One of the truths ab I love about the world is how so often opposites have so much more in common than seen at first glance.
This is how I feel about the Midwest to the Middle East. Specifically, I think that, as different as they seem on the surface, Israel and Minnesota are so much the same. Yes, there are some staunch cultural and geographical differences. However, there are similarities that make me feel at home in both places—so much so that I have taken to address one as home, and the other as my soul home.
I think an easy one right of the top is the water. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes; Israel is a land with 273 kilometers of coastline, much of which is along the Mighty Mediterranean. I am a true lake girl, 100% water baby. It must be known that the climate of Israel is very diverse, with the more topical living near the coast and desert conditions inland, so it’s not water, water everywhere, but where there is it is awesome. Surfing, swimming, volleyball in the sand, a tableless ping-pong paddle game called matkot on the beach…it is a true summer vacation.
One of these similarities is the idea of Minnesota Nice. We have a reputation of being overly friendly. Like, seriously overly friendly. This is not too unlike some of the people I have met on my travels through Israel, such as Ima, the server at Molly Bloom’s who would periodically come and just chat with me while I dined alone or the nicest fisherman who gladly posed with his fish so I could take his picture. Really, the rudest moment I ever encountered wasn’t rude at all—it was just a moment of exchange where someone wanted to be sure I understood that Bambas are better than Cheetos (and I had already known that, thanks to the short-live kosher aisle at Hibbing’s Walmart; they just wanted to be sure).
Israel also has an affinity to reuse and recycle their prized historic buildings, which is something I have seen in many corners of my home state. Yafo/Jaffa, for example, has turned a beautiful walled city into a mini marketplace along the water, which reminds me so much of Canal Park in Duluth. My hotel chain when traveling, Atlas Hotels, also seems to take vintage structure and turn them into lavish, trendy boutique lodging, which always seems to be to be right up Minneapolis’s alley. When a traveler can stay at properties that evoke such a feeling of home, it makes seem so much closer than 12,000 miles away.
But I shouldn’t be speaking for Israel. I should stop talking let you see for yourself the bright, vibrant live abroad that parallels that of home…to see the photo location, just hover your cursor over the image!