My Typical Day with Saving the Stones

Officially, our days usually start around 8:30am, unless we have commitments further out of down which requires getting up earlier. However, wake-up is somewhere between 7 and 8 for us, when we hop (or stumble) out of bed, gather around the electric kettle, and assemble breakfast and lunch.

Everyday we wake and sleep to the view of the ruins of the Templar Fortress and the lapping of the Mediterranean waves against the Ottoman walls.

Everyday we wake and sleep to the view of the ruins of the Templar Fortress and the lapping of the Mediterranean waves against the Ottoman walls.

We have intensive Hebrew instruction, or Ulpan, twice a week at 8:30. Other mornings are typically spent on-site on projects: these first few weeks, we’ve focused on historic mortars and have been working with traditional lime mortars, repointing stone work, recording damage, or in a conservation lab. We have an hour for lunch (making it yourself is cheaper) before an afternoon of topical lectures. Many lectures are given by pre-eminent Israeli experts in their fields, ranging from the history of conservation in Israel, to site documentation, technical photography, and even local culture and heritage.

The end of the work day is usually composed of student presentations, discussions, and feedback. Participants present some of their previous research that is relevant to heritage conservation or summaries of the past week’s work. We then provide feedback and discuss what we’ve done. This is generally finished before 5pm, after which the rest of the day is ours.

After hours is generally spent in our living space, a newly-furnished B&B in the Old City with a terrific view of the Mediterranean Sea. Most nights, one or two of us cook dinner for the rest in exchange for not having to do dishes and keeping leftovers. Those not cooking also compensate the cook’s expenses by putting 5 to 10 shqalim (plural of shekel) each into a jar. Following dinner, we read our homework, study, talk, apply for our next job, etc. before going to bed.

As an important note, weekends in Israel are different than other Western countries. Since the Jewish majority’s Shabbath (Shabbat) is from Friday night to Saturday night, we get Friday and Saturday off rather than Saturday/Sunday. Fridays are sometimes spent just preparing for Shabbat! Shabbat dinners on Friday night are regularly spent with Israeli host families, who are chosen as our hosts for their friendliness, generosity, and enthusiasm. The fact that such dinners are often phenomenal is just extra!

We’ve been mostly left to our  own devices on weekends. We’ve been hiking, exploring, fishing, cooking (it’s hard work feeding 9 people), or visiting nearby places like Haifa or Rosh Hanikra, a series of sea caves next to the Lebanese border…

Since this is a new term for Saving the Stones, I guess those of us participating (and blogging about it) should introduce ourselves.

Munching on some edible flowers that grow around the city's walls.

Munching on some edible flowers that grow around the city’s walls.

I’m Benjamin Cantor-Jones, although my friends call me Benjie. My last name used to be Cantor-Stone until last 2011 when I got married…but that’s another story.

Born in New England, raised in Houston, TX. Graduated from Carnegie Vanguard HS in 2003. Went to Iowa for College; got a BA in Anthropology from Grinnell College in 2007. Moved to Minneapolis right afterward and eventually got an MA in Cultural Heritage Archaeology & Museum Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2011.

Found out about Saving the Stones when I was on a Birthright trip in 2010. By it’s description, STS was a perfect fit for me, combining my interests in Historic Preservation with Community Development. Although it took some time to get here to Akko (got married and an MA along the way), STS is everything I thought it would be and then some!

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