Great Expectations and that Energetic Wall

IMG_0861I recently traveled to Israel with my boyfriend and didn’t really know what to expect. I, like many Americans, used to have a skewed perception of what the country is like.  Over the last few years many of these preconceived notions were debunked. I still wondered if life in Israel was at all like stories I had seen on the evening news. Would there be missiles everywhere and camels wandering the streets? Avoiding missiles and violence in Israel was not a problem. Gaining weight from all the fine food and finding a parking spot for your car were problems. I was so busy walking and eating there was no time to worry about missiles or my safety because walking around Tel Aviv was more safe than walking around New York City. Before the trip I had heard a lot about the food, the people, the beaches, the humidity, the historical sites and yes, more about the food. I spent most of my time in Tel Aviv, so maybe my extremely edible view of Israel is different than other parts of the country. The food was definitely the highlight of the trip, along with a particularly energetic wall.

iPhoto LibraryIn Tel Aviv there is no shortage of fresh squeezed juices (on every corner), amazing coffee, fresh melon, and delicious shawarma.  If you don’t know what shawarma is, you just have to taste it to understand. And (unfortunately) I haven’t found very good shawarma in the U.S.  The bread is different, the meat is different, the hummus is different and the tahini!!  My mouth is watering just writing about it. To give you an idea how amazing the sandwiches were, we stopped on the way to the airport to grab one last sandwich so we could nibble on it during the 11 hour flight back to the U.S. It definitely made the trip go by faster.

After spending several days in Tel Aviv, I took a guided tour of Jerusalem. There is so much history in Jerusalem it is hard to say what was the most interesting.  The tour was so fast paced I almost missed the stone where Jesus laid when they brought him down off the cross. I didn’t have time or the desire to wait in line to get a glimpse inside the tomb where Jesus was resurrected. Needless to say, Jerusalem has an aura of conflict, death and tourism. The old city at times felt more like a giant shopping mall than a historical site. There is one spot in Jerusalem that moved me more than anything else – the Western Wall or The Kotel. IMG_0914The tradition of the Kotel is to put your prayer notes into the wall.  I carried notes from others as well as  a few of my own. Getting to the wall was a challenge, placing the notes into the wall was nearly impossible. The Western Wall is divided into sections – one for women and the other for men. The section for women was very small – so there were a lot of us squished together and trying to place our notes. I was able to get up to the wall. To touch it. To place my notes. What surprised me was that I could feel an energy being emitted from the wall. I am not a religious person, but there is definitely something unique about the wall and I felt it.

My trip to Israel was too short and there are plenty of other things for me to see, do, and eat there. I am definitely looking forward to the next trip and my next shawarma!

Blunt Egomaniacs Befriend Me

I have a new job! It is exciting yet scary. The idea of working for a new company and a whole new group of people is uncomfortable. I know this is true for everyone starting a new job, but how many people are hired over the phone never having met their coworkers in person? Maybe this happens to more people than I realize, but it is the first time it happened to me. At least social media tools like LinkedIn provided me a glimpse of my new coworkers.

The idea of adjusting to a new work environment made me reflect on the first days at my last company where I met a lot of new people. Each day new friends were made as coworkers bridged the gap and appeared on my Facebook or became my buddies to hang-out with on business trips. For some reason it seemed like it took a long time to get to know each person as well as a whole new culture.

Specifically, I am talking about Israeli culture. Working with a large team in Israel and numerous Israeli’s transplanted to the U. S., avoidance was impossible. At first I thought they were blunt (sometimes rudely so). I thought they had no feelings or were mean. They were very emotional and somehow right about everything (at least that was always their opening position). After spending more time with these blunt egomaniacs I discovered something surprising.

Under the harsh and often scary exterior were smart, caring, and compassionate people. Sure, they would disagree with you on, well, everything! I stopped counting the number of times I was enraged or irritated. In the end though, we seemed to just ‘get over it’. I can say that I always had to be at the top of my game, because this was the smartest group of people I had ever worked with. I loved working with them even when they felt like a thorn in my side. So at times, voices were definitely raised (as is normal with Israeli’s) but in the end it didn’t matter because we had a level of respect that transcended the yelling. Eventually yelling was not needed. Had they “Americanized” or had I “Israelized”?

I was sad about leaving my Israeli friends behind at my last company, but at the same time I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture. No one can take that away from me. From any job there are takeaways – bonuses, paychecks, a 401k and eventually maybe a retirement or severance check. I like to think that I left with something much more valuable – friendships and cultural understanding. I can only hope for as much at my next job.