Blog

Chag Sameach! The Order of Freedom

April 10, 2014 by

Add Comment

wine

How do we celebrate our freedoms?

How can organization liberate?

If you were to design a Freedom Festival for yourself, how would it look?

Our tradition is pretty clear about the connection between Freedom and Anarchy. Lest we get carried away, our key ritual to commemorate the escape from Egyptian slavery is called The Night of Order – Seder Night.

As we approach Pesach this year, it would seem that the forces of freedom and chaos threaten and entice us from all directions.

Some rejoice and others mourn the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as an attempt to establish a different form of order in the Middle East seems to have gone ‘pouf’…

North American educational establishments grapple with the demand for freedom of discourse about Israel, engaging energetically with different interpretations of unity and uniformity.

France and Hungary watch with concern as new-old forms of control and order raise their heads once more with the electoral successes of Le Pen and Jobbik.

And most importantly – who will spill the first glass of wine on that ever-white table-cloth?

These questions and many more follow us into the holiday period with depth and light, freedom and order.

Hag Sameach.

18 reasons to be excited in London

April 9, 2014 by

Add Comment

I’m very excited about London, these days.

Starting on 27th April there’s going to be a massive Israel festival leading up to Yom Ha’atzmaut on the night of May 5th.

It’s the JW3 inaugural Chag Ha’atzmaut, that we at Makom consulted on.

I think it’s just a fantastic program, and I’m going to spend the next 9 days explaining why.

 

 

 

As its title suggests, the festival deals with the Party and the Political – fun stuff and serious stuff, panels and lectures, performances and screenings. The festival has everything – live music and live parody; Brits discussing Israel and Israelis discussing Israel; films and art and theatre; amazing dance workshops and kids’ events.

What gets me most buzzed is that JW3 has made such a bold statement: That Israel is important to them – important enough to relate to Israel’s dynamic complexity as an honest adventure that has room for celebration and for deep questioning.

First up tomorrow: Hallelujah! With Live Performance by Kobi Oz, and the film Precious Life.

Finally Dan!

April 9, 2014 by

Add Comment

“Nava and Yoella’s Great Hike – “Shvil Israel”

We write to you hairy, muscular, and exhausted from our end destination of Kibbutz Dan (pronounced “done” not “dayn”). Last night, we were sitting around a campfire on a farm outside of Ramot Naftali enjoying some fire-roasted veggies and chestnuts (not as simple as the Christmas jingle — our chestnuts came out black ash) when Nava had the idea, “Why don’t we just finish the trail tomorrow instead of taking two days?” This meant instead of having a relaxing end to the trip, we would be cramming it all into a 36 kilometer day. “Sure,” Yoella answered. And that was that.

We awoke at the break of dawn (even earlier since apparently the roosters who were bunking with us like to set there alarm way, way before sunrise.) After 12 hours of hiking, we made it. Limping and smelly, but we made it.

We expected it to be a challenge to get back to hiking after Purim since Purim in Israel is a huge affair. We celebrated the whole weekend and Shushan Purim making the whole ordeal a four day event; it took our bodies a little getting used to getting back to the trail

כקק

Nava danced as a clown in the Tzur Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Yoella stole from the rich and gave to the poor with her Peter Panny disguise.

 

After getting back on the trail, we tackled Mount Tavor, swam our way across the Kinneret (the Sea of Gallilee), climbed up to Tiberias, and carried our load in four days from Tiberias all the way past Kiryat Shmona to the finish line at KIBBUTZ DAN!

Being so close to the end gave us crazy motivation to complete the hike. On Monday this week, we were hiking from Tiberias to Kderim but because of school groups ahead of us and friendly tourists along the way, we did not make it as far as we planned. We were stuck in Nachal Amud so we climbed up a hill from the rocky, narrow riverbed and set up camp.

We shut our eyes to the sound of jackals howling (can be confused with the sound of high school girls squealing over JB). This left us with the issue of getting food and water, usually something that we take care of the night before the hike. We were woken up by a local riding his horse. He asked us why we were sleeping in his fields and we apologized and said we were on the way out. We asked him for directions and he told us about a “shortcut” and gave us a bottle of water covered in horse-hair. So we took his instructions and found ourselves walking through shoulder high weeds for half an hour until we met back up with the trail. Still unclear whether he tricked us to punish us for sleeping on his land or whether he really was trying to help.

We got out of there soaking wet from morning dew and scrapped up with bugs crawling over us. We've never been so happy to see a trail marker!

Once making it out to the main road, we were too stubborn and motivated to stop by a store to load up on food and water, so we marched on hoping for miracles along the way. We had very little food, but at least our tehini bottle was full. Nava must have created a very high connection with the heavens since behold, we came across the miracle we were looking for. Not one, not two, but ten juicy (borderline rotten) grapefruits were left abandoned for us along the trail. That day we had grapefruit tehini sandwiches, it was great.

We don’t normally we eat off the ground; we usually eat like queens. You may be familiar with the term, don’t go into a grocery store hungry; yeah, well we do that everyday. Since starting the trail, we have become more and more generous with treating ourselves as we go along. We used to finish a tehini every two weeks and now we finish a bottle in two days.

Beer and ice cream is a form of payment for Yoella’s psychological services for Nava. After hours of listening to Nava’s repetitive jabber about Jewish idenity and life plans, Yoella is paid with half a liter of Goldstar (the best beer in Israel). This week, Yoella got double pay because Nava exceeded the allotted period of time with boy drama. A few weeks ago, we met two boys hiking and Yoella immediately determined that one of them was destined to be Nava’s b’sheret. All is going as planned and wedding invitations will be posted soon. Nava agreed that if they get married, their children will be named after their favorite stops along the trail. She also agreed that since Yoella pushed this whole thing to evolve that SHE GETS TO BE THE FLOWER GIRL IN THE WEDDING (Yoella wanted this to be recorded just in case Nava goes back on her word).

Spending three months doing the same strenuous, physical hike is not simple (as many that have joined us have realized for themselves). We have had to be very creative to think of ways to occupy our minds so that it would not turn into mush mush most of our prized possessions along the Shvil. So here are a few examples that we suggest you try at home, with strangers on a bus, or head out for The Israel Hiking Trail yourself and see how thought-consuming these games really can be!

1. The Story Game: A word is chosen (ie. button, pink, pajamas) and the chosen participant must share the first personal story that happened to them involving the word. It does not have to be as clear of a connection as you would expect, but the word must be used at least once throughout the story.

2. Think The Same Thing: This is a two-player game. Count to three and both players say a random thing that comes to their mind (ie. coasters, landing on the moon, etc.) Then the players take both the said words and interpret what they have in common. Repeat counting to three and then say the connection between both words (ie. protection, oxygen). Continue counting and saying the new word until both players arrive at the same connection.

3. Beatles Marathon:  Each player belts every Beatles song that they ever knew. When passing a fellow hiker in the other direction, ask them for help to list any other songs you may have missed. Once completed, look up online a list of all the songs you missed and then player 1 makes player 2 guess all the titles. Proceed then to belt these songs as well.

After walking 1,000 kilometers, finishing at least 30 containers of tehini, losing multiple hats, and making tons of new friends all over Israel, we are finally done. Our last hour was definitely the hardest of the entire trail. Feeling so close, but still so far is an excruciating feeling. We went through all of our body parts labeling what hurts and how much. We passed the time by calling some of our favorite new friends along the hike to let them know we were finishing, shout out to Daniel, Eli, Lison, and Shelly!

So thank you for being a part of our journey, it was a pleasure to entertain you. We hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences, now go out and make your own!

photo 2Yoella and Nava

The Pew-rim Report – assimilation in Shushan

March 11, 2014 by

Add Comment

graph

The results of the in-depth research into Jewish norms in Shushan recently released by the Pew Foundation (The Pew-rim Report) reveal worrying signs of growing assimilation, affecting the future of the Jewish People in Persia’s empire.

It would seem that while levels of “Pride in being Jewish” are at an all-time high, leading even to refusals to bow down to government officials, intermarriage is by no means frowned upon. Indeed the role model of a certain Esther, whose Uncle encouraged her (noch!) to marry the non-Jewish King, has been inspiring beautiful young Jewesses around the empire to follow in her footsteps.

What is more, since the Pew-rim Report (sometimes nick-named the Scroll of Esther, so prominent a role does said maiden take in their research) makes no mention of the children of King and his Jewish wife, we are led to assume they were not brought up as Jews.

European commentators insist the more worrying aspects of the report are in its indicators of rising anti-semitism (referred to as “Hamanism” in the report), while American interpreters are split as to the seriousness of the Esther example. Some cry “Gevalt!”, while others reach for a beer.

We at Makom can only comment that such a painful study of assimilation and anti-semitism is clearly of no educational value, and the Jewish People will no doubt aim to forget it was ever published…

 

Becoming a Beach Bum

March 10, 2014 by

Add Comment

“Nava and Yoella’s Great Hike – “Shvil Israel”

This week, we walked from one of the holiest cities in the world, Jerusalem, to a city that the both of us avoid, Tel Aviv. From Tel Aviv we walked north along the shores of the Mediterranean.

20140302-063214.jpg

Finally getting to the Kotel!

Hiking Highways

You know you are in a city, when you pass a huge sculpture of this friendly face. Free bag goes to whoever knows what junk food this behbeh represents.

So we spent our last week weaving through beach bums, jelly fish and main highways, how’s that for a change of scenery?

On Friday, we were joined by a special individual who had been in the army with Nava, Gideon. He rushed us the whole morning and told us we had to get to Neve Shalom for a surprise. Upon arriving, we learned that Neve Shalom is a community consisting of both Arabs and Jews who live together happily. As we walked through the town to reach “the surprise”, we noticed the family names written on the houses, some in Arabic and some in Hebrew. Finally we made it to Gideon’s special surprise. We entered a garden with a sign on the front gate written in Hebrew, Arabic and English “The Spiritual Center”. We walked down a narrow staircase surrounded by forest. Upon our descent we spotted isolated benches in the forest. On each bench sat a person in meditation. This place is known to host meditation and self reflection sessions for the locals of the area.

20140302-063646.jpg

In the middle of the forest sat a white dome. Gideon explained that the dome is uniquely designed to amplify every sound to the point where a pin dropping makes a noise as loud as a bird’s chirp. The dome is used for meditation sessions and yoga as a way to keep people silent and aware of every movement for even the smallest movements make a noise. Despite its name “the silent room” the amplifying affect makes a great room for a concert. As we entered the silent dome, instead of sitting in silence, we got lost in the music of two girls who sat and played guitar. Nava had fun afterwords screaming to herself in the dome, feeling her voice as if she was screening into her own ears.

Eli, our trashman tour guide

As we passed through the Ayalon valley, we were approached by a man picking trash. He asked us if we knew where we were walking. We knew the general direction, but that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He sat us down gave us the history of the area in a quick 10 minute session. He began with the story from Yehushua, when god stopped the sun from setting and we won the battle. He continued on to the Maccabee revolt, the conquest of the Crusaders, all the way to the ’48 war when we broke the siege on the road to Jerusalem. It was 2000 years of history in a single spot.

Zohar, our insider connect to Lod

We have made it a point on Shvil Yisrael to get to know the harder neighborhoods of Israel and the initiatives taken to develop those areas. We stopped in Lod, one of the most problematic cities in Israel and we were given a private insider tour by our Shvil Angel, Zohar. Lod is known for the high crime rate, drug trafficking, but most of all the silent war going on between the Arab and Jewish population. There is a large Arab community in the center of the city and more and more groups of Jews are moving into the city to increase the Jewish demographics of the town. Zohar is one of these idealistic Jews who feels that he is the modern day Zionist by settling his family in Lod. We visited a university student village established by the movement Ayalim. Ayalim works at building student villages in underprivileged neighborhoods in order for the students to help develop the area. Here is a little bit about Ayalim’s Lod project: http://ayalim.org.il/en/the-lod-project/

After two months of hiking, Nava's toes are starting to feel the kilometers. Thank you Yoella for sacrificing fabric from your shirt to make piggy-blankets for Nava's toes. That is true friendship and ahavat yisrael.

On our way to Tel Aviv, we walked through the jungle-looking path along the Yarkon River.

20140302-064937.jpg

It had been raining so our path became a little bit more challenging than we expected.

20140302-065225.jpg

Nava wanted to stay in the jungle in fear of having to enter Tel Aviv society.

Had a special treat when Yoella's father landed in Israel. He works for the Jewish National Fund and came on a work trip to visit JNF sponsored sites (many of which we have passed or will be passing on Shvil Israel).

The rest of the week, we spent barefoot, walking the shores of Tel Aviv. Walking past old men playing matkot, girls tanning, and surfers surfing while we were shleping our hiking bags. Let’s just say I don’t think people were staring at us to check out our beach bods. Nava convinced an Israeli beach bum that she met at the Kotel to join us for a few hours. Originally, he agreed to join old if he could drive along side us on his 4×4 but in the end joined us by foot. Yoella asked for the history of the beach but instead he gave us the insider scoop about prostitutes that sit by the beach and wait for cars to come pick them up. While he was explaining, someone actually drove up and we saw it in action!

Idan, our Tel Aviv guide teaching us about prostitute beaches. Now say that with an Israeli accent.

Helped this hippy beach bum clean up trash in his backyard and he invited us back to his "pirate ship" for some beers and a Shachta. QUIZ QUESTION: What is a shachta? Whoever sends in the answer first will get a free shachta!

One of the many jellyfish we pased while walking along the beach. Stay clear, we’re not sure if he’s still alive!

unnamed (8)

unnamed (3)

Thi

This week, we walked from one of the holiest cities in the world, Jerusalem, to a city that the both of us avoid, Tel Aviv. From Tel Aviv we walked north along the shores of the Mediterranean.

Finally getting to the Kotel!

Hiking Highways

You know you are in a city, when you pass a huge sculpture of this friendly face. Free bag goes to whoever knows what junk food this behbeh represents.

So we spent our last week weaving through beach bums, jelly fish and main highways, how’s that for a change of scenery?

On Friday, we were joined by a special individual who had been in the army with Nava, Gideon. He rushed us the whole morning and told us we had to get to Neve Shalom for a surprise. Upon arriving, we learned that Neve Shalom is a community consisting of both Arabs and Jews who live together happily. As we walked through the town to reach “the surprise”, we noticed the family names written on the houses, some in Arabic and some in Hebrew. Finally we made it to Gideon’s special surprise. We entered a garden with a sign on the front gate written in Hebrew, Arabic and English “The Spiritual Center”. We walked down a narrow staircase surrounded by forest. Upon our descent we spotted isolated benches in the forest. On each bench sat a person in meditation. This place is known to host meditation and self reflection sessions for the locals of the area.

20140302-063646.jpg

In the middle of the forest sat a white dome. Gideon explained that the dome is uniquely designed to amplify every sound to the point where a pin dropping makes a noise as loud as a bird’s chirp. The dome is used for meditation sessions and yoga as a way to keep people silent and aware of every movement for even the smallest movements make a noise. Despite its name “the silent room” the amplifying affect makes a great room for a concert. As we entered the silent dome, instead of sitting in silence, we got lost in the music of two girls who sat and played guitar. Nava had fun afterwords screaming to herself in the dome, feeling her voice as if she was screening into her own ears.

Eli, our trashman tour guide

As we passed through the Ayalon valley, we were approached by a man picking trash. He asked us if we knew where we were walking. We knew the general direction, but that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He sat us down gave us the history of the area in a quick 10 minute session. He began with the story from Yehushua, when god stopped the sun from setting and we won the battle. He continued on to the Maccabee revolt, the conquest of the Crusaders, all the way to the ’48 war when we broke the siege on the road to Jerusalem. It was 2000 years of history in a single spot.

Zohar, our insider connect to Lod

We have made it a point on Shvil Yisrael to get to know the harder neighborhoods of Israel and the initiatives taken to develop those areas. We stopped in Lod, one of the most problematic cities in Israel and we were given a private insider tour by our Shvil Angel, Zohar. Lod is known for the high crime rate, drug trafficking, but most of all the silent war going on between the Arab and Jewish population. There is a large Arab community in the center of the city and more and more groups of Jews are moving into the city to increase the Jewish demographics of the town. Zohar is one of these idealistic Jews who feels that he is the modern day Zionist by settling his family in Lod. We visited a university student village established by the movement Ayalim. Ayalim works at building student villages in underprivileged neighborhoods in order for the students to help develop the area. Here is a little bit about Ayalim’s Lod project: http://ayalim.org.il/en/the-lod-project/

After two months of hiking, Nava's toes are starting to feel the kilometers. Thank you Yoella for sacrificing fabric from your shirt to make piggy-blankets for Nava's toes. That is true friendship and ahavat yisrael.

On our way to Tel Aviv, we walked through the jungle-looking path along the Yarkon River.

20140302-064937.jpg

It had been raining so our path became a little bit more challenging than we expected.

20140302-065225.jpg

Nava wanted to stay in the jungle in fear of having to enter Tel Aviv society.

Had a special treat when Yoella's father landed in Israel. He works for the Jewish National Fund and came on a work trip to visit JNF sponsored sites (many of which we have passed or will be passing on Shvil Israel).

The rest of the week, we spent barefoot, walking the shores of Tel Aviv. Walking past old men playing matkot, girls tanning, and surfers surfing while we were shleping our hiking bags. Let’s just say I don’t think people were staring at us to check out our beach bods. Nava convinced an Israeli beach bum that she met at the Kotel to join us for a few hours. Originally, he agreed to join old if he could drive along side us on his 4×4 but in the end joined us by foot. Yoella asked for the history of the beach but instead he gave us the insider scoop about prostitutes that sit by the beach and wait for cars to come pick them up. While he was explaining, someone actually drove up and we saw it in action!

Idan, our Tel Aviv guide teaching us about prostitute beaches. Now say that with an Israeli accent.

Helped this hippy beach bum clean up trash in his backyard and he invited us back to his "pirate ship" for some beers and a Shachta. QUIZ QUESTION: What is a shachta? Whoever sends in the answer first will get a free shachta!

One of the many jellyfish we past while walking along the beach

unnamed (8)

unnamed (3)

This trip doesn’t stop evolving; it is continuously snowballing into something bigger than we anticipated. We have one more day of the salty, blue waters and soon we will be climbing up the foresty hills of the Carmel. We’ve enjoyed walking distances and climbing heights, but nothing beats sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tides roll away.

Yoyo & Nana

p,s, Here are some pics of us on the way to our next destination

1NavaSEa

1YoHill

s trip doesn’t stop evolving; it is continuously snowballing into something bigger than we anticipated. We have one more day of the salty, blue waters and soon we will be climbing up the foresty hills of the Carmel. We’ve enjoyed walking distances and climbing heights, but nothing beats sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tides roll away.

Yoyo & Nana

p,s, Here are some pics of us on the way to our next destination

1NavaSEa

1YoHill

Boker Tov Yerushalayim

February 19, 2014 by

Add Comment

“Nava and Yoella’s Great Hike – “Shvil Israel”

Shalom shalom friends and family!

I write to you from ztubah. So what is ztubah?
In order to really explain what it is, one would have to carry home a large stack of history books in order to cover all the time periods that have left a mark on this hill. Luckily, wiki can gather it all on one page.
So here we go. Ztubah is a hill located west of Jerusalem that was a Canaanite settlement in the time of David as recorded in Melachim. There are olive presses, agriculture terraces, wells and water systems here from the time of the first temple. Dug into the hill are ancient caves that were used by Jews living at the end of the second temple in order to hide from scary Romans during the Bar Kochbah revolt. It then became a settlement in the time of the Mishna known as Guy Tzuvim. The crusaders took over the hill and built a fortress which remains untill this day. Stone houses and wells are scattered around the hill which were abandoned by Arabs during the independence war.

And finally, in 1948 the Palmach conquered the hill and a kibbutz was established called Tzuba. The kibbutz grows apples, blows glass and has a chocolate factory. That is called geulah (redemption) my friends. Jews returning to their site and making chocolate.

So, I am sleeping on a hill full of stories and lives and years and changes. Every place that I rest, my foot embodies heritage of thousands of years.

Along my trek, I walked through the valley where David beat Goliath, I by mistake ate a plant that Reuben gave to Rachel for fertility, I jumped in a spring that was an ancient mikveh and I slept in an ancient cave that was once used as a hideout from Romans.

I am walking, eating, swimming, and sleeping the Tanach.

I think back to one of my favourite authors from the time of the early pioneers to Israel, A D Gordon, who said it well,
“We come to our Homeland in order to be planted in our natural soil from which we have been uprooted, to strike our roots deep into its life-giving substances, and to stretch out our branches in the sustaining and creating air and sunlight of the Homeland”.

I have been planted into my indigenous home where my history took place and I am continuing it. Bellow me are caves where they hid, beside me grow the fruits they ate, above me is the Gd that watched over them. In front of me is the city that they traveled to for two thousand years.

Everyday, I walk closer and closer to the city and now I am finally breathing the Jerusalem “mountain air clear like wine and the smell of pine…Jerusalem of gold”, as Naomi Shemer sang.

Tomorrow is the big climb to Jerusalem. I think about those who have done it before me. Abraham with Isaac; An Israelite and his family on Pessach walking up for the holiday sacrifice; A Jew from Ethiopia who has just been brought to Israel and has dreamt about seeing his city for his whole life; A tourist who comes to put a note in the wall.

And now me.
This week on the radio, they played the gospel soul song “By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion”

It’s been stuck in my head ever since. Poor weeping Boney M. She’s sitting down and missing out.

See you tomorrow Zion!

Sent from my iPhone

20140219-075257.jpg

Wake up and smell the flowers

February 16, 2014 by

Add Comment

“Nava and Yoella’s Great Hike – “Shvil Israel”

I don’t usually watch TV but I’m blaring it in order to drown out the sound of Nava throwing up. No she’s not pregnant and no we did not party last night and most importantly, we did not eat another unidentified plant which made her sick. Nava’s vegan tummy is too sensitive for our Moroccan hosts. Nava is sitting with me now feeling wheezy, regretting the super spicy (not actually) shakshuka that she ate in order not to offend our hosts. We arrived lunch time on Friday. Mazal, our hostess, opened the door and before asking us our names or where we were from, she said “sit” while pulling out the chairs to the kitchen table. Mazel is a true Moroccan who shows affection through feeding people.

Nava in a field of kalaniot.

To Full Post

The L word and Israel

February 14, 2014 by

Add Comment

 loyalty

Image by Neil Mercer

I would like to talk about the L word.

Loyalty.

It is a word that went out of fashion many moons ago for many people, but it still lives in our relationships.  To Full Post

On the bus from Tzfat…

February 9, 2014 by

Add Comment

דנית

On the bus from Tzfat to Jerusalem there are mainly ultra-orthodox Haredi men and crying babies with side-curls. About a third of the population are Breslev girls in long skirts (anyone from outside Israel would probably just think they’re hippies), and then there are the outsiders who on any other bus in Israel would probably be the majority – soldiers.

 There are about 2 or 3 of those weirdos in olive green. Today, I was one of them. 

To Full Post

Hillel Open and Closed: 5 comments

February 9, 2014 by

Add Comment

Mahatma Gandhi once famously said: “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

It would seem that the gusts of wind currently swirling through the Hillel environment are throwing up a similar assumption and a similar question. The assumption is that Hillel is someone’s home which visitors are welcome to enrich but not to change. And there is a hanging question as to what might knock us off our feet?

A fascinating and healthy discourse has emerged over National Hillel’s guidelines for Israel programming on campus. We at Makom have been following the discourse with great interest. As key advisors to the Hillel-Jewish Agency Israel Engaged Campus initiative, as seasoned practitioners of complex dialogue on Israel throughout the Jewish community, and as consultants to Jewish organizations around the world on exactly the same issue of guidelines and red lines – we’ve noticed a few anomalies and a few opportunities. To Full Post

© Makom 2011 | Site by illuminea : web presence agency