As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I’ve wanted to write a poem in the terza rima form ever since reading Dante’s Inferno in high school. I never had a topic that would work well, until a friend suggested I write an epic poem about the program I’ve been on in Israel for the last five months. It was for my program’s talent show. Naturally, I forgot about the whole terza rima thing, until I was most of the way through the poem, sigh. I made up my own poetic style instead.
The Ballad of Career Israel
Part I: Orientation
February 13th, our lucky day,
we began our five-month Israel stay.
Met Natalie, Itzik, played many a game.
(No way I’m remembering everyone’s name!)
Mount Herzl visit (the first of many),
Jerusalem tour, religions galore,
no Temple Mount, though we waited plenty.
A Shuk private tour?! The guys had it made.
But we were happy with challah to braid,
happier still when it was time to taste.
Had to make sure not a crumb went to waste.
‘Least one stereotype seemed to be true,
when we had a look at the famous Shuk,
I tried to buy fruit and got spat at. Ew!
Then off to the kibbutz Neve Shalom,
where Arabs and Jews can both feel at home.
Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize,
wish it could be nationally realized!
History lecture on the Middle East,
helped to show just how much I didn’t know,
good thing I had five months to learn, at least!
Part II: Ulpan and Jaffa Tour
Next, our first taste of sweet Tel Aviv grime.
Orientation’s done; it’s Ulpan time.
So many words, impossible to know.
“Ani rotzah glida.” I’m good to go.
With Hebrew and lectures, so much to do.
First Masa event, wish I hadn’t went.
(Sorry, Natalie and Itzik; it’s true.)
Finally, met my boss at Grey face-to-face.
Office down an alley? Craziest place!
Speak of insanity, Purim soon came.
Never look at that holiday the same.
Kids, adults, all in costume, filled the street.
Forget Halloween, Purim reigns supreme.
Candy sucks! You’ve hamentashen to eat.
Went to a patent firm; they knew my dad.
Jewish geography is quite the fad.
As for locations, ours is the best.
Can you walk to the Med Sea? No contest!
Our next group trip was a Jaffa day-tour.
Napoleon, Jonah, Peter, Noah,
Solomon — who hasn’t been here before?
An inn made famous by St. Peter’s dream,
seems eating shellfish was his scheme
to convert Gentiles. Religion must spread.
Later, Napoleon slept there, so they said.
We walked to the port down winding stone stairs.
The port, as a whole, exceedingly dull,
though cute newly-weds really made it theirs.
Part III: Start of Internship to Passover
Now that I spoke Hebrew like a native,
I started my job and got creative.
Strauss ice cream, Klik chocolate, Gap and Nike,
if you’re not jealous of that, you should be.
Friday night potlucks, wish I could bake!
Good thing I bought strawberries for Shabbat
and then dipped them in chocolate, piece of cake.
Judaism 101, once a week,
was a Jewish laws and customs first peek,
with dinner, too. Rabbi Ezra, how shrewd;
nothing attracts Jews like lots of free food.
Sang in the Old City – Jerusalem
right by Jaffa Gate, performance was great.
Thanks, Dani, you made my hair look awesome!
Passover time! Didn’t I just start work?
Already in Jeru, so that’s a perk.
Passover Seders – can’t believe I’m here.
No need to say, “Jerusalem next year.”
Rest of the break on the beach, hurrah!
Didn’t get burned (or at all tan, I learned).
Then sailed a river straight from a Renoir.
Part IV: Yom Hashoah to Independence Day
Yom Hashoah Ceremony, my first,
not about humanity at its worst,
but for those so unbelievably brave
they persevered through conditions so grave.
What Daniella and I sang must never die,
so when people look back on this vile lack
of empathy. They’ll reflect and ask why.
Then Yad Vashem, place of grief and beauty.
(Though DC’s is better — yeah, I’m snooty).
At Mount Herzl, one grave gave me a pang:
the poet who wrote the lyrics I sang.
Memorial Day: a whole nation of silence.
They stopped their cars and remembered the wars
and all those who lost their lives to violence.
Mood swing! It’s time for a celebration:
65 years of being a nation.
Barbeques, fireworks, typical fair.
Foam, capes, hammers? Don’t see that everywhere.
Part V: Negev Trip
Negev trip: as usual, we left late.
First went on a hike, which I always like.
No hat or water? You won’t like your fate.
Walked round the world’s biggest crater: Ramon.
Made from erosion, great for fossil bone.
Bedouin’s tent: most found his tea too sweet;
I downed at least three cups, an easy feat.
We stood ’round the fire for a s’more roast.
Some had never made one, deprived of fun
until now. Bet they enjoyed it the most.
Next day, easy hike, which was well-planned
(gave me more time to collect pretty sand).
The rest of the trip was all about eating,
most of it healthy, which seemed like cheating.
Went to a dairy farm to make goat cheese.
(By make they meant spice, which was still quite nice.)
Zatar, garlic, onion, pepper — more please!
After that, off to the Salad Trail.
So sad the produce was not for sale.
Picked carrots in shades of purple and white,
the latter’s an unexpected delight.
Edible flowers in so many hues.
Had no sense the flavors were that intense!
When I have a garden, that’s what I’ll choose.
Part VI: Ein Gedi to Sderot
Dialogue Seminar in Ein Gedi.
Israelis vs. all us — get ready!
First topic: what it means to be a Jew.
We argued a lot, so that much is true.
Walked to the Dead Sea. (Could it be hotter?)
The mud I found, the smelliest around
Still, I used it to withstand the water.
Sticking all of my limbs out at once? Check!
Back to the hostel, a slippery trek.
Time to act out our own stereotype:
drunk American, rude Israeli hype.
We hiked up to a little waterfall.
Then we went inside to debate Gay Pride
Parade, Gilad Shelit – best talk of all.
Sderot to Gaza, a mile away,
not a typical place to spend a day.
15 secs from rocket launch to attack.
(Kept that from my parents ’til we were back.)
Bomb shelters on every block.
The violence won’t cease with a wall of peace,
not until both sides are able to talk.
Part VII: North Trip
Time to head north, our last Career tiyul.
Talk on vigilante justice? Not cool.
We hiked to see Tzfat and Lebanon
Reverse of a Tzfat hike I’d been on.
Rafted the Jordan of Biblical fame
At best a filthy creek, it was so weak
Mark Twain sneered at it, and I did the same.
Next day, we could hike six hours in the sun
or tour a chocolate farm — tough decision!
Bought chocolate in all three shades,
And went on a stroll to pale blue cascades.
Saw the Yom Kippur War’s Valley of Tears.
It was almost as bad as Stalingrad,
The biggest tank battle there’d been in years.
Couldn’t wait to swim the Kinneret
Sea floor was so rough I couldn’t bear it.
Lakes are so much cleaner in the US.
No wonder Jesus walked on the surface.
Then toured an Arab town and learned about
a circus: means for Jewish and Arab teens
to collaborate. Good for peace, no doubt.
Kids told us all about their future dreams.
There’ll be lots of doctors, dentists, it seems.
A teacher believed in one peaceful state,
where Jews and Arabs share an equal fate.
Return to Tzfat – then it was time to shop.
Falafel again at the best place I’d been.
Who knew that small stand was cream of the crop?
Part VIII: The West Bank to the End
I know my parents were filled with delight
to hear I was at the West Bank overnight.
Too bad only a quarter of us went.
The weekend, as a whole, was excellent.
We walked amidst Shiloh (like the battleground).
Tabernacle’s host, used to be the most
holy city ’til Jerusalem came ’round.
Time for host family Shabbat dinner:
chicken soup, good challah – a winner!
Oneg Shabbat lecture, yummy snacking.
(Kinetic sculpture was so distracting.)
Nine hours of sleep later, time to meet.
‘nother talk I forgot (do that a lot).
Still, view from the tower was a treat.
Lunchtime, definitely one of the pros
was a homemade cake with edible bows.
Final speaker, bet she’d love to know that
my favorite part was her cute orange cat.
The West Bank trip was the last one.
Five months went so fast, barely seemed to last.
(Though I’m glad this poem is almost done.)
Closing Ceremony, all presenting
about our internships (stop your venting).
At the end, guess most of you will be crying.
We could meet again, not like we’re dying.
Think I should end this all sentimental?
It’s not your pick. Touching words make me sick.
To use a British phrase, are you mental?