So, I have been incredibly lax with the updating. Sorry guys! That was combination of hebrew intenseness, alot of outtings, and a couple of nights of to much arak. I’m gonna break this down short, sweet, and simple.
Acre: Crusader City
So, I went to this place called Acre (pronounced: Akko). It is opposite Haifa on the bay. Acre was the main port for northern Israel for something like 3000 or 4000 years before the British developed Haifa into a deep water port in the 20th century. The city of Acre is interesting because the old city of Acre is one of the best examples of crusader architecture still standing. It is also pretty neat because people still live in some of the old crusader buildings. Also, if one knows what one is looking for once can very clearly see remnants of the the various civilizations that had control over Acre. In particular the Muslim and the Crusader influence. It was fascinating to see.
The only downside to this place was the fact that we went went on the rainiest and coldest day I have been privy too since coming to Israel. And we traipsed around in the rain and the cold for the entire day. This is going to sound awful but it is hard to notice the history of a place when one is trying to find shelter from driving winds and freezing rain.
Bottomline: I need to go back to Acre. I cannot say that I appreciate Acre as much as I could had I been dry and warm when I visited.
The Jewish Diaspora Museum
Honestly, I didn’t get the point of this. Well, I do but I am not its prime audience, so some significance was lost on me. The Jewish Diaspora Museum (aka Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People) is from what I can gather supposed to be a museum that demonstrates the significance of the Jewish diaspora for Jewish culture and a preservation of pieces of the culture. To tell you the truth my museum experience could have been a little more information rich. We had a tour guide who took us through the museum. Maybe it was because we were all Americans, but she didn’t really give us any new information. That is a feat in and of itself considering how little I know about Jewishness. Also, the exhibits didn’t have a lot of information in them. I guess part of this comes down to the simple fact that, being a non-Jew, I am not the main audience of this museum.
I think that is one of the hardest parts about being in this country. All though all of the Israelis I have met have been warm and welcoming I often feel like an outsider here by virtue of the fact that I am not Jewish. It is a very strange experience to be surrounded by people who are Americans, some of whom are like me and have never been to Israel, who by virtue of their religious identity are able to feel more at home than I am.
Ceasarea and the Napa Valley of Israel
Last weekend, we went to Ceasarea. That was cool I guess. Roman ruins, no matter where you are, all kind of look the same in my opinion. There are two very cool things about Ceasarea: the amphitheater and Herod’s Palace. The ampitheater is about half the size it was during the Roman times, however, it is still used for concerts today. How cool is that? In the same place that ancient Romans 2000 years ago used to go to watch plays, modern Israelis can come to watch modern artists perform! Seeing the remains of Herod’s Palace was cool because he was such a baller. Herod had an indoor fresh water pool in his house. A house who’s back porch looked over the Mediterranean Sea. So, Herod was able host pool parties with beautiful women and plentiful wine while listening to the sound of waves from the Meditteranean sea crashing against his back porch. Tell me that is not completely unreal and totally awesome.
After we were done at Ceasarea, we went to a town called Zikhron Ya’akov. I would describe this town as being a cross between Nantucket and the Napa Valley located in the heart of Northern Israel. It has all of the quaint and adorable shops that Nantucket has but has the wine industry like Napa. As a quirk from its history it has a lot of European architecture that makes it a very scenic little city. It was a great place to walk around and get some lunch. It has some great little boutiques and a really wonderful ice cream place. I would like to go back one day for a wine tasting. Also, I might be making this up but I think someone told me that this was the first place in Israel to have running water.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
There are a few last things I want the folks back home to know:
I am done with my Hebrew ulpan! I no longer have to sit in a classroom for 5 hours trying to learn me some Hebrew. It was great while it lasted and I achieved my goal of learning some basic Hebrew. But man, the 5 straight hours was killing me. (Also, the Sunday classes were not doing me any good.)
Because Ulpan is over, I start real school on Monday. Fun stuff: Arabic, Arab-Israeli Relations… It is going to be a good semester.