Halloween isn’t a big deal in Israel – at all. None of my students in Ashdod knew what it was, and only one or two somewhat recognized it when I described the idea of trick-or-treating for pillowcase-loads of candy. But they still loved the Halloween stickers that I used in and after good lessons (thanks Mom, for sending those in my care package)! So, to celebrate the well-timed holiday on Friday the 31st, Paul, Stephanie, Todd, and I decided to hit up Tel Aviv, which is one of the only places we could hope to find any kind of Halloween-themed party or club.
Our host for the weekend, Guy (a different Guy from Sukkot), was (like other Guy) an great host. Yes, this is due to his hospitality, personality, and epic mustache, BUT he was also totally up for an all-out Halloween party, and had invited lots of friends for the Friday event.
Paul and I got in Thursday night, with the other two to join us on Friday. Our host took us to get takeout from the hip and popular Pasta Basta. We took our meals back to eat on the balcony of Guy’s apartment, which overlooks the big, beautiful square at the southern end of Rothschild street.
On Friday morning, Paul and I walked with Guy ALL over, picking up decorations, costumes, food, and drinks for his party that night. We were out walking and shopping for an exhausting, but very productive five hours. Not sure how Guy was planning on having done all of that by himself (he admitted this too), but it felt good to contribute our manpower for the greater good.
A similar example of goodwill and eagerness to help arose again, while we were at the Carmel Market for pumpkins, party food, and the ever important humus. The weather was pulling a Pittsburgh with crazy and intense on/off rain and sunshine. The main market strip, still packed with people who would crowd into the side stands to escape downpours, had a river of water gushing downhill.
There were literally pieces of fruit getting knocked off of stands and floating down the street. Vendors and shoppers would try to grab the fruit and throw them back to the correct stands. While waiting for a lighter rain, I helped a vendor selling slippers and flip flops cover his wares with a tarp, after his roof started leaking. I know such acts seem small, but to be among so many all at once, with everyone working together to conquer the rain, I felt the familiar, strong sense of community rise up, naturally and powerfully.
Once we returned from errands, all of the Americans, Guy, his girlfriend Efrat, and his other travel guests (a young Polish couple), spent the rest of the day hanging out and decorating Guys apartment.
Not going to lie, the apartment looked pretty amazing. Pumpkin and ghost-shaped streamers, glow in the dark skeletons, balloons with LED lights inside of them, spiderwebs, and much more covered the apartment.
The party itself was a great time, with maybe 50 or 60 guests coming by, almost everyone in costume. I got to meet a lot of Guy’s creative, designer friends, which was cool to compare the kinds of work we do and what our plans are to make creative “careers” in the coming time.
My costume, by the way, was Twiggy, but I’m realizing now that I never took a photo of myself. Yes, I know, I really dropped the ball on that. I was so caught up in the shopping, the decorating, the partying, that the picture never happened… so hopefully someone else with a camera that night has a photo of me. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who were able to guess who I was first try, no hints or nuthin’.
Saturday was a relaxing day of sleeping in (for those of us who can, not I), cleaning-up, and chilling out. We also had a short visit with other Guy, our first host in Tel Aviv. The two Guys live about ten minutes walking distance, so it was cool to check in with him and hang out, before we hopped on the evening train to get back to Ashdod.
In retrospect, I realize how nice it was to not have had Halloween take over all stores and advertisements this past month. Even with Israeli holidays, such consumerism is so much less present here than in the States. Now, I get to not hear about Thanksgiving sales! Although, the other fellows here are already starting to talk about planning a special dinner…more to come on that later.
One more different but important note: next week my teacher host Rachel is going to take me to talk with the principal about my idea for extra volunteering. I am requesting to lead after-school integrated art and English lessons. As long as I can keep the materials list short, I think it can work. I have been working on a list of project ideas from online research, specific for ESL students. I also asked my mom (who was an incredible art teacher for many years) if she would share some of her ideas, since I’m sure she has TONS of project that fit the bill perfectly. Hoping it works out!