Israeli Pride in a Land of Contrasts - 07/22/2017
As I enter the Carmel Olefins warehouse where I’m working this summer I am confronted with a sea of white bags spread out as far as the eye can see in the background. Each bag contains 25 kilograms of polyethylene or polypropylene and are proudly labeled “Made in Israel.” In the foreground I see machines busy at work forming, filling and sealing a bag of plastic in just under 3 seconds with just 0.008% error. It is in this moment I am reminded about the might of Israeli industry. Outside the warehouse, trucks zoom past, setting off to deliver the plastic to companies all throughout Israel and the world. The plastic produced here at Carmel Olefins will be used in garden furniture, packaging, milk bottles and much more.
This past Tuesday, we took a break from working at our internships and went down to Tel Aviv to explore several neighborhoods in the southern part of the city. First we explored Neve Tzedek and learned about Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood outside of the old city of Jaffa. During the tour it was highlighted how the success of Tel Aviv as a vibrant metropolitan center is a major hallmark of the Zionism movement. After lunch we explored the vibrant graffiti in the gentrified Florentin neighborhood and went on a “Rainbow Tour” of the LGBT community in the city. What struck me the most about these tours is how, despite Tel Aviv having such a vibrant secular culture, Judaism still permeates its way through culture. This was best summarized by an elaborate graffiti mural painted onto the side of a synagogue in Florentin. This summarized the odd marriage between religious and secular cultures, on display all throughout Israel and especially in Tel Aviv.
Josh Usiskin, Worcester Polytechnic University ’19, participated on Birthright and is interning this summer with Carmel Olefins as a Boston Onward Israel Haifa 2017 participant.