The last couple days have been a completely different type of learning. After four days of hiking an average of about 20 km a day, and going cold turkey to lectures in a hot classroom was a fast change! Yesterday, May 17th we spent the day at a college. We had a day filled with listening to very motivating speakers. There were three main people we heard. The first woman told us about her life and how it had changed from growing up in the states and how she moved to Israel and the life changes she had here. The second was a translated (Hebrew to English) dialogue from an Israeli Arab who is working with his family and many other people to set up organizations to make changes towards peace and towards two peoples living in one area. In the afternoon we had a wonderful opportunity to have mifgash ( face to face dialogue) with Israeli students. We had many questions for each other concerning day to day life and opinions on things such as patriotism, army, and immigration. I think i can speak on behalf of the group that both groups ( us on the yella tour, and those students) came away from these conversations enriched and intrigued.
Now that yesterday is mostly covered we can move on to today's events. Today, Friday may 18, was a full day. It was full of events, locations, and most definitely full of emotions. Our day started off with of course, another wonderful breakfast, we are always very well fed. The bus picked us up and we drove from our kibbutz where we are staying to another one called, Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz. We all sat around in a circle in the centre of the memorial of the kibbutz, with many names from Holocaust survivors are written on stone. A man named Moshe, who is a professor, told us about how his family immigrated to israel, and the trials that his family had gone through in Poland. There are so many scars in history. He gave us insights in to how the Jewish identity is evolving since the war and how life in Israel is the way for their people. It was very interesting. We were able to ask questions on his perspectives on the past, present, and future. We asked about life on a kibbutz, about life changes for his family from Holocaust stories, and how their families are moving forward. I think we all left with more questions than answers.
We had a small interlude to spend a bit of time in Akko to grab some lunch ( which usually means a shawarma or felafal and some other tasty Arabic treats). This also gave our brains a small time to digest only a portion of what we had heard in the morning.
In the afternoon we were fortunate to listen to an Israeli couple and their trials of the conflict. They lost a daughter due to a suicide bomber who had attacked in Tel Aviv, 15 years ago. After their daughter's death they found many of her poems, journals and diary entries which all craved peace in the region. These entries have later been published into a book and their work has now turned to educate people in ways of peace for this region. They have also become very close with a Palestinian man who lost his brother to war. The couple and this man work together to create peace dialogues between Arabs and Jews in hopes of one day finding peace together.
Needless to say this brief description of what we did today does not even come close to all the feelings and questions that are multiplying in our thoughts. The more we learn, the more we realize we don't know and really don't understand. In an area of such complicated subjects we are now overwhelmed with this new knowledge and new questions we now have.
On a lighter note, this evening we had a wonderful time to go to a Druze restaurant for dinner. ( Druze, another religion in the area). It is funny, one of the reasons we went here for dinner is because today is Shabbat, so there are definitely no Jewish restaurants open. We had amazing food ( too much as per usual) but it included: hummos, lebneh, tahina, zatar and oil, druze bread, lamb, other meats, salad, stuff vine leaves, and then of course baklavah and arabic coffee for dessert. Then the owner of the restaurant played some traditional instruments, which were memorizing in the beautiful melodies.
Tomorrow we are going to have another quick switch to another perspective of the area, we will go to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. There we will stay with Arab host families and learn many more new things.
God Bless, Thank-you for your thoughts and prayers, and please continue in the prayer for peace for this ever conflicted region.