June 19, 2013

A Vacation With a Difference?

We wanted to take a few days off.

“Where do you want to go?” my husband asked me. “Prague? Paris? Barcelona?”

“No, and no, and no,” I answered. Why go tour an exotic,  foreign city and dine in fine restaurants when you could detox? I knew I wanted a life-changing experience and I was sure this was it. 

For many years, I attempted detox at home and failed hopelessly. Now was the time. I felt it inside. Our friends, meanwhile, were toying with the idea of joining us, but then decided on a five-star, breathtakingly elegant, gourmet resort. I stoically booked us in at a health farm called  Mitzpe Alumot and on Sunday, with trepidation, we drove up to the kibbutz.

Day 1
We checked in and were met by a young guy zipping around in a golf cart. I notice he had a tall glass of green juice sitting in the front seat. No Coke or can of Sprite. My first sign that yes, I must be in Oz. He savored a long sip, smiled blissfully and asked us to throw our bags in the back. We jumped in beside him and he whisked us to our room.

The sweeping view of the Kinneret, the Golan Heights and the fertile farms below was so staggering I felt breathless. Our room was at the very edge of the slope, where verdant green meets large boulders and untamed land. There was nothing below but incredible panorama.; and silence except for birds that swooped and flittered amongst the flowers. I felt serene already.
Our neighbors next door.

Time for our indoctrination. We went to the reception area where a group of people were milling, their eyes shifting nervously. We all looked uptight, uncomfortable, unsure.  A tad restless. We were given a tour of the place, told a few rules including a plea not to use our cell phones. We settled down for a chat with the group leader, Izohar. Young and dynamic, he was wearing a large knit kippa and had a black beard. He was not the type I was expecting to see here. I imagined one of those JewBhus with long Rastafarian locks and tie-dye pants. Yet I was so moved to hear Izohar so beautifully weave health and cleansing with spirituality and Torah. He introduced the concept by quoting Rambam and ended his talk with a poignant teaching by Rav Ashlag.

Dinner time! Before we ate, we had to all join hands and form a circle, while hearing beautiful teachings. We sat down at one long table, still feeling very uncomfortable. Most people sat starting at their plates and ate in silence. Two dehydrated falafel balls stood at attention on our plate, robed in green tehina and accompanied by salad. On the buffet was a huge salad bar with bowls of sprouts, plates of chopped vegetables, grated vegetables and spiraled vegetables. Like kindergarten paints, three jars of sauces waited for us at the end; one glow-in-the-dark green, one pumpkin orange and one sunny yellow. Oil free, a bit watery but tasty.

We sat in silence and we crunched. It took time to eat all of these vegetables. And in case of hunger, we took more, then munched until we were tired of munching. We could not drink during meals for 20 minutes after, something I found very challenging.

We then had a lecture on internal cleansing, a very squeamish subject, and something to think about another time.

Back in our room, our tummies a little exasperated with us, we opened our phones only to see our friends’ lavish five-star hotel dinner staring at us on Whats App. We studied the photo very carefully, looking at each item on the cornucopian buffet table, especially eying the trays of kebabs and mountains of rice. We blinked hard in silence.

Read more: Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 

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