Birthright Journal - Day 10

5/28 “Oh I can hide 'neath the wings, of a blue bird as she sings—“ Wake up! You got 10 minutes to get dressed and scarf breakfast shit down your face! Today we are doing a community service type thing with little Israeli kids in Kiryat Gat, then Ben Yehudah street again, and finally Mt. Hertzel. --- Apparently this is the first school built in Kiryat Gat; 60 years strong. The kids are making faces at us and oh my god we're going to have recess with the kids! I think I'm more excited for recess than the kids. The kids sang "count on me" by Bruno Mars. It was so cute!

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Recess was great! They had a dance instructor up front and the kids were playing dodgeball and soccer. I will admit, I was a little put off by all the kids dabbing all the time. There was even a kid with a flat bill hat with marijuana leaves all over it going, "Yo! Yo! Yo!" Then we had an activity where we had to cut flash cards and ask the kids in English who, what, when, where, and why questions. My kid was not into this thing. He got up and left for a few minutes to get water. That’s fine with me, though. I’m not going to force him to learn stuff. Then, he saw one of the girls on our trip and the little hearts flying around in his eyes were visible. He asked me to write "WhatsApp" on a paper. Then he made it into an airplane and flew it to her. Then it went back and forth with hearts and "how are you". It was so adorable! (Meanwhile, this brat has more game than I do!). At the end of the activity, as we were leaving, the girl told him she was actually an Israeli and the kid got so embarrassed he cowered under his seat. But me? I wore my Star Wars shirt and a couple of kids were excited by that. Then I got some paper and started folding an origami X-Wing and the kids lost it! (The teachers were impressed too.! They both wanted one, but I only had time to make two of them, so I hope the third kid won't be too upset. I told the kids "May the force be with you", and one of them said back, "I have something to tell you. I am your father!" And I said, "Nooooooo!!!!"

Now we're off to Ben Yehudah street to hopefully get a gold Star of David necklace. --- Ok so, three guesses what I ate: 1…2— Shawarma!

I doubt I'll be getting a bagel from Israel. I did get a silver Magin Dovid with opal. (I'll get the chain at home.) I bought it for 350 Shekels and the guy said he was a Bedouin. Also, he said he worked with Taglit for 40 years (Taglit just turned 18). I gave him my last $100 bill and he gave me back several dollars. I hope I didn't get too ripped off, but at least I really like it. Here are some other things he said: He said he'd polish it and didn't. He said it was one of a kind. Can't confirm. He said "Sorry, I've worked with Taglit for 30 years." Still too old. He said it was hand-crafted by him. Can't confirm. He said I got a 25% discount. Guess I'll never know. --- Mount Hertzel: a military cemetery in the center of Jerusalem. It is somewhere I can go and sit for hours to meditate or write. I didn't want to speak and I didn't want to lift my sunglasses. It felt like I needed something between my eyes in order to be worthy enough to look around. Besides, what did I have to say? Apparently, a bird had something for me, though. I quickly found a sink and washed that off. --- The second half of the cemetery was a little more bearable, but that was when I noticed all the crows (unless they were ravens... or both). Unlike most cemeteries, Mt. Hertzel is essentially a botanical garden with graves in it. In an odd way, it's sort of alive. Also, unlike the rest of Israel, there is no graffiti or art; everything is neat and organized and beautiful and serene. It's calm, and as I said before, seems to be breathing, but peacefully, like everyone is fast asleep and dreaming peaceful dreams. --- It's strange how our day began with visiting children; most of them likely to be future soldiers; and then the military cemetery where we commemorate those who fought to protect them. In Naruto (I know, I know, but stay with me!), they talk about their purpose for fighting, and specifically the "Will of Fire", which essentially is about fighting not for yourself, nor for your homeland, but for the protection of the children: the next generation to continue kindling the flame (hence "Will of Fire").

--- Dinner. Blah. Who cares. Next! --- We reflected on our birthright trips and I got pretty emotional, I'll admit. I said something like this: "I grew up very religious and I had a really bitter taste in my mouth about Judaism: the people, the community, and the people. I came on birthright to start fresh and start over. I genuinely love all the people I've met on this trip, and please, PLEASE keep in touch! Believe it or not, I wasn't very popular in school. Not even college was great for me. But, meeting you all, I have been able to actually show my true self. Only my close family knows the Dovid who randomly sings obscure songs from a hundred years ago. It sounds really fucking stupid, because it is, but I was never sure if it was something wrong with me, or them, and I had to cross the fucking planet to confirm my self-worth. So, truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all!" --- After that we all sat out on the deck. People drank, talked, and I got one more dance in with Shakira’s “Hips don’t lie”. Then, I sat down and I ripped my pants. I wasn't sure, but when I stood up, it ripped even more. Oh well, it greatly lightened the mood and that’s one less thing I have to pack!

By the way, the t-shirts turned out so good! I love how on the shirt is just the word, "colonoscopy". Yeah, that was my joke from the second day (which I did not vouch for, by the way). And the joke is exactly that: a random word like "colonoscopy" on the shirt. Status: I'm tired and I want to go to bed, but I don't want less time to talk with these friends. It's very difficult for all of us to reconnect at once, especially with some of them being eight hours ahead. (But I really hope we do!)

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