By Ally Cohen, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Ashdod
We spent our third day of the program touring the two cities we are stationed in: Ashdod and Ramle (also know as Ramla). We started with a tour of Ramle. We had an adorable tour guide named Kostas who is an Arab Christian. He told us all about the history of Ramle. As we walked out of the museum, a woman asked which of the fellows were stationed in Ramle. She is one of the neighbors and always “adopts” one or two fellows, having them over for dinner and celebrating holidays with them. This kind of interaction has not been uncommon. Everywhere we go people have been so nice to us, especially when they find out we are the teaching fellows. People want us to be here and go out of their way to make us feel at home. Almost everyone we meet has offered us their phone number and told us to call them if we need anything.
On our tour of Ramla we visited the museum, my favorite thing there was a wall that had pictures of every fallen soldier from the city dating back to the 1940’s. The families of the soldiers had all made them scrapbooks, filled with family photos and mementos. It was moving to see that these were real people who died defending their country, that they were more than just a name and a statistic.
As a bit of a history nerd being in Israel is an incredible experience. So much has happened here, and the evidence of that is everywhere you go. Walking through the shuk in Ramle we saw an old mailbox from the British Mandate period.
We also visited a 700-year-old tower. We all made it to the top, and after climbing all the stairs, we were feeling the burn. Kostas told us a story about how the neighboring city of Lot once tried to steal the tower; they obviously did not succeed.
We also went on a rowboat ride underground in the Pool of Arches…
The boats were pretty large for the small space, so we kept bumping into things. Eventually my boat decided to embrace this and try to start attacking people, unfortunately for us we had a lot of trouble navigating and were unable to catch anyone. However, we did get some good snapchats, so all was not lost.
After we had eaten lunch an Israeli tour group on a scavenger hunt asked us to dance the hora with them, they were a bit surprised that we knew what that was. It was a reminder of how cool it is that people from all over the world reside in Israel, and we all share many cultural things; it’s a lot like reuniting with your long lost cousins.
By the time we made it back to Ashdod we were all exhausted from the combination of Jet lag and running around all day in the hot sun. I feel very bad for our next tour guide because we were not the best group for him. It was like he was giving a tour to the walking dead. We did a large part of the tour from the bus because Ashdod is a lot larger than Ramle, the fifth largest city in Israel to be exact. Luckily I will have a lot more time to explore Ashdod in the upcoming months. Tomorrow I will attempt to open an Israeli bank account, so stay tuned.
Originally published on AllyTakesIsrael.Wordpress.com September 7, 2016.