Batya "The Toon" (batyatoon) wrote,
Batya "The Toon"

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What I Did On My Vacation to Israel

by B. Wittenberg, age 35 1/2

a list in four parts

1. En Route
  • was not subjected to the backscatter-or-gropedown security measure, thankfully
  • failed to sleep on the plane
  • watched all but the first 1/3 of Salt
  • changed planes in Madrid, with a two-hour transfer time
  • discovered that I do not know how to say "I cannot remove my hat for religious reasons" in Spanish; was fortunately saved by an understanding security person
  • lost 7 hours owing to the curvature of the planet

2. In Ramat Beit Shemesh
  • hugged my brother and sister-in-law and nephews and nieces a lot
  • was alternately attached to and eyed at a shy distance by youngest niece
  • visited an Israeli mikvah for the first time in my life
  • began reacquainting myself with Israeli produce (oh, Israeli tomatoes, how I have missed you)
  • re-met my oldest nephew, age 13, whose bar mitzvah was the entire purpose of the trip; discovered that he is, in fact, made of awesome and win
  • danced at the bar mitzvah party Thursday night; saw my mother dance too, which was lovely
  • was unable to avoid political discussion with my brother; sigh
  • also had lots of fun non-political conversation with my brother; yay
  • also got to talk to family members and friends of family that I haven't seen in ages; more yay!
  • heard my oldest nephew read his Torah portion flawlessly and deliver a very thoughtful speech about it
  • told lots of clean jokes with my younger nephew and nieces
  • watched stars from our rented apartment's balcony
  • ate the best pizza in the country on said balcony with family
  • discovered that a lot of the hedges around the neighborhood are rosemary; was sadly unable to bring any home

3. In Yerushalayim
  • spent about half the time not recognizing the place because it's been twenty frakking years and a whole lot of new stuff has been built; felt heart leap repeatedly at recognizing places that haven't changed
  • visited the Kotel haMaaravi, prayed, and left a note for God; saw hundreds of fellow Jews and others doing the same
  • wandered the Rova; saw the Cardo, the increasingly inaccurately named Hurva Synagogue (which was still a ruin the last time I was there), and the Machon Mikdash
  • ate Israeli street food (falafel one day and shwarma another)
  • shared some of said shwarma with a very friendly stray cat of the Old City, one of dozens I saw (and even more I didn't) but the only one I interacted with; taught youngest nieces that a cat should always be petted head to tail, and that after petting a stray cat one must always wash one's hands very thoroughly
  • bought a pomegranate the size of my two fists in the Old City, unbelievably juicy and sweet
  • rode the #17 Egged bus around town
  • visited the Israel Museum in the company of kimpire, nightface, and Shear (if you have an LJ name I don't know it! this should be fixed!), and spent an afternoon hanging out with the latter two
  • hung out in the Midrechov; tried espresso with ice cream in it; bought earrings
  • had dinner with cousins in the Mamilla mall
  • went by our old apartment from when I lived in Jerusalem as a young teenager; discovered that one side of the building looks exactly the same and the other side is completely unrecognizable
  • visited the Mahane Yehuda Shuk (open-air market); saw pomegranates the size of footballs and pineapples the size of baseballs and mutant eggplants and dragonfruit and gigantic slabs of halvah; bought a cup of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice
  • did the underground tour of the City of David archaeological dig; discovered that my nieces and nephews have unbelievable reserves of energy

4. Going Home
  • woke up at 2:00 am to get to the airport by 3:15 am for a 6:00 am flight oh god
  • discovered that the bust of Ben Gurion at the eponymous international airport looks a lot like an Oan
  • was interviewed by El Al security, who remind me why I hate the TSA; this is how you do rigorous security, guys
  • slept on the plane a lot
  • watched Toy Story 3; cried in all the usual spots
  • changed planes in Barcelona; had Sondheim song running through head for hours
  • gained 7 hours owing to the curvature of the planet
  • discovered on arrival in New York that our luggage was still in Barcelona; have since recovered it
  • came home and slept the sleep of the longest day ever

All in all: a week wasn't anything like long enough. I want to go back.
Tags: family, judaism, links, love, observing the world, serious, squee, travel
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