By Aaron Hanania
Israel … The Holy Land. Some may call it beautiful, stunning, home, diverse, unique, historic, inspiring, peaceful, unsafe, dangerous, and even violent. But it is what you call it after you have been there, and after seeing it with your own eyes that matters.
You have historic places thousands of years old in a city no less than 20.
You have beautiful views no less than 1 mile from a country with wars going on. You get people from near and far living peacefully together from all walks of life, despite the decades of continuous violence between them. You get to be stuck in time admiring the beauty forgetting whats really happening in the world around you.
You soon realize that Israel is not so different than the US or any other country. People live normally, go to work, get stuck in traffic. The only difference is people are kind to their neighbors and say hello to the stranger. You shop and are able see items from many religions on the same table mixed with each other. That is why Israel is so different, because when you do go there, you will realize that Israel is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
It is a place I want to tell you about because it was so different than I was expecting it to be. More beauty, unified, safe and mostly a symbol that there can be peace on earth.
I recently went to Israel for a 10 day trip. I went with a teen group from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Nebraska. It was called the Mega-Teen Mission Trip to Israel 2015. It was the first year they did this. We stayed mostly in Akko because that is our partnership region.
Last year, about 15 Israeli High school kids visited Chicago and stayed with host families in Indiana. Now we got the chance to visit their homes and stay with them for a day. My family was amazing, but I will highlight that in another story.
We visited all the major things in Nahariya and some of the smaller less known places too. I was in Nahariya one day after a rocket fell, and life was perfectly normal and I felt safer there than in Chicago. We arrived the day the missile fell, so we stayed down south for the night. Israel feels so safe despite the violence. You see IDF soldiers with machine guns all over and you feel safe.
You can literally have strangers talk to you and wonder where you are from; again feeling safe it is just a part of life in Israel. After 6 days, we went to Tel Aviv and then later that day to Jerusalem.
I love Jerusalem and being surrounded by historic places that have significant meanings. I will definitely go back to revisit some of the same places, because you cannot absorb everything in the short time I had. The significance of this trip was the people-people connection. We got to do various service projects including visiting a hospital. Then the host families was my favorite day because I loved being with a family and just living life as an Israeli would. This trip had a deeper connection than any other would. Being able to meet other people and visit places not only as a tourist, but as a local is the valuable experience I had
I will tell you guys more very soon, but not right this moment. When you visit just soak it all in, because your trip will never be long enough; trust me, you will run out of time but it’s the time you have that you need to spend visiting all over.
Here are a few more photos. You can also click here to view my YouTube introduction to the series of stories and videos I am planning and will soon post. Click here.
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