Take it to the Bank

As someone who came to Israel on their own, there’s a lot of pressure to get Shabbat plans together each week. It’s understandable. Everything closes for about 26 hours. People take it easy around their communities with family and friends. A copious amount of food is consumed. You definitely feel like you are missing out if you aren’t a part of it. I was lucky to be invited to spend the weekend with my friend from JEWEL, Sarah. She’s been living in Israel for the past 3 months. Also a “California gurl”. Instant connection. So I took a bullet-proof bus from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem to an area known as The West Bank. You may have heard of it. Well Sarah lives in a town called Tekoa. It’s a about a 20 minute drive or 45 minute bus ride outside of Jerusalem to the South. Considering the news doesn’t actually show you what the West Bank looks like I really had no idea what I would be in for over the next few days. I can tell you my imagination certainly got the best of me. The reality was much different from the vision painted in the news. Honestly, it turned out to be the best Shabbat in Israel yet. The area is absolutely gorgeous. The Judean Mountains can be seen in the distance with Jordan not much further. I was able to spend Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch with Sarah’s extended family. Absolutely amazing food and company. Lots of walking, talking, and eating as every Shabbat requires here. It was a great change of pace from life in Jerusalem.

Where in the world.

Tekoa Gimel through Daled. Nice little walk from Tekoa Alef.

The streets of Tekoa. Felt like a typical suburb.

Herodium. Man made hill and tomb of King Herod.

You may have heard about the tragic shooting in the West Bank that happened last week. That took place in Hebron. About a 40 minute drive southwest. While both places are within the West Bank, Tekoa felt very safe. It honestly felt and looked like a typical suburb. I won’t pretend there isn’t tension there, but it doesn’t control people’s lives. Fortunately, people have learned to live alongside each other in peace.

Absolutely beautiful area. Palestinian towns on nearby hills.

California? Sorry, this is the Middle East. My mistake.

Concrete barrier on the edge of town. Subtle reminder of where I am.

Atop an old bunker. Shadows: Me. Sarah. Brian.

I’m off to Tel Aviv tomorrow. Spending Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year 5771) with my cousins. If I don’t make the bus at 5:00pm tomorrow there’s no way out of this city (on public transportation) until Saturday night. Wish me luck. I need to escape for a few days.