It's a real challenge to condense the past few days into a manageable read so bare with me. 

Things I've learned thus far:

1) My jewish identity is singular and fluid. I am allowed to decide what kind of Jew I want to be and that can change. 

2) Jerusalem really is the holiest city on earth.
If I were to describe the energy emitted when you first see it and when you're walking around, it would probably makes me sound like I'm about to join a cult of hippy Jews. 
But, rather, this city is just unexplained in it's beauty and grander.

It's the cause of so many wars to control it; uncountable deaths.

It's also the embodiment of hope: a hope to one day return and bask in the holyness-mess of it all. 

Jerusalem is this city for like, a ton of people.
(3 billion, give or take).

It's hella heavy.
I view it with tearful eyes and a large smile. 

3) 'Jewish learning'. This has been one of my favorite concepts. We met a Hasidic Jew named Alon, who is a total 'appeal to the young persons' tool but also totally appealed to the young persons. He talked about selflessness and kindness and thankfulness and what that means to us everyday. He also told us to do some Jewish learning which entails some yelling and arguing etc. 

"two jews, seven opinions" sort of idea. 

My father also taught me this concept but never put a name to it. y mother just called it the 'Stein Trait'.
To me, it was the Sunday morning kitchen conversations that flustered my friends during a sleepover while I couldn't wait to jump in. 

So, here in Israel, the land of the conflict most covered by Western media, I'm learning that I'm not alone in my love of argument and discussion and ball-of-cheese metaphorical stories. 

4) Thanks to Ms. Hixson (hail Block!), my sophomore year world history teacher, I was told long ago that most of the problems in this world can be blamed on the lines drawn on a map, because these lines were drawn by white guy homies up in Britain and France who had never visited places like Central Africa or the Middle East, but decided, 

'Hey, we made some promises during some war that if those peeps fought for us, we'd give them some land, so let's do that but without consulting ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY LIVES THEIR' -actual representative from some Western European country, 1917(ish)

This (somewhat sarcastic and I hope you picked up on that) idea has only been solidified further in Israel, which sort of surprised me.

'Doesn't this conflict date back literally thousands of years ago?'
'Isn't this a religious war?'

Apparently, nah. Well ya, it does date back thousands of years but not this exact conflict. Not Israeli's versus Palestinians. So, nah, not really.  
And mostly, I've always wondered: 

"What went wrong?"

What I'm starting to understand this conflict to be, is a war 'in the name of my father': You dad did this to my dad so I'm going to do this to.
I'm starting to look at all war this way.

5) but wait...
More on the complications later. 

6) The more you know, the more you don't know. It's the frustrating truth of claiming your a (wannabe) academic and a good reminder to keep asking questions and keep doing some Jewish learning. Even if you aren't Jewish.
It's pretty fun to argue. 

Shabbat Shalom, my friends! 
I'm in Israel for the Sabbath so I can't show my shoulders. Please pray for me and my sweat glands.