Two and a half years ago, I traveled to Israel for the first time and fell in love with this place. When people ask me what it is about Israel that draws me, I lack the words to describe the feeling of the country; it is an intricate and delicate balance of ancient and modern, a culture that draws from the past but is very much alive in the present. I could eat a bowl of hummus every day for the rest of my life, and would never get sick of wandering through the marketplaces with their towers of dried fruits and rainbow assortment of fresh produce.
I began my adventure in Israel this summer in Haifa, where I stayed with a family friend and her two daughters. It was my first time in a kosher kitchen, where everything that touches dairy products is kept separate from everything that touches meat products. The concept of having two complete sets of dishes kept in two different cabinets for meat and dairy meals is mind boggling to me, but was nonetheless extremely interesting to be immersed in. Sharona, the mother of the family, keeps Shabbat, meaning she uses the Sabbath as a true day of rest – no electronics, cooking, writing, driving, or any other task requiring some kind of exertion. While I’m not sure I could ever live this way, I think it’s wonderful to have a day to quiet the noise of the outside world and focus on family, friends, and taking care of ourselves, which we too often forget in the hectic exertion of our daily lives. Sharona spent the majority of Friday cooking, and by sundown there was a delicious spread of food on the table We said the Shabbat prayers together and enjoyed a wonderful evening – there is nothing more special in the Jewish tradition than sharing food and good company.
Tomorrow I leave Haifa to begin the dancing portion of my adventure on Kibbutz Ga’aton! I can’t wait to see what these next six weeks hold in store.