Monday, June 30, 2008
(Referring to my comment that the Hareidi boys going down the stairs looked like waddling penguins)
Your penguin comment is offensive.
Okay. Whatever. I don't see what's offensive about it, and since you didn't say, I can't respond.
BTW, "Haredi" is the preferred term, not "ultra" orthodox. It is a misconception to believe that they are one in the same.Please help to educate your fellow Jews, and not denigrate others.
I did use the term Hareidi. However, many Planet Israel readers are not in tune with the Israeli-religious Hebrew lingo that those of us here live in are swimming in, so I had to use the term "Ultra-Orthodox," which is the universally accepted language used in the mainstream media. The fact is, I could be offended about the word "Ultra," since it implies that Hareidim are more stringent in their mitzvah observance than other Orthodox Jews. I could also be offended by the term "Orthodox," since this is a label invented by later breakaway sects of Jews for what used to be known simply as "Judaism," in order to legitimize their own, divergent beliefs, as being just another shade or "stream" of Judaism. But when someone calls me an "Orthodox" Jew, I just smile and nod. Not every conversation has to be a battle.
You're not one of those American Jews who sees Haredim as "The Other," are you?
Well, in some sense I do. After all, the whole point of wearing the clothing of 18th century Eastern European Gentile nobility is to set one's self apart from society, to make one's self the "other." I would think they might be offended were I not to consider them to be "The Other," after all that effort. I saw those kids slogging through the underbrush, pushing their way through thorns and branches, while wearing three-piece suits, and thought, "Gosh, that's odd. It must be hot under there. It must take a lot of work to dress like that all the time." After all, there is something a bit, well, "otherly," seeing people in three-piece-suits and Borsalino hats out in the bush. I admire the effort and hardship they must go through, though I personally consider it a bit misplaced.
And I don't know what the connection between being an American Jew and seeing Haredim as "The Other" is. After all, most Israeli Jews are very hostile to Haredim. Most American Jews, at least the ones I know, are pretty accepting.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The cave was discovered in 1974, blasted open during a quarry. It's about an acre and a half of fantastical, bizarre rock formations formed over the ages.
Looks like brains.
These tendrils of stone actually grew up, defying gravity. Scientists think that this may be caused by magnetic fields, but nobody is sure.
A stalactite and stalagmite reaching towards each other, almost touching. There's only a once centimeter gap, which will only take a few centuries to fill. They call it, "Romeo and Juliet."
Overall, I'd say the cave was spectacular, and would definitely recommend it for anyone in the Beit Shemesh region.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Here's a map of the route to the trailhead I made for the group for anyone interested in trying it on their own. The trail starts at Bar Behar (the bar on the mountain,) where you can pick up an ice cream for a good sugar rush.
The group gets started.
We hiked along the Sorek River (stream really,) which empties from Jerusalem down to the coast.
The Sorek Valley.
It is, in fact, the ruins of an Arab village abandoned in 1948. Some of the most intense fighting during the Independence War was slugged out in the hills between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the "Battle of the Roads," a struggle to keep the roads and supply lines open. Most of the Arab villages in this region were abandoned during the fighting, and today stand as ruin, although a few are still inhabited.
Continuing on, we passed over the Jerusalem-Beit Shemesh rail line.
Unfortunately, at this point, we had an injury, so I escorted our injured hiker to be picked up by the ranger while the rest of the group continued. We met up again at the cave, coming next!For some reason, this dog attached herself to the group at the beginning of the hike and started following us all the way through.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The back of Baruch's head, pushing through the underbrush.
Hiking down to the White Falls.
Unable to resist the temptation, I jumped in.
Later, we passed by a Hareidi (ultra-Orthodox boy's school) heading back towards the falls, in the direction we had come.
The Hareidi kids going down the steps looked like little waddling penguins from a distance.
And that's it from the Golan! Until next time, at least.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Golan Heights 1: On the Road Again
Golan Heights 2: Flowers in the Jordan Valley
Golan Heights 3: The Beit Shean Valley
Golan Heights 4: Up to the Heights
Home sweet home.
Hakey-Sack Warmups after a long bus ride.
We unloaded our stuff, then loaded right back onto the bus to go to the El Al river (no relation to Israel's national airline.)
The Golan is already approaching a Jewish majority, and the vast open spaces and green fields are just too sweet to give away. But there's also another reason. Many Israelis believe (incorrectly) that there is no biblical history on the Golan Heights. It's just nice land, without complications. The pulsating spirituality of the biblical birthplace of Judaism in Judea and Samaria, on the other hand, sends shivers down the spines of dedicated secularist Israelis. After all, the whole point of Zionism was to replace Judaism with secular nationalism. The deepest real claim Israel has to Judea and Samaria is biblical. To make that claim, many Israelis would have to confront the reality that they have failed to sever the connection with their Jewish past, that when they look in the mirror they may see an Israeli, but everyone else looks at them and sees a Jew.
As for me, seeking legitimacy and favor from the same community of nations who showed their true colors in the 1940's is a total waste of energy and time. I'm much happier just hiking and enjoying the scenery.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Brother Jonothan (remember his wedding?)
Jonathan recites one of the sheva brachot
The newlyweds Father and Father-in-law dancing
Yours truly reciting the final blessings over the meal