I arrived in Israel one week ago. Between the jet lag and the fact that I walk everywhere, I can’t remember ever being so exhausted without respite. But it’s a pleasant exhaustion – I feel like I’m using my mind and body for a purpose.
Today we ventured off campus to a charity farm. I call it a charity farm because it’s owned by a well-to-do lawyer from Tel Aviv who donates everything grown on the farm to food banks and soup kitchens. To keep his costs down, he brings in volunteers to help him with harvesting. We spent an hour in the afternoon sun pulling up red onions and loading them into crates. There were about 20 of us; in one hour we harvested 700 pounds of onions.
The bus dropped us off at school and my friend A. and I took a new route home. A few blocks down the road, I smelled something unusual – goats. Sure enough, just below us was a small farm and horseback riding school. We stopped to look and the farmer shouted hello and waved us down to see the animals – horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, ducks, dogs… We introduced ourselves and he asked if we knew how to ride horses. A. did; I took lessons long ago, but don’t remember much. He told me: “.אני יכול ללמד אותך – זה יעזור לך עם הגב” (“I can teach you – it will help you with your back.”) I asked him how he knew I had back problems, and he told me that he was a medic in the army, then a masseur, and now teaches riding. (This part of the conversation was had in English, lest you think I know the words for “medic” and “masseur” in Hebrew.) Then he showed me how to correct my posture, and offered to trade us riding lessons for help around the farm. Only in Israel.
I am settling comfortably into a routine – waking up at 7, davening, eating breakfast, drinking the tea prepared by my English roommate, walking to school. In the evening I come home, read, check emails, talk with my parents, make dinner, have a shower, and sleep. I’ve been wondering when I’ll have time for adventures, or even for trips to the Kotel and other places of interest right here in Jerusalem, but it’s becoming apparent that plenty of adventures will find me.