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Friday, October 12, 2007

Independence Hall and the Palmach Museum

On Wednesday, we took our 2nd tiyul for the Israeli Seminar. We left Jerusalem at 8:30 am, and traveled to Tel Aviv, to Independence Hall, the site of the official declaration of the new State of Israel. Although, I had been to Independence Hall several times in my life, this time was different.

Of course, I knew all of the same things that most people knew…the dates, the locations, etc. But, I had no idea of the hidden desires of those who settled in Israel in the late 19th and early 20th century. After the first two Israeli Seminars, I thought I was beginning to understand the ideas of the “New Jew.” However, this past week’s readings and tiyul showed me just how much I need to learn and how much I desire to know! When I read through the Israeli Declaration of Independence, I saw many of the same things I have seen every other time I read this document. But, I could sense there was more. I didn’t feel as if I was getting the full meaning behind the words.

This time, as I was sitting with my classmates in a coffee shop and discussing the time period of the beginnings of the "new Jew," I began to get a sense of the real desire and intense yearning for their own land. It wasn't a state they wanted...it was a land they belonged to, a land that cried out for them. That is such an amazing thing, and I am beginning to feel that as well. I am very happy with my life in the United States, but I feel my life wouldn't truly be complete without the existence of Israel, and my ability to come here and feed my yearning to be here!

Our next stop (after lunch---we went to a great little Humus restaurant) was to the Palmach museum. When this museum was being built, it was a bit of a controversial topic. The Palmach was an elite force of the Haganah, one of the three armies that formed in Israel pre-state. These guys were trained by the British to help the British defend against the Nazis in the South and a growing army in the North. However, once the British no longer needed them, they were asked to disband. Of course, they continued underground, and became a very elite fighting force which includes such important Israelis like Yitzhkak Rabin!

The museum itself was amazing, and I recommend it to anyone who visits Israel. Once you enter, the doors close, and you go through 12 rooms experiencing every step from joining the Palmach to training to wartime and everything in between. I won't give away the end of the museum, but unfortunately, the Palmach was disbanded and asked to join the new Israeli army just before the war for independence. Many of the members of Palmach became leaders in the new Israeli army and have served in the Israeli government since it was created.

The museum was awesome!

I am glad to be back in the swing of things and having 2 hours of homework everyday really keeps me focused. I am really enjoying my time here, and I hope I am able to give you guys a glimpse into my experiences!

Shabbat Shalom!

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