December 22, 2014
50% of the year too paranoid to go walking by themselves and the other 50% already dead, due to a much loved and hated game called ‘Bang Bang, You’re Dead.’
We are constantly raising money for JNF, but where does our money go? That is what we found out today.
We started off our day with our JNF tour guide, Moshele, telling us that we were heading towards the Israel- Gaza border.
When we got off the bus our gazes were immediately drawn to Gaza. A place, which, gets so much media attention it seems to make a top news story every other night. How ironic, I thought, just one summer ago a war was waging on the hills, which we were standing on and now we were here taking selfies. What's more is that people are actually on waiting lists to live here!
We then went to Shfil Hasalat where we had an all you can eat tour of the green houses. We tasted oranges, cumquats, various types of tomatoes and strawberries. As the Moriah saying goes “it was to die for” a delicious and much needed change in snack from our regular ice creams, chips and lollies.
Another project of the JNF is an indoor playground in Sderot. The town is 800m from Gaza, which is less than the length of Bondi Beach.
For the second time on my IST journey I found myself being profoundly impacted by the spirit of this place. The first being at Emunah children’s home and this time by the cheerfulness and the concept of an indoor playground, a safe haven for the innocent youth that have grown up beneath the rain of rocket fire. “Its an indoor playground” I thought, “how can these kids be so happy playing inside rather than outside!?” But as I thought about it further I remembered something that one of the madrichim had said, that since the year 2000, rockets have been flying from Sderot so for the children of Sderot playing in an indoor playground is ‘normal’.
In the playground there were foosball tables, jumping castles, a basketball court and rock climbing walls. At first glance the facility appeared much like any other playground, colourful, vibrant and full of what to do, however, upon hearing from one of the playground representatives, some purposeful design nuances were made clear to us. The rock climbing was constructed horizontally along the wall rather than vertically up it, there were no confined spaces and everything was designed to be open plan. When the architects were building the playground they had to work out how long it would take a child who was at the top of wall to get down and run to a shelter so they decided building the rock climbing wall length ways was quicker for the children to run to the bomb shelter incase of a siren.
After a quick burger dinner, we arrived with spirit and excitement at a basketball match. Despite most of us being basketball novices we very quickly became engrossed by the fast paced game in front of us. With the match beginning with Chanukah candle lighting and then the singing of Hatikvah, the team Nes Tziona, inherited an 105 Australian fans as we sat courtside and passionately cheered our new favourite basketball team to victory.
After a day exploring the land of Israel coupled by a dip into Israeli popular culture with our stint at the basketball, today was a day of educational fun and authentic Israeli experiences.