Sunday, April 20, 2014

Israel/Palestine 4: Sabra

Sabra—a term for Jewish people born in Israel. The term alludes to a tenacious, thorny desert plant with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior; a native Hebrew speaker.
Newark airport is quiet, except for 300 of us gathering at Gate 138 for the red-eye to Tel Aviv.  It feels like we are already in Israel.  Although everyone has passed through TSA screening, the Israelis have set up a secondary screening at the gate.  And whereas TSA lines have the look and feel of a make work program these days, this screening is all business.  "Put your bag on the table and step back, please."  No guns, but all check-point.

There's a certain prickliness in the air.  Is it the crowd, or is it us feeling foreign surrounded by a language we do not understand.  A solitary young Arab holds back during boarding.  He looks Israeli, but speaks Arabic on his last cell phone call.

The entire crowd, with a smattering of exceptions like us, are native Hebrew speakers.  Secular Jews returning from holidays abroad.  No religious garb; the religious are all staying put, close to the hearth, until the conclusion of Passover Tuesday night.  

We sit next to a young  Sabra, a 26 year old woman retuning from holidays in Mexico.  She has taken her year of travel ("We all do it, it's a cultural thing"), works part time as a flight attendant for El Al, and is finishing a BA in East Asian studies.  She hopes Chinese will help with  business.  It's a good bet.  The Israeli Ministry of Economy has an extensive website for Israeli businesses hoping to pursue business in China.  IsCham is an Israeli Chamber of Commerce active in China, and the Chinese are investing heavily in Israel.  Israel-China economic relations is a growth industry.

Lendner Bakery in Mea Shearim District
Dana (with an Ahhh) Eldar, that's her name, lives in Tel Aviv, right near our hotel off Rothchild Blvd. it turns out.  Her great, great ... grandparents from 10 generations ago immigrated to Palestine from Poland, Latvia, and Tunisia in the 1880's.  One of these great grandfathers, Moshe Dov Lendner, was a rabbi and famous baker, who founded a bakery in the Meah Shearim ("Thousand Gates") district of Jerusalem in the late 1800's.  Today, there is a street named after this grandfather.  The bakery still exists, baking legendary Challah just around the corner from Moshe Dov Lendner street.  You'll find us there next week.  Bring on that Chametz!

Dana has completed her initial military training.  "I'm a warrior, so I had to serve three years like the guys," she says.  "I was a sniper, and I also drove a Hummer.  It was dangerous at times, exhilarating; the best period of my life.   When I'm finished with my studies I definitely want to give back some more."  I do not press her on specifics; the foe, the occupation, night raids, checkpoints, did she shoot anyone as a sniper?

There is pride and confidence that exudes from this young woman.  It is the pride of an energetic young traveler, student, hard worker, and warrior.

1 comment:

  1. I liked El Al security. They asked very interesting questions which I won't reveal and quite frankly, our questioner was a young, attractive female.