Arky’s Blog

Shalom! Welcome to my new blog. Before we get started I want to introduce myself. My name is Arky Staiman… Arky? What kind of name is that? It’s my nickname, my real name is Aaron but you can call me, (well more like read me), Arky. A little bit about myself; I was born and raised in Baltimore, Md. in the United States and there I attended Beth Tfiloh High School until I graduated. I spent the next year of my life in Yeshivat Lev Hatorah in Ramat Beit Shemesh and then decided to make Aliya (move to Israel) and join the Hesder program in Yeshivat Otniel, a program based on the Torah ideal (yikes, politics right off the bat… ) of combining learning Torah and serving in the army. After my service as a Paratrooper in 890th Brigade, I returned to Yeshiva and married my best friend, Avigail Kranzler. We live in Haifa where Avigail is studying in the Technion, Israel’s premier college for Engineering and I am a tour guide in the Bahai Gardens. I am currently pursuing my dream of becoming a tour guide throughout Israel and spreading the love and connection between the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland. I am enrolled in the intensive Tour Guiding Course through Haifa University and I am hoping to share with you, and everyone who reads my blog or takes my tour, the knowledge that I retain there (retain being the only proper use for the small fraction of the information that is actually stored in my brain).

My love for Israel began with my Bar Mitzvah which I decided to have in Israel. Despite the bad food, (for this 13 year-old American, chummus, matbucha, and some eggplant wasn’t considered yummy) and not knowing most of the people there, it was a life-changing event which spurred a deep interest and bond with Israel. Everyone has their own picture of what Israel is before their first trip, but for me Israel looked like the Sahara Desert with houses made of stones from the Kotel. Unfortunately for some, this Alladin-like vision of Israel can continue way past childhood. So therefore I started this blog so I can be your magic carpet ride throughout Israel.

This blog is intended for all ages from teens to retirees, for all levels of knowledge about Israel, from the “I’d like to go to Israel at some point” people to the “I’ve gone everywhere already” people (I’ve been both). Its purpose is to give insights and awaken the Curious George in each one of us for the many different facets to the beautiful Land of Israel. I will discuss some of the many different faces of Israel whether it be religious, historical, demographical, geological, political, and even just the plain “cool.” The “wow”’s of this country are endless and for me to take a part in the dropping of your jaws is a great honor and I hope that you stick with me throughout our process together in discovering the land which “I will show you” (Bereshit 12:1).

ps. the informality of the blog is on purpose and will continue throughout all of my blogs

Twister Anyone?

“40!? Seriously? 40!?” That was the first thought that went through my head when learning that the State of Israel can be split up into 40 geographical regions. The thought that Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey, can be split into 40 different regions brings me to the question “why can’t they all just get along?” Lower Galilee, Finger of Galilee, Upper Galilee; Judean desert, Negev desert, ice cream desert . Why confuse us with all these different areas, everybody knows that Israel is clearly just a large desert… well you know the kind of desert with luscious green mountains, forests, flowing springs from snow covered mountain-tops and long stretches of beautiful sandy beaches. Confused yet? You should be. Israel is a confusing country and the many different areas just cause it to be that much more confusing. So why Mr. Tour Guide do you have to confuse us with your 40 different regions of Israel?
The answer is that Israel, unlike New Jersery, is a series of puzzle pieces or if you allow me to go deep into my imagination a 40-person game of twister. Each person carries with it, its own looks, its own personality and yes even its own upbringing and movements. Sounds like a balagan (mess)? It is, and that is why we are forced give each area its own name and learn them in their own context. We just can’t group Upper and Lower Galilee together. They might be brothers, maybe even twins but they just aren’t the same. The Judean desert and the Negev desert are at best 3rd cousins twice removed through marriage. So to make some kind of organization of this chaos, experts in Israel have given specific names and borders to each and every one of Israel’s many regions. As I go along in the tour guiding course I will give you an insight into each region which we visit and take you along with me in my process of learning about Israel in the hopes that it will give you an interest and yearning to (come to Israel and) visit these places (maybe even with me ;)), which you may have never heard of on your own. That’s all for now folks.
Until further Post,
Arky Staiman