Yesterday, I had a chance to get out of the house and hang out with a real, live Israeli! Eliav is a friend of Rafi's, and he and I made a playdate so we could become friend independently of Raf.
Eliav was raised in a house speaking English with his parents, but was born and raised in Jerusalem. He served in the army and had plenty to show me around town, and is all about the experiential education. First, he took me to Pinati ("my corner"), which serves some serious hummus im basar (hummus with ground meat on top), amazing! He made me order, in Hebrew, and when we paid the bill, the guy at the register told me only to talk in Hebrew. He said he'd read my nameplate necklace (Hebrew first name: שרה/Sarah, contained in a little heart). I have to start matching my decorations to my talents. How about a hat that says "Snarky, Highly Literate English Speaker"? I'm still working out the details...
After lunch, we wandered to Ammunition Hill, a vital battleground from the 6-day war in 1967. This is the war where Israeli forces finally reclaimed the Western Wall, and united Eastern parts of Jerusalem with the rest of the city. It was amazing to be there with Eliav, who knows so much Jerusalem/Israel/Army history. He pointed out things in pictures that I would never have seen, and then we roamed the dug out trenches of the hill, until...
Ammunition Hill! I'm hiding in one of the trenches.
Eliav and I block the cool background of weaving, maze-like trenches.
SURPRISE! There was an army tekes (ceremony) going on at Ammunition Hill. Since this landmark is especially important for the paratroopers, this is where the paratrooper trainees, after 8 months of training, get their red paratrooper berets in a public ceremony at AH. This tekes didn't have a live band, but a DISC TEKESIM (CD for Tekes Ceremonies. Really.), and I started to understand the (Hebrew) song they played on repeat during the beret ceremony! Eliav and I stayed to check out the ceremony, and were delighted to run into his family, there to see his cousin get his red beret. A lovely coincidence, and I took some pictures of the set up.
More Tekes Signage.
Soldiers, waiting to get their red, paratrooper berets. The song said, "Paratropper, you're always ready to go, to save the world." Or something like that.
I continue to be amazed at how young these soldiers look. I remember that the majority of the counselors I worked with this past summer, and summers past, are the same age as these kids, who wearing army greens, little red berets, and an automatic machine gun, slung over the shoulder.
On the way home, Eliav and I made a quick stop in Geula, which is the super-religious main drag just off of downtown Jerusalem. I was wearing a tank top and jeans. It was an experience where I was the ONLY person not only not in a skirt, but with not just my elbows, my shoulders uncovered as well. I like to refer to it as "tossing my goodies in Geula."