Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hospitality - Israeli Style

With the close of the semester imminent for the overseas students at Haifa University, http://www.haifa.ac.il/index_eng.html we, together with friends in the neighborhood, were asked to host some students for a traditional Friday night meal.

Our two guests were from Germany, both Christians. One of them had ambitions to work in the German foreign service and as well as his mother tongue, German, spoke English and Italian fluently.

Over dinner, the conversation ranged from social topics, family topics and, of course the position of Israel vis a vis the Palestinians. Both our guests expressed the view that media reports in their home countries do not show the true face of Israel. In fact, both were faced with family opposition to their proposed visit here, feeling it was “too dangerous”. Having been here, they both confidently stated that they had no problems, they felt very safe and not in least inhibited in their traveling around the country.

At the end of the evening, all the students gathered at a single meeting point to return to their dormitories.

On Sunday, I met with the group leader who was delighted with the reactions of the students to the hospitality and wants to repeat the exercise with the new group that will be arriving at the end of January.

Haifa University is well known for its diversity of student population and has ongoing programs for overseas students.

Having had two guests for a Friday night meal, this was, as they say, chicken feed, compared to the planned “invasion” of all our family members converging for the coming Sabbath at our home in Haifa, all 21 of them. The logistics of eating and sleeping are rather significant, to say the least, and we are spending much of this week in preparation for the event. This will be the first time our 3 children and their families (15 grandchildren in all) will be here with us at the same time.

The location of mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows is time consuming but we are looking forward to a rousing weekend to celebrate a significant birthday milestone for me. The local school has proven very cooperative in allowing us to borrow the mattresses they use for physical education classes.

Let’s hope the neighbours are not disturbed too much!!

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