23 December 2006. Har Gilo.
Okay, okay. I know you’re all dying to hear from me, to get some smidgen of information. What’s going on? Is this person still alive? What’s she doing over there? Relax, relax. I’m still here. I’ve simply been neglecting my posting duties. My apologies.
Chanukah began last Friday night. Here, we marked the holiday by lighting the Chanukah menorah (see picture) and eating latkes (fried potato pancakes, like hashbrowns but better) and a lot of sufganiyot (Chanukah donuts, not your typical Dunkin’ Donuts-a-dollar-a-dozen-heart-attacks-in-disguise-cop-food-treats). Mom lovingly sent me a Chanukah package (complete with chocolate, Chanukah candles – as if I couldn’t get them here, and some of my favorite Trader Joe’s treats), and we had a weeklong break from ulpan (which I thought I would hate, but I didn’t). Aside from this, and a lot of sales in almost every direction you turn, Chanukah is a typical minor excuse-for-a-celebration Jewish holiday. Even if it is just an excuse for a celebration, you won’t hear me complaining, at least not about that.
Last weekend we took a trip to Haifa, a huge city on Israel’s northern coast. I loved Haifa – the sea, the lush surrounding area and the relaxed nature. Per previous posts, I reiterate my desire to not live in Jerusalem when I grow up. I do not want to live in the city, much less in one as tense and tinderbox-ish as J’lem. I say this with an ironic sneer and then a knowing chuckle, as I am moving INTO the city in less than three weeks. Without further vilifying my beloved city, we’ll just leave it at this: J’lem is a really nice place to visit.
So what was different about Haifa? For starters, Haifa is Israel’s quintessential red city. No, this isn’t referring to blood or any famous pomegranates Haifa may have (of which I am unaware), but to its history as the Jewish communist stronghold in Israel. Haifa is the haven of the leftists (with a lowercase ‘L’), peaceniks and those who are more interested in mutual Arab-Jewish cooperation and understanding than any political or religious ideology. We can say simply that, without knowing anything, the city feels more relaxed.
I took some nice pictures for you to see:
The view from my room in Haifa:
The view south from Rosh Haniqra, at the Lebanese border – beautiful, in a word. I want to live here;
The border itself (very very quiet, almost like the Oregon coast except for the patrolling gunboats):
Later in the day we took a trip up to the top of Mt. Carmel. “Bible History for 300“. What happened on Mt. Carmel? Oh, come on. You don’t know? I’ll give you a hint. His name rhymes with Pewieja, Meriegah and Frurierah. I found a picture of him, too, really old. Okay it’s not a picture, well it is…oh never mind:
Does anyone know? Oh, alright. I’ll tell you. This is where Elijah had the famous standoff with the prophets of Ba’al and slaughtered them all. (Find the story in 1 Kings 18:20 and following).
Here are some pictures from the top of Mt. Carmel. This valley is the Jezreel Valley, or the Valley of Megiddo, where some people think the battle of Armageddon will take place.
Regardless, it really is a beautiful area, lush, green and fertile to no end.
Well, that’s all for today. Ulpan starts again tomorrow. Yay! Lederhosen.