70 REASONS WHY WE LOVE ISRAEL AND OUR ISRAELI STAFF AT CAMP
70 REASONS WHY WE LOVE ISRAEL AND OUR ISRAELI STAFF AT CAMP
In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, the staff here at FJC told us 70 reasons they love Israel – in all her complexity – and Israeli staff members at camp, shlichim, in particular. (This list is in no particular order)!
1. SHOKO B’SAKIT (CHOCOLATE MILK IN A BAG) Where else in the world is it socially acceptable to walk around drinking milk from a bag?!
2. THE CAREFREE SPIRIT THEY BRING TO CAMP Even the coolest among the shlichim (Israeli staff) are up for a good sing-along, are willing to get down to some traditional Israeli dances or rock out without abandon when their favorite song comes on.
3. OUR NEW VOCABULARY We come home with more than just Hebrew words for places and activities around camp, we learn Israeli slang, too. Magniv!
4. HUUUMMUUUUS! For breakfast, lunch and dinner? YES.
5. WITH WARM, HOMEMADE PITA
6. AND A TABLE FULL OF SALATIM Vibrant, spicy, sour, crunchy… It’s like dinner part I.
7. AND FALAFEL From a gas station – the best falafel you’ve ever tasted to be exact.
8. THE DRESS CODE Dressing every day for the inevitable impromptu hike sounds good to us.
9. FAMILY FIRST In Israel, everyone treats one another like family. The sense that we are all brothers and sisters is what makes the country unique and so close knit – just like at camp.
10. SHAKSHUKA The only egg dish to give rocky mountain toast a run for its money.
11. ISRAELI DANCE. Enough said.
12. HOW TO SPEAK WITH A REAL ISRAELI ACCENT. Can you differentiate between an Israeli “Eh” and a Canadian “Eh?”
13. AROMA ICE CAFFE Magical ice-blended goodness.
14. HOW TO SPEAK WITH OUR HANDS It’s truly a perfect art form.
15. BLUNDSTONES! On our feet right now.
16. THEY INSPIRE US TO BE MORE, DO MORE Never discouraged by a challenge or something unknown, we can always count on our Israeli coworkers and staff to tackle it head on. Ein Baya! (No problem!) Their initiative is empowering.
17. BISSLI & BAMBA (We’re dating ourselves here. This was back in the day before peanuts were contraband. Hey @Osem, where’s the sun nut butter flavored Bamba?)
18. KRAV MAGA Hands down one the best chugim (electives) at camp. And don’t you dare compare it to karate.
19. THE DEAD SEA Floating in one of the greatest wonders of the world for the first time is an amazing experience. We’re dead sea-rious.
20. THE WONDER CURE Tired? Fever? Rash? Water. Water. Water. Sometimes the easiest solution is the right one.
21. POPROCKS CHOCOLATE BARS Life was never the same after being introduced to this Israeli creation.
22. ISRAELI CHOCOLATE IN GENERAL Mekupelet, Pesek Zman, Max Brenner…
23. AND THE KREMBO It’s essentially the Israeli s’more. Need we say more?!
24. AND MILKY The chocolate pudding that’s got Snack Pack beat.
25. BIGLAL HAMUSICA(BECAUSE OF THE MUSIC) If it weren’t for Israeli staff at camp, our Israeli music knowledge would consist of the greatest hits. We’ll always have a lot of love for Arik Einstein, Kaveret, and Shlomo Artzi, but the Israeli music scene is hopping, and we want in!
26. GAL(GALGAL)GALATZ We love this eclectic radio station, especially to stream from the US as Yom HaZikaron transitions into Yom HaAtzmaut over in Israel.
27. JEWISH GEOGRAPHY: ISRAEL EDITION This takes the game to a whole new level – everyone knows everyone when the country is the size of New Jersey!
28. MANGAL! The Israeli cousin of our weekly camp Bet-Bet-Kufs (BBQs)
29. PARKING ON SIDEWALKS is 100% the acceptable and encouraged way of life. Seriously, some of these drivers could give parents on Visiting Day a run for their money.
30. THE ABILITY TO FIX ANYTHING Usually by drinking water, but Israelis could also give MacGyver a run for his money.
31. MARZIPAN RUGELACH WARNING: This is not your Bubbe’s rugelach!
32. ISRAELIS AREN’T AFRAID TO ENGAGE IN SOME SERIOUS DEBATES. We can always count on our Israeli coworkers to be outspoken. They challenge us and push us to stand up for what we believe in.
33. MATKOT No more running past this terrifying paddle ball game on the Tel Aviv beach. With some pointers from our Israeli friends, we’re in it to win it!
34. ZA’ATAR. Our favorite spice mix. (If you’re wondering, “Who has a favorite spice?” you obviously haven’t had za’atar.)
35. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY This philosophy runs true with most Israelis we know, and we love them for it!
36. A REASON TO VISIT. Going on Birthright or a family trip to Israel gives us an excuse to extend our stay to reunite with our co-counselors or even counselors from when we were campers!
37. FRESHLY BAKED BUREKAS. Shlichim have introduced us to all different types in baking activities: meat, potato, mushroom, spinach or cheese – we love them all!
38. YOM YISRAEL (ISRAEL DAY) Although we celebrate Israel all year (and summer!) Yom Yisrael is a day filled with Rikudiah (dance), Pita making, Henna tattoos and Daglanut (flag dance) where our shlichim get to shine and teach us all about the land we love.
39. WE LEARN ALL ABOUT DIFFERENT PLACES IN ISRAEL. Like from kibbutzim to Moshavim to city centers and their unique qualities.
40. SNOW IN THE HERMON WHILE THERE’S SAND AND THE BEACH IN EILAT! The stark contrast is mind-boggling yet, beautiful.
41. WHERE TO EAT IN ISRAEL. Before meeting our Israeli friends we ate at the tourist traps. Now we go to the real authentic places when we visit!
42. WAZE This Israeli GPS app is the best to help us get to and from visiting our camp friends.
43. CREATIVITY It runs through their veins. Think of the hundreds of Israeli songs, cheers, and games you know of just because of one random afternoon hanging out with a Shaliach up at the gate by Shmira.
44. PA’AM SHLISHEET GLIDA There’s a tradition in Israel where if you run into a person three times in a row, you owe them ice cream. We are totally on board with this!
45. SHABBAT IN ISRAEL The next best thing to Shabbat at camp.
46. HOLIDAYS IN ISRAEL From the food, to the traditions to even strangers on the street wishing you a “Chag Sameach”! The country sure knows how to celebrate a holiday.
47. ESPECIALLY WALKING IN THE STREETS ON YOM KIPPUR
48. AND EATING OUT ON PASSOVER
49. EIN GEDI. It’s basically a natural water park with flowing waterfalls and gorgeous spring pools along a hiking trail.
50. THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS THE SIZE OF NEW JERSEY. You can drive from Metula up North, to Eilat down South in just about 5.5 hours. That’s only an hour longer than it takes some of us to drive from our houses to camp!
51. MOVIE THEATRE INTERMISSIONS. If you have not had the chance to head to the movie theatre in Israel, you must! All of things you expect at a typical movie theatre experience will be present (e.g.: popcorn, fountain soda, tickets) until suddenly midway through the film the screen goes black for intermission!
52. HALVA There is entire stores and markets in Israel that are dedicated to pairing you up with this sweet, tahini infused Middle Eastern treat.
53. THE LOCAL MAKOLET MAN IS YOUR BFF Makolets are tiny, hole-in-the-wall grocery stores that resemble your neighborhood Bodega or convenient store except the owner knows their customers so well that they become ultimate BFFs.
54. SPONJA After using a sponja in Israel, we’ll never view mops the same way. #TeamSponja #MopsJustMoveDirtAround
55. THE ISRAELI ACCENT. When we’re out and about, there is no more comforting feeling than hearing someone speaking with an Israeli accent.
56. MONIOT SHERUT They are the kibbutz of the taxi world, and we love their convenience and comradery.
57. KOSHER MCDONALDS That’s more than enough reason for us to fly across the globe.
58. HAIR LOVE We adore that Israeli culture embraces natural hair. We love that there’s no pressure to bring hair straighteners and we can let our curls do their thing.
59. MACHANE YEHUDA (THE SHUK) It should have been first on the list.
60. AND THE PRODUCE THEY SELL There really is no comparison.
61. AND THE SPICES The best place to stock up on saffron, za’atar, and other spice mixes.
62. THEY TEACH US TO BE BOLD. Our shlichim never shy away from a challenge (or “the spotlight”) even if it means starring as Dani Zuko in Grease in the camp play because none of the teen boys wanted the part.
63. TAXI DRIVERS Odds are, if you take taxis in Israel for a week, you’ll end up with Shabbat dinner plans and a blind date with someone’s son.
64. A SECOND HOME AWAY FROM HOME Camp is our first and Israel is our second. That’s because our camp friends who live in Israel have taught us what it means to be at home even when you’re thousands of miles away from your actual family.
65. DIVERSITY Israel truly is a country of all different colors, languages, and religious beliefs and observances.
66. HISTORY We’re pretty sure they didn’t run into any ancient artifacts when building the new mall out by our house, but that’s a pretty regular occurrence in Israel!
67. THE BEACHES And we especially love that there is a beach in Tel Aviv dedicated just to dogs!
68. KUMZITZ Nighttime gatherings on the beach by the campfire – THEY’RE AMAZING and sometimes also involve a drum circle!
69. FRESH CHALLAH Just like Starbucks is on every corner in New York, there’s a store selling fresh Challah on Friday on every corner in Israel!
70. THEY REMIND US THAT NO MATTER WHAT ELSE HAPPENS IN THE WORLD, JEWS WILL ALWAYS HAVE A PLACE WHERE THEY ARE WELCOME AND CAN CALL HOME.
yom huledet sameach, ISRAEL! You don’t look a day over 25!
This post is based off of our original blogpost: 10 Reasons We Love Our Israeli Staff.