Ever since I was a little girl I have loved overcast, rainy days. They are the perfect days for bundling up with a good book or movie, and enjoying the storm outside. Now, being the desert rat that I am, after a day or so of clouds and rain I am very ready for the sun, but every once in a while, a nice, overcast day is very much appreciated. Today was just that kind of day; I experienced my first Israeli rainstorm! Dana and I decided to do some shopping in Jaffa today, as a nice pre Shabbat outing, and, what do you know, as soon as we walked off the bus the rain came a-pourin down! I was less than perfectly dressed for such an occasion with my white tank top and short shorts, so we decided to hide out in a cafe, get some food, and wait out the storm. We found a very cute place near the entrance to Jaffa, I got a delicious egg sandwich with a hot glass of cinnamon apple cider, and by the time we were done eating, the storm had passed. It was a wonderful 30 minute downpour, and I celebrated its passing by doing what I do best...shopping!
Dana is going back to California for the high holidays so she wanted to buy little gifts for friends back home and we decided that Jaffa was the best place to do that. As we were walking through Shuk Hapishpishim (Jaffa Flea Market) we came upon a shop that had a lot of very nice little trinkets. It was a pretty typical Shuk shop, like one you would find in the Old City of Jerusalem. This particular shop had a good deal of Judaica, and touristy items that looked very appealing, so we decided to check it out. My only hope was that I had maintained my ability to bargain for good prices (a skill I almost perfected when I lived in Jerusalem!)
I was more there to just look, however, as Dana was talking to the shop owner about prices and so on, I couldn't help but notice something very strange about the way he spoke Hebrew. For an ear that does not know the difference between Hebrew and Arabic you would never know that the shop owner was, indeed, speaking in Hebrew; it sounded JUST like Arabic. Now, normally this wouldn't be odd because there are plenty of Arabs that work in these stores (especially in Jaffa), however, this store owner was wearing a yarmulka (Jewish head covering), and Jews don't usually speak Hebrew with an Arabic accent. My curiosity was aflame at this point.
Deciding to take matters into my own hand, I asked the store owner about a beautiful plate decorated in Arabic writing. I figured he would be curious as to why an American, Jewish girl would want to know about a plate with Arabic on it. I was correct! His first response to my question was "do you know what this is"? I so badly wanted to say "ummm ya... it's a plate..." but I didn't think he would appreciate my humor, so I told him that I, indeed, knew that it was Arabic writing on the plate. After looking at me for a second he said, "Btihki Arabi?" (do you speak Arabic), to which I answered, in Arabic, that I do speak a little. We then started talking a bit in Arabic, he showed me almost everything in the store that had Arabic writing on it, and, after all of that, I had to buy something. I didn't mind since I have yet to purchase any decorative items for my room, and he let me practice my Arabic with him for a bit so buying something was the least I could do. I ended up buying the plate and a beautiful Hamsa with Arabic writing.
After a nice day of shopping in Jaffa, and a beautiful rainstorm, it was time to get back to Ramat Aviv. I got home, made some food, did some cleaning, and then had a very nice start of Shabbat. I was by myself, but I never feel lonely here. I am so busy, and have so many things occupying my time, that I really enjoy the time I do have to myself. I decided to light my little Shabbat candles, say the blessings, make my dinner, and get ready for the big Palestinian/Israeli showdown at the United Nations.
After watching both Abbas and Netanyahu address the United Nations, I was left in awe. Abbas's speech was very predictable, and relied mostly on the emotional situation of the "Palestinian plight", however, I was completely blown away by Netanyahu's address. After hearing him speak I became ten times more passionate about why I am here in the Middle East (which I never thought could happen since my passion level is already at a very high point!), and ten times more motivated to truly work for not only peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, but work for the strength and continuation of the Jewish state of Israel; my new home.
Tomorrow I am off to look at possible places for my first apartment! Since I am making Aliyah, becoming a citizen, and will most likely be living here for quite a few years, it is time that my 23 year old, graduate student, almost Israeli citizen, self finds her first apartment! Israel really will soon be HOME!
Lilah Tov and Shabbat Shalom Chaverim!