Birthright Journal - Day 4

5/22 The night was awful. The guy on my left went sideways, and the guy on my right started to snore. It was sweaty, hot, and gross. I propped my balled-up sweatshirt over the sleeping bag and put that against my backpack. I got a solid two hours of sleep in. But now we are leaving to Masada to see the sunrise. ---

The story of Masada can be made into a really good movie! For the first time ever, my phone ran out of power, so I don’t have many pictures from Masada. We saw the sunrise and visited the old bathhouses. The hike down was really great! My legs were super shaky. If I was even a little bit “in shape”, it would have been great. Unfortunately, the sun started to get a little stronger and I didn't apply sunscreen, so we'll see what kind of damage I'm in. Finally, we ate breakfast. I didn't get a picture but it was a package of: a tomato, a peach, a chocolate (or vanilla) pudding, a can of Pepsi, a roll, butter, a chocolate wafer, an impossible to peel egg, and a yogurt-ey thing that tasted like crepe filling minus all the sweet stuff. I dipped the bread in it, and that was enough to hit the spot. The pudding was much more liquid-ey, but I mixed it with the crepe yogurt thing and I think I'm on to something, but it needs improvement. Now we are on our way to the Dead Sea, so I hope the battery can charge. Then again, I'm probably not going to bring my phone in there. I learned the hard way not to take my phone with me to bodies of water. --- Oh yeah. In Israel, their Starbucks’s are "Aroma"s. It's refreshing to not see the splayed mermaid logo everywhere; then again it got replaced with a big ‘ol Alef. --- The Dead Sea is really neat! "We all float down here!" We were the first ones in the spa (called “Premier Spa”), so we got to be the first ones in the open sea, which was a real treat because ten minutes later, the other Birthright groups flooded in. at least we got to see it peacefully. As soon as you lift your feet in the dead sea, it feels like you slip on a banana peel and then froze midway through the fall. Then, as you go deeper, you can just float but standing, so you're like Superman, just hovering above the ground! Otherwise, you’re stepping on salt chunks that look like diamonds in rap videos. The water is really oily, but it makes your skin all silky smooth like a baby's butt. I decided to stick my tongue in to taste it (so you don’t have to). Well folks, it tastes like pretzel salt, but really really concentrated. And the Dead Sea did not feel like the deepest place on earth! Ultimately, it was all fun and games until I got some of the water in my eye. That sucked, and then the shower I got had no water pressure, so that took some time to wear off. Now we are off to Jerusalem for lunch and the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. The bus ride is full of sleepyheads. Goddammit, I need to sleep too! We woke up at 4 am for chrissakes! --- Stopped in a strip mall in Jerusalem, and that's where I got my pizza. They slightly burnt our pizza so they gave us a whole second pizza plus three extra slices!!! In America, they’d yell at you like it’s somehow your fault!

Then I got my ice cream (which was a lot more like gelato).

I asked, “What are the flavors?”

He replied, “Chocolate, raspberry, ora-“

“Chocolate, please.”

And then he continued, “Orange, vanilla, mocha-“

“I’ll have the chocolate.”

“Mocha, tutti frutti, and these over here are vegan. So, what do you want?”

“I’ll have the chocolate, please.”

--- Holocaust Museum. Only gonna jot down stuff now. Children memorial – “light of eyes of God is [essence] of man.” - 1.5 Million children = 1.5 million (minimum) reflections of light out of five candles and mirrors. (I don’t remember why it’s five candles, though.) Memorial to Irene Sendler. Shape like Tolborone (prism) with a glass point, because everything happened in plain sight. Say what you will about the prequels, but Emperor Palpatine's rise to power is so similar to Hitler's. "Out with the Jews", a board game. Reich citizenship calls the Jews a race. 3+ grandparents = Jew. 2 grandparents = "Mischling". They copy-pasted the Jim Crow laws. They even kept the black and white silhouettes on the diagrams. This museum shows a lot more of the politics rather than Hitler and the Nazis vs. the Jews. It shows each neighboring country with their own decisions. one time, a kid said to our guide named Hershey, "We are in one triangle (half a Jewish Star) because we lost the other half in the Holocaust." Our guide loved that sentiment and I do too. Yellow stars. Yellow is a symbol of death, like as in a quarantine. So too, the Jews were identified as a plague. Literally monopoly but with ghettos.

Update: it was made by a Jewish man in the ghettos on purpose to: 1. Entertain the kids, and 2. To teach them of the other locations and stuff going around. They had ghetto money with Jewish symbols on it (stars, menorahs...etc. with the word "Ghetto" in English. Good thing, right? Oh yeah, the museum is closing at 5 o’ clock for Trump’s visit. (Thanks, Obama!) so the faculty was rushing us out as fast as we could and blocked off some of the exhibits. Trump better get something out of his visit if ours got cut short for him. And I like to browse at museums and read and look at every last spec, so I’m a little upset about that. Finally, there was a giant circle that looked like the Jedi archives where they have all the testimonies of survivors in giant books. Some were missing because they are getting re-scanned into (probably free) better quality PDF's. Conclusion: I've been to the one in D.C., Skokie, and now this one in Jerusalem. The one in Jerusalem seems very concerned with conserving the facts of Hitler's rise to power and each territories' roles. Also, preserving the testimonies of the survivors. In D.C., I remember them being mostly concerned with sharing the accounts of what happened in the camps and what the Nazis did. Lastly, the one in Skokie seems to be centered on remembering what happened and preventing events like this to happen again. It makes sense that people got more out of the one in D.C., it tugs at the heartstrings more. But all three museums are unique and serve its own important purpose.

--- Hotel in Jerusalem. Rashes everywhere. We are just chillin' tonight. Had dinner at the hotel.

Status: People seem to genuinely appreciate me. I have never been around people the way I am with my family: just a non-filtered, sing-songy goofball and nerd (also genuine and gentleman). My philosophy is to always be open and genuine and have the best intentions. On the other hand, people know me enough to ask me, "If you could have a real lightsaber or world peace, what color lightsaber would you have?" (FYI: green, single blade: nothing fancy.) I think that if I stay like that around people, they in turn will open up. Of course, it will take time to build that trust with people, but we don’t have that much time. I know that my mom, sister, and even myself was worried about me immediately showing my cards rather than bluff about being someone I'm not. I am the first one to admit that I’m a person who needs getting used to. (I'm like Mt. Everest like that. People seem to need oxygen after prolonged exposure to my atmosphere!) My hope is just that people will see me and in turn let loose. It's 10 days with complete strangers in another country. Why spend five days concealing my inner jukebox and complaining that the Holocaust Museum was too short? No! I'm the guy who tastes the gummy candy that looks really good, even if I'm not gonna buy it. I'm the guy who names my camel to give it a personality, leading everyone else to come up with their own names for theirs.

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