Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bat Yam 5 - Dialogue in the Dark

Hello everyone,

So Dialogue in the Dark was absolutely amazing. Family that was here in November, you definitely should have gone to this. So it is located in Holon which is a neighboring city to Bat Yam, about a 10ish min bus ride. We are split into 4 different groups of 10 ppl each. Jessica and I are the only girls in our group. Just a note, that they clarified for us: it is not a blind museum, it is not going to make you see or feel what it is like to be blind, it is only going to give you a hr of time with your other senses heightened and not being able to see; however, you are not blind for that time. You see darkness not nothingness.

As we are in the grey (still some light but not really) we are being told how we will be walking around for a 1 hr and a 1/2 in complete darkness where you cannot see your own hand in front of your face. All of your senses become heightened. It was really eery walking into a darkness that completely envelopes you. It makes you feel tiny and insignificant. Every sound and vibration directs you in a certain path. The voice of our Guide, Talya, led us into a room by the sound of her voice and the touch of a wall. This room had three masks that we had to find and feel--an African, Bull head and Indian. There was also a bed, a wall that was made out of bamboo, a book shelf with old books, a chair, and a trashcan. We were again, guided by the wall and the voice of Talya into a magical garden. As we walked around we walked, as I would assume zombies would walk--arms out, with a timid walk scared that we might fall, unsure that our feet would be able to support us.

We were again, guided by the wall and the voice of Talya into a magical garden. We stepped out on the gravel, only detectable by the crunch beneath our feet. "Find the benches, they are on the grass." Slowly stepping out, trying to sense the difference beneath our feet. The difference was soon felt and with hands out in front of me I sat down and announced it, calling others with my voice. Explaining to others how to sit down so that they wouldn't sit on me was the next step. Yoni sat beside me. We scooted to the edge to make room for others. As everyone sat we were told to listen to our environment. Birds, water, breathing. It felt like any other park that I've enjoyed when I take my naps, except that I didn't have the warmth of the sun beating down upon my body. We stood and followed the whispers of the waterfall to touch the water. On to the next room...

We feel the uneasiness of a bridge beneath ourselves, the clank of a chain against the railing. We slowwwwwllllyyyy continue in the boat, trying to be careful not to fall and make a fool of ourselves. I sit down and I'm between Yoni and Jon. We are trying to figure out if we are actually on water or if it just a simulation--in this day in age we aren't very trusting unless we actually see the water. We reach behind the boat and feel the raised hebrew letters spelling out the name of the boat-Chana--chet, nun, hey. We here birds chirping and we can feel the wind rustling through our hair. We make it to the other side of some place; where, I don't know. And walk up a rickety bridge into the next room...

A busy street corner. Fell the cobblestones beneath your feet! Be careful not to trip on the curb! listen to noise. Feel the doorbell, window, door knocking thingamajig, a car with a license plate number of 86, a bicycle, streetlight, and garbage can. There is a banister that we were supposed to follow to the right. So I went right. We followed Talya's voice to the banister and I was at it. Little did I know that I was on the wrong side of the banister. I hear that we are getting farther away from Talya. I turn around but Josh is in my way thinking that we are going the correct way. After some confusion and shouting as to where Jessica is. We can't be separated like this! We make it to the other side of the banister and continue to the next room....

And all of a sudden we are in the middle of Jerusalem at a bustling shook--Machena Yehuda. Our hands are drawn to the bins lining the wall, filled with fruit and vegetables. We are told we can eat whatever we want. My left hand falls upon an orange. I peel it, placing the peel in the pocket of my jacket. While eating the orange I found a spot where I hadn't peeled. It was at this point that it hit me that I cannot see. This wasn't just me flouncing around in the dark. I had an opportunity to use my touch and I fall back on my eyes. Kai asks for the trashcan and he finds it with the help of Talya, I hand him my peel and he tosses it away. And Jessica continues to find me by touching my hair. We continue on our journey to the music room...

Our instructions are to go find a wall and lean against it. I find a wall and lean against it waiting for everyone to do the same. We are told to sit down, which I had already done. Lay down, we scoot out and lay down. As I would if I were to look up into the night sky and stare at the stars. The entire time music is playing. Beautiful, sweet music. The kind of music to melt away all of your fears. Being told that it was time to move to the music dancing around in my head was almost painful. Music is so much richer when all of the distractions of sight are taken away. If music is richer than what is food like...

We enter the cafe by being led to a counter. While holding onto the counter practically for dear life, considering that it is the only thing that we actually know in this strange environment we are read the menu--drinks and snacks--everything under 10 shekels. I wasn't hungry so I didn't buy anything and I had experienced eating without sight--my orange from the Shook. Those of us who didn't buy were led to a table. I was the first to sit down on the bench and I had to scoot all the way down to the left, the only way to know I was at the edge was by almost falling over. Here again, I am between Jon and Yoni. Well Yoni is on the bench to my left that is perpendicular to mine. Everyone is curious to know what everyone else ordered and if we can share food and how to pass. More importantly it is our opportunity to talk with our wonderful guide, Talya.

Talya is Israeli. Her English is very good. She lived in LA for a few years. She taught Ivrit in a Jewish Sunday School in LA. She took the buses. She also taught while she was in Israel. She is retired now but still very active and works at Dialogue in the Dark anywhere from 2 to 4 days a week. Oh and did I mention that she is blind? She was born blind. She cannot see us. She can see some shading between dark and light but cannot tell you if it is a tree or a pole before herself. She told of a time when she was in LA and had missed her stop so she had to cross the street to go on a bus in the opposite direction. However she wasn't used to the area and didn't know where the bus stop was and since everyone in LA drives there weren't any people on the streets for her to ask help from like there would be if she were in Israel. She obviously made it, but it was very frustrating for her. And I had fears about coming to Israel! We asked many questions about the museum, it's history, how it was arranged and apparently they are very simple rooms and we would probably laugh at them if we were able to see them. For us they were like a maze and indescribable. She learned the layout in about 3 minutes.

After the cafe we went into the light. The shock of the light after being accustomed to the dark was painful. Jessica still makes fun of the expression upon my face when I walked into the light. In the light we were able to see books of Brail in both Hebrew and English as well as a game of checkers. The pieces of the checkers set were not black and white, rather raised and flat pieces with little sockets on the bottom to place into the raised or indented checkered board. There was also a brail typewriter. And of course I had to sign the guest book.

There truly is a foreign world out there, out there in the dark.

Strangely enough throughout the whole experience I kept bumping into the same people over and over again--Jessica and Kai. And whenever we needed to sit I was between Yoni and Jon. As we left every room, Talya would ask if anyone was left behind.

And as a note writing this was extremely difficult because I don't have the ability to think about as to what I saw. I have to delve into a different part of my brain to try and remember the order of what happened, what I touched, and sensed. Just ask Jessica...oy vey. So we came to realize that this blog was a joint effort.

And we did come to realize that we can just copy and paste each others blogs b/c we are always together! love her. Oh and Julia is in the shower and she is singing in the shower "Love Songs" and now opera. and i can't breathe. my stomach hurts. i'm crying. daddy alert. jk. but really. ok then. bye.

Sorry about that last paragraph, but while writing this. I had to write in sections b/c I needed to look things up or go back and insert something and so I had to write what was happening at that moment for the above paragraph because it was just too funny to pass up. I do see that it makes no sense within the context of this blog.

I do hope that you enjoyed my travels at the Dialogue in the Dark. I hope that one day you will be able to experience this incredible journey either here in Israel or even at the one in Atlanta.

Love always,


  1. wow that sounds so amazing. defiantly wish i went there. amazing blog post rachie (and jessica). i dont get the thing at the end except daddy alert, which is pretty normal. love you. miss you.

  2. this was one of the coolest parts of my summer as well