This week the Jewish community is celebrating the Feast of Sukkot (or Tabernacles), which lasts for roughly a week. It is a traditional holiday time, so Tiberias is full of holiday makers, mostly religious Jews, who like to come to Tiberias as one of the 4 ‘Holy’ cities in Judaism. Sukkot is a time for families to build booths in their gardens, where they will eat and even sleep. It commemorates the time the Israelites wandered in the Wilderness, and so needed to travel light and with structures that were easily dismantled and put up again in another location. For a Christian, I feel it speaks to us about how we clutter our lives with unnecessary possessions, habits, etc and need to learn to ‘travel light’.
I have now begun to drive. After having a pick-up in Africa, I find the Peugeot here both lower and lighter. I am getting used to both the automatic transmission and also driving on the right. Israelis also have a bad name for aggressive driving, but after 7 years of Lusaka driving, I am used to anything.
I have also found a good supermarket, though Israelis seem to do their week’s shopping in one go, so have their trolleys piled up, which is frustrating if you only have a few things. Most of the packaging is in Hebrew, so it is often a lottery whether you choose the right thing. Certainly, I bought what looked like a butter spread, only to find it was something else completely. Anyway, that should be remedied in the near future, as I start my language lessons at the Ulpan. With so many immigrants, everyone learns the language together, so everything is in Hebrew. You either sink or swim! As Tiberias is a predominately Jewish town (and with my background in Biblical Hebrew), I felt it might be easier to learn Hebrew first, and try to pick up Arabic as I go on (although the alphabets are different, the two languages are related). It is vitally important, not least to converse with the staff.