As another warm and early day started here in Haifa, Israel, Ive spent some time thinking about what Ive experienced so far. Israel is definitely a completely different world, but maybe not in the ways you’re thinking. It is located in the Middle East, byt yet so different from what I experienced in my travels in Saudi Arabia. It is probably one of the biggest political discussions that is going on, and it is a case thats far from black and white. But I wanted to let you know the 10 things Ive learned by volunteering here so far, side by side to Jewish and Arabic people.
- I believe Israel will for long time still be a country with issues, and there will always be people who have opinions about the conflicts going on here. But thats far from all thats going on here. Israel is a country of so much history, beauty, vibrant food scene, undiscovered beaches and so much more. Just because Israel is a place of great conflicts, doesn’t mean its not safe to visit or worthy to see. Ive walked through the city at night and day, been through remote areas and still haven’t stumbled upon anything that made me feel unsafe.
- It is expensive. And thats coming from someone from Denmark you guys! It’s at least as expensive as in Denmark, if not more. I bought a shawarma the other day, and it was 40 shekel! Id say thats the double of what I’d have paid back in DK.
- The Sabbath. Whether its through Jewish or Arabic religion, the Sabbath is a special day. For the jews it starts friday night and lasts until Saturday night. No one does anything, most shops are closed, no one is working. Even the secular jews save this day for family and friends, and nothing is allowed to come between this. I think we in the western country could learn something from this. Just having 24 hours each week with nothing to do.
- Tel Aviv plays, Jerusalem prays. Whether you’re religious or not there is something special and “holy” about Jerusalem. In several religions it is the, or one of the, most holy city. To stand by the Western Wall, visit Jesus’ tomb or see the Dome of the Rock will definitely make you feel small and walking around here even as a non-religious tourist you will definitely feel the Holy Spirit.
- There is diversity for everyone. After by travels to Saudi Arabia, I wasn’t sure on what to be expecting about Israel. Would men stare and give me looks if Id go to the beach in a bikini? Yell something at me if I was wearing short shorts and a crop top? If I smiled at a stranger on my way would he take it the wrong way and start approaching me? But none of my worries turned out to be needed. Maybe because the diversity in religion, the country has grown into acceptance of other people travelling around in the country – but still staying within their own beliefs and laws.
- It is amazing. Many friends were surprised to see me going here, sending me messages telling me to be safe, stay out or harm and to come back asap. Most often I think that is because they do not truly realise what is going on here. Im not saying terrible things aren’t happening, and I cant even start to describe how my heart aces when I hear about the terrible things going on by the Gaza. But that is not all of Israel, far from. It is such a beautiful, gorgeous and special place to be. I feel so blessed to get to experience all these things and I will definitely be coming back in the future.