nowhere I’ve ever been before. Israel reminds me of a warrior like chameleon (if there’s such a thing?) - Ready to take you out one minute with the attitude of an angry pit-bull, the next, a hyper sensitive “little old lady from Pasadena” (to borrow a line from the 1964 hit by Jan and Dean). Confusing to say the least!
Now don’t get me wrong, Israel of all countries needs to be vigilant and have tight security which they do in spades but it’s the contrasts and extremes that made me curious.
| Zach with Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem|
Each morning I’d read the Jerusalem Post just get a feel for the city, and each morning I was astounded to read about the local infighting within the local communities. In particular the one that caught my eye was the recent problem in the community of Beit Shemesh, you could feel the religious tension between the various Jewish secular groups griping the city. Strange isn’t it that in a country so uniformly set against the world that surrounds it, within there is such deep divisions. Perhaps that just the way Jerusalem is – ancient ground with ancient conflict in its bones.
|Tel Aviv's trendy inner city with its Bauhaus architecture|