Shalom & Toda

Happy Hanukah!

I am not jewish, but I have a lot of jewish friends…why? Because I had the pleasure of living in Israel for 3 years.

No it wasn’t a Pray.Eat.Love  motivated move, I was there for work and by work I mean basketball!

That was the first country I lived in to play professionally and I LOVED IT! The people, the food, the culture, the language, you name it  I loved it.

 

Of course like in every place where humans  exist, there are some negatives to it, but the good most definitely outweighed the bad at all times. Since Hanukah is coming to an end, I felt it was the perfect time to share the…

Things I loved about living in Israel

1.The language

Hebrew is a very intriguing language in my opinion, it is only spoken in Israel, and truthfully its pretty useless outside of the country (kinda like Italian come to think of it). and pretty much everyone speaks English, but me being me I decided I wanted to learn it anyways! My first year was more of a google/teammates effort which helped me get ready to enroll in the Ulpan (אולפן‬) my second year. It was a really fun experience ad my first assignment happened to be during Hanukah, where I got to light the first candle on the Menora and read the first blessing in front of the class, their family and friends.

menora

2. The culture

Got to say, Israel was a very welcoming country for the most part, I can’t even begin to tell you how many Shabbat dinners I did NOT pass up, or how many people, when I asked for directions while driving, ended up telling me to just follow them to where I was going to show me the way!

My favorite thing to do was going to the Shuk (the market) and just soak in all the colors, the smells and the obligatory fresh squeezed pomegranate juice!

jerusalem market

3. Exploring

I am pretty sure I have traveled most of Israel (not that is that big) and got to see some of the most amazing sites. The obvious, are of course the Dead Sea where I got to live the dream of finally floating on water (guys, I’ve tried and I can “swim”, but floating is just not in the cards for me) Jerusalem (more times that I can count), Tel Aviv (can you say paaaaarrrtttaaayyyy) and Eilat.

 

There are so many more places worth mentioning, so here are some of the ones I was able to make my way to and totally recommend. Haifa, the Masada Fortress, Ein Gedi, Nazareth, Caeserea, Ramat Hasharon, Herzeliya, the safari in Ramat Gan, Ashdod and so much more I am sure it’s escaping me right now.

 

 

4. The neighboring countries

I know that politics, when it comes to that part of the world,  make it for a bitter topic, but let’s put that aside and simply focus on the people. Humans, we are really not as different as we are so busy trying to be.

While in Israel I venture to Palestine and Jordan. In both places I felt extremely welcomed and I enjoyed being able to visit countries that are often described in a less than positive light. (Will tackle Africa and its stereotypes soon enough!).

In Palestine other than the beautiful historical architecture, I was really excited to be able to see a few pieces by Banksy making powerful statements.

 

In Jordan I had to of course get to the door of Petra, one of the most breath taking experiences ever!

 

I know I will be back in the near future, I left lots of good friends there and I am sure there are loads of new adventures for me to get in on that side of the world.

Have you ever been to the middle east? What countries did you visit? Let me know in the comments!

Ciao for now,

Aby

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