Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 29-30: Iftar Take 2 + Sketchy Walking Tour of Jerusalem

Yesterday was yet another wonderful afternoon and evening spent in Yerushalayim! My friend Susanna spent the summer interning at a company called "One Voice", and they have a radio show that Susanna helped to produce. Some staff members of the radio station decided to throw an Iftar for everyone involved, and Susanna was kind enough to invite me along! After Ulpan we met up at the central bus station, hailed our Sherut, and were off to Jerusalem yet again. Though I have already been to Jerusalem so many times in my short month of living here, I haven't spent much time in East Jerusalem (where the iftar was being held), so I was excited to be going to a new area.

When Susanna and I arrived on Ben Yehudah street we caught a cab and were off to Sheikh Jarrah (A small, Arab town in East Jerusalem). As we were driving in the taxi, a wave of nostalgia rushed over me like you wouldn't believe. Sheikh Jarrah is very close to where I used to live when I studied in Jerusalem, on Mount Scopus (Har Hatzofim), and driving on those same roads was so special. When we finally arrived in Sheikh Jarrah, we walked through a pretty deserted area and then came to the building that housed the radio station.

When we arrived to the Iftar people were just sitting down to break the fast, and let me tell you, this food was to die for. We had chicken and rice imported from Ramallah, various kinds of salads, dates and figs, traditional Tamr Hindi (a type of fruit drink), and the most delicious olives, pickles, and peppers. It was truly a feast! As the evening progressed everyone introduced themselves (in Hebrew of course so I could only understand every 4th or 5th word), and then they decided to have a discussion about how to improve ratings at the station. At this point Susanna and I had no idea what was going on so we just stuck to eating our amazing food, and smiling and nodding if anyone caught our eyes.

The interesting part of the evening came when one of the Palestinian workers mentioned the News Journal I will soon be working at, and was talking about how they have a show at the radio station. I couldn't believe my luck. I haven't even started my internship yet and I already had a chance to network! I met the head of the station, who told me she is always looking for interns, met some people who host their own shows each day, and even met a former member of Knesset (Israeli parliament). It was a great time, and a great business venture! we spent a little more time schmoozing, and then decided to start heading back. Susanna decided to stay in Jerusalem so we planned to go together to the Sherut's back to Tel Aviv, and then she would break off and go to her friends house.

At first we were thinking of taking a cab back to the center of town (which probably would have been smarter albeit more expensive), but it was such a nice night, and we were so full from dinner, that we decided to walk... yes walk... all the way from Sheikh Jarrah to the center of town. I will say this, it was a very interesting way to see a good chunk of Jerusalem, but it was at night, and we walked through some iffy areas, so I don't think I'll make a habit of doing it! When we began our lengthy stroll we were in Arab east Jerusalem, and Susanna was much more uncomfortable than I was. There were young men driving by in cars cat calling and looking back at us, but it didn't bother me so much. There were hardly any people on the street so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. As we were walking I got a rough idea of the area I will be living in next month, and I am very pleased with the location.

As we continued down the road we came to an area of Jerusalem I used to avoid like the plague; it is a very religious, very fanatic, area of Jerusalem, and I was not comfortable there at all. All of the Chassidim (Ultra Orthodox Jews) were on the street just glaring at the two of us walking along, making me very uncomfortable. I'll take the cat calling Arab men any day over the Chassidim. Luckily there were no stones around or I'm sure some of them would have put them to good use (they do throw stones in some of those religious areas if you are deemed too secular). It is a little funny, but also a little sad, that I feel more comfortable in some of the Arab areas than I do in areas made up of my own people. It just shows that fanaticism in any religion is awful, and what's worse is seeing this fanaticism in my own beloved religion.

Anyways, we made it back to the Sheruts with no problems, thank God, I said my goodbyes to Susanna, and was back on my way to Tel Aviv. It was another perfect day in Jerusalem, and I'm already counting the days until I'm back... which happens to be 3 :-D.

Today was just a typical go to Ulpan, do homework, meet Susanna for dinner, go to bed kind of a day, so nothing too exciting to report there. However, this weekend we have a five day weekend (due to university holiday) so I will be going up to Haifa for the first time and I am so excited! Stay tuned for those exciting posts!

Until tomorrow then ya chaverim!
Jordana Simone

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