Solo Female Traveler Blog Local Living Around the World Wed, 19 Jun 2013 00:42:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Amazing 2,000-Year-Old Boat on Kibbutz Nof Ginossar, Israel Tue, 11 Jun 2013 21:15:52 +0000 I always said that some day the sea will give us a gift, says Yuvi Lufan. His prediction proved true. The gift which was given by the sea is now one of northern Israel greatest treasures, and my personal favorite.

The sea of which Mr. Lufan speaks is the Sea of Galilee, and he says these words at the beginning of a short film shown at a kibbutz called Nof Ginossar located on the western shore of the sea (actually a lake). One day in January 1986, during a massive drought in Israel, Yuvi and his brother Moshe were strolling along the water’s edge, when they looked down and spotted an old rusty nail.

Where did this come from? they wondered. A look out onto the lake showed them a glimpse of a small boat-shaped structure emerging from the newly shallow waters.

The structure proved to be an ancient wooden boat, made primarily of oak and cedar, which was over the next several weeks painstakingly extracted by a team of experts and coated with polyurethane foam and carefully floated ashore. It was then gently lifted onto the bed of a truck, slowly driven to a temporary location where it was meticulously preserved, then transported to its final destination – a bright, polished room devoted to its existence on Kibbutz Nof Ginossar.

Experts aged the boat at 2,000 years, the period during which Jesus lived and taught in Israel, earning it its nickname of The Jesus Boat. Carbon 14 testing as well as an oil lamp, cooking pot and arrowhead found in and around the boat, place the boat in the Second Temple period, the time when Jesus lived in the Galilee.

Kibbutz Nof Ginossar is beautiful in and of itself, its peaceful setting the perfect spot for a hidden treasure. This kibbutz is one of 256 kibbutzim currently in existence in the country. Kibbutzim began as a product of Socialism and Zionism in the early years of modern-day Israel, embracing a collectivistic lifestyle where living quarters, money and even child rearing were shared.

Today the roughly 106,000 people who live on kibbutzim live privately as does the rest of the country, raising their own children and keeping their own money, while still enjoying a close-knit, personal community.

Kibbutz Nof Ginossar, like many of Israel’s kibbutzim, has a small hotel component, allowing visitors to the country to experience a bit of life on a kibbutz.

Hotel on the ground of Kibbutz Nof Ginossar

The 2,000-year-old boat is the kibbutz’s shining star, but another of its unique sights is a long and winding mosaic bench which was a creative collaboration amongst Jewish and Arab youths from nearby schools.


The view of the Sea of Galilee from Kibbutz Nof Ginossar is also something to write home about.

My friend Avi told me this is a eucalyptus tree – something I’ve never seen before

Another old boat – although not 2,000 years old – at Kibbutz Nof Ginnosar

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This is Syria? Sun, 12 May 2013 16:45:26 +0000 Knowing, as we do, that civil war is raging on in Syria, with its people enduring horrifying daily bloodbaths, it seems that the entire country must be in a state of catastrophic chaos.

So when I got to look across the border into Syria the other day, it was shocking to see this:

A little pocket of peace, as far as the eye could see, from Israel’s Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights.

While Syria’s war rages on in the background, what was visible up close was only peace, its farmland stretching out as far as I could see, a small body of water in the foreground, a city in the distance viewable up close through a telescopic lens, and the occasional car driving along as if nothing is amiss.

Some day, soon I hope, such peace will exist throughout all of Syria.

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Mokkatam Village a/k/a Garbage City in Cairo Tue, 07 May 2013 16:15:09 +0000 I sat down to write a post about the amazing Cave Church I visited in Cairo, when I began instead reading up on the people who live in the village that is home to the church. Soon it became clear that an entire post should be dedicated to what little I know about these people and their village.

Zabbaleen, Arabic for “garbage people” number approximately 60,000, 90% of whom are Coptic Chrisitians, living in seven different villages scattered throughout Cairo. Mokkatam, the largest of these villages, is the home of the Cave Church as well as the city’s largest population of Zabbaleen, approximately 25,000.

Garbage City and the Cave Church within it are not very well known, not only by people around the world but even Egyptians themselves. My friend Mohamed from Luxor was in Cairo at the same time as I, and we decided to visit this location together. But where was it? He had never heard of it. We asked at my hotel desk and the men manning the desk had likewise not heard of it. So we got in a taxi and took our chances.

Take us to Mokkatam, Mohamed told the driver. And so we went.

Very little of the garbage in Garbage City is scattered like this. Most of it is contained neatly in large plastic bags alongside the roads.

Using donkey carts and pickup trucks, the Zabbaleen travel through Cairo collecting trash and transporting it back to their villages. Here they sort it and sell it to middlemen or recycle it, creating new materials. Supported in a partnership with the UK-based Association for the Protection of the Environment, many craftswomen using looms at home or working in workshops in Mokkatam create beauty out of this trash. I was heartened to later learn that that the Zabbaleen have this association. The few I was able to talk to were lovely people and deserve the support.

Because it is dubbed Garbage City, I really expected this area to be a huge mess, with hundreds of tons of trash lying all over the ground. Instead, I was surprised to see that almost all of the trash of this village was neatly bagged, tied, and set in piles along the sides of the road. Apparently this trash was designated for recycling, as Zabbaleens recycle 80% of the trash they collect, whereas the Western world recycles only 20 to 25%.

After we made our way through the village of garbage and arrived at the church, Mariam and Madonna, two teenage girls from the village, began following me around, giggling and whispering and taking photos. Clearly, they don’t see many Westerners here. Where you from? Mariam asked.

America, I said.

America! Mariam responded in a gasp, grabbing her heart, I love America so much!

From a city made of garbage, the voice of youth dreaming of a better life.

Mariam, Madonna and Me

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Staying Outside Jerusalem’s Old City for the First Time Mon, 29 Apr 2013 15:15:06 +0000 Jerusalem is my favorite city in the world. It is powerful, it is complicated and it is enthralling. Every time that I’ve visited Jerusalem since I first traveled to Israel in 2008, I’ve stayed in its Old City, a massive walled area in East Jerusalem, home to some of the world’s most important religious and historical sites.

My last visit to Jerusalem was different.

At the invitation of Abraham Hostel, I for the first time ever, stayed outside the Old City in West Jerusalem. This was an entirely different experience from my previous stays, not only culturally, as I was in the midst of the Jewish population of West Jerusalem rather than the Palestinian population which inhabits East Jerusalem, but also insofar as my experience with my accommodation. Abraham Hostel is the fifth place I’ve stayed in Jerusalem and is actually the best.

The location of this hostel is an absolutely ideal gateway to the rest of the city. It is located directly on Jaffa Street, immediately along the lines of the city’s new light rail system. Jump on the tram and step off at Hadavidka and you’ll see Abraham Hostel is right there.

My favorite part of Jerusalem, the Old City, is just a 15-minute walk south on Jaffa Street, and the Central Bus station, which will take you anywhere in Israel you want to go, is just a 15-minute walk north. Abraham Hostel is right in the middle of all the action.

Jaffa Street right outside the hostel doors, with its outdoor cafes, restaurants and shops is somewhere you need to visit when you go to Jerusalem. Mahane Yehuda market is just a five-minute walk north up Jaffa Street, and is a lively outdoor area selling fruits, vegetables, clothes and the amazing sweet treat Israeli Halva. This is something you have to try when you travel to Jerusalem.

Abraham Hostel is quite large, with three floors of 72 en suite rooms, both private and dorms. Open only since November 2010, this hostel has quickly become very popular and was quite full during my stay. Ordinarily I’d prefer to stay in a smaller place with fewer people, but this place has a spacious lobby, huge common room and other sitting areas, so that, although there were many people there, it never seemed crowded.

One of the things that endeared Abraham Hostel most to me was that they don’t want you to just come and stay and pay for your room and go fend for yourself outside its doors. They have a movie night, a pub crawl night, a live music night, a ton of tours in Jerusalem as well as the rest of Israel and even into Jordan and Egypt. One of their Jerusalem tours is a free tour of the Old City, which every first-time traveler to Jerusalem really should take.

I went on an absolutely fascinating all-day tour of the West Bank city of Hebron, which caused me to realize that it might be the most complicated city on earth. I will be writing a post about this soon.

Abraham Hostel also offers a Friday night Shabbat dinner, an Israeli tradition which marks the start of the Sabbath day each week. Guests are invited to help cook the meal, which consists of a huge variety of local dishes.

I suggested to co-owner Yaron that they open their Shabbat dinners to people who aren’t staying at the hostel, but he said they want to keep it as small and personal as possible so their guests can enjoy it more.

There is also food served daily in the well-stocked bar area, including pizza (which was very good) and nachos, which are hard to find in the Middle East.

My room had a thin yet comfortable bed and was absolutely pristine. In fact, this is the cleanest hostel I’ve ever stayed at. It was dead silent, save for the pleasant clanging of the bell on the streetcars outside. I never even heard voices in the hallway or anyone’s door shutting.

My room also had one unexpected perk. It was unseasonably cold, rainy and windy in Jerusalem during my stay, so I was very happy to discover that there was a functioning heater on the wall.

This is not something you can say about accommodations in the Old City.

I expected to see mostly younger people at the hostel, since I knew it was a happening place. Surprisingly about half of the guests were over 40. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I could see that clearly, young or old, the party type or the go to bed at 9:00 type (like me) Abraham Hostel is the place to stay.

Abraham Hostel gave me a complimentary stay during my past visit to Jerusalem, but all opinions are my own.

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The Jerusalem Ice Festival Mon, 22 Apr 2013 15:45:20 +0000 I’ve never been to an ice festival before – and actually never considered going to one – until I learned about Jerusalem’s Ice Festival from my friend Ayelet from All Colores. Unlike many other events in my life, this one was perfectly timed, as I am in Israel currently and planned a trip to Jerusalem for a few days in April, when the ice festival was in swing. Let’s do it, I said to Ayelet.

And so we did.

I apologize for the quality of these photos. The temperature at the festival was -10 Celcius, or 14 Fahrenheit, which caused my camera shoot in hues of red and blue. Although I have edited the photos, I assure you the sculptures at the ice festival look much better than you’ll see here.

Artists from China flew to Jerusalem to participate in the festival and help the Israeli artists hone their craft, which resulted in a distinctly Chinese flavour to much of the festival.

Unlike myself who would rather be disintegrating from the heat in the Persian Gulf than wandering around a frozen building anywhere, Ayelet is a huge fan of unbearably frigid weather, and this is as good as it gets in Israel. I don’t know when the last time was that I saw someone this happy.

I, on the other hand, was grinning, bearing it and wistfully remembering what heat felt like.

Where did we get those wonderful, warm coats? They have tables full of them at the ice festival entrance. You absolutely have to wear one if you are going to survive inside. I was aided in staying warm by a very kind man at my hostel, who loaned me his down jacket, hat and gloves. Without them I would have lasted only 15 minutes.

I thought this little scene inside an igloo was just charming and my favorite part of the display.

In addition to China, sea life was another theme at the Jerusalem Ice Festival. I wonder how they color the ice.

The Jurassic Period was also featured at the Jerusalem Ice Festival, including this dinosaur eating its prey.

Another favorite of mine was this waterfall near the exit, with colorful lights flashing to indicate moving water. Because, of course, real water would have frozen.

The most surprising piece of art at this exhibit was undoubtedly the tribute to President Obama. I was here when he visited the country last month for the first time in his four-year presidency and saw how much it meant to Israelis. This piece of ice art helps show their appreciation as well their hope that President Obama is indeed united with Israel.

The Jerusalem Ice Festival runs for approximately ten weeks each year. This year’s exhibit is from February 20 to April 30. There is also an acrobatic ice show and 450-metre ice skating rink. Tickets to the ice festival or the acrobatic show are 70 Shekels, or approximately 19 USD.

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Desert Safari in Egypt Mon, 15 Apr 2013 12:30:01 +0000 Although I’ve spent months of my life in the sunny seaside town of Dahab in the Sinai, there are still a lot of sights I haven’t seen. During my last stint in Dahab, I decided to work on rectifying this situation by going with King Safari Dahab the tour company I always use, on one of its most popular tours – the Coloured Canyon.

Unfortunately, due to recent winter floods, the Coloured Canyon was temporarily closed to visitors. This turned out to be a good thing. There are actually two coloured canyons in the Sinai – the big coloured canyon and the small coloured canyon, also called Salama Canyon. With the big one closed, we simply went to see the little one, a tour which also includes a trip to the White Canyon and Ain Khundra Oasis.

This trip turned out to be way better than I’d expected. New sights and new experiences, plus – due to my fear of heights – a private safari through the desert!

First, new sights. Moments after the tour began, I spotted the first thing I’d never seen before – a picturesque little village just a few kilometers outside of Dahab.

Next, fear of heights. When we arrived at the White Canyon, I was dismayed to see that the only way down into the thing is by holding onto a rope and precariously lowering yourself, backwards, rock by rock, into the depths of the canyon. I couldn’t do it. What a bummer, I thought. I’m going to miss one of the best parts of the tour.

Happily, I was totally wrong.

While our guide Mansour took the rest of the group through the Canyon, I set off with our driver Faraj at full speed in our Land Rover, Faraj expertly driving it through the deep desert sand. Shortly, he pulled up to a mountain, stopped and motioned for me to follow him. Straight into a cave is where he led me. Large or small, I love caves. This one was small, like a cave where I was invited to tea with a Bedouin man and his mother in Petra, Jordan. Unlike the Jordan cave, though, which was actually inhabited, this was empty yet interesting in that there were oblong doorways – naturally or manmade, I don’t know, leading from one bare room to the next.

Back in the van we drove, Faraj weaving around mountains until we came upon a mysterious green bus. This is from Israel, he stated. How? I asked. Vehicles are allowed from Israel into Egypt, but not many cross through these days, and I didn’t understand why a bus would ever have come over the border, especially permanently. Perhaps years ago, Israeli tour buses did come into the Sinai, and this one broke down and was abandoned? Israel helicoptered it, Faraj told me. What? Why? And how? I didn’t believe it.

So I posted a photo of it on the Solo Female Traveler Facebook page and received several comments from interested Egyptians, who doubted very much that the bus was from Israel. After some discussion we arrived at a concensus was that there is no way this is an Israel bus. One man suggested Faraj had probably mixed up this bus with an abandoned Israeli army truck nearby (although the army truck was no doubt not helicoptered in) while another man suggested that this was a tale the Bedouins invented. The bus is not from Israel after all, I was told, and rather is from nearby Sharm el-Sheikh. A case of mistaken identity or a bit of Bedouin lore? I may never know.

With the bus sitting just several meters from us, Faraj and I sat down to tea with another Bedouin man who was preparing it when we arrived. Tea with Bedouins – this is a classic Sinai experience.

Following deep tire tracks in the sand, Faraj led us back through the desert. After a while, perhaps tired of driving or perhaps wanting to give me a bit more fun, Faraj stopped the Land Rover, got out and told me to get in the driver’s seat. Now I was in charge of my own desert safari!

My route

It’s good that I know how to drive a manual transmission, or I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience.

Matching our tires to the preexisting tracks, I followed Faraj’s directions, expecting to end up at the other side of the White Canyon, where we would pick up those we’d left behind. Instead, Faraj drove me straight to this:

An oasis!

This was my first desert oasis, known as Ain Khundra, and I relinquished control of the vehicle to Faraj so I could get out and explore.

The rest of the group appeared at this point, led by Mansour on foot through the oasis, while Faraj busied himself cooking lunch for us.

Now it was time for what I thought would be the pièce de résistance of the tour, but was actually anticlimatic compared to my day thus far. Salama Canyon was next on the agenda, with a brief stop at the Mushroom Rock. I wasn’t too impressed with this rock, but here it is:

And then, of course, Salama Canyon, aka the Small Colored Canyon. Here, I found that the term Coloured Canyon is not a misnomer. It really was quite beautiful.

Now it was time to get out of the desert. How? Up and down sand dune after sand dune, many so steep we were fearful the Land Rover might roll over and we’d be crushed to death. Nevertheless, it was a fun fear and the perfect ending to my Sinai desert safari.

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Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel Mon, 08 Apr 2013 12:15:42 +0000 Today marks the third Holocaust Remberance Day I’ve spent in Israel. This time differed from the first two in one significant way for me, though.

For the first time ever, I was in public when the sirens sounded at 10:00 a.m.

Why did sirens sound and why did I make sure to be in public when they did?

Sirens throughout Israel sound for approximately one minute on Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as other significant holidays in Israel, to help commemorate the event. At 10:00 a.m. on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel when the sirens sound, every person in Israel stands up and freezes in place. Everything just comes to a dead stop. People and vehicles remains motionless for the approximately one-minute duration of the sirens.

I feel completely certain, that Arabs in Arab areas, such the Arab villages throughout Israel, East Jerusalem and, obviously, the West Bank and Gaza are exempt from this.

Previously on the Holocaust Remembrance Days I’ve spent in Israel, I did not know at which hour the sirens would sound and have been in my aparment – quite unspecial.

This year my friend Ayelet tipped me off as to when the sirens would go off. She also informed that, contrary to what I imagined, I would not be sitting on a bench snapping photos during this period. To do so would be disrespectful and upset those who saw me. So I got myself into a crowded public area by 10:00 a.m. so I could experience Holocaust Remembrance Day like an Israeli.

At 10:00 a.m. I was walking down the street in Karmiel, a small, charming town in the central part of northern Israel. As soon as the sirens sounded, everyone walking down the street just stopped. People who were previously sitting stood up and stood still. Cars stopped. Buses stopped. Everything stopped.

As we all stood motionless while the sirens blared, I saw that people who had been driving along had stepped out of their cars to stand with respect on the street. In the parking lot to my right, people who had been sitting in their cars had gotten out and were now standing. Two buses were stopped on my left-hand side, and I looked inside to see everyone standing in front of their seat. For one minute, millions of people throughout Israel stood silent and still, remembering the worst tragedy in the history of the world.

Seeing how Israel came to a halt on Holocaust Memorial Day was eerie, moving, powerful, dramtic. A short yet significant way to show that in Israel, they will never, ever forget.

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Happy Easter from Nazareth, Israel Sun, 31 Mar 2013 10:15:44 +0000 Nazareth isn’t the first spot you’d head for Easter in Israel, as it’s not the place where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead (that is Jerusalem). But Nazareth is where Jesus lived as a child and, therefore, a very popular spot for Christian tourists. It’s also a short drive from where I’m living in Tiberias, so I headed over there yesterday for a pre-Easter look.

Nazareth is a small Arab city pretty much in the middle of northern Israel. And here you can do something that you can’t do in most of the rest of Israel this week. You can buy bread. Today it is not only the Christian Easter but also the Jewish Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) week in Israel, an eight-day period during which sale of leaven is forbidden. Because Nazareth is an Arab area, however, leaven is permitted and is everywhere in the city during Pesach, like at this bakery which was cranking out a multitude and variety of breads.

Like any good Arab city, Nazareth is home to a souq. Some Middle Eastern souqs are loud, with the non-stop chant of shopkeepers wanting you to come into their shop and buy from them, while others are quite mellow. The Nazareth souq falls into the latter category, and it is very possible to navigate its entirety without one aggressive shopkeeper approaching you.

It’s quiet but it’s colorful, with tons of clothes, scarves, household items and really almost anything you would want to buy, whether you’re a tourist in search of souvenirs or a local looking for an item for daily life.

The pièce de résistance of Nazareth, though, and its most important landmark is the sanctuary which marks the spot where the angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she was going to be the mother of Jesus. This huge complex consists of the two-story Basilica of the Annuciation and St. Joseph’s Church, both of which rest on top of small archeaological excavations, some of which date back to the 8th Century, B.C.

The Church of the Annunciation has some fabulous artwork on its walls, donated by various countries around the world.

The excavations, although small, are impressive, with what appears to me to be crumbled remains of columns.

Inside the Church of St. Joseph are many beautiful memorials to the man who raised Jesus through his growing up years.

Perhaps the most interesting area of this little church, or even the entire complex, is its bottom floor, which contains minor excavations. In one of these areas, you can see papers that people have dropped into one of the small excavation areas, on which they have undoubtedly written prayers – a good way to ensure your prayers stay within a church even after you leave.

You would think this complex would be open every day. However, when I visited two Easter Sundays ago in the afternoon, the buildings were closed! If you ever want to go to the sanctuaries of Nazareth on Easter Sunday, be sure to go in the morning. If you want to go any other time of year, St. Joseph’s Church opens at 7:00 each day at the Basilica at 8:00 and both close at 6:00 p.m. If you come all the way to Israel, this is one of the many sites you should not miss.

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To Kill a Lamb or Not to Kill a Lamb – Passover in Israel Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:45:44 +0000 Today marks the beginning of my third Passover in Israel. I am not Jewish and I don’t live in Israel full time, yet lately I’ve found myself here each Spring when this holiday occurs. And yet again this year, Passover is proving to be a learning experience for me.

This post does not contain photos of my experience because, once I realized what was happening, I just couldn’t take photos.

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) is an extremely important holiday here, lasting eight days and, involving serious preparation by Jews beforehand and dietary restrictions during. Since my first Pesach in Israel, I’ve know that sale of leaven products is prohibited by law. But during this season’s Pesach preparation I discovered a new side to this holiday.

Several days ago my friend Moshe invited me to come along with him to buy lamb meat for the holiday, which I then learned from him is a Pesach tradition in Israel.

Moshe’s English is limited and we have catastrophic, yet hilarious misunderstandings frequently. The following misunderstanding was not so hilarious. What I understood Moshe to say was that the place we were going to get meat was a place that kills lambs for Pesach but that we were simply going to buy meat, not to slaughter a lamb. So I said okay, I’ll go.

Moshe drove me straight to a slaughterhouse. This was very disturbing. There was one dead baby lamb at the entrance, which I suppose had been hit by a car and no one had bothered to move, and it was already very nearly melted into the ground and being eaten by bugs. Another poor little young lamb inside the slaughterhouse was lying, dying, along the walkway.

Flies were everywhere. Everywhere. From the time we got out of the car until we got back in, flies. I was afraid I’d get a disease from them. There were at least 100 lambs of varying ages – living in good conditions, thank God – awaiting their deaths.

A man who I suppose was the slaughterhouse manager, came along and spoke to Moshe for a while. As they spoke, one adorable, very lively and curious little lamb jumped through the fence separating humans from animals and baa’d at me vigorously. I petted him and talked to him until he, unwisely, ran up to the manager, who without hesitance reached down and picked him up by its leg, dangling him upside down. I stepped forward and grabbed the baby lamb, held it in my arms and deposited it back into its pen. My heart was hurting to know its fate.

I turned to go back to the car and saw out of the corner of my eye Moshe pointing at a lamb. Was he picking out one to kill? We got back in the car, drove around to the back of the building, and I questioned him – Are they going to kill that lamb?

Yes, he said, I told you this.

No, I said, you did not.

Once we parked, I could see that the manager had already grabbed the lamb Moshe had selected and tied him up inside another building. I sat in the car.

Soon a rabbi would arrive, Moshe divulged, and kill the lamb. After several minutes, he appeared. Moshe opened my car door to introduce me to the rabbi and another man, and I pulled it back shut. Perhaps childishly, I didn’t want to talk the man who was going to kill the lamb.

After a while the rabbi appeared again, gazing at me with curiosity as I opened back up the car door. I didn’t care that maybe my question was inappropriate for a religious man. I just wanted to get out of there. Where is the toilet? I asked.

As I walked up the hill following his directions, the fresh air and bucolic setting cleared my mind. Just keep on walking and maybe I can escape the sound of the lamb’s screams as they cut its throat or whatever they do to kill it. So off I went, trying to enjoy the scenery.

After 20 minutes or so I headed back and spotted Moshe’s car at the top of the driveway. Surely the lamb couldn’t have been killed and cut into pieces so quickly. I climbed in and looked at Moshe. I couldn’t do it, he said. He couldn’t? Surely this is something he’s done many times before. But maybe it had always bothered him? Or maybe he couldn’t do it because of me? When I saw how sad you were, I just couldn’t kill it, Moshe confirmed. When one lamb is killed, all the others hear it screaming, he said, cringing.

This is like the Holocaust, he then concluded, perhaps melodramatically.

I slumped in relief in the seat as he drove us away from the slaughterhouse. I had helped save a lamb from slaughter! For maybe an hour, anyway.

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What a Sandstorm in Israel Looks Like Fri, 22 Mar 2013 12:30:22 +0000 Obviously, I love the Middle East. The variety of cultures, the people, the food and the sights, to name a few. There is one thing I really dislike about being here, though. That is when the sandstorms hit.

Where I’m living now in Tiberias, Israel, I have a view of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. A beautiful, gorgeous, spectacular view. Usually. As of about 15 minutes ago, though, a sandstorm hit this region, whipping sand around in its high winds, making the air very unhealthy. And, importantly, greatly obscuring visibility by turning nice blue skies into thick brown.

My view from my apartment in Tiberias is usually this:

But right now, it is this:

Tiberias, which is in northern Israel, is a few hours away from the Negev, Israel’s desert. Although the sandstorm could have originated there, it more often comes from a larger desert area, like Egypt, Jordan or even Saudi Arabia or other Persian Gulf countries. Wherever the source, I’m hoping my least favorite weather won’t last more than a day.

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