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Sam-I-Am Violin on the streets, fundamentalist Judaism, planting organic vegetables, and the like.

Numbers (Bamidbar)

ISRAEL | Friday, 1 February 2008 | Views [667] | Comments [1]

Maybe I took too many pictures. It's hard to resist.

Maybe I took too many pictures. It's hard to resist.

I don't know how, but this trip seems to be turning out exactly as planned, even though it wasn't planned at all. I guess I wanted to generally stumble upon new things, to marvel at and to learn from, and that is what is happening.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I went to spend Shabbat at this sheep farm/potential work locale. Turns out there are lots of sheep, and also a family with 9 kids living in a teensy house by the farm, on the edge of the desert. I love staying in a kids's room, with bunk beds and stickers on the wall. I've never spent time with a family this large, and in such tight quarters. Suffice to say, it was a circus, in a good way. As far as sheep are concerned: I fed them. They smelled bad, and bleated complaints whenever I came near. I'd never been so close to sheep before. It was pretty cool. I could be a shepherd. Naturally, I'm still undecided, but I don't have to make a decision for a couple weeks.

The real point of this, though. On the suggestion of a friend, and a post-Shabbat whim, I skirted down to Mitzpeh Ramon, rumored to have some big crater worth seeing. I read about a 'hostel' with tents under the desert sky instead of rooms, and it sounded good. The owner volunteered to pick me up when I called him from the bus, and we drove out of the town itself, into the legit desert. There are private tents here, but the homy atmosphere and gas heater in the group tent sealed the deal. I'm talking oriental carpets partially covering the stony desert floor, mattresses and couches, candles for the evening, and a kitchen in the corner. No electricity, mind you. It's off-season for tourism, so it was quiet. Real quiet. Turned out there would be 4 of us in the tent though: Guy, who volunteer-runs the joint, a Yemenite-Israeli; Yuri, a Ukrainian-Israeli; Leon Yithak, from Britain; and me. This tent-hostel seems to attract only the right kind of people for the place; we got along swell. I desperately wanted to hike into the crater that on first sight proved to every bit as epic as advertised (still a 2nd-rate Grand Canyon, but then that's not so bad), but the weather was no good, so I was limited. But for the first time since I left Boston, I had a home that was actually comfortable, that I wanted to stay in. So we'd sit around chopping wood, I would play the violin, Guy would make soup for lunch, I'd write in my journal listening to Billie Holiday's 'God Bless the Child', we'd play Israeli card games, and in the evening we'd sit around the fire and talk Hebrew, which was really the best means of communication. Kind of like in my Hebrew linguistic history book, where Jews were coming from all over the world in the 1900s to Israel, and Hebrew was often the only way to communicate with one another. 

So anyways; it's all so simple sometimes.

Today it snowed in the desert, among other places. I took this opportunity to go into the crater in the worst, or best, possible conditions, with Yuri, and as with the Grand Canyon: words fail (check the pictures). Ashreinu (We are fortunate). So, I left tonight, bound for holy Jerusalem once more, having had another unforeseen beautiful week, and being challenged by yet another alternative life philosophy; for while the Yeshiva described man as having two souls, an animal soul to be stifled, and a human, or Godly, soul to be nourished, the people I met while in a tent in the desert were living naturally, simply, primitively, animal-ly. I guess if I go looking for new challenges, I'm going to have my world-view, my society, well, challenged. It's hard to come across implicit denouncements of where I come from. But it's also wonderful to explore the corners of the world. 

Tags: The Great Outdoors



I'm hanging on to every word about your exciting adventures. The photos are fabulous.
A few of my favorites are: a/your "tent home"on the farm; b/snow,rain, and the rainbow; c/snow in the desert; d/Dome of the Rock (when I went to Jerusalem, we were able to tour inside this Muslim holy site); e/cat rodents; f/shopping alleys; g/using a laptop in the Beit Midrash; h/chasidic dancing (men only); i/Damascus Gate; j/Arab section of Jerusalem.
When you return home you will have compiled an amazing memoir. Although you have always been my rennaisance grandson I don't remember that writing was one of your many interests and skills.
Keep writing.
Luv, Grandma

  Grandma Feb 6, 2008 6:47 AM

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