Where to begin?
I am so full of inspired energy right now, and everything seems to be coming together. It's such a weight off my shoulders to feel this moment of clarity, after so many weeks of confusion and the feeling of being overwhelmed. As the late Steve Jobs pointed out in a commencement speech, it's often in retrospect that we are able to connect the dots that once seemed so random and disparate.
This morning, Niran (my Israeli housemate) and I went to eat hummus at Abu Hassan, finally, the most famous of hummus places in the Tel Aviv area. Feeling full and happy to be on vacation (it's Sukkot! festival of the Sukkah), I came home and grabbed my swimsuit before heading out with my roommate Miriam (from Mexico/Miami) to wander around Jaffa with our cameras-- since both of our families have been demanding photos! (see below) One thing in particular I noticed, amongst the many beautiful and interesting things about our city, is the prevalence of beautiful and thought-provoking graffiti street art appearing after every corner you turn. Though I'm not an artist, I love this colorful and organic avenue of expression. (Perhaps not by coincidence, I am volunteering in two different art organizations: one--Muzot-- is an alternative Arts high school for Youth that have failed out of the Israeli public school system, and the other-- Omanoot--is a start-up online platform that seeks to represent Israel through up and coming artists.)
After our photography excursion, Miriam and I sat for a drink in a place I've been wanting to try along the beach in Jaffa. It's a funky living-room esque cafe with everything you can imagine hanging from the ceiling. The view faces out to the Mediterranean, and the menu is limited to organic juice (they were out) and limonana (my favorite Israeli drink-- lemonade with fresh mint leaves... so refreshing!) We chilled to the sounds of beach reggae, watching the people go by and the waves crash on the beach until I had to head out to meet my friend Zadok.
Zadok Tzemach, playwright extraordinnaire, is a friend I made last time I was in Israel via couchsurfing. He lives in Neve Tzedek, the cutest neighborhood known to mankind, the first Jewish town established in the Tel Aviv area. It's now a trendy arts colony, but it maintains the old architecture and religious-inspired calm in its winding streets. Anyhow, Zadok is an amazing person, and he and I enjoyed a nice stroll in the sand, wading in and out of the water heading North as we discussed relationships and the futility of arguing over politics with lovers who hold different perspectives than ourselves. Zadok walked me back to Jaffa, and left me with an invitation to attend a dance show tomorrow evening at the Suzanne Dallal Center, where he directs the Kibbutz Dance company and can get me into free shows :)
I thought of heading back home, but the approaching sunset kept me riveted to my spot on the wall overlooking what we Tikkun Olam-ers fondly refer to as "Sever Utah Ether Beach" (a nickname given in reference to the most prominent graffiiti art scrawled along the southernmost wall of the southernmost beach in Tel Aviv before Jaffa). I sat for a while, enjoying the scene, until I noticed a cute guy my age standing alone at the edge of the water. He was stretching his neck and back in a way that reminded me of my life pre-Tikkun Olam (read: when my laptop was so much a part of my workday that it had begun to feel like an extension of my arms). I smiled at him, he smiled back, and we struck up a conversation as I joined him in the water. Adam works in IT (as many young Israelis now do), speaks perfect English and French, and called me the "weirdest girl ever." I gave him my number and I hope we'll be friends :)
My next stop was a meeting in the flea market with a man named Eden, who I was connected to by Danny Gal-- founder of Hub Tel Aviv. Eden is currently the Israeli director of an organization called Center for Emerging Futures, or "CEF," one of many acronyms associated with a group that facilitates two day gatherings for Israelis and Palestinians cautiously curious about meeting "the other" in Beit Jala, an Area C zone in the West Bank. Eden and I had an excellent conversation about the organization, and he had some very inspiring stories to tell of collaborations between Israelis and Palestinians-- including a joint soccer coaching program, a "Peace Cookbook," a Palestinian-Israeli "Hack-a-thon," and a cross-border field trip program. I feel so relieved to see that through the Hub, I am once again making sense of my varied interests, and I am excited to attend the upcoming Global Village Square conference put on by CEF in November. I feel filled with hope and excitement about getting involved, in whatever capacity.
Finally, as I walked home, I was wished a "Chag Sameach" by a Muslim woman walking on Sderot Yerushalayim (the main road in Jaffa) and her four smiling children. What a beautiful end to a beautiful day, and an amazing start to my Sukkot Vacation. Jaffa, I think I'm in love with you.