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Elizabeth's Blog
Saturday, July 31, 2004
The various faces at Kol Hanishama
Now Playing: Indigo Girls - Perfect world & All that we let in
I think the beauty of being in jerusalem is that she is a city that draws all kinds of people to her. Today was the second time that I ran into someone at Kol Hanishama that I know from the states. The very first shabbat that I was here, I ran into my dear friend Deb Sagan who was here in Israel for a few weeks with her *new* husband. That was so wonderful, because she has played a significant role in my getting to HUC, and to see her here now while i am here was wonderful. Again, this morning, I turned around and there was Art Donsky...one of the rabbi's who works on faculty at GUCI and is from Pennsylvania. We had a great time visitng and it was so wonderful to see a familiar face. Since he had just been at camp for a few weeks, he filled me in on all the camp gossip and jokes, and in a lot of ways it was comforting to know that things were going on as usual..but hard also...this is the first summer in 7 years that I haven't been there. I miss it...but it was great to hear stories of pranks, thunderstorms and subsequent power outages, and camper horror stories! It was a great shabbat morning.
Then we went to shabbat lunch at our friend's house and came back home and I read a little and then fell asleep. Tonight is the Havdallah wine and cheese thing at Adam and Noah's and I think a LOT of HUCers will be there, so it'll be fun. I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:46 PM
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Shabbat
Now Playing: Tracy Chapman - remembering
So I decided to go to a new temple tonight to pray at. It's called Shira Hadasha (literally means New Song) and it's located in the International Children's center or something like that. It was pretty much the closest to modern-orthodox...no, i think it was like modern-orthodox services. The music was absolutely beautiful, very transcendent. There was a divide down the middle of the room that seperated the men from the women (known as a Machitza) and i wasn't crazy about that. The service also left a little something to be desired, because as my friend David put it..if we were just all going to be mumbling to ourselves, we could have stayed at home! But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was long, and the new thing that I am really learning is that the length of the service has much more to do with what actually happens before the barchu (call to worship prayer)....i've never said so many reader's kaddish's in my life!!! Luckily my classmate and friend Lisa Delson was there with me and she and i have very identical views about our comfort with services so we took it all together with a grain of salt. Needless to say, it hasn't been my favorite place...but I wouldn't mind going back there....I even followed along with the service pretty well, so that was exciting!!! After that about 10 of us headed back to our classmate David Singer's house and ate a yummy dinner. We had an excellent Yerushalmi Kugel that was prepared in the most delicious fats and sweets and oils you've ever known in your life. And Josh's chicken was awesome...totally busted through my weight watcher's points, but it was honestly prob one of the best meals I've had since I've been here.
Tomorrow morning Leah and I are going to Kol HaNishama for services and then over to our friend's Rebbecca and Julia's (Barcelona girls!!!!!) for lunch. Then, one of our other classmate;s son is turning two so there is a big b-day party for him in the park across the street from us. Then, tomorrow night is Adam and Noah's wine and cheese havdallah party...I"m booked solid this shabbat!!! Hmmm, I wonder when I'll get to my hebrew homework.....oh well, it'll happen!!!!
Okay, I have to get to bed otherwise I'll never get up tomorrow morning!!!!!
Just wanted to keep everyone updated!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 11:23 PM
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004
WOOT!!!!
Mood:  happy
Well, it's official. I have booked my first trip out of Israel...and no, it's not home...it's to BARCELONA!!!!! Me and about 8 other girls (including my roommate Leah) from HUC are taking a 7 day-6 night trip to Spain. Our package deal included airfare and breakfasts and accomodations at a nice hotel located in the heart of Barcelona. We officially booked it today and we will be going during our break between summer ulpan classes and our fall semester (Aug 27th-Sept. 3rd, I think). I'm really glad to do this big group travel thing now, and especially because it's not with tons of people that I know...so it will be a good time to get to know some of these girls, as well as feel like it's a big group trip before I get tired of big groups throughout the year.
The truth is, i'm not so sure that I would have chosen spain of all countries on my own...but we got such a good deal (I'm sure coming from America would have been SOOO much more expensive) and it's such a good group that I couldn't pass it up...besides...it's Barcelona and I've never been before!!!
So as many of you know, from my Jerusalem Post quote, it was Tisha B'av yesterday. Although I had never really recognized or celebrated (lamented?) the holiday in the US, it was neat to see what they did here. I decided to fast (it is a public fast holiday with no food or water) but I had to do the water thing otherwise I would have passed out. It's so hot here and my body sweats all the time, so it would have just been unhealthy and dangerous not to. If you are really interested in my views on fasting, I can elaborate more on those to you later (as I've already done with my Uncle and with Phyllis) but it's a lengthy conversation so I will spare you the details. Anyway...needless to say I was exhausted and hungry by last night....so I went out to Moment with some friends and we all ate a little bit and relaxed.
Today i had my first ulpan hebrew test. Now...as far as hebrew tests go, it wasn't hard or bad at all. However..it pissed me off. It went over such unimportant things (or at least things we barely even focused on) that I feel like what's the point of class anyway? As I noted earlier, I HATE my teacher. She's rude and impatient and frankly...she looks like skeletore from Masters of the Universe (you know He-Man and She-ra and all those characters). She doesn't seem to really like any of us, she never listens to what we are really saying, and her damn CELL PHONE rings at least once a day during class...at which point she answers it!!!!!!!!!! I'm just fed up and I feel like ulpan is a waste..maybe i'll go talk to someone about it tomorrow.
So tonight we have our text study thing again and then I think we are going into the old city and doing site text study there tomorrow. Not as adventursome as the water tunnels, but hopefully thrilling nonetheless. After that tomorrow, I think i am going to meet up with my Israeli friend Yifat (whom I know from summer camp) and hang out with her for a bit before she goes to work.
And now.....Menucha!!!!! Rest before my night begins!!!! Have a good day y'all!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:09 PM
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Sunday, July 25, 2004
Avoiding my Hebrew Homework
Mood:  lazy
Now Playing: I'm every woman- by Chaka Khan
So...I should probably be finishing my hebrew homework, but really...who can be motivated right now?!?!?! I have officially determined that I just don't like my ulpan teacher...I think she is rude and she doesn't teach well and she can barely hear us half the time anyway. I really liked our other teacher(but unfortunately she quit) so hopefully I can just learn the hebrew and pass the summer...but really, this teacher we have now is just so unorganized and i feel like she doesn't care if we understand the material or not.....urghhh

On a much, much happier note, I am feeling better today and am convinced that in about 24 hours I will feel 100% again. Also, I found a totally English speaking Weight Watchers meeting!!!! It is literally right around the corner from where I live (like less than 2 minute walk) and the people there are really, really nice. It's different from WW in America because points are really different (ways to calculate them, how many you get, etc) but I'm slowly learning..and I emphasize the slow part...since all the material is in hebrew!!! But, I have goals for the year, and I am determined to meet them!!!! So that made me very happy today and made me feel like I defiantely accomplished something!!! Tomorrow's mission: Cinematheque Pass for the year!!!!

Okay, enough slacking...I'm going to attack my Shiurai Bayit (Homework) and be done with it tonight once and for all!!!! Go.....

Posted by Elizabeth at 9:22 PM
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Saturday, July 24, 2004
Gotta go, Gotta go, Gotta go right now!
Last night, my friends and i went to the Open House for Shabbat services and dinner. Well, about half way through the service I could tell that I was getting a terrible stomach ache. By dinner, it was much worse and I could barely even look at the food without wanting to hurl(Lovely, I know). My intestines seemed to be having a party on all their own.... so I left early and got a cab ride home where I spent a WONDERFUL night full of stomach cramps, and bathroom trips. Now, I know you are thinking...that it too much information...why is elizabeth posting this for the whole world to see?!?!?!? Well 1) Since I was so far away from home, it was comforting throughout the night to think of all the people that might have cared for me if I had gotten sick like that in the states 2) this is a warning: just because you have been in another country for almost a month, it doesn't mean you are exempt from getting stomach bugs 3) What else exciting has happened to me in the past 24 hours?!?!?!?
Luckily I found a cab right away and he took me home. It's nice that I can finally speak all in hebrew to the cab drivers and they won't try to revert back to english with me...that's progress, right?
I climbed into bed and put "Father of the Bride" on my laptop computer and it was comforting and nice to have on in the background. Needless to say, i didn't really have the energy to get up for services this morning (and apparently neither did Adam) so Leah and Noah went by themselves to KOl HaNishama...oh well, there's always next week. Then they came back to our place (along with Adam who dragged his butt over here) for Lunch that was really yummy. Then, after I did the dishes I decided to take a big long nap!!!! Three hours!!! Although I feel groggy, I feel a bit better than I did last night and this morning. Hopefully I can make it to Havdallah at our classmate's house (Melissa and Judy) tonight. We shall see. It would be nice to get out of the house!!!!
Okay, I'm off to grab a snack. I promise my next post will be a little less disgusting, and hopefully a little more interesting...thanks for listening and for the sympathy!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:01 PM
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Friday, July 23, 2004
Errand & task day
I was sooo super productive today!!!! I woke up around 9:30ish and went off to Ben Yehuda street (downtown) to try and get my phone fixed..it works now! Then I went up to the grocery store, where I ran into a few friendly faces, and Leah and I did a bunch of grocery shopping. But we forgot our shuk cart, so we had a LOT of groceries to carry back. And of course, as we were heading a bit downhill I slipped and fell and a police man that was driving by stopped and helped. How embarressing!!!! I really need to stop doing that!
So then I came home and downloaded some programs and updates on my computer, threw in some laundry, and did my hebrew homework for Sunday. ( I Figure while I'm here i might as well try to get my work done ahead of time so that I can truly relax on shabbat!!!) Leah made her famous couscous, and now we are going to start getting ready for Shabbat tonight!
We are going to services in a few hours with our friends Adam and Noah at the Open House (a gay/les/bi/trans) center for Israeli's here in downtown Jerusalem. Adam is leading services and he is really nervous so we wanted to support him and go with him. Even if he weren't, I'd go anyway just to see what they do. There are sooo many ways to experience shabbat here in Israel, I just can't wait to try them all! Then afterwards there is a potluck dinner, so Leah made a TON of her coucous....it is really good, though!
Then I think tomorrow morning we are going to go to Kol HaNishama for services (just because we haven't seen their shabbat morning services) and then host lunch at our house for whoever wants to come and join.
What can I say...not a dull moment around here!!!
Oh, and last night I talked to my friend's, Michael and Phyllis, and their son David got on the phone and talked to me for quite a while about all the stuff he had been doing like playing at the gym and going swimming...I miss them sooo much!!!
Thank goodness for technology, right?
Okay, off to go...uhhh, sample...some of the couscous...we want to make sure it isn't poisonous!!!!! Shabbat shalom for those of you that celebrate, and have a great weekend to all!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:26 PM
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Thursday, July 22, 2004
City of David, Warren's shaft, and hezekiah's tunnels
Wow----today was amazing!!!!!!

We left HUC at about 8:30ish and drove to east talpiyot (which is still in Jerusalem, not too far away) and spent the morning reading some more text, and looking at the Mount of Olives (oldest jewish cemetary) and the dome of the rock (Mt. Zion) and all the area that lay between. We then trekked around for a bit and enjoyed the sun and the walk.
Then we drove a little ways into East Jerusalem (don't get nervous, we were quite safe) which is predominantely Muslim and went to a place to eat lunch and do some more text stuff.
Then we went down and around and saw just a few of the ruins of the city of david. It was really cool standing there and thinking about stories of King David and looking at the old ruins. Just amazing. The main part of our day, though, was focused on going through the water tunnels, which are thought to be the main tunnels that carried water from outside the city walls into the heart of the city. (In a city like Jerusalem, which was under seige a lot...they had to protect their water source). We went far into the earth and it was very cool (both psychologically and physically). When we physically went into the tunnels, there was a good 2 feet of very cold water at our feet. It didn't get much above thigh length at any point, and it wasn't moving too fast. There were also a lot of potholes in the ground so we were moving at a very slow pace. It was very narrow, and often pretty short so I felt like I was leaning down almost the whole time, and it was definately single file. But it was still so much fun. Leah was in front of me and she was lighting the way (oh yes, it was very dark!!!!) with her splunking flashlight. My friend Arik was behind me and he was hilarious the whole time!!!! He kept making references tO Indiana Jones lines (especially from the Last Crusade, when they are down in the tunnel with all the water, trying to get to the Tomb....."the tomb is the second marker") and a lot of "Goonies" references so we were having an awesome time!!!! It was totally a bonding experience. After about 40 minutes we made it out of the mile-long tunnel and climbed back up hill (yeah, not so fun) to where we ate lunch. If I could do it again, I totally would, I and would love to try it completely in the dark next time.
On another note, Leah (and I) got a HUGE surprise this morning when her rabbi, Steven Lowenstein, surprised us at HUC as we were getting ready to get on the buses. He had been on a mission trip in Russia and decided that since he was so close, he would stop over for a day in Israel!!!!!! It was so fun to get to see him. I, of course, know him because he is my friend Phyllis's senior rabbi and I have gotten to know him throughout the last year that she has worken up in Chicago. He's taking us out to dinner tonight and so we'll get to catch up with him then!!!!
Okay, I am seriously exhausted so I must go nap before I get ready for dinner..... I wish you could have all been there with us today...it was unbelievable!!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:04 PM
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Shalom
I know I've been bad about posting recently....I really have no good excuse for it. It's not that my ulpan has taken up that much of my time (our class is pretty easy), it's just that when you get home from being at school for so long, you just sort of want to veg out. I'll try to stay more on top of things....

BIG NEWS: My computer works!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! Now, it's not that I actually fixed it, it's just that I had to reinstall everything that was basically on my hard drive (meaning my recovery disk is my hard drive and there's a program to do all that). And I got Internet working yesterday, so now I am all hooked up!!!!! So you can expect pictures to be coming soon (probably on Firday when I have some free time).

Other than that, things are pretty much business as usual...my friend Yifat (who I met working at summer camp last year) called me b/c she lives in Jerusalem and wants to hang out. So I think we might hang out together sometime during the next few nights, depending on our schedules.
Tonight we actuall have to go back to school because we are doing a text study about the beginning of the monarchy (David, Solomon, etc) and then tomorrow we don't have ulpan because we are actually going to the places that we read and study about tonight....I think that is VERY cool!!! We're going to be doing stuff like that for different places during the next few weeks and I'm excited. The only concern I have about tomorrow is that we are going through lots of caves and tunnels, and there will be very high water. Now, it's not that it sounds scary to me, oh no...that's sounds awesome. I'm simply afraid I don't have the right shoes. I mean, I have hiking shoes, but I don't them to get that wet...they are for hiking on like dry land...so I'll have to find out what type of shoes to wear and figure out what to do about all that....but the caves sounds awesome!!! I'll try to post about them tomorrow night.
Okay, I'm off to nap a bit before i need to get up and make dinner so that we can go do our text study!!!! Have a great day y'all!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 3:40 PM
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Monday, July 19, 2004
Ulpan
Mood:  mischievious
I know that I haven't posted in a while, but it's just that I've been really busy lately!!!!
We started Ulpan yesterday, which is the hebrew immersion summer program that we are doing. Yes, in Israel Sunday is the first day of the week and friday and saturday are the weekend. Basically, from 8:30 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon we are in class learning and speaking hebrew. It's challenging but it's really helpful with my spoken hebrew. And my class is fun and funny and advanced enough (I placed in the 4th out of 6 levels... 6 being the highest) that I feel I will learn a great deal in the coming weeks.
Yesterday, I went to the mall with some friends and bought two cute skirts and a fun tank top...it was really cheap too!
My weekend waas nice...we were forced to go to shabbat services at HUC but they ended up being really nice. Friday night we had dinner in the academic courtyard and then all went to a party at my friend Josh's house for his birthday. Too much fun!!!!
Saturday I went to services in the morning, then had the opportunity to speak with a women about my first trip to Israel b/c she was from the Birthright Israel foundation (who sponsored my trip). THen me and Leah and Adam and Noah all went back to their house and ate lunch and slept all day. IT was a realxing shabbat day.
Other than that, not much else is new. I'm working hard to get my computer up and running again (cross your fingers) and so hopefully that will happen soon and I can upload all my pictures and you can have a better sense of what my life is like here.
Okay, I only have about 10 minutes left of my break before I need to return to class. Happy Monday everyone!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:18 AM
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Thursday, July 15, 2004
Stress
Mood:  not sure
I know that my recent e-mails and posts ( and even phone calls...if you've gotten them) have been pretty positive so far, but this one's going to be a little different.

Today was just....overwhelming. We had this lady come in the afternoon to talk to us about cross-cultural differences and how we deal with our time here and stuff....and it was just the wrong time for me to deal with this. When she was talking about Israeli society and why people are so different she was talking about how Israel is in a constant state of mourning and choas because that's what they know how to be....it just made me really sad for israel. It also made me homesick for the first time since I've been here...not so much missing people or certain places, but like America..on the whole. It's hard moving to a foreign country, especially one that is SOOOO different from the way America is, and I don't think I allowed myself to feel that yet. Then we went on to talk about what types of stages we will go through during the year and trying to make everything a learning experience and a challange instead of a crisis. That part of the session was better, but I still feel sort of down. I think this is the first time I've been processing being here and what I'm doing here and how i fit in here now and how I will throughout the year. It might always be a struggle, but hopefully as the year goes on, and as i start really speaking the language more and more...it will be easier.

I also feel frustrated by little things.....I'm sick of my comuter not working...those of you who know what it's like to be attached to a computer know that it's hard....it's been almost two weeks since it's worked properly and although I know it will get resolved soon...I'm tired of being patient about it.

Also, my friend's mom is going into surgery today in an attempt to remove cancer....that may be what's stressing me out the most....wanting to be there even though i can't be. But these are things I'll have to deal with this year...from afar.
I guess there are just things that make me feel unsettled even though I feel that i want to be settled here. it's a difficult feeling, even though I know it is totally normal to be feeling all of this right now, and knowing that my classmates are probably feeling this way too (or had been, or will be) is comforting...but i still feel a little lost right now.

Not to worry, I'm doing well on the whole, just trying to process all of this and all that goes along with living abroad for the year. Luckily I seem to have a great group of friends that genuinely care about me (and that noticed I was down and let me be cranky at first, then cry on their shoulders...as we are all doing for each other), a great support system at HUC and a fabulous and caring roommate. So I couldn't ask for much more....I think i jsut needed to write about it. So even though things have been pretty good until now, it's starting to sink in that things are going to be different this year....and that it will also be one of the most memorable years of my life.
The good, the bad, and yes...even the ugly.
I promise the next post will be more uplifting!!!! (and please don't e-mail me all at once with your concerns...I'm fine) I just figured that if everyone wants to know what's really going on in my life this year...well, this is a small part of it too! Have a beautiful day, filled with peace and love!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:54 PM
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