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Birthright Israel: Mt. Arbel, Tzfat and New Perspectives

Dec 28, 2016

Today we were lucky enough to wake up to something other than rain. A good start to the day topped off with a small hike to the overlook of Mount Arbel. I was given the go pro for the day to document the journey of bus 1378 which I quickly learned that I have no idea how to operate such device. I tried to make a time lapse video of our trek up Mount Abrel only to realize that I wasn’t taking video but rather photos every four seconds. So while my photos of that hike might not capture the beauty of it all, I hope my words will do some justice. At the top of the lookout there was nothing but a single tree standing alone overlooking the Kinneret. I’m surprised that it seems so blue when all the rivers we pass that run into the sea are the color of melted milk chocolate.  As I learned yesterday is that this body of water is the largest fresh water body in the Middle East. For such a large watering pool there was not a single boat sailing or fishing that I could see, possibly because of the season.

Our next stop for the day was at the city of Tzfat. Its architecture was something unlike seen in the United States. Everything was made from a white/yellowish stone from the streets to the walls of the buildings. There were many stray cats roaming the city which I learned weren’t stray at all but were born on their own, lived on their own, and fended for their own. It was described to me that these cats were like the squirrels to America. They were just everywhere, great for a guy who doesn’t like cats. In the city we met with an artist who showed us his work and how he used the spirituality of Judaism in his work. They were so vibrant in color and carried such deep meaning and was honestly the best part of my day.

I am once again realizing that Americans need to pick up our language skills. By that I mean that everyone we meet here speaks two, if not three languages fluently and I realized the opportunities we miss out when we leave out language in our lives. The final and last stop for the day was to an Arab village, Makom Bagalil. There we meet with kids from the ages of 17-19 and would tell us about their lives and what it’s like being a Muslim living in a Jewish state.  These kids were great and so intelligent, opening my eyes to the fact that kids everywhere are all the same, and somewhere along the way we get lost, separated and suddenly turn into adults arguing and debating about things our past generations left behind. I learned that the Muslim religion only has two holidays one where they sacrifice an animal, preferably a sheep, said our girl because they are tasty to eat, and another holiday of cleansing where after a month of fasting they enjoy in a week of BBQs.

At the end of the day now I am so happy to have the Israeli soldiers for a full ten days. I am learning so much from them and they are such great people that I will never forget how brave they must be at an age no older than myself.  I learned about religion, culture and just how to have fun with these soldiers. Last night we played Cards Against Humanity with them which was funny, not only when we had to explain a card’s meaning but explain the dark humor Americans find funny.

Lasron Schluter
University of Oregon Class of 2019
Bend, OR

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