Today is our third full day in Israel and we have covered so much ground in this short period of time. Yesterday we traveled to Tzfat, one of the four holy cities in Israel. We went to the home of an incredible artist named David Friedman, who is influenced by Kabbalah, a jewish mysticism. His artwork has vibrant watercolors, geometric shapes, and hebrew lettering. Each painting has layers of meaning and I was in awe as he peeled each one away, revealing more about his art and the facets of Kabbalism.
The city is 6,000 years old and many buildings still exude this history- stonewalls, iron gates, and damage from several earthquakes. The population is generally more observant and you can see this in the clothing they wear- women cover their hair and men have paeot. We concluded our day at the mikveh, a ritual bathhouse. The women were given a tour of the spa-like space and engaged in a discussion about the mitzvah of the mikveh, and dating and marrying in the orthodox sect.
We drove to Tel Aviv that evening, and what an extreme dichotomy from Tzfat! Today in Tel Aviv, 7 Israeli peers joined our trip and I'm excited to speak with them about their experience growing up in the country and serving in the IDF. We visited Rabin Square and independence Hall and learned about the creation of the state of Israel and the war of Independence. I still feel like there is so much to discuss; we really just skimmed the surface on Israel's history. Luckily we are having another political talk this evening, once in Jerusalem. Afterwards we walked through the outdoor market in Tel Aviv; it was heavenly. Fresh fruit, amazing food, and filled with people. My friend and I explored the area and stumbled upon a small restaurant, which was more like a kitchen in someone's home. It was fantastic. Now we are on our way to Jerusalem and tomorrow we will spend Shabbat in the holiest city of Israel. More later, le'heit!