U. S. Servas

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Excerpts from Servas Travelers’ Israel Trip

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ISRAEL

“From Eilat we went to Mitzpe Ramon.  It sits on the edge of this enormous crater.   A beautiful memorial and museum recently opened there honoring Israeli born astronaut Ilan Ramon. Tragically his son later became a fighter pilot and his plane crash in that crater during training.

We next spent the weekend with the daughter of a Servas host I stayed with in Guatemala.  Michel lives in
Sderot with in a couple of miles of Gaza.  You can see it from the hill-top.  Things a peaceful now but it was not always that way as Sderot is the closest town to the border. Next we got in the bus to Tel Avia and another short ride to Jaffa just a bit south of the city. Jaffa is an old sea port that has been around for thousands of years.

Haifa was our next stop and we wanted to see the famous Baha’i Gardens.   Under agreement with the
Israeli government we were told the Baha’is are not allowed to recruit or have temples in Israel but can have
conventions and keep their gardens.  In Haifa we stayed with a wonderful Servas (USservas.org) host, Naomi and
her lovable cat.

Then we went further north to Israeli’s other ancient port–Akko.   We took an afternoon to visit Kibbutz Ya’sur where I spent 3 months back in 1973.  It took awhile but we found someone who was there then and gave her some
of the photos I had form the Kibbutz.  I didn’t remember her but I did remember her husband who use to put up
the mail.   As you can imagine a lot has changed since then.

After Akko we stayed with Servas hosts Amira and Moti on Moshav Amirim.  Since this is a popular tourist area, many of the families in this moshav have guest accommodations. We were fortunate enough to stay in theirs.  It was a real treat to have huge rooms. It is a beautiful area and Amira and Moti and their friends showed us around to some ruins and old towns.

From there we went on to Zafat–but it has about 10 different English spellings. It’s full of history and has
always been occupied by the Jews. There were some hard-fought battles there during the early year of Israel’s
independence.  It’s the center of Kabbalah learning in Israel and many of the ultra orthodox live there. It was a few days before holiday of Shavuot and new torah was being brought to the largest synagogue.All the streets were closed down and joyous procession made its way through the town.

We made our way to Servas hosts, Niva and Eyal, the childhood friends of a local Servas in LA.
They live in the Golan Heighs area and short drive to and overlook into Lebanon. We spent the holiday with them
and were introduced to the local talent of their kibbutz. One gentleman was an amazing sculpture and the other
has made a museum on the kibbutz of the artifacts of early man that he’s found in the area. Eyal took us into city of Kiryat Shmona for the best hummus of the entire trip.  Better than anything at Trader Joe’s.   Niva happened to be going to Tel Aviv  for work and so she took us to Old Jaffa and we spent the night there again in the Old Jaffa Hostel.

The next day it was a short trip to Jerusalem to spend our last 3 days there and explore. We stayed in the Old City at the famous, but old, Petra Hotel.  Mark Twain is said to have stayed there and I’m certain they have not decorated since then.   Probably the most interesting thing we did in the Old City is, for about the price of a falafel, buy a ticket to walk most the ramparts atop of the Old City wall.   This gave you a candid look into the both the tourist and living areas of the Old City.

At the airport we saw the auto opening trash compactor that said “thank you” but not in Hebrew.  Our return flight got in at 6:30am–too early of anyone to pick us up.  So we made our way to IHOP and Debra met us there after the second cup of coffee.

Shalom and Until next time……The Global Bum and Princess.”

-Dennis and Shih

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Author: United States Servas, Inc.

Servas is a worldwide cooperative cultural exchange network established in 1948 and composed of member hosts and travelers working together to foster peace, goodwill and mutual respect. Servas seeks to realize these aims by providing opportunities for person-to-person contacts between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Our mission includes providing approved US and international travelers with opportunities to be guests of Servas member hosts around the world.

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