T minus 10

Trip Start May 19, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten days to go!

Ten days until I fly back to Israel, where I lived for eleven months in 1986-87. Back then, I was 24 and spent the year studying Hebrew, Arabic, politics, and history in the one-year program for overseas students at the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem. I went to see if being away for a year would help me figure out what I wanted to do, having stagnated since graduating college in '84 (it didn't really). I thought maybe I'd even make aliya (i.e., emigrate to Israel, literally "go up")--but that was out of the question by the time my year was up. It wasn't the kind of place I wanted to live in or the kind of people I wanted to live among--too rough-and-tumble.

I had a great time, though: I made friends from Israel and all over the world. I walked to the 3,000-year-old walled Old City each week for a class on its history and architecture (luckily, I was there just before the first intifada made that unwise for the classes that followed). I joined a Jewish-Palestinian weekly discussion group; I took Arabic classes taught in Hebrew. I went to concerts and explored the city. My roommate took me to visit his grandfather, a right-wing settler outside of Hebron. After the citywide siren on Friday afternoons announcing the Sabbath, I often spent shabbat (Saturday) on the roof of my dorm, reading the paper and listening to pop music (the Voice of Peace, from a clandestine ship "somewhere in the Mediterranean"), while below me lay a breathtaking view of the whole city. (Besides, I thought there was nothing to do on Shabbat in Jerusalem.) On my vacations, I traveled the length of Egypt, from Alexandria to Aswan.

My parents came to visit, and we traveled all over Israel. They had brought me to Israel for the first time, for three weeks in 1977; I went back for six weeks in 1978 on a really personally unforgettable trip with kids my age (15-16), some of whom I am friends with 31 years later. (I cannot hear "Saturday Night Fever" or "Grease" without thinking of that memorable summer in Israel and the Sinai.) So, after three trips in relatively quick succession, I did not expect so much time would go by until my next visit.

But here we are in 2009. I'm really delighted to get back to see familiar Jerusalem; to visit many new places, especially Petra, in Jordan; to see how the country has changed in the intervening years; to hear and read and speak Hebrew (and Arabic, inshallah); to visit some old friends and meet new ones; and to do it all with Kevin, who will be seeing it with new eyes.

Ten days to go. Preparations continue: research, shopping, packing... I'm convinced that half the fun is the anticipation. We have an itinerary full of interesting and fun things to do, though, and I look forward to keeping in touch through this blog (http://www.travelpod.com/members/rmisaac). (I'm just getting the hang of this site. If you don't wish to get notifications of new entries, let me know.)

Here goes! !תבלו Tevalú! (Enjoy!)
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weekilter on

How exciting!
Didn't know your past Israel history. I know you will have a great time.

B'chatzlacha v'n'ssiyah tovah.

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