About Brittany

Coming from the beautiful are of Humboldt County, Ca, I am a music major at Portland State University. I am working on a Master of Arts in Music, and I play the clarinet and like Music History.

Letting the Place Soak in

looking over the road from the balcony

I have now had officially two weeks in Israel, and the constant traveling has helped the internet evade me. I have managed to re acclimate myself to the place, culture(s), people, and heat and settle in a stationary place from which to tell my tales.

I am staying with a Jewish/Swiss family in the north, across the road that is outside our back porch in the Jewish town, Tivon, is the Bedouin township of Basmat Tab’un. Hanging out in my room in the Jewish town, I look out the window to see a mosque, and I hear, five times a day, the call to prayer. If you ever want to experience as many different cultures as possible all at exactly the same time, I recommend Israel.

The first tale I have to tell is a tale of shopping. The second day I was there the family I was staying with and I visited  a store in an Arab village (not the one across the road). “Middle East Craft” was the name. I came in and started looking around, like one normally does in a store. I was told to see if there was anything I liked, but pretty soon I discovered, that shopping was not the purpose of our visit. I was soon brought to the front to sit on an couch and watch as the father of my family played magic tricks with some young Arab boys. There was a table in front of me, spread with Arabic coffee, dates, cookies, candy, and water. I smiled and accepted the hospitality set up for any and all customers.

Enjoying refreshments while shopping.

It was evident that we were there just to enjoy each other’s company.

The night before this I had my first family style Israeli Shabbat meal. I have learned to love Shabbat during previous travels in this country. After a week of non-stop, exhausting volunteer work, the fact that everything closed down (including public transportation), forced me to take a day of rest. I would spend the day reading, napping, staring out at nature, an entire day of it from sun down to sundown. This concept is pretty foreign to us in the U.S. Shabbat meal, then brought a whole new appreciation of this faith observance to me. (By the way, as a Christian, I often wish we would celebrate the Sabbath, or Shabbat, this way, it is not like it is canceled out by the teachings of Christ. In fact this Jewish family does believe in Yeshua, or Jesus in Hebrew, but culturally, by background and by family, they are Jewish and keep the feasts and holidays like many other similar families in this country.) The table was set with a nice cloth, special dishes and silverware, special cups, and Shabbat candles.

The father sang blessings and passed around a cup of wine everyone drank from, then blessed the freshly home baked challah bread and passed it around for everyone to tear a piece from. The whole family was there, the son who had just gotten married and moved out and his wife included. This tradition can be found anywhere in the world Jewish family’s are found. Once a week, the family stops, shares a special meal, dedicates it to God and sings and reads together scriptures. Every week their world stops for this.  It was a different experience, however, knowing that the whole town was shut down for Shabbat as well.

 

 

Heading to Israel, Not Bringing the Rain Boots

Tomorrow I will uproot from the Pacific Northwest, and leave to spend some time in Israel. During this brief period of time I spent home, in Northern California, I went to a wedding. It was typical of Northern California and Humboldt County: redwood trees, fancy cheeses, soft green grass, and summer fog and rain. I wore a dress and my yellow rain boots. It looked perfectly normal. But as I danced barefoot in the soaking grass, I realized I am going to have to retire the rain boots for the summer. They have been my constant companion for the last nine months of school in Portland and Summer in Nor Cal.

I won’t be needing them in Israel. If I miss them, it will be sentimental, not functional. I have been to Israel before, I know I won’t find myself wishing I had packed them. I have come to expect dry, hot summers where any splash of water dries within the hour.This year is going to be different than my past experiences however. This year I will be packing up and heading out solo. I will spend the first couple of weeks volunteering with children, then it’s a month and a half of cultural immersion for me with a normal Israeli family, in a city I had never heard of until I met their son last summer.

This trip is also significant for me spiritually.  I find my identity in the transformative and redeeming power of the Christ, Jesus. This land that I will be grooving in, existing in, is the same land in which He performed all of His ministry. I definitely expect to grow in understanding and experiential knowledge of my faith.

Also, I hope to focus on the positive. I want to see culture, I want to see people living and breathing through their daily lives. I know this area is controversial. I know it is volatile. I also know that peace does not exist solely where there is no conflict. Peace exists in the midst of conflict. It exists in human lives full of love, purpose, and determination living out in defiance of conflict. I hope to document this, because despite the conflicts of territory and governments, humanity and culture rages on.