Shades of Israel

Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2011

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After staying in two of the grimiest, noisiest hostels in Jerusalem, I was eager to find a room to rent and lay down my backpack for a while. Luckily, on my third day in the city, a friend of a friend introduced me to Antoinette, a Palestinian Christian who recently started renting out rooms in her East Jerusalem home.

I wasn't sure what to expect as we passed through her gate and the cinder block garden, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the room to be clean, quiet and with a fig tree growing outside the window.  Her home is only a 20 minute bus ride to the Old City and there are lots of local shops down the street.  Best of all, Antoinette is easy to get along with and a great Arabic teacher.  Her extended family lives downstairs and within a few hours upon arrival I met her niece and nephew watching Al-Shamshoons (The Simpsons) and their bird named "Tweet."

During the next six weeks I will also be interning at the NGO, Search for Common Ground (SFCG).  It may seem a bit strange to be interning at this stage in my life, but when traveling for extended periods of time, I've found that things tend to start blurring together.  Therefore Jerusalem is one of three places I’ve chosen to slow down a little in order to get to know the people and culture better.

The SFCG office is comprised of both Israelis and Palestinians working on a dynamic mix of peace building projects. My main responsibilities are organizing their upcoming journalism awards ceremony and helping edit articles for their Common Ground News Service.  Lunchtime falafel breaks are optional, but have quickly become a part of my daily routine. :)

This past weekend I also had the chance to visit my old friend and Spanish tutor, Fernando, in Tel Aviv.  We ate dinner near the old port of Jaffa and then strolled along the city boardwalk.  It’s incredible to see how different Tel Aviv is compared to Jerusalem.  It is so developed, so secular ... there is so much skin!  Compared to East Jerusalem, the difference feels like night and day.  Yet, I’m quickly learning there are many shades of Israel.
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John Panneton on

sounds Great , looks like you are having a great time . Good luck ; keep up the good work.


Araceli on

I'm so jealous!

Julian Josephson on

One of the hotels advertised on the list, the Park Hotel, is where my late father-in-law celebrated his 100th birthday with his family. This was in March 2003. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 105 1/2. Also, I have a widowed sister-in-law living in Kibbutz Magen. Barukh ha-ba b'Yisra'el! on

Crystal, so wonderful! wish i could be staying there with you! and working with you for SFCG! awesome that you're interning there. so proud of you! keep me posted. I've been attending a Conservative synagogue here for the past 10 months, and really am immersed in the Hebrew language and culture.

RA on

OMG, I see Egypt on the map!!! Masr, Masr, MASR! :D Lucky you to be going down there soon. I wish I could have planned a visit down there so we can travel and explore it together. I miss home, too. :(

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