Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Sukkot on the Streets

I woke up this morning with not much to do. Actually, that's not true, there's plenty for me to do. But nothing of great urgency, and I don't want to spend the Sukkot festival sitting here at home. So I headed out.

You know it's Sukkot when the steak house builds a sukkah. And when the guy at the bus stop is carrying a lulav and etrog.

I headed downtown by bus (first time in months) since it's virtually impossible to find parking there, walked down Yaffo street. The bridge is finally complete, even though it will be years until the light rail, for which it is designed, is up and running on it.

I headed down to the Ichlu Reim soup kitchen. Volunteering there has been one of those things I've been meaning to do seemingly forever, but never got around to.

Of course, it's not really soup they're serving, but more hamburgers. And it's not in a kitchen, it's in a sukkah this time of hear, so really it's a burger sukkah, not a soup kitchen.

The Ichlu Reim Burger Sukkah

I spent several hours setting up chairs, washing dishes, hauling steam trays of food out to the sukkah, and generally making myself useful.
Yours truly with the chef

It was an interesting crowd that came by. Mostly impoverished Russians and religious. Even a few americans. The other guys working there told me that many of the English-speaking visitors are actually quite well-off, but they have no friends or family in Israel and come by just to have someone to talk to. Still, it was a very Israeli crowd, at least culturally, and the kvetching and demands never seemed to stop. Makes me grateful I'm relatively young, functionally bilingual, and have a profession. I don't know what I'd do if I were in their worn shoes.

Across the street, the Gush Katif Museum has recently opened, so I went over to check it out. The museum is designed to memorialize the destruction of the Gush Katif settlements in the Gaza region, destroyed by the Ariel Sharon government back in the summer of 2005.

The museum entrance

The museum is relatively small (it's a converted 3-bedroom apartment.) But it pack a punch, with paintings by local artists, photos from the "disengagement" (the name given to the operation to destroy the settlements,) and video footage of the event.

Photo of the protest during which protesters linked hands to form a continuous human chain from the Western Wall in Jerusalem to the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza.

A map of the region (Gush Katif settlements indicated in black)

Guided tours of th museum were provided by "expellees," those who had lived in the settlements at the time of their destruction. Unfortunately, the museum was so crowded that I couldn't get into any of the videos or see most of the exhibits. Maybe I'll come back once the holidays are over.

Packed video screening rooms showing raw footage of the evacuations.

Still, it was a sad thing to see.

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