The women and the men are separated at the Western Wall. There are 26-foot concrete walls on either side of the road leading to Rachel’s tomb, and a checkpoint where 18-year-old soldiers have to decide whether or not to let a woman in because she could be pregnant or she could be carrying a bomb under her dress.
I am so grateful for the relative security we have in the US. After the whirlwind of Israel, I spent a week in New York, and I was happy to be home.
My boyfriend, who had never been to NY, met me there. We saw two shows (How to Succeed and Avenue Q), went to the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Guggenheim, the Met, and MOMA, and ate lots of incredible food. We celebrated my birthday and Valentine’s Day, and it was all over in a blink. We barely scratched the surface.
I had all these plans for what we were going to do and see every day, how I was going to show him the city and made his first trip to NY so incredible. I forgot we were supposed to be on vacation.
He reminded me to slow down, relax, enjoy. This was hard to do, especially because the other thing always in the back of my mind was: wasn’t I supposed to be writing again? I’d given myself a break while in Israel, but now that I was back in the US with my laptop, what was my excuse?
Vacation. Right. Romantic holiday.
I took a deep breath and gave myself permission to slow down, relax, enjoy myself, and not write for another week.
Going on the 10-day Birthright trip to Israel was an incredible experience. I would highly recommend this *free* program to anyone with Jewish heritage. I saw so many amazing sights and did so many amazing things. We went to the Western Wall. We hiked Masada. We rode camels in the Negev and floated in the Dead Sea.
And I was exposed to a part of the world that I hear about on the news but never really got the full impact of until I saw that way of life. Every citizen is required to serve. Their soldiers walk around with huge guns like it’s no big deal, because it’s normal. We had Israelis join our group and we cried together in the Holocaust Museum. But when we went to the veteran cemetery, each one of them knew people buried there.
Ignorance is everywhere. Over there, the threat of violence is constant.
My current book is about sororities. It’s really about the way women treat each other. In Israel, I was reminded of the bigger picture. It’s about humanity. I don’t know what I will write next, but I suspect I will write it with the intention of bringing awareness. Of asking those questions: how do we treat each other? How can we unite as people, as humans?