Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ana Boheb al Rokossa

Tonight we participated in a Ramadan feast put on by Ayman, our Arabic teacher! The food was so incredible! There was a lot of thyme, mint, parsley and garlic. My favorite was the steamed carrots hollowed out and stuffed with seasoned rice. Mm mm good. Of course we had amazing hummus and pita to polish it all off.

Ayman invited a father and son who do the call to prayer in one of the Jerusalem mosques. Call to prayer usually lasts about ten minutes and it is just a solo singer amplified to the whole neighborhood that it is time to pray. There are five prayers a day and each call to prayer has different words. The one at four in the morning (who needs a rooster?) says, "Prayer is better than sleep." How dedicated are they to stinking get up in the middle of the night to pray! Yet another thing to admire about the people here.

The duty to sing the call to prayer is passed down through the family and it has been the privilege of this family for more than five-hundred and fifty years! The sons start learning when they are so young: six or seven. The son that came (now in his twenties) had the whole qu'uran memorized by the age of nine! They don't take lessons. They believe that singing is a gift from God and it comes naturally to those who have it. These men definitely have a gift: it was beautiful!

The call to prayer is sung from minarets, like this one.
Every mosque has one.

After dinner was dancing! Four young Palestinians came in traditional garb and demonstrated to us after which we learned the dance. It was outrageously fun! Most of the dances were circle and line dances but at the end we all just broke out in spontaneous joyful movement (shout out to Mom...).

Left to right: Fatima, Ashley, Naima, Muhammad, Me, Faisar and Lizzie

What is it about music and dancing that brings people together? It's fascinating and so wonderful. Ana boheb al rokossa! I love to dance!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm usually not this idealistic...

I had the privilege of experiencing the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem today. I was deeply affected mostly by the stories. We all know the hard facts, but to take time to get to know the victims from what they left behind. There were a couple of stories that really moved me, but I don't think this is the time to relate them. I emerged with a renewed determination to live with wide open eyes and never passively stand by persecution. One element that I found very disturbing is the chain of responsible persons on a display. There was an interview from the conductor of the train station at the Polish town closest Auschwitz. He was just a citizen working at the train station and he knew where they were headed but sent the train through every time anyways. When someone asked him how it felt to be involved in the murders he insisted he had no part in it. The system was such that either everyone was guilty or no one was to blame. I want to be the type of citizen that always steps up and takes the initiative no matter the cost.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Toil and Oil

You start out with olives. Any olive will do. In our case they weren't even ripe but they fulfilled their purpose, which is? OIL!

We dump buckets full of the olives (which we picked last week, in case you were wondering if they grow in big blue bins...) into the press.

Sorry the internet just dropped and I can't do any more pictures...the rest of the adventure is on its way asap!