Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad Day 1

The purpose of my most recent trip to Israel was to participate in a mission of artists from the Metrowest Jewish Federation area in a bridge program to network with and work on collaborative creative projects with the artists in Arad, Israel - a partner community with the Metrowest Federation. 

Arad is a city in the northern Negev, a few miles south of the artificial border of Judea. It's on a mountain between Beersheba and Masada/the Dead Sea. Because of it's elevation, the nights are comfortably cool in late June, but the daytime temperatures hover near 100˚F for about twelve hours a day. Except for its proximity to Masada/the Dead Sea and the stark Negev landscape, the city itself has little to offer visitors. Towards the western end of the city is an industrial area with cinderblock and sheet metal units that had fallen into disuse, but has been rehabilitated as a community of low cost artist studios and workspaces. It was with those artists with whom we networked.

The first full day we spent in Arad was Shabbat, a traditional family day in Israel as well as a rest day for many people. The time I spent with my host Israeli family turned out to be the highlight of my time in Arad. The kids were amazing.



But my favorite family member of them all was Tai (guess which one she is):



We took a walk into the Negev to get a feel for the environment - we began the walk at 9am and the temperature had already reached 95˚F. The Mitzpe Moav memorial which overlooks the Dead Sea was erected to commemorate an Israeli Air Force jet that had crashed in the location. You can get an idea of the stark landscape in the background.



My friend Hen (pronounced with a hard 'H' as if you're clearing your throat) invited me out onto one arm of the memorial that extended over a steep drop into a wadi. You can see the faint line of the Jordanian mountains in the background.