The past weekend was full of new experiences for our group—some planned, some unexpected, and most of them somewhat peculiar. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve seen over the last few days: 

1. Hasidic Jewish protest. It’s around 5:00PM, and each of us have just given in to the temptation of slumber, provoked by the sauna typical of Israeli summers. A few minutes after drifting off, however, I awaken to the incessant chorus of what, in my dreamful state of mind, sounds like a very large and angry herd of sheep. My roommates and I stumble out to the courtyard of our guest-house to investigate, and find hundreds of Hasidic Jewish men and boys lining the streets in front of our house, yelling “Shabbat” (the Hebrew word for sabbath) over and over again and at varying levels. Some of them pace the sidewalk, muttering the word under their breath, while others march up to the Israeli policemen and scream it in their faces. When cars drive by, the Hasidic Jews swarm around the car, trying to open doors and pull the driver out. The young boys throw barriers in the street. Apparently this happens every Saturday evening, and last Saturday several people actually got arrested. We are planning on getting footage of it next weekend.

2. Feeding an Ibex. This was easily the highlight of my weekend. I know, it is an odd thing to be excited about. We happened upon a herd of about fifteen ibex on the cliffs of Ein Gedi. In case you aren’t aware what exactly an ibex is…it’s basically a little goat with big horns. Living up to my reputation in the group as a former goat owner, I crept up to the biggest ibex and held out a branch of leaves. He came up to me and I fed it. This caused Zach, Andrew, Taylor and me to chase ibex around the cliffs with branches for the next twenty minutes, trying to lure them over to us. Aside from being ibex-whisperers, we had a great time hiking around Ein Gedi (which is the place where David hid when he ran from Saul) and swimming in the small pools and waterfalls there. Ein Gedi is definitely one of my favorite places in Israel. 

3. Walking on Water. After Ein Gedi, we went across the road to the Dead Sea. Anna and I had been there before, but none of the rest of our group had been. The sensation of walking out into the water and just being lifted up is crazy and so against the ordinary.  Zach got some exercise in by running in place, Taylor learned that no matter how thirsty you are, a mouthful of salt water will not cut it, and Anna and I came up with the idea for a horror film about discovering something alive in the Dead Sea…think Jaws, Israeli version.  After floating around for awhile, we went to Jericho, rode a camel named Pistachio, and then back to Jerusalem.

4. Cockroaches…need I say more? We’ve had plenty of encounters with cockroaches at our residence over the past few weeks, complete with one scampering across the kitchen floor during dinner and another emerging from the bathroom right after I had taken a shower. But none of these former cockroaches had faced the terror that this cockroach today was privy to—Zach and his faithful weapon, a lighter. 


    Zach succeeded in burning part of the cockroach’s leg, but this only caused it to whirl under the couch and then into a crack in the wall, as Anna and I waited in the furthest corner possible for it to come out. Later, it came out onto the floor and I was hovering over it with a hardcover Left Behind book (disclaimer: this book belongs to the library at the guest house…I don’t believe any in our group likes or endorses these books), ready to finally bring this chase to an end. But apparently all of this non-violence stuff is getting to Zach, because at my opportune moment, he said, “Wait…it just wants to live!” And in my pause for thought, it flitted into another crack in the wall, never to be seen again…at least not that day.

5. Saying goodbye. Probably the least fun part of this weekend was saying goodbye to Jake and Annie, both of whom have added so much to our team throughout the past two weeks. They had to go back to the States early for a wedding, but we were so fortunate to have them with us for the time that they were. This project has been blessed with so much of their artistic expression and direction already. I look forward to the work that they will continue to do with us during the editing process of the film.

Peace and Love,