This week, we walked from one of the holiest cities in the world, Jerusalem, to a city that the both of us avoid, Tel Aviv. From Tel Aviv we walked north along the shores of the Mediterranean.
So we spent our last week weaving through beach bums, jelly fish and main highways, how’s that for a change of scenery?
On Friday, we were joined by a special individual who had been in the army with Nava, Gideon. He rushed us the whole morning and told us we had to get to Neve Shalom for a surprise. Upon arriving, we learned that Neve Shalom is a community consisting of both Arabs and Jews who live together happily. As we walked through the town to reach “the surprise”, we noticed the family names written on the houses, some in Arabic and some in Hebrew. Finally we made it to Gideon’s special surprise. We entered a garden with a sign on the front gate written in Hebrew, Arabic and English “The Spiritual Center”. We walked down a narrow staircase surrounded by forest. Upon our descent we spotted isolated benches in the forest. On each bench sat a person in meditation. This place is known to host meditation and self reflection sessions for the locals of the area.
In the middle of the forest sat a white dome. Gideon explained that the dome is uniquely designed to amplify every sound to the point where a pin dropping makes a noise as loud as a bird’s chirp. The dome is used for meditation sessions and yoga as a way to keep people silent and aware of every movement for even the smallest movements make a noise. Despite its name “the silent room” the amplifying affect makes a great room for a concert. As we entered the silent dome, instead of sitting in silence, we got lost in the music of two girls who sat and played guitar. Nava had fun afterwords screaming to herself in the dome, feeling her voice as if she was screening into her own ears.
As we passed through the Ayalon valley, we were approached by a man picking trash. He asked us if we knew where we were walking. We knew the general direction, but that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He sat us down gave us the history of the area in a quick 10 minute session. He began with the story from Yehushua, when god stopped the sun from setting and we won the battle. He continued on to the Maccabee revolt, the conquest of the Crusaders, all the way to the ’48 war when we broke the siege on the road to Jerusalem. It was 2000 years of history in a single spot.
We have made it a point on Shvil Yisrael to get to know the harder neighborhoods of Israel and the initiatives taken to develop those areas. We stopped in Lod, one of the most problematic cities in Israel and we were given a private insider tour by our Shvil Angel, Zohar. Lod is known for the high crime rate, drug trafficking, but most of all the silent war going on between the Arab and Jewish population. There is a large Arab community in the center of the city and more and more groups of Jews are moving into the city to increase the Jewish demographics of the town. Zohar is one of these idealistic Jews who feels that he is the modern day Zionist by settling his family in Lod. We visited a university student village established by the movement Ayalim. Ayalim works at building student villages in underprivileged neighborhoods in order for the students to help develop the area. Here is a little bit about Ayalim’s Lod project: http://ayalim.org.il/en/the-lod-project/
On our way to Tel Aviv, we walked through the jungle-looking path along the Yarkon River.
The rest of the week, we spent barefoot, walking the shores of Tel Aviv. Walking past old men playing matkot, girls tanning, and surfers surfing while we were shleping our hiking bags. Let’s just say I don’t think people were staring at us to check out our beach bods. Nava convinced an Israeli beach bum that she met at the Kotel to join us for a few hours. Originally, he agreed to join old if he could drive along side us on his 4×4 but in the end joined us by foot. Yoella asked for the history of the beach but instead he gave us the insider scoop about prostitutes that sit by the beach and wait for cars to come pick them up. While he was explaining, someone actually drove up and we saw it in action!
This trip doesn’t stop evolving; it is continuously snowballing into something bigger than we anticipated. We have one more day of the salty, blue waters and soon we will be climbing up the foresty hills of the Carmel. We’ve enjoyed walking distances and climbing heights, but nothing beats sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tides roll away.
Yoyo & Nana
p,s, Here are some pics of us on the way to our next destination