Bearden senior immerses himself in Israeli culture over winter break


Bearden senior Eli Derrington poses with members of his family at sea level on their way to Masada in the Judaean desert.

Danielle Fannon, Staff Writer

While many students were unwinding after their first day back to school on Jan. 5, senior Eli Derrington was busy getting over jet lag after his flight home from Israel.

Derrington and his mother travelled overseas from Dec. 24 to Jan. 5 to visit his brother, who is participating in a yearlong program teaching English in Israeli schools, and to explore the land and culture. They travelled through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Rehovot, visiting places such as the Dead Sea, Elijah’s Cave, and a bullet factory with an interesting history.

This factory supplied civilians with ammunition between 1945-1948 while the British controlled the area in order to prepare for the war that would come following their independence.

“They put it underground in a hill with the bullets on top, so for three years they made bullets so they would have weapons when the war ends,” Derrington said.

Aside from a change in scenery, Derrington also experienced a change in culture.

One major difference Derrington noticed was the contrast in the calendar. As a large portion of the country follows the Hebrew calendar, many holidays celebrated in the United States are not as recognized in Israel.

“We think of New Years as a secular holiday, but it has its roots in Christianity, so it’s not a big deal there,” Derrington said.

The different calendar also accounts for a different day of rest.

“In Israel, Saturday is the Holy Day for Judaism,” Derrington said. “There, it was just a complete shutdown of part of the city.

“People wouldn’t leave their houses, stores wouldn’t open, and public transportation didn’t run.”

The Israeli people also have a different view on military service. Derrington was told that upon graduating high school, both men and women were required to join the military.

Military personnel are also required to participate in Learning Day in order to learn about the country. Derrington witnessed this in the bullet factory where Air Force Officers were studying the history of Israel.

“There in the military, since everyone is in it, it sort of just makes a big bond between everyone in the country,” Derrington said. “And it’s more than just protecting the country.

“It’s more of learning why and what they’re protecting.”

Overall, Derrington’s trip provided him with interesting aspects of the culture of Israel.