NOTE: There is a glossary at the bottom of this post for those who know even less Hebrew than I do.
Pesach is on its way and everyone is dreaming of freedom. What does that mean to you? For me, freedom is the leisure to smell the spring flowers, to walk in the sunshine, to visit the beach – Dead Sea or Mediterranean. Either sounds good. Or maybe both? It’s a five-day Chol Hamoed this year.
As you can tell, playing outdoors in this beautiful land occupies a big role in my vacation plans. I think this urge comes from too much Israeli daily life. Too much going to work every day; too much struggling to pay my bill from the chevrat chashmal; too many dealings with shiputznikim who show up at my door and ask me to throw all my money into the bag they are conveniently holding, then disappear for months on end … no, I’m actually exaggerating … a little. But it’s been a long cold winter and I’m ready for some fun.
In other words, I’d like to act like a tourist in Israel. There are so many little-known buildings and byways in Jerusalem alone that I’ve never explored, so much history in the streets I walk through every day. How can I find out more?
Well, the AACI Pesach Walking Tours would be a good place to start. These tours, taking place from April 4-15, 2012, offer an intimate look at some of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods and lesser-known historic sites. A couple venture further afield to explore Gush Etzion. Reasonably priced and led by English-speaking professional guides, the walking tours are a great way to see the sights and learn something new about our surroundings.
The interesting thing is that there are indeed many tourists on these walks, people who have come from chutz l’Aretz for the chag, who are also interested in finding out more about our country. Funnily enough, they tend to want to act more like Israelis. Navigating one’s way around the shuk; getting along in Hebrew; knowing where to go, what to buy, what to do – all of those seem to be deep-rooted desires in most of the visitors I’ve met.
And it seems to me that one of the nicest aspects of these tours is that they bring us together, we Israelis who wanna be tourists and tourists who wanna be Israelis, and give us a chance to meet on common ground. We can give the visitors a sense of what it’s like the day after, or thirty years after, aliyah and share our feeling of connection to the Land. (Even as we complain amongst ourselves that “Israelis do this” and “Israelis act like that,” we know that we ourselves are Israelis and ein lanu aretz acher.) In turn, the not-yet-Israelis can remind us of what it’s like when someone has only a couple of weeks or so a year to feel that connection, and uses those precious days to – well – connect, by playing, visiting, shopping, touring, dining out, enjoying .
Chag kasher v’sameach l’kulanu! Wishing you a Pesach that’s the most fun ever!
Chol Hamoed intermediate days of a festival
chevrat chashmal electric company
shiputznikim renovator, repairperson
chutz l’Aretz outside of Israel
ein lanu aretz acher we have no other land
chag kasher v’sameach l’kulanu a kosher and happy holiday to all of us
AACI PESACH WALKING TOURS
April 4-15, 2012
For a detailed list of walking tours (including phone numbers to reach the tour guides directly) click here.
AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center (02)566-1181.