On Friday, I returned to the beach, this time with my friend Lisa. We had great weather and an awesome time. The water was wild and I lost my sunglasses trying to ride a wave… slick. I also played matcot – paddle ball – on the beach with a man named Emanuel who was originally from Italy but had been in Israel from before the States independence in 1948. He was pretty good, but that can be expected of a man who has lived near the beach for so many years. Lisa and I also flew my kite but got in trouble with a guy in an orange shirt for flying the kite in a place where people were sitting – that put an end to our kiting session… and of course, we had Tim Tams and coffee… yum.
I left the beach Friday afternoon and took a bus back to Jerusalem where I met Rachel and Itay. We boarded a second bus, this one with bullet proof windows, and headed to our cousins in Efrat. Efrat is technically classified as a settlement since it is in the area that was captured in 1967 during the 6 Day War. The “settlement” has almost 10,000 people, and our cousins have been living there for over 15 years.
|A view from Efrat|
Efrat is situated on top of a mountain (everywhere around Jerusalem is mountainous), and the views from just about everywhere are very picturesque. Although it was only founded 30 years ago, the community has grown rapidly. My time in Efrat was very real – when we got to my cousins home, I saw my cousin Gilad who was on leave for the weekend from the army. Gilad is 18 and is a soldier in the army’s tank division. While I know in Israel that all males are drafted into the army at 18, it still has a strong impression on me when I speak to an 18 year old who is in the service. I recall when I was studying abroad in Israel, my cousin Nadav, Gilad’s older brother was in an infantry unit, learning to be a field medic.
When we go to synagogue on Friday evening for services, I had one of my first “whoa I’m in Israel” moments. I looked out the window overlooking the rolling mountains in the distance, closed my eyes and took it all in. it was a really special moment.
I don’t want to make this blog post too long, but I want to briefly elaborate further on how my time in Efrat was very real. My cousins neighbors have what is arguably the cutest dog alive. My sister, brother in law and I went over to play with it, and as we were petting it over the fence, their owners came home. We got to talking to the mom of the household. It turns out that her son was one of the students murdered 2 years ago in the attack on Mercaz HaRav, a yeshiva school. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercaz_HaRav_massacre Her son was 16 years old at the time. My cousin Rachel also told us that she had helped prepare food for the widow of one of the four Jews murdered in last week’s roadside shooting attack that I mentioned in my last post. It was stark to see how small and connected everyone here is – everyone is affected by the tragedies that happen here.