Rucheli's Writings

Readings, Ramblings, and Religious Rantings

Urban Exploration: Lifta October 18, 2010

Filed under: My Blog,Photos,Travel — rucheli @ 3:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Urban Exploration, or UrbEx, is defined (in Wikipedia) as “theย examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.” Well today I had the opportunity to join the ranks of photographers and adventure hungry people that partake in such an odd hobby. And it was amazing.

Last night my friend Talia and I were discussing how we really needed to go on a photo-hunt sometime soon, and I had heard of a place named Lifta that was supposed to be easy to get to and amazing to explore. So we were thinking about skipping our Sunday afternoon class at some point in the next few weeks to head out for a few hours… Lo and behold, this morning our Rosh Yeshiva came in and told us that our afternoon teacher was not feeling well (refuah shleimah) and that we wouldn’t be having class at all between 1:30pm and 7:30pm… In Judaism we call that Hashgacha Pratis, or Divine Providence. Perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

Right after classes and a quick lunch, Talia and I caught the bus to Tachana Merkazit (the central bus station). From there we walked across the street, behind a sketchy gas station and down a dirt path until we got to a spiral bridge that led to another dirt path… Within 10 minutes we had reached the edge of Lifta, an abandoned Arab settlement that was evacuated during the 1948 War for Independence. With the exception of some hippy-ish squatters that have settled into a few of the buildings that are more intact, the entire town remains in a state of ruin, untouched since the war. There are about a hundred stone houses and buildings that are scattered across the mountain side. Some are easy to reach and some take a little more creativity, but as a whole it was a great first exploration trip. It had a little bit of everything… crazy people, buildings with the floors blown clear out by rockets, houses filled with trash from the local squatters, a mikvah, water tunnels, stone paths overgrown by nature; you name it, it was there somewhere.

Talia and I explored for a few hours until it started to get dark and our reason got the best of us. Although we saw a lot of the area, we will definitely be taking another trip in the coming weeks. And next time we’ll have better flashlights so we can see where those tunnels really lead to… Until then, here are some photos of our trip:

 

Best of Lifta

Overlooking Lifta

 

(more…)

 

Photo Tour of Mayanot October 10, 2010

Filed under: My Blog,Photos — rucheli @ 4:38 pm
Tags:

Well I’ve been here for a little over a month now, so I figure it’s about time that you all see where I’m spending my year ๐Ÿ™‚ If you follow my flick religiously, you’ve seen these photos already. But for those of you who don’t, or for those of you who do but would like some commentary, I’m proud to present my photo tour of Mayanot! Enjoy, and feel free to comment below to let me know what you think of our humble abode ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

The Mayanot Building

The Mayanot Building - It Does Not Normally Look Like a Castle ๐Ÿ˜›


(more…)

 

Back to the Bunker

Filed under: My Blog,Photos,Travel — rucheli @ 1:38 am
Tags:

In a country constantly war torn and subjugated to terrorism and political strife, finding a stretch of white powder sand, turquoise waters, and clear blue skies is literally heaven on earth. The air was heavy with humidity of the surging ocean waves rolling onto the stretching shore; breathing it in was a taste of home. Close your eyes. The worries of the world melt away with the sound of water pouring over and over itself as the tide fades out to sea. Gorgeous colored seashells are scattered over the pristine sand that is so fine that it’s as if you’re digging your toes into a cloud. The beach is almost empty. No boys running around and ruining the calm of this paradise, just beautiful women enjoying the beautiful weather on one of the most beautiful beaches on earth…

This Tuesday was the last day before we went back to classes and it also happened to be Sabrina’s birthday… sounds like a perfect day for the beach! We all loaded onto the Ashdod bus and just over an hour later we found ourselves back at the bunker. And this time I brought my camera! Enjoy the pictures below!

Ashdod Beach

The Infamous "Beach Bunker" in Ashdod

(more…)

 

Five Beautiful Reasons the Israeli Government Should Never Give Up the Golan Heights October 8, 2010

Filed under: My Blog,Photos,Travel — rucheli @ 4:16 pm
Tags: , ,

Nahal Yehudiya - Golan Heights, Israel

Due to my personal principles as an engineer, I usually refrain from involving myself in social sciences. Especially politics. However, this year I’ve found myself in a place and a situation where abstaining from politics is impossible. In a country constantly pummeled for its stubbornness in the “peace process”, one is forced to take a stance. My stance is for Israel.

As a country, we’ve already given up HALF of our land from the 1967 war in efforts to bring about peace. It didn’t help at all. So now we’re in peace talks again and Netanyahu keeps talking about giving up more land, including the area called the Golan Heights. This chunk of land in the northern tip of Israel has constantly been argued over, and has been subjugated to attacks and power struggles since the dawn of time. But the fact is that it’s OUR land, and we can’t give it up. And for all of you wondering what the big deal is, I have one suggestion. Go there.

I spent two days in the Yehudiya area of the Golan Heights. It’s about as deep into the Golan as you can go, and it’s 150% worth the trip. We caught a bus to Tiberias Sunday afternoon and after exploring the Sea of Galilee for a few hours, we took another 45 minute bus ride up to Nahal Yehudiya Campgrounds. We got there just in time for sunset and spent the next 24 hours basking in G-d’s glory. The views were amazing, the sunset was heavenly, the hike was one of the most challenging I’ve been on but was by far the most rewarding. Tumbling waterfalls, gorgeous cliffs, deserted village ruins, and a chilly swim across a natural pool all contributed to the best day of my time is Israel thus far. The result was a newfound appreciation for this area of Israel that we are constantly challenged over, and the realization that we can never, ever, give this land up. That being said, I am please two present five incredibly beautiful reasons that the Israeli government should continue defending our right to the Golan Heights:

Favorites from Yehudiah

5) It's the same land our Fathers inherited thousands of years ago.(View of Yehudiya Valley from the top of the hike)

(more…)

 

Stars, Stairs, and Soulmates September 22, 2010

Filed under: My Blog,Photos — rucheli @ 3:31 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve realized that I really enjoy using alliterations in my titles… Hope you like them as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚ And I also enjoying tweaking the blog design of my page, but I think that I’ve found one that I really like, so it should stay like this for a while at least.

Anyway, since my last post was mostly about the holiday of Yom Kippur itself rather that our experiences in Northern Israel, I figured that another post was in order. Like I said earlier, Northern Israel is similar to central California, with vineyards, mountains, rivers, forests, and amazing views. The city of Tzfat is no exception.

Tzfat is a city with some amazing history to it, with some of the most famous kabbalists of all time setting up shop there over the years. It also is a city of some amazing sights. The place is thousands of years old and built into the side of a mountain that overlooks most of Israel. Because of that, there was a citadel that was built on the top of the mountain. It was built by the Crusaders and has been used in every major war for reconnaissance. Since Roman times, the city of Tzfat has been fought over and whoever controlled it has controlled the entire Northern Israel/Galilee/Golan Heights area. Now the top of the mountain where the citadel once stood has been turned into a beautiful park with incredible overlooks and a monument at the top for the fallen soldiers of Israel’s Independence War. The ruins of the Crusader’s citadel is still there and we had the pleasure of exploring the area by the light of the moon the night after Yom Kippur ended. When we reached the peak of the mountain where the monument stands, what did we find? An Orthodox Rabbi with a bunch of secular Israelis, all playing guitar and singing under the moonlight while passing LChaims around the circle… Only in Tzfat ๐Ÿ™‚

Citadel Park

Entrance to Citadel Park

Lonely Chair

Lonely Chair at the Overlook

Independence War Memorial

Independence War Memorial

All over Tzfat you’ll also see ruins from the various wars: houses that were never rebuilt, bullet holes in the sides of walls, and demolished buildings turned into local hangouts. (more…)