Thursday, November 22, 2007

A few recent adventures

On a happier note than the last post, we recently went on a few Tiyulim (hikes). Naomi and I were only on one together while my school decided to go on two within two weeks of each other.

The first trip was to Emek HaEla (the Valley of Ela) which happens to be the name of a movie with Tommy Lee Jones but I have no clue what the connection is - I haven't seen it.

It is the historical place of the Battle between David and Goliath. I took a bunch of pictures and you can see the area described in the Book of Samuel. Our tour guide-Rabbi-Friend Dani even thought us how to use a slingshot like the one David used.

The next Tiyul was to Tel Aviv with Naomi's school - Nishmat. The city of Tel Aviv recently celebrated it's 100th birthday. We went to where that all happened a neighborhood called Neve Tzedek - the spring of justice. It was a really nice trip and a chance to spend some time with the people that Naomi sees every day. Despite the fact that it was the end of November, I was wearing short sleeves and was still sweating.

I also found a micro-brewery across the street from Independence Hall that I have to go back and check out.

The last hike was a week and a half ago. The weather in Israel had just started to get a little colder and we decided to make the most of what warmth was left so we went on a water hike. A water hike is exactly like it sounds, a hike through water. Israel doesn't have many rivers or streams so they tend to be very popular places for hiking. This hike was one of the more beautiful hikes I've ever seen in Israel (and one of the hardest - which may explain why I had never done it before).

We found a few places were we could jump off into the water, even though it was warm the water was basically freezing. And there were a few places where you had no choice but to swim. We were hiking through a ravine with a stream at the bottom, sometimes you can't hike around.

The end of the hike we found ourselves hiking up a 60-degree slope (no joke) for close to an hour which was a pain but worth it for the view of the Kinneret that we had at the top.

Last Friday's Unfortunate Events

This past Friday Naomi and I were unfortunate enough to be placed in a difficult situation. By now I'm sure many of you have heard about it, but I wanted to let you all know in my own words.
On our way back from Jerusalem to Efrat, last Friday, we were on the bus when the traffic stopped due to a car accident. Naomi looked down the road (a bridge between two tunnels) and saw smoke and then some flames. Then a guy on the bus screamed for fire extinguishers, one of which was right next to us. After the bus driver broke the protective glass covering, I grabbed the extinguisher and ran down the road to help.

A car had been crushed by a passenger bus and the car was aflame - the bus was on top of some of it. The driver was obviously already gone, and there was nothing that I could have done to prevent that, but the sight of the body was the most horrific sight I've ever seen. I tried my best to put out the fire, but since the extinguisher was not a large version it was gone rather quickly and the fire came back.

The bus itself was up against the protective wall, but that blocked both of the doors. All of the buses in our part of Israel are bullet proof and you cant just break the windows all that easily, the only escape for the passengers was through the back window. I couldn't help any more there as, thankfully, there were others doing what they could to help. Another car was also involved in the accident - the woman driving that car seemed to be okay and the first set of emergency vehicles were just then showing up so there really was nothing more that I could have done.

As I walked back to the bus it only then hit me what I had just seen and taken part in. Needless to say I was an emotional wreck.

Naomi tried her best to comfort me, and she did a fantastic job of it too, but only time really helped. When we found out that the bridge would be closed for the next four hours until they could clean up the accident (and Shabbat was coming in about 3 hours) we needed to find a way to get to Efrat. So we started walking up the road, and met a guy who was going towards Efrat willing to give a few of the passengers a lift around Bethlehem and to Efrat.

I've been speaking to a bunch of people here - the Rabbis, and other students who have had similar traumatic experiences.

I think that I'm doing okay, the first few days it was nearly impossible to get the image of the accident (the body) out of my head and sometimes it does come back to me now, but it's not inhibiting my need to move on.

Haaretz has a description of the accident (the picture shows only the car of the woman who was doing okay).