Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Trip to Israel, part 3

DAY 3, Friday
(I don't remember, but I'm almost positive I actually wrote this up like Sunday night or even Monday...)
I woke up at 6, again. This morning we went to the Lebanese border, in Misgav Am. It is on a mountaintop overlooking Southern Lebanon. In the village closest to Israel, only Chezbollah terrorists or Chezbollah-funded institutions are there. Many houses are not used for living, but for arms warehouses and firing platforms. That's why no windows have glass- so they can shoot at us. We could see some UN buildings, sitting pleasantly on a hill in Lebanon across the fence, not really doing anything. At the moment, they have Indonesian troops. Actually, what they are doing now is removing Israeli mines in that area, making it easier for Chezbollah to come through if they try invading again. The people in Misgav Am, and Shaba Farms, and the nearby area, are not worried for their safety so much. The Chezbolah won't attack unless told to by their leader, who is backed by Iran. Iran's mission, according to a speaker there, is t o get to Saudi Arabia, and to do that, first they need to go through Israel.
We were given a fascinating speech by this older, Chevra-man who served in the army, and lived in Misgav Am. "I'm not a pacifist!" was the biggest understatement he said. He had us rolling with his blunt views on Lebanon and the Muslim's Global War to conquer all nations and submit them to Islam. He said that just two weeks ago, he pointed out a house to some tourists, where Chezbollah were firing rockets from earlier in the year. After a minute, 3 figures appeared on that rooftop, looking back at them! It is a tense area, but relatively safe since all the terrorists listen when told not to attack, unlike the PLO, etc. Still, I couldn't help but imagine how I should react incase we heard gunfire.
We then went rafting down the Jordan River, in Kfar Blum, which was fun and relaxing. We shouted out "shalom" and spoke with all the other boaters, as we passed. Of course, being chabadniks, we sang songs about Moshiach with the boaters, and had a farby on the river.
Then we stopped at a little mall in Chatzur. I think it was near Kiryat Shemona?
Then we went to Amuka, where Yonatan Ben Uziel is buried. They say it is a segula for a shidduch, to daven there. Upstairs, is a blue dome, which we heard rumors about walking around it 7 times... And all over, people had tied bags or strings or tichels, as segulos also. Even though there are signs from Rabannim that it isn't a segula and you shouldn't. We heard a story how a girl had taken a picture there, and that year got married. Later, with her new husband, they were going through pictures, and a guy in the pic that she took there was her husband!!! So we all had our cameras ready. Alas, there weren't too many elgible women. The one lady I did see that I managed to get in a picture, later we found her chatting with one of our Israeli tour guides!! Huh, huh!?!?!
There is a little picnic area down the hill, and a sign that says it's a picnic area looks like a matzevah. so we thought it would be funny if we got out siddurim and started shuckling near it, and put pebbles on top, but we didn't have time to do it.
Driving back to our motel for Shabbos, we passed the Kineret. The scenery here is absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous!
Oh. When we were up on the army base near Lebanon, we couldn't see the Mediteranian, since it was so cloudy. We'll probably be able to see it later, though. I hope.

My Trip To Israel, Part 2

DAY 2
(again, it's what I wrote down that night)
I woke up at 6:00 AM. Had about 2.5 - 3 hours of sleep. We davened, ate breakfast (with some other guests staying at our motel (we had no idea they'd be together with us for some parts of the day, like breakfast today, trust me)) and got onto the bus.
Today is: Golan Heights Day. There are 20,000 Jews in the Golan. I think either 20 or 40,000 goyim, and 40,000 cows!! There used to be 1 traffic light, but now there are none.
We went hiking down to the Gilabon and Devorah Waterfalls, near Kazrin. The hike was pretty intense. We did it for like 3 hours. I swam around in the Gilabon Waterfall. Pretty cool. We chilled out in a cave with bats halfway through the hike. It's good I had brought a 1.5 liter bottle of water, or else... Chas V'Shalom. We were all really tired and smelly and sweaty, when we finally left, to go eat lunch.
After lunch, we visited an old village of a Rabbi Bumi, and a shul where it's possible that the authors of the Talmud Yerushalmi lived and learned. Then we went to a woman's house, who lived in Elonei HaBashan, about a stone's throw (maybe for my governator, but not really for me) from the border with Syria. Her 17 year old son was murdered in a Yeshiva somewhere in Israel. He and 3 others were in the kitchen, when terrorists dressed as soldiers came in, armed to the teeth. One bochur had a gun, but used his 2 seconds instead to jump to the door which led to the dining room where 100 bochurim were enjoying their shabbos meal, to lock the door. All 4 bochurim were killed. This lady wrote a children's book to help teach how to cope with loss. She was inspired to write it from a dream where she saw exactly what to write....it was a little strange.
We then went to Eli Rom, where we watched in a movie theater a 24-minute documentary about the tank battle in the Golan during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and how the 77th Battalion of the 7th Brigade defeated the Syrians, even though the Syrians outnumbered them 5 to 1, and were better equipped and had better technology. All the footage and radio were authentic. It was quite moving.
Then we went to the top of Har Bental, where there used to be an army base. Normally it provides an incredible view of the Golan and Syria, but tonight we were literally inside a cloud.
I'm starting to feel a sense of beauty and love and appreciation for this incredible country. I"d write more about my feelings, but I'm way too tired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Trip To Israel, Part 1

(I'm typing up what I wrote down in Israel, throughout my trip. The first nights, I wrote immediately that night, but as the trip went on, it got harder. The last half, I wrote on the plane ride back. There is a lot I want to add, but here is my basic diary of what happened.)
Day One

It is about 1:00 AM. Israeli time. If I had slept any in the past 30-some hours (the on-again off-again naps in the airplane seat do not count!), I would be able to tell you what time it is in New York, or Cali. So you'll just have to do the math instead, 'cause I haven't slept.
I made it to the airport before the 9:00 PM-if-you-come-a-second-later-you-are-not-going-to-Israel deadline. I excitedly chatted with my friends who I hadn't seen in a few months.
We made it past security and to our gate, with about two hours left before boarding. Great.
Over 10 hours on a plane. Can life get any better? No matter which position I tried, I couldn't get into a good sleep. Every 10 minutes, for a bout 2 minutes, was what I had going for me.
It was cool to see the bochurim making minyanim, doing mivtzoim, and making themselves at home in the back of the plane, with the complimentary wines for L'chaims. It was very heimish.
When we arrived at Ben Gurion, I was so nervous and excited. ISRAEL!! ISRAEL!! I just kept repeating that as I made my way through Passport Control. Surprisingly, there was no Customs that we needed to go through. But we didn't complain. I got my Amigo phone (and the fanny pack) and plugged in some numbers. I waited with my luggage. I kept looking and staring around me.
We met our tour guides (is there an Israeli guide who can't play instruments?) and heard a bunch of rules from a few different Birthright representatives.
We got onto our bus, after Maariv in the airport shul, and drove from Tel Aviv, north to the Golan, to a place called Chispin, where we'll be headquartered for the next four days. Simple rooms, but clean. And I heard that the shower is good, so I better get going.
On the bus ride from the airport, Eliad our guide told us that all the green lights we saw to our right (going up K'vish Shesh) were for mosques.
There were lots of lights.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wow!!

I hope it's healthy to be extremely busy.
The first week of my shlichus was really hectic and stressful. We've got to give out jobs and assign tasks, and take care of so many little things, to get up and running, to turn this mesivta into one huge, awesome, chassidish machine.
It was just really crazy.
And something bad that came up is the fact that I don't have internet!!!
So I can't share my Israel pics with all the guys I went with.
I can't write to you about the amazing time I had in Israel.
I can't write to you about my shlichus.
I know, I know. Yossi, you're doing it right now. But you know what I mean.

By the way, it's an insult if a boy here said I have the voice of Pumba and the facial structure of an Oompa Loompa, right? I wasn't really sure how to respond when a boy I learn with told me what his friend thought of me.