Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A day of independence

Life just seems so much more intense -- so much more real -- to me here in Israel. In some ways, the Independence Day beachside bbq's that we witnessed when we arrived in Ashkelon, today (after pedaling 50 miles from Tel Aviv) were not much different from the ones you find in the States on July 4. But there was some incredible energy to it here. Minna told me a female cab driver here told her that if they were to pull over the car right there, the bbq-ers would run over to share their food with them -- עם ישראל פתוח/am yisrael patuah, the nation of Israel is open, the cab driver told her.

And, of course, the Independence of this holiday is so much more recent than the US of A's independence -- it only happened in 1948. And, even more importantly I think, the price of this independence is so much more current and intense, with all the wars and such that have touched this land and this people. Independence Day here is immediately preceded by Yom HaZikaron, Israel's memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. That holiday began on Monday night with a one-minute siren. All the shops were closed in Tel Aviv where we were staying. We turned on the television to a children's channel and watched a show where the host interviewed a small group of young children in depth about what it was like to have lost a parent to war. I just could not imagine something so intense being on a major network in the States as part of a national holiday.

The ride, today, was the first part of our trip from Tel-Aviv to Eilat. Here's a shot of Minna near an amusement park we took a break at just south of Tel Aviv:

And here are some of the other riders outside the amusement park:

And here we are by the beach when we finally got to Ashkelon:

It was a great day! .. . And it was so great to be in Israel for Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). I almost didn't mind when the disco music of nearby celebrations kept us up way past our bedtimes last night, or even having to dodge the debris left over from the street celebrations on the narrow streets of Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek neighborhood as we rode through it this morning. . . . I really felt free -- independent -- riding today!

[X-posted to abayye ]

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