July 12th – Training Outside and Exploring Tel Aviv

What a great day.
This morning I had a great little run through the area surrounding Kibbutz Shefayim. It’s not that it was GORGEOUS, but I loved being surrounded by Israel. I felt as if each sign I saw with Hebrew letters was another instance where I felt I belonged. With each step I felt more at home.
Then after a wonderful buffet-style (like all our meals) breakfast we decided to kick around a little bit. Today however, we didn’t have access to a gym and so we kicked pads outside.
It was fun. We got a pretty large audience who were watching, filming and cheering us. There was also quite a bit of smack talk said about who would win in a fight between the Maccabiah Karate Team and the Maccabiah Taekwondo Team (duh, us!).
After eating lunch we got to the buses (very late) and took the bus ride to downtown Israel where we spent a few hours exploring Tel Aviv.
We saw various landmarks with our tour guide, which was nice because there’s a lot of history to learn about Israel.
Favorite sign I saw in Israel (read the smaller type)
Us TKD guys broke off and explored. I really liked shopping in the market/Shuk, especially because I got complimented on my Hebrew (possibly because I was a potential customer lol). We got some really interesting food. A bunch of baklava type things, dried fruit and various other delicious food that we found intriguing.
We passed by a few orthodox Jews who asked if we wanted to put on Tefillin, we all said yes. I was gonna put on my own Tefillin, but he seemed to like helping me so I let him. Afterwards we said the blessing for putting on the Teffilin and donated some money into their Tzedakah box.
I loved being in that little area. You had the orthodox Jews asking people if they wanted to put on Tefillin on two sides. An Israel version McDonalds (disgusting). A few great shops to get cold sweet treats (Smoothie truck and ice cream parlor). And a street performer who played on buckets with quite a large audience surrounding him. Sounds nice right? Except his backing tracks were “Hit Em Up” by Tupac and “Big Poppa” by Notorious BIG. If you’re reading this then you should know these songs because you’re an American, but I sincerely doubt these Israelis knew those songs. We were all laughing at the incongruity of it all.
By this time we had realized one of the most important things that I may ever learn from my journey in Israel. The women in Israel are the most beautiful people…ever. Not only that, but there are a seemingly impossible high number of them.
We then headed to the Herzeleyah beach in Tel Aviv. The brave few of us went out into the water and rode the massive waves, throwing ourselves at them. Got a little bit of salt water in my mouth and up my nose lol.

When we got out we started playing catch with a crappy foam football. After realizing how boring that is we decided to organize a game of football (American football) against the US Maccabiah Gymnastics team. Let me just say. These gymnastics guys were like small tanks. Crazy ripped.
It was really fun because with the wind and the foam ball, we all sucked. After playing for about a half an hour, only one touchdown had been scored but we were all covered in sand. We lost, but had a great time.
We came back in time for Shabbat. Rather than sleep I decided to head to synagogue and take part in some Shabbat services. They were nice, I’d prefer a little more Hebrew but it was meant to allow for any American to join in. My favorite line, “Rabbi Joshua Hershel is like an iMac. Easily accessible.”
Went to a great Shabbat dinner with the team. Laughed hard and slept like a baby.