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The Big Trip Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in Cultural Awareness

The Big Trip (הַטִּיּוּל הַגָּדוֹל) is a literal translation for the Israeli custom of travelling abroad after being discharged from the army (צָבָא). Nowadays, Israeli boys serve three years in the צָבָא, and girls only two years. The majority packs their bags as soon as they can and fly away.

Photo by taki Lau on Flickr.com

This habit began as a search for peace (שַׁלְוָה). Unfortunately, in Israel, security is on the daily agenda. Most of IDF soldiers (חַיָּלׅים) experience tense service watching the country (מְדִינָה). After (אַחֲרֵי) three stressful years in the צָבָא, they need some time to rest. Fighters started to travel away to remote places to relax. Today though, not only the fighters, but pretty much every ex-soldier is going to הַטִּיּוּל הַגָּדוֹל אַחֲרֵי הַצָּבָא. Before they dive into the routine of grown-ups, they go abroad (לְחוּץ לָאָרֶץ) to feel free, to have fun, and to see the world.

The main destinations are South America and East Asia. Israelis love to explore the different cultures of Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, China and India. Israelis love to hike in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Few travel to North America. Fewer go to Africa or fly to Europe. The farther the better. No one stays to travel in the country (אֶרֶץ). No one, except for Aviv Shaul.

At the beginning of March 2016, Aviv left his house in the center of Israel and took the bus (אוֹטוֹבּוּס) to the southern point of Israel, Eilat. It’s not every day that a young boy, who has just discharged from the צָבָא, travel four months in his own אֶרֶץ, visiting 86 different families (מׅשְׁפָּחוֹת). Aviv wanted to experience Israel through the people and not through the broadcast news. He visited every kind of family (מִשְׁפָּחָה): Jewish, Arabic, religious, secular, single parent, unisexual, urbanite, rustic.

Aviv didn’t fly, he didn’t use a different language, he didn’t twist his tongue with foreign names, he didn’t get lost in the far end of the world. And still he was afraid. Because Aviv’s goal was to explore the conflicts of the Israel nation and society: ethnic differences, economic inequality, secular-religions tensions, and conflicting ideologies. Aviv’s private adventure became a social journey into the heart of Israel. On the way to Eilat he named his big trip ‘fear nothing’.

Without fear, he felt everything Israel has to offer: the debates and the hospitality. Aviv picked up mushrooms with the Bedouins; ate dinner at the communal dining room of the Kibbutz; visited a mosque in Abu-Gosh; discussed uniqueness with homosexuals in Tel-Aviv; spent Passover Eve at a Orthodox Jewish מִשְׁפָּחָה in Giv`at-Shmuel; and so on.

Israel is a mix of population, opinions, languages and passions. And yet, after four months on the roads of Israel, Aviv returned home optimistic. 86 different Israeli מׅשְׁפָּחוֹת shared their houses and lives with Aviv. Their kindness and devotions ensured Aviv that we all can live together, if only we’ll truly face our crucial conflicts.

Watch this interview with Aviv (in Hebrew).

Or read this article about Aviv’s journey (in Hebrew):

And visit his Facebook page.

 

Text vocabulary

The big trip = הַטִּיּוּל הַגָּדוֹל

Abroad = לְ/בְּחוּץ לָאָרֶץ

Israelis frequently use the abbreviation חו”ל in spoken and written Hebrew, for abroad. It’s shorter and widely accepted.

After = אַחֲרֵי

Army = צָבָא

Peace = שַׁלְוָה

IDF = צה”ל

Soldier = חַיָּל

Soldiers = חַיָּלׅים

Flight = טִיסָה

To fly = לָטוּס

Country = אֶרֶץ, מְדִינָה

Both means country, but both also bear another meaning from the same terminology field: while אֶרֶץ also means land, מְדִינָה also means state.

Family = מִשְׁפָּחָה

Families = מׅשְׁפָּחוֹת

Visit = בּׅיקּוּר

To visit = לְבַקֵּר

City = עִיר

Countryside = כְּפָר

Bus = אוֹטוֹבּוּס

Buses = אוֹטוֹבּוּסׅים

 

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