Bog Tour – a tour of two halves.
This summer, seven of LJY-Netzer’s Bogrim embarked on an inspirational tour of Israel. Guided by Dana Freidman – Liberal Judaism’s departing Shlicha – we journeyed by car and foot all around the North discovering differences between the lives of the citizens in northern Israel compared to those living in the more populated areas of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the centre of the country. The first part of the tour involved visiting a multitude of places from Arab villages to Druze communities to hear and experience a diverse range of opinions on life in the most northern regions of Israel.
This summer was an exciting time to be in Israel as its citizens – following the lead of their neighbours – realised their power to fight the injustices of their government and joined together in protest against the ever-increasing costs of living. As we travelled around the North we passed areas of tents which were the remnants of the epic tent villages which had sparked up around the country. We were lucky enough to meet with a group of them in Tel Chai and share in a discussion on British vs. Israeli politics and different methods of protest.
On our travels we also had the pleasure of meeting with members of the Druze community in the Golan who gave us insight into the struggles the community had with their feelings towards Israel and Syria, and where their alliances lie, before being taken for a mega feast (all be it meat free) in our guide’s house.
It wasn’t all sitting, chatting and eating however. We spent a sweaty morning volunteering for the JNF in the Carmiel Forest clearing away trees which had be chopped down to prevent the spread of forest fires. After we headed off, hot and smelly, to a nicely air conditioned tour of Leo Beack school in Haifa. It was great to see a flourishing progressive institution in Israel and to learn about how the school deals with the conflict of being a progressive religious school in a state where the common understanding of Judaism is either ‘religious’, meaning Orthodox, or ‘secular’.
Part two of our epic northern tiyul was a two day hike form the Mediterranean to the Keneret (with some of the more dull bits in the middle missed out). The first day we snaked through valleys, trekking across the feet of towering mountains until we arrived at our campsite where we had a comfortable night sleeping next to the cars in the car park and where we were treated to fine dinning courtesy of our exceptional chefs, Dana Friedman and Sam Cohen. We were woken in the morning by the sweet natural sounds of car alarms then rolled up our packs, filled up our water bottles and headed into the woods for the final stretch of our cross country (ish) trek.
As we hiked we were awed by the epic mountain views and variety of colours to be found in the Galils thick and diverse forestry. We broke for a picnic lunch at the edge of a cool and rocky water pool and entertained ourselves by playing with the fish swimming between our feet. The rest of the afternoon was spent ascending higher and higher into the mountains as the hike got more and more strenuous. Exhaustion grew, culminating in one of the LJY-Netzer movement workers having to go to hospital to be treated for over hydration.
Finally we reached the Kinneret and enjoyed a refreshing and long awaited, late night swim. We dined on what was described by one of number as the most authentic and tastiest shakshuka he’d ever tried, lay down our sleeping bags and called it a night.
The following morning we departed and said goodbye as three of our number headed off to Ben Gurion airport whilst the rest of us headed back to Tel Chai for the cross communal movement work seminar. Over the seven days we had learnt and laughed, worked and walked and came away with a far greater understand of the complexities of life in the North of Israel.