Michelle Branch live in concert at the Cardinal Health RBC 2008 in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, July 26. I admit it - I ran a little bit to get us 4th row center seats, but it was so worth it. She sounded great live, and I really loved that she made it a family affair. Her husband is her bass player and her sister, Nicole, sang back-up.
The beach in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Jun 14. It was incredibly hot, so everyone rents umbrellas to stay a bit cooler. Since we were out-of-towners, we did not know this unwritten rule, and we baked and broiled in the hot desert sun.
Box it up! While we were in Hispin, in the Golan Heights, we had a bit of a scary surprise when our Israeli soldier friends made us go through a sort of boot camp on Thursday, June 16. We had to stand in three straight and even lines, without talking or moving. Then we were told to "box it up," which meant to stand in an even, three-sided box formation...without any communication between us. The kids of Mayanot 41 clearly weren't meant to be soldiers, and we had a really tough time figuring this out. Since we had an odd number of people, the soldiers made poor Matt go down into a push-up position in the center for a while (seen in the first photo). It took us quite a while, but we finally got it down after a lot of yelling and discipline.
This was a very frightening experience for me, and I think for a lot of the others as well. It made me realize how tough it is being someone our age living in Israel. At the age of 18, every Israeli citizen must be a part of the Israeli army. They go straight from high school to the army, and then go to college after their years in the army are up. Not everyone is in combat, but everyone goes through the training similar to what we went through that night, but much more and much tougher. Despite the danger and hard work, all of the soldiers said they were proud to be a part of the army. They all felt it was their duty as Israeli citizens and were glad to serve their country. Yarden, who is a sniper trainer, said she didn't feel scared and she loved being in the army. She said she grew up knowing the army would be a part of her life, and it's almost like a right of passage for Israelis. Meiran explained that while it is an obligation, most people don't feel forced into joining the army - they want to serve their country and they feel honored to be a part of the Israeli army.
It's amazing how similar they were to us when we were all just hanging out at night and visiting the various places in Israel, talking about family, friends, relationships, parties and traveling, yet how we are really worlds apart. This feeling of obligation toward your country isn't something most people have in America. I can't imagine having to join the army at 18 - I would be absolutely terrified. But it just shows how different it is growing up in Israel versus America. Our lives are completely different, even though we share many similarities. I loved getting to know our new Israeli friends and realizing all the similarities and differences. How would my life be different if I grew up in Israel? And who would I be today?