City of AradI have a friend in Tel Aviv who went to LA a few weeks ago. Months ago I told her, “I’m so sad I won’t be here (in LA) when you are here,” – and she said, “Never mind, it will be great to have you here in the Middle East.”


The Middle East? I thought I was moving to Israel…

But here I am. Whatever the ups and down of the experience will be, the underlying part, which is the heart of it all, and the best part, is that I am in Israel, which was a dream I had about a year and a half ago.

What’s more amazing than to witness a dream come into fruition, is to be living it with such regularity that one can begin to take it for granted and be temporarily dissatisfied. Why is inspiration so fleeting?

A bit disatisfied because I’m in the sticks. Arad. It seems this is ‘real life’ Israel. Yom yom. Not Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. This is the Barstow* of Israel. This is the Palmdale* of Israel.

When I first got here, they were going to show us the center of town, the medical clinic, the police station, the gym, the post office, the mall, the supermarket. I was looking forward to a good 2 hours of walking. It took 20 minutes. You get the picture.

Anyway, I’ve resorted to the Post-it thing. Above the soap a little note says, “Sabon”, above the light bulb it says “Nura”, on the fridge it says, “Mekarer”. And on the window, the Post-it doesn’t identify the window – I already know that word – instead it identifies the view. It says, “Shum Davar” meaning, ‘Nothing.’

If Arad was my boyfriend, I would call it a functioning, but loveless relationship. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the city isn’t an apex of arts or culture, and I’ve come to realize what this place really affords me: Time and space to learn Hebrew without distractions. I guess there’s one bar I like, I can buy fruits and vegetables for cheap at the Monday shuk, and I even found one cocky Israeli guard at the merkaz to lust after. What more does one really need?

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  • * – For you internationals, Barstow is a small desert city in between LA and Las Vegas, and Palmdale is a city in the California desert.

  • When my friends were in Arad and we were in Jerusalem, we never saw them unless we met in Eilat. And I only remember doing that once. We did refer to Arad as a “Desert Hideaway,” but that’s only good if what you need is the isolation for a specific task: in your case, to learn Hebrew. Learn it, and break free. And take that hunky guard with you. As we always used to say: sh’telkhi m’hayal l’hayal.

  • Ironically, one of the only two bars in Arad had a fire and closed up shop about 3 years ago…
    You can always play soccer with the Olim… the “field” is directly behind the WUJS center, to the East. Also, I recommend taking the long walk all the way out to the West part of town where that weird statue is, but the view is great, and on a clear day you can see Masada (no joke). My last suggestion is to find stalk Amos Oz… he lives in the nice part of town (there is one little strip that is nice).


  • Kol hakavod! Even though you may feel hesitant/bored/frustrated
    with only one guard to lust after, know that there are those who
    applaud your decision :o)

  • At least Barstow has the world’s largest McDonald’s (even if it’s not so kosher). I guess that’s what you get for choosing Arad. I truly admire those who have the halutzim spirit. Then again, I can’t really comment since I’m still in the galut.

  • HEY, I am going to Arad for a month in summer to volunteer. Anf I have friends from there. Also I have friends that said that it is a “hole in the wall” lol. But Israel is Israel.

  • when i was considering WUJS i visited Arad. It was pleasant enough but i just couldn;t handle how small it was and how out in the middle of nowhere it is. The city literally stops when the sidewalk ends and the desert starts!