Shabbat began with some quick prayers and growling stomachs as we awaited another delicious meal at the Ohalo Manor. After we eagerly gulped our Kiddush rations of wine like we just had our Bar/Bat Mitzvahs (not enough to get drunk, of course), we tore into a variety of Israeli delicacies. While I was frustrated by the ongoing realization that meat is injected into most dishes here (being a Jewish vegetarian seems increasingly oxymoronic), I can’t stay mad in a country that has such an abundance of hummus, yogurt, and unidentified but tasty vegetable dishes. I have it on good authority too that the chicken was just as good as everything else offered. Rabs explained why he had to opt for some more Austrian Airlines kosher TV dinners (the meat has to be slaughtered with even more stringencies), and we all were glad that we had finally escaped the international traveller’s diet. Unfortunately, this was our last dinner here, but our ongoing luck with food seems to indicate only good things to come from Israeli menus.
Shabbat never felt so good as sleeping off jet lag on Saturday morning. Many of us missed breakfast, but the cleverer ones on our trip found a way to sleep in AND get more Ohalo Manor food. After waiting off a rain delay and a certain hotel room that took some liberties with showing up on time, we were ready to start our day of leisure. Eventually, we embarked on one of Ronen’s patented walking tours of the nearby Kibbutz. This entailed the startling realization that Ohalo Manor was actually situated on the same Kibbutz. Along with my failure to notice the very obvious lake right next to the hotel on the first night, I’m starting to think that I wouldn’t notice if we left Israel all together. We learned about Israeli water resources and continued our ongoing education of “things Israel is number one in the world at.” Water conservation is on the list, which is pretty cool for the more sustainability minded on the trip. We first visited the Kibbutz dairy, and many of us tried to feed the cows. I will spare the gorier details, but we got to smell and step on some exciting new things. The cows weren’t as thrilled as we were; mine wouldn’t eat out of my hand even after 5 minutes of intense eye contact and utter stillness. We visited the calfs as well, and some of us noticed a random peacock just wandering around. I think it, along with the cats and pigeons that roam around stores and the hotel, are all in an animal gang slowly taking over the country. At the Kibbutz proper, we spoke to some residents, including an awesome old man who was really psyched to talk to us (“Shalom Shalom Shalom, I go home!”). We learned about the privatization of Kibbutzes and the according proof that socialism doesn’t work. Sry Lenin. Nonetheless, Kibutzes are still a really unique form of living that has survived almost a century in Israel, and we got to see much of that first hand.
Back at the hotel, we had a great Q&A with Rabs that covered such topics as the future of Judaism, why Chabbad is sweet, the afterlife, and Crossfit. After all the wisdom, we needed to decompress a little, and we put on some brief skits about the differences between Israelis and Americans. Lesson learned: though we Jews are funny, we know little to nothing about Israeli stereotypes. I have to assume that most Israelis don’t go to Caribbean islands to ask about wrapping Tfillin, but its probably pretty safe to guess that we all would spend the whole time on vacation complaining about service. Oi Vey. We ended Shabbat with Havdalah, a fun ceremony of songs and scents. Apparently Zev did the same thing at his Bar Mitzvah, making it a nice call back for him (Mom, I know you are reading this, and I really think we missed a good chance to scare the gentile friends).
Immediately after, we headed to the bus to hit the town in Tiberius. Though we had to miss an Ohalo dinner, we were all excited at the prospect of Israeli beer (but not enough to get drunk, obviously) and this boardwalk that Ronen kept talking about. We all knew that all the cool kids hang out at boardwalks! We started at Big Ben, Ronen’s recommended pub, and most of us got dinner there. It was a delightful callback to American cuisine, complete with plenty of ketchup. We experienced the full extent of Israeli wines (their two options, red or white, are supposedly some of the most popular wine choices in the world). Hearing us discuss the relative “grimness” of our meals made me feel like we were all back at Dartmouth eating dining food! I particularly enjoyed the EDM music that seemed to be constantly increasing in volume. I would say it was the musical equivalent of the food. We also saw the Dartmouth Hillel group, who assured us that they had been having as much fun in Israel as us. Eventually, the more excitable amongst us (cough cough KDEs) turned Big Ben into a regular dance party, complete with a multi colored disco ball (the one that all my friends had at THEIR Bar Mitzvahs. Thanks a lot Mom). We turned an otherwise questionable dining experience into a pretty good time. Due to popular opinion, we left Tiberius 15 whole minutes early and returned back to Ohalo. We had one last night in American insularity before the soldiers joined us. We are now on the bus heading to the Golan Heights for some ATVing. I’m sorry if that last sentence was a little scary, Mom. Just focus on the eight active duty IDF, not the ATVs. Or the international geo-political conflict. Stay tuned for more news from the Holy Land!