January 6, 2012

Yes, Hebrew speakers I know the title is redundant…aval kacha zeh

Chavaya is a Hebrew word that literally translated means experience. But at least in my experience it means more.

Ayzeh chavaya means that you experienced something that made a strong impression something that you cant wait to tell other people about, that at least for a little while can cause you to change the way you look at some things.

Over the last 3 years I have had the great opportunity to spend a few months a year in Israel. I am up to six out of the last twelve. I’ve also worked my Hebrew up pretty close to fluent which helps. When in Israel my main work is on US hours and I am off Sundays. That means I have plenty of time to look for chavayot.

What is a chavaya for me in Israel.. Having a few beers in the middle of the Negev at sunset with an Israeli student that grew up in the comfortable suburbs of Tel Aviv and has chosen to combine college with building up the quality of life in the “peripheria” periphery of Israel by doing community service might be one. And it’s even more likely to be one if he is joined by a twenty something American Jew who has decided to join him. And that’s just one example.

Mee she mayveen yaveen loosely translated maybe you get what I mean.

What I will be doing here is writing about places that I know and have had “chavayot” with. They range across many parts of Israeli society. Then I want to help you spend some time with these groups too. The whole idea is to broaden American Jews experience. Literally and figuratively to get them off the tour bus and out of the hotel room.

One thing I won’t do here is enter into discussions of “ha matsav” the overarching term for security and foreign policy issues. Not because they aren’t important –l’hefek just the opposite. They are so important that I don’t have anything particular new or insightful to say. And more importantly because my whole goal here is to help you have a broader exposure to life in Israel. Believe me, if you visit some of these places and speak to the people the subject of “ha matsav” will come up or you can bring it up.  And you will hear unfiltered opinions of the people living the situation and you can draw your own conclusions

I am also not fundraising although I think all these groups merit your support in all ways. The people I have met at these groups are hungry to have encounters with “rank and file” American Jew that just want people to learn about what they are doing. I have never ever been solicited for a contribution during my visits to these places. These people know that the more visitors that get exposed to what they are doing the more support they will get. And they also love the idea that American Jews are interested in more about Israel than “ha matsav”.

People that know me know that when it comes to Israel I am bottom up and all about making connections. My main goal is for you to contact me and for me to help you have these chavayot.  Soon there will be a facebook group and people can post from their chavayot. And in this wonderful world of social networking other people will contribute posts about other groups you…and I should experience.

Other things I will be doing here:

Heads up on interesting articles on social and cultural developments of Israel.

Profiles of Israeli artists include some music videos and tv and movie clips.

Suggestions for “non touristy” things to do while in Israel

During the time I am in Israel notes on interesting concerts, lectures and other events.

And who knows what else. It’s a blog we’ll see how it goes.

Each entry will be written by me perhaps with contributions from participants in the program. It’s a blog so hopefully people will kick in with their own suggestions.

In the interest of anonymity I won’t post my personal information here. But the minute we get to know each other by email we’ll meet virtually or in thereal world and get to know each other to set up chavayot.

Of course this isn’t intended just for Americans and I don’t have a specific age group in mind : college age and up works. So if you or your children are in Israel for a year or a semester or a short trip please feel welcome.

As a matter of fact olim chadashim and vatikim and native Israelis are welcome too. Plenty of them don’t know about these groups and don’t get out to meet them. We took a hard core Tel Avivit down to Ayalim village at Ashalim in the Negev. As we were getting into the car to drive back to Tel Aviv she said “what time will we get back to Israel … to which we responded “ we are in Israel “.

Zeh hoo zeh: no talking points, no monetary solicitations. Just helping people have chavayot baaretz.

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