DIGGING IN ISRAEL...BY MIRANDA FEELEY
This year, thanks to generous scholarships from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County and Eisner Camp, I was able to spend an amazing summer in Israel. For four weeks I traveled around a country smaller than New Jersey, and still didn’t see everything I could have! I saw a lot of ancient history - from Masada in the south to Tzipori in the north, one of the richest archeological areas in the Middle East did not disappoint.
A fun fact that I’ve been spouting since I got home is that Israel is so densely packed with ancient cities and possible new discoveries that even before obtaining a building permit, people who want to develop an area have to sponsor an archeological dig there. Often, volunteers are brought in to help during the process. I got to do exactly that! During our chosen activity week, I spent four days participating in a dig that will someday be a hotel in Nahariya, a resort city about thirty minutes north of Akko. And you know what? You never realize how much effort actually goes into a dig until you’re there, sitting under a giant canvas and shoveling dirt for six hours. It’s hard and tedious, unless you have people to talk to; but totally worth it, in my opinion. When we started out, we got our own corner of the dig that hadn’t been touched yet. In fact, the items we were about to dig up hadn’t been touched by human hands for at least four thousand years, according to our guide’s estimate! That just blew my mind! As I was digging, I realized there were probably other sixteen-year-olds in that city, who liked feeding stray goats, or thought their neighbor was cute, or apprenticed to a potter so they could learn a craft, and make clay vessels, which would then be stored, forgotten about, and subsequently dug up by another sixteen-year-old four thousand years later.
It’s really incredible to see the outline of a wall start emerging in the dirt, and realize that hey, this was probably a house! Here’s the street between some houses! These are average things we interact with every day; what makes it exciting is the gap, and yet the similarities, between us and them. We don’t use amphorae anymore, but we still use containers for storage. I’m sure some future archeologist is going to love our long-lasting plastic! Despite the huge difference in the cultures we come from and the technology we have, everyone’s got surplus food to store. We started a completely untouched plot, and filled eight buckets with pottery shards! I can only imagine what else they’ll find as they dig deeper!
I couldn’t have had this, or any of the other incredible experiences in Israel without the generous help of the Jewish Federation Youth to Israel scholarship fund. At Eisner, one of the most constant questions is “Are you going to Israel?” I wanted to go incredibly badly. Meeting up with old friends, making new ones, and exploring our heritage together; what wouldn’t there be to love? The Federation helped me take one more step on my Jewish journey, and I couldn’t be more grateful.