Israel Insights

Land Day in Jerusalem

DSCN2876 Land Day is an event held every March 30th that demonstrates what many see as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It originated as a yearly event after six protesters were killed by Israeli forces in 1976. This year Palestinian leaders and activists encouraged international protests today in order to bring awareness of what they deem inhumane and opressive treatment of the Palestinian people.

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Unexpected Stories

MenorahThe following quote from Aharon Appelfeld, a prominent Israeli writer who survived the Holocaust, powerfully sums up the relationship between the Holocaust and Israel. Appelfeld said, "The Holocaust is a central event in many people's lives, but it also has become a metaphor for our century. There cannot be an end to speaking and writing about it. Besides, in Israel, everyone carries a biography deep inside him."

It's very true. Everyone in Israel has a biography written inside them. Yohanan Friedmann, one of my professors at The Hebrew University, is a Holocaust survivor. He told us his story one day after class about how he had survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp as a child. This camp is famous because it was the only camp that the Nazis allowed the Red Cross to come in and examine.

For that one day, people were given new clothes and shop fronts were created and filled with all kinds of foods and goods. They even created a short film for the visiting members in which my professor had a small part, asking someone for another piece of chocolate. The Nazis successfully fooled the Red Cross into believing that life for the Jews in the camp were adequate.

After the Holocaust, my professor and his parents returned to their home in Slovakia and continued to live there until the Soviets took over. It was a surprise to me that they returned home after suffering so much. It surprised me even more when he said his parents had no inclination to immigrate to Israel until the Soviets would not allow their son the same education as the other children because he was Jewish. They immigrated to Israel in 1949, and today Friedmann is a highly distinguished scholar who has devoted his life to Islamic Studies. His quick-witted dry sense of humor and love for teaching has made him my favorite professor so far in my studies.

These biographies that are inside the people of Israel have created and shaped the nation, making it the most interesting and complex country I have ever visited. Some choose to share their stories with others; some do not. A common thread among the stories they are rarely what is expected and consistently surprising.

Moriah Lamb

Jerusalem Correspondent

The Crossover Project

Jerusalem Grouping

Jerusalem_Dome_of_RockMy life has been overwhelmed by graduate school. This semester I am taking a bit of a heavy course load, including ten hours a week of both Hebrew and Arabic along with four other classes. The classes have proven challenging, and I am learning a great deal about Iran, the late Ottoman Empire, foreign policy of Modern Turkey, and the history and theology of Islam. I am so blessed to have amazing professors who truly care for their students and wish to share as much knowledge as they can with us. I am soaking up as much as I can. I am so thankful to be here and able to learn about the region and most of all the people.

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Mahane Yehuda Market

Mahane_Yeshuda_MArketSmell the freshly baked bread, picked herbs, and spices; listen to the chatter of hundreds as they zigzag through the alleys; see Jerusalem come alive in the largest outdoor market in the city. Machane Yehuda Market is the perfect place for locals and tourists to experience everyday life of local Israelis while getting some great bargains on local produce.

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A Month of Feasting

  DSCN2075 In Judaism there are many feasts and celebrations throughout the year, and the fall season is filled with many holidays that make September and October interesting months. There is Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah all in a month's time.

   Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and is seen as a time to reflect on the previous year and celebrate the upcoming year. Some of the customs include blowing the shofar 100 times each day at the synagogue and eating apples and honey for a sweet year. This year everything was closed for Rosh Hashanah, which lasted three days because it fell right before Shabbat as well.

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Hiking in the Negev Desert

DSCN1853   "It's time to wake up; it's 5:33 a.m.; it's time to wake up, it's 5:33 a.m.," my cell phone alarm repeated until my hands scrambled to find it while my eyes remained closed. After I shut the alarm up, I realized I had exactly 27 minutes to get dressed, pack my bag, cook breakfast and meet my fellow graduate students to spend the day hiking in the Negev Desert.

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THE EFFECTS OF ARAB SPRING

KnessetAs the U.N. vote on a Palestinian state draws closer, Israel's neighbors seem to becoming increasingly belligerent toward Israel. The people of Israel struggle with social issues inside the country while waiting anxiously to see what the aftermath of the U.N. vote will look like.

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Yad Vashem

DSCN1773   Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, literally means "A place and a name". It comes from the scripture Isaiah 56:5 that reads, "Even to them I will give in My house and within my walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off." At Yad Vashem there is a hall of names where the name of every person victimized by the Holocaust is memorialized. It is a way to honor those who were murdered and keep a record of their existence.

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Peace in Ein Gedi

DSCN0979The past two weeks have been interesting in Israel. There was a terrorist attack in the South that killed seven, and since then rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. Hamas and Israel have a temporary cease-fire right now, but rockets have still been fired sporadically into Israel from Gaza. These attacks have caused many residents to wonder if the country is on the verge of another war with Gaza.

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Israel Protests Increase

DSCN1716

Israel is a significantly different country than any other in the region. The differences are apparent in the country's infrastructure, with skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, a new light rail train in Jerusalem and an economy that grew 4.5 percent in 2010. There are a lot of things Israel is doing right, but the country is not without its problems. Obviously there are significant security threats in Israel, but what has Israelis showing up in mass protest is the increasing difficulty to make ends meet.

Demonstrations began a month ago when protesters pitched tents in Tel Aviv to raise awareness of the skyrocketing rent in the city. The protest quickly gained momentum and tent cities began forming across the nation. Just last week, more than 300,000 Israelis across the country protested, demanding lower rent and food prices. In a country of approximately 7.7 million, that is a significant turnout. The protests have been peaceful with no arrests or injuries reported.

The people are demanding economic reform. Despite the economic growth of the country and an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, there is a large amount of people who are living under the poverty line. According to the CIA World Factbook, almost 24 percent of Israelis are living under the poverty line, which applies to people in Israel living on less than $7.30 a day. There is also a middle class struggling to pay rent, buy food and support a family. People here are well-educated, but many are having difficulty getting started or finding jobs that pay well.

As for the cost of food, it seems that everything except hummus and falafel is expensive here. Food is outrageously expensive here compared to the United States. Yesterday I went to the market and bought 12 eggs for $3.50, a pack of shredded cheese for $6.00 and a can of black beans for $2.25. Usually I go to the market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables because they are significantly cheaper there, but the items listed above are the same price at the market.

These protests have been deemed everything from a leftist ploy intended to turn Israel into a government-handout socialist country to a revolution of the middle class who are no longer going to remain silent. If it is either of those or somewhere in the middle, it will be interesting to see how this develops.

 

Moriah Lamb

Jerusalem and Online Correspondent

The Crossover Project.

The First Israel Insights

Sea_of_GalileeShalom everyone! This is my first entry for Israel Insights. I am the new Internet and Jerusalem Correspondent for The Crossover Project. This fall I will be attending Hebrew University to study Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. I am looking forward to experiencing Israel once again. I was in Israel for five weeks last summer and had the time of my life. I met so many interesting people and got to experience the amazing Land of Israel. It's true that there is no place like Israel. Where else can I go to the site of the First and Second Temple, visit King David's Tomb and walk the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked to his crucifixion? Nowhere else. While I am there, I hope to keep you updated on what I experience, any insight I have of current events and introduce you to some of the fascinating people I meet along the way.  I pray that you all are blessed in every area of your life! Pray for me while I am here and that I might bring you all the best information and news I come across.

 

 

Moriah Lamb

Internet and Jerusalem Correspondent

The Crossover Project

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Kingwood, TX 77325-6556, USA

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