Oct 222018

Hi! Thanks everyone for your love and support and desire to follow my journey(s) in Israel.

I must say, I’ve always refused the ‘blog’ opportunity in previous times abroad. I’ve always felt that I couldn’t fully capture in so many words all of the smells/sounds/energies/interactions/occasions/experiences and, importantly, the reflections ofbeing in foreign spaces. BUT I am going to push myself to share this time in Tel Aviv, as a show of my gratitude for the generous Rotary Global Grant and their sponsorship of my time AND as a way to make a faraway place like Israel, which is sopolitically/socially/culturally contested, more human and more understood.

And so– I am living a quite blissful existence here in the Mediterranean Miami/Manhattan. The lifestyle here is very easygoing, and both the city and the people are immensely warm (re: so so friendly—a phone call with an Israeli running groupmanager becomes a 45 minute conversation).

Warm, in a vibrant, electric, youthful and passionately alive way, with urban sprawl, festivals, and oh-so-many pedestrians ever-in-the-way of bikers (especially electric bikers/scooters). Warm, in a way that heats up and sweats to intense beachpaddleboard games (re: matkot, Israelis are fanatic about it) and buzzes to the beat of house music, and zips to and fro and lights up new technologies and innovations (re: Tel Aviv is Silicon Wadi centre-point). And warm, in a cozy and serene wayin calm spots like the Neve Tzedak neighborhood, or my new favorite coffee shop-turned-jazz-café-Monday-nights.

As one might imagine, I am really enjoying the culinary scene— and not just the expected hummus bars, falafel joints, and, local favorite, sabich stands (pita with roasted eggplant, potato, egg, salad, tahini, spices, etc.). The whole culture of theculinary scene here is incredible: with fresh-caught fish from the Mediterranean and many vibrant shuk (שׁוּק) selling produce and olives and חלה (challah bread) and cheeses and spices and sweets. Many call Tel Aviv an international vegan/vegcapital, and this checks out—there are extensive vegetable-based options everywhere.

The wellness of this culinary world is well-matched with the outrageous amount of fitness endeavors in the city. I have never seen so many people running and biking and roller blading and pursuing absurd ab workouts on the outdoor gyms. They are a tourist attractive onto themselves, the gorgeously-fit bronze bodies tanning on the coastline’s beaches. Previous to arriving, I dreamt about running the Tel Aviv Marathon in February, and suffice to say, I have now registered and startedtraining with the vigor of a local.

The diversity here is particularly astounding—there are people from all over the world, mixing their culinary, religious, linguistic, cultural traditions. Funnily enough, the phrase ‘melting pot,’ which I’ve always associated with genetics in the USA, was a formal policy here, used to invite and inaugurate Jewish immigration. There is also a more concentrated Arab population South Tel Aviv, in Jaffa. History and current politics intermingle in this urban atmosphere, and I am lucky to witness the heterogeneity in small ways (re: street signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, in that order) and also in big ways. Obviously these dynamics, occurring on a geography formerly called Palestine, are writ with injustices, conflicts, and contestations and in these newsletters I will try and share my reflections on those realities, but I’ll keep it light and introductory for this first edition.

It is quite surreal to be here—I wrote the first drafts of my dream to study in Tel Aviv in the spring of 2017, and I’m now actually living them(!!!). This can be very emotional, as I watch the sunset over the Mediterranean sea or struggle through Hebrew learning. It is actually quite ironic, when I share that I’ve just moved here, many people infer that I am Jewish, making Aliyah (migrating permanently to zion, the homeland). Though not the case, I do feel so deeply blessed to be here, and I long to make this land a core part of the fabric of who I am and who I become.

I begin the orientation to the International MA in Conflict.

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