Friday, February 14, 2014

Defining Truth: Two Sides to Every Wall

Today’s lesson is to try to define truth. The peace-makers often say “my truth” and “your truth,” but can truth also be objective? Depends on who you talk to…

I have crossed the Wall.(Kind of like in Stardust, except sans Robert De Niro in a tutu.) As a non-Israeli citizen, I am allowed to cross into the West Bank at my leisure. (Actually, anyone can cross in – it’s getting back into Israel that’s the issue.) Four of us Ultimate Peace coaches gathered for the first formal practice in the West Bank in about a year. The kids had been practicing on their own for a while, but UP now has a volunteer, Ben, living just outside of Bethlehem to establish more consistent programming. (Incidentally, this guy actually played for my club team’s rival based out of Atlanta. Small world!) On the drive in, my fellow coach and new friend Johanna and I tried to recap the West Bank’s history – piecing together which Intifada did what and elected whom and was recognized by which countries and how all that relates to the current political state of Palestine. It was a lengthy, convoluted conversation against the backdrop of a simple city – hotels, restaurants, supply stores, couches and dresses for sale on the sidewalk, etc. As we waited for our caravan on the side of the road, I felt a small, cold slap against the back of my head and something drop down between my lower back and the seat.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Breathing Room

I grew up going to church with my mom and my brother. My dad knows a few Jewish jokes and the first half of the prayer that you say when you light the menorah (he trails off in the latter half with odd guttural noises that he tries to pass off as Hebrew. Very PC, my father.). My folks gave me the option of whether or not to get baptized when I was ten; and having almost no experience in any Jewish community or customs, I stuck with what I knew. But the other side of my heritage has always tugged at me – asking for attention and begging to be explored. It is a significant reason why I wanted to come to Israel. And being drawn to the more mystical sects of most religions anyway, I perked up at the opportunity to go to a class on Hasidic Judaism, taught by one of my organization’s seminar teachers. This blog post is about my experience and reflections on that class.