Another day in Fareides

One of the first things I noticed about Israel is that almost every sunset here is a million bucks sunset. In the northeast in the States, we have some pretty awesome sunsets, but they’re a treat. Here it’s like every SINGLE day the sunset and sunrise are absolutely gorgeous. Not complaining.

This sunset was brought to you by Habonim beach, close to the Arab town of “Fareides,” which — yes — stems from the old Persian, Greek, French, and maybe Hebrew and Arabic words that sound something like “Paradise.”

Backing up to where I left off…

I was able to spend the holiday of Sukkot with my cousins David, Yael and their kids on Yael’s family’s kibbutz in the south of Israel. To get there, I took a bus to the Tel Aviv bus station and then another bus to the kibbutz. People had told me beforehand that the Tel Aviv bus station is ... something else ... and I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant until I arrived.

The whole place — to me — felt like Hogwarts in a Chinese Las Vegas. There were a million staircases leading to different platforms on different floors, and no seemingly logical way to get from one place to the other. The building itself, along with all of the vendors, felt distinctly Chinese. And then the tattoo parlor and the night (strip?) club… what the hell?!

And then onward to Yael’s kibbutz…

The weather was perfect when I arrived, and so we hung out outside and the kids played in their lil pool.

thank you Congregation Netzar Torah Yeshua for pic of the lulav and etrog

That night, David stayed up with me to talk about the holiday, Judaism, and our theories of humanity, and in the morning I went to the kibbutz synagogue with David, Yael and the kids. Sukkot is my favorite Jewish holiday — I love being outside in the sukkah (outdoor shelter). Watching all the men (and a couple women — you go girls!) at the service shake the lulav and etrog was totally unexpected and made the service pretty interesting for me. At the reform synagogue in South Burlington, only the rabbi was armed with the lulav and etrog and the kids just got to pass it around for fun.

We had lunch with David’s Israeli family at the kibbutz, some of the people who made David feel at home when he was a new immigrant in Israel. The amount of food at that lunch — wow! People know how to feast for the holidays. The family was v nice and welcoming, and it was nice to get a glimpse of David’s first couple of years after immigrating.

The next day, we headed out to drive north for a tiyul (lil trip) before David’s family went up to the Golan Heights on holiday. We went to a stream in Megido, pretty close to the city of Afula, and took a walk around the surrounding fields and in the woods.

We had lunch, and Nadav had some ice cream…

… and they dropped me back off in Nazareth Illit.

The following Friday was Hanna’s — a Nazareth fellow’s — birthday, so I took the bus to the town of Ramat Yishai to meet them at the bar, since the bar scene in Nazareth/Nazareth Illit isn’t so lively.

The place that we went to was really low key, exactly my kind of scene. Some tables, couches… a nice space for hanging out and talking.

… until 12pm…

It was a fun night with friends, and also just amusing that this is how some kids of the North spend their Friday nights on the reg.

The following day, the Nazareth fellows met up with fellows from Tel Aviv who were travelling over the holidays. We showed them around Nazareth, and of course (couldn’t not) hit up our favorite dessert place.

I tried the “basbousa,” an Arab sweet cake made of semolina and coconut with a pistachio topping. Wow.

And the following day, Matt and I took the bus to Afula on a mission to find sandals. We checked out a store recommended by my uncle, as well as all of the other sandal stores on that street. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be that day.

The trip was more than worth it when I ordered a small frozen yogurt and was allowed INFINITE toppings (between layers of froyo) and hot fudge.

The following weekend, Matt and I decided to go camping. After some serious research, I found that Habonim beach was still open for camping, had basic facilities, and was free to people who walk in (although it warned online that it’s difficult to “walk in”). We decided to go for it.

To get to the site, we took two buses that got us as far as Habonim Junction, and then were able to hitch a ride with a nice lady from Thailand (I was more than thrilled) to Moshav Habonim (community).

The directions online told us to follow the signs in the moshav to the park and campsite, but we either didn’t see the directions or they were in Hebrew and we couldn’t understand them. I called the campsite for further instructions and spoke with someone who was very annoyed with my apparent stupidity and directed me to walk back away from the moshav and find the train station. We decided to not follow her instructions and just walk to the beach, which was lucky because I’m pretty sure if we had followed her directions we would have been lost for at least another couple hours. After trekking down a long driveway to the beach, we finally arrived and were told to set up our tent anywhere on the beach. Cool!

We dropped our stuff, pitched the tent, and then walked around to check out the area.

Not too shabby…

We alternated that day between going on walks and swimming…

Sunset was v nice and we sat with a neighboring family around their campfire at night.

The next morning, we went on a long hike on the trails of the nature reserve…

…swam, read, and took walks…

… and finally packed up to come back to Nazareth Illit. We hitched a ride again on the way out with some older Russian ladies living in Haifa who conveniently were heading to Fareidis (where we needed to catch the bus) to do some food shopping.

We had about an hour before our bus when we reached Fareidis, so we went to a hummus restaurant and ordered a bowl to split. The hummus came, as did a ton of extras that we didn’t order — some falafel, and then basbousa (the cake from heaven) and coffee after. We’ll be back to this place for sure…

It was a relaxing and fun weekend, but of course it couldn’t be purely so… at work at the NGO the following Monday, I told the staff about my weekend and they told me that what is now beautiful Habonim beach was the Palestinian fishing village of Tantura before 1948. The village was attacked during the 1948 war at night, and many of its residents fled to Fareidis. From what I can find online, there’s a debate among scholars about whether citizens in the town were “massacred” or killed in high numbers that night, but the sources I’m reading agree that the residents were ultimately expelled from their town. One woman, from Los Angeles, is currently filming a documentary called “The Road to Tantura” about the hometown of her family: http://www.roadtotantura.com/.

The good, the bad, and the ugly — personally I think it’s important to acknowledge all of it, and I’m shocked (is it really benefiting anyone?) that many Jewish Israelis don’t. Would it kill them to put up a plaque or some form of acknowledgment at Habonim beach about the town that once stood there?

This week has been pretty normal, albeit I’ve had low-level but constant nausea with regards to the election (3 days away — oh my god). I’m just waiting for things either to settle down after a Hillary win or for Apocalypse Now.

Last week, the grounds manager (who keeps me full of delicious food) was out of school harvesting olives on his farm. But he came back on Monday with fresh olive oil from his farm, zatar and kaek bi semsem (the sweet sesame bread rings). Yum.

We had a pedagogical meeting this past Thursday evening, where we talked about using stories in the classroom. We polished off the same evening with some ice cream.

I was very engaged with the session.

Otherwise, just the normal things — Josh playing the guitar as he watches over the soup pot, cooking things, and being in awe of the awesome teaching tools that the teachers at my school cook up…

I’ll leave you with this Pulitzer prize-winning (oh wait, it didn’t win the prize?!) book that serves both as a conversation starter and coaster. You’re welcome and xoxo.