Week 3 in Jerusalem: I can cook! The real life “office.” What’ll it be; Unity or Elections?

I’ve gotten to know people on my program better through cooking and having dinners together- last night I teamed up with my roommate to make Korean Bim Bim Bap with Marinated beef, rice, fried egg, and assorted vegetables which was a favorite for the people at our table. Although I may be a college aged kid, Food is still fuel for the soul and ramen doesn’t quite cut it.

Bim Bim Bap was a crowd favorite

Working in an office has been an awesome experience, and I think working in an Israeli office has certainly spoiled me. Half the time people are up making themselves coffee, laughing, chatting, multitasking. One time my co worker on the social media team quipped that “it is too quiet,” to which I responded “Of course it’s quiet, people are working.” a minute later, I hear Sir Mixalot shout “I like big butts and I cannot lie!” He played baby got back to get people laughing. The whole office was in stitches. Additionally, people want to get to know you; I’ve gone to lunch with different people from the office and heard their stories. And yes, It’s a bit like an israeli version of “the Office,” sans a Dwight Schrute. On Thursday I finished a project at work that I had been working on since the beginning. Although certainly it was the type of mundane work only an intern should have to do, I am confident that what I did is productive to the Stand With Us social media operation.

In the nighttime, the Shuk switches over from greens to good times or vegetables to vice- however you want to look at it. While being the legal drinking age is fun and all, my understanding is that I am a guest in Israel. If myself (or people in my group) have had drinks and become boisterous In the streets, the israelis start looking at us as disturbers of the peace. This isn’t right. So I’m always searching for the right group to go out with and some nights I have found this. Sometimes though, the right group turns out to be just me and my guitar.

Tuesday was elections day, and with my interest in politics I talked to everyone I could, from Israeli citizens to my age, to co-workers, to my RA’s, to people who made aliyah, religious, secular- the whole 9. It has become clear that Israeli citizens have very different views on the future of Israel. I had to be careful that my own biases did not color my understanding as an American acquainted with a two party, right and left political climate. The facts on the ground here are so different, and thus the platforms of the American left and right don’t transfer. It has been argued that this election is a referendum on religion and state; while Bibi’s likud believes in catering to the increasing influence of the religious by enforcing shabbat as the day of rest (mandatory store closures, no busses on saturdays), Gantz’ blue and white caters to those who want to preserve the opportunity for a secular society. This divide is uniquely Israeli as it harkens back to the early days of Zionism when the question was raised; what should be the nature of a Jewish state? Should it operate under Jewish law so that it may become a safe place for jews to live as they are commanded? Or alternatively, should it be a safe place for Jews, but operate under secular values as to preserve freedoms for those who wish to live in their own way? Today, Israel is a multicultural society; 70% Jewish, 30% of other faiths. Even given that the state is majority Jewish, being Jewish is not defined by religious observance. It is defined under Jewish law as having a Jewish mother. Thus, many ‘Jews’ are not so religously and support a secular society. With this being said, the religious haredim and their parties are gaining in numbers and political influence, voting in the israel they want which follows the commandments. With a divided view on the future of Israel, The vote ended in a near tie between the two biggest parties. This means, either the parliament will become a unity government wherein Gantz, Netanyahu and the other parties come together in one giant coalition, or citizens are off to the polls again. Of course, politicians make promises they can’t keep. Before the elections, Gantz said he would never join a unity government with Netanyahu. Currently, Netanyahu says he won’t go to elections again. Time will tell who will break their word.

There’s so much more to share. If you ever have any questions, or want to talk, contact me.