Shabbat Shalom Everybody!
This is my first official post from the homeland, the land of Israel, the land of the Jews, of milk and honey (but never milk and meat), of falafel, schwarma, hummus, and Shabbat. My apologies for the undue delay, but my bright idea of only bringing a netbook turned out to be quite a bit dimmer than expected. Anyway, we’re only about 10 days behind, and you can expect semi-regular, similarly post-dated updates for the rest of the trip, as time and internet should prove much more available in Turkey and Greece.
The 9.5 hour, early morning EL AL flight was delayed due to “tainted fuel” at Ben Gurion airport, but eventually we managed a smooth liftoff. Seat arrangements were difficult as Chasidim continually moved around the females in our Taglit group to avoid physical contact with them. By far the most interesting, though, was nearly 2 hours from Israel when, without warning or conversation, all the Chasidim arose for their morning prayer, donning tefilin and either praying privately in their seats or gathering in larger areas around the plane for roup dovining sessions.
Upon arrival in Israel we made our way to the Machanayim Kibbutz for rest. Noticeable all over the country were the large amount of Israeli flags, flying from buildings, businesses, and houses everywhere. Though this phenomenon might be attributable to the approaching Israeli Independence Day, it is immediately clear that there is a strong sense of national pride here. One can be sure this is in no small part due to the fact that most of the citizens have served in the IDF. It is decidedly due to their constant efforts that this nation still exists.
Stay tuned. More about the soldiers, national holidays, sites and celebrations to come.