Friday, October 13, 2006

Succoth on the Galilee

I know its been a week but boy oh boy is there a lot to talk about. If you have not already scrolled down to see how long this blog is, its long, very long, you would not believe how absurdly long it is. In fact its so long that this elongated description of its length is only prolonging the length of the blog and therefore I shall cease to write on this topic and move to the more substantial part of the blog.

This past week was chofesh (holiday) as it was the festival of Succoth, and for once I actually did spending a week under canvas by the ever picturesque Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the first few days from Friday - Monday were spent at the Bereshees festival. I went to Bereshees with 15 other people 14 of which were on the Machon (we were joined by Amiel who was staying in Tel Aviv), from Machon there was all of Noam, both of Hanoar and one from each of AJ6 and Netzer. The Bereshees festival is a very chilled out slightly hippy music festival that takes place over the first few days of succoth. It was a rather strange experience for me to go to a festival and not be scared of getting stabbed the entire time I was there (mind you my only source of festival comparrison is Reading, which explains the stabbing fear). The festival was described to be by a fellow festival goer as "A sample of every group in Israel and a sprinkle of happiness" and although I could not account for every group statement, happiness was rife. Even with the language barrier I could sense the happy and friendly feeling of the festival, which had an undoubtedly great atmosphere.

The same guy told me that people come for five reasons and I will briefly go into each:

The first is to chill out. This was for us our primary objective which we achieved unsurprisingly with flying colours. Chilling our primarily consisted of lying under the canapy (which I will come to later) and smoking nargillah. We also spent a considerable amount of time in the sea which was frequently surprisingly warm and refreshing. On our first night we went late night skinny dipping, Bnei Akiva style (ie. boy and girls separately) their idea not ours, obviously. Although no one could see anything we all put our trunks on our heads and encircled the girls, which was rather amusing.

The next reason I was told people come to Bereshees did not really apply to us, and that was to get drunk/high. It might seem somewhat strange that a group of 18 year olds at a music festival on a week long break from an intense study program would not wish to do either of these things, but drinks were overprice and not very nice and getting caught doing drugs means being sent home instantly, and its far too early in the program to do that.

The third reasons is to get laid, once again this was not managed/attempted by anyone in our group (to my knowledge) for two reasons. One the obvious langauge barrier and two all girls there were either 16 or below and the rest of them had boyfriends. It should be stated however that there was a significant proportion of incredibly attractive girls at the festival.

The fourth reason, fairly obviously for a music festival, is the music. To be honest we did not see that many bands maybe five or six in total. Most were incredibly average, although I very much enjoyed a reggae band called Hatick 6, whose album I intend to illegally download/copy as soon as possible and so help improve the Israeli economy.

The fifth reason is actually one that I noted and that is those that were there to "convert". I suppose it is to be expected that at a festival as open and chilled out as Bereshees there was going to be a proliferation of groups trying to convert you to their cause. Amongst the groups there were Jews for Jesus, Hari Krishna, and the Lubavitch. There were also many non-religous groups like the Animal Liberation Front who campaigned for their different beliefs. We had the 'good fortune' to be camped out opposite the Lubavitch Succah which meant that we had to endure their music until the early hours of the morning, provoking huge arguments between them and us.

Other aspects of the festival that should be noted include the mud bath of which I had two, the fact that there was no meet there, I HATE TOFU but other than that the food was very nice and our canapy. But before I go on to the last point I want go mention our tents. We had three tents a two man, a five man and a 14 man. Property oh Hanoar (another Jewish youth movement) we guaranteed stairs from every group that passed by, and when they found out that we were English the temptation to call it a palace and make butler and patio jokes was clearly too hard to suppress. The tents were unfortuneatly not in the shade, a fact that became a serious discomfort on the first morning we were there. In order to lessen the heat and create some shade we created a canapy, made from the the outersheet of the oversised Hanoar tent, which we attached to the tents, a bin and a sign we 'borrowed' from the Lubavitch. Owing to the fact that the tents were quite far apart the canapy hung very low, and forced us to crawl around inside it or complain of back problems. It did however provide a very nice shade to relax under, and about five of us slept under it on the second night, and it did prove to be slightly less stifling then the tent.

After Bereshees I decided not to leave the Kinneret, like the rest of the group, but move a couple of beaches down to join some friends from Netzer and FZY. They were on another beach a five minutes chiroot drive down the road. I spent the next two days with them, swimming, playing cards, going for walks and just generally relaxing. Being on a camp site we had to cook our own food and I feel I should mention the delicious stir-fry we had on the last night which included noodles, rice, eggs, vegetables and veal, it was divine. On the first night I was there we played a mad drinking game called Ring of Fire, which would take far too long to go into hear but suffice it to say we pissed off a few people and I had to drink a hell of a lot of Vodka.

As I sat one day at the second beach, regretting staying by the Kinneret and not seeing the rest of Israel I realised I was discovering far more interesting, namely the Israeli people and in particular the youth. In my opinion the Israeli people are some of the greatest I have ever met and those that I met by the Kinneret only helped to underline that. Let me give you a few examples we met quite a few groups who having not being able to eat all their food they just gave the rest away, this included not yet opened tins of food, whole loafs of bread and many other thins besides. It was very common at Bereshees for someone to sit down at your tent and chat for hours on end, and on the final night a group asked down to the beach with them to chill out around the camp fire, and they really made an effort to speak English and include us in the fun. Obviously there are some negative aspects of the Isreali youth but these were not really on show over the past couple of days, and it is not the time to go into them now. I really felt incredibly at home while I was camping around the Kinneret and that is due to a large part to the people I met. Do I regret not spending my week off to see Israel, no I do not, meeting the people was in my eyes far more interesting.

I will be posting again very soon as I am only half way through the past week. I should mention that there are photos I will be putting up but I cant get them on hear at the moment, but there are a few on my facebook account.
Anyway until next time


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