Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hibba X: Glorious Tel Aviv

Our last morning in Israel dawned bright and glorious, as befits any morning in Jerusalem. Following prayers in the lobby we had breakfast in the main ballroom of the hotel. It was there, and not in the hotel dining room, because there was an all-day seminar for some Jewish renewal group. We gladly gave them our room. I sure hope they appreciated it. Next we made our way to the Golan room and had a final session, where everyone got to talk about how much Israel meant to them. As you may or may not know, if there's one thing I can't stand, it's soppy, sentimental, maudlin, and bathetic speeches. You get the idea. After being exposed to thirty of these I decided that now was the time for action. Though I don't recall my exact phrasing (Where is my James Boswell!), it went something like this:

I really felt a tremendous connection to the land of Israel and the Jewish people (at this point people were rolling their eyes. If they don't like soppy shtuff either, why do they say it?) when I was eating Palestinian produce (at this point I got a great laugh, which made Aharon's look of disgust worth it).

I said some more shtuff, but unfortunately at this point I do not quite recall what it was. Be that as it may, we were soon on the highway to Kfar Chabad, the Rebbe's home in Israel. After stopping at 770 and taking some pictures we found out about the horrible terrorist attack which had taken place in Jaffa Street soon after we departed Yerushalayim. What can I say?
Still, life must go on. We went to the center of town and purchased provisions. I spurned the pizza shop and made my way to Gittel's Shack where I got a great sub, and an iced coffe, for just 22 Shekel. If I recall correctly, the sub had tuna, pickles, lettuce, and hot sauce.
Next up was the Azriely Mall in Tel Aviv. Throughout the many years of my existence I have been grateful to be a guy, which is one of the many reasons why I recite the blessing "Shelo Asani Isha" every morning without fail. This point was made forcefully to me while I was at this mall for about an 1.5 hours. Man, if you've nothing specific to buy, malls are as boring as heck. What do females do there for five hours at a shot? After wandering aimlessly for too long I simply sat on a bench and listened to one of the Boshurim on our trip play the Melodica. He played quite well, but I nevertheless wrote in my diary that I was "bored stiff". Fortunately we eventually escaped and made our way to Independence Hall, site of lots of Tel Aviv history.
Once in Independence Hall we watched a short video about the building and then it was time for the grand finale (of Independence Hall, anyway). We filed into the main hall and heard the story of Israel's declaration of independence. After that was done Hatikva was played, and most of us stood up. One guy didn't, and the guide at the hall screamed at him, which made sense I guess. Not that I'm a big believer in the State of Israel or anything, but when you visit their shrine, it's nice to respect local customs. Following this we Davened Mincha in the video room, which was probably the first time anyone has Davened there in a long time.
After this exciting and patriotic time we wound our way to King George Street and the market there. This was much better than the mall, chiefly because we got these great mini pizzas in the only Kosher bakery in miles. They cost only 10 Shekel. What a steal! I also bought some potato knishes for the flight back; they weren't as good as the Jerusalem ones, though that may have been because they weren't fresh out of the oven. While wandering through the Shuk Eliezer, Zalmen (of the unspellable last name) and I encountered some Arab merchants and had a nice conversation.
And then our time in Israel was up. A bit depressing, I guess. We got to the airport about five hours before the flight, but between this and that we managed to pass the time. Fortunately I got a better seat, for which I was quite grateful. Security struck me as being quite asinine. First they look at your checked bags, but not your carry-on, and then you get your boarding pass and hand in your checked bags to be, what else, checked in. After that they do the regular inspection of your carry-on. My thoughts? If you're a terrorist, you can just transfer the bomb or whatever from your carry-on to your checked bag once you get that through security. With the American system, you don't get your checked bag back after it goes through security, which makes a lot more sense. Anyway, thank G-d that no plane has gone down, so I guess they must be doing something right.
Once I got to the gate I waited for a while, and then made my way to the terminal's Shul. There's a Chabad booth, staffed by a Lubavitcher, and then there's also a Meshichist (I assume) room with a video of the Rebbe playing full time and free drinks, which I certainly appreciated. Next to that is the Shul, where I davened Maariv with great fervor, or so I'd like to imagine.
The plane ride was pretty good; I managed to sleep for most of it. We landed early in the morning, and then it was onto Crown Heights.

And that, my friend, in ten easy installments, was Israel. I am, of course, quite grateful to Taglit/Birthright for the opportunity to see my homeland. Tomorrow I hope to renew my regularly scheduled programming here on the TRS blog, live from Litchfield, Connecticut.

8 comments:

Nemo said...

I've been to Litchfield ... not quite Israel, but nu ...

This Aharon guy seems to have been really pissed off the whole time.

The Real Shliach said...

Well, not pissed off, but annoyed that he couldn't give us the full experience do our our continual tardiness.

Cheerio said...

hey i'm a girl, and i don't get the whole "let's go hang out at the mall" thing, either. shopping? awesome! being at the mall for,as you put it, no specific reason - boredom!
unfortunately, that was the default "fun" activity for every shabbaton i went on in high school!

Anonymous said...

wowwaweewa!!

The Real Shliach said...

Really? Dislike wasting precious life in mall? A disturbing thought that one so young should value life so highly.

Nemo said...

People watching is always fun ...

Cheerio said...

true, but i don't think you get very many really interesting people to watch in the mall. they're all zombied out by the consumerism surrounding them.

The Real Shliach said...

Are you assailing consumerism? What else keeps mankind's economy afloat? If not for Bochurim buying clothes at Abercrombie And Fitch, American Eagle, Gap, Old Navy, American Apparel, Banana Republic, Express, H&M, and the thirteen million other places Bochurim (well, they're really girls, aren't they?) shop, this country would go down the tubes. Oh, it is already? Never mind then.