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Elizabeth's Blog
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Rosh Hashanah
Now Playing: Faith Hill _ Breathe
I have so many mixed emotions right now...I'm going to try to seperate them out as best I can. First and foremost, I miss home a lot right now. It's definately the high holidays that are doing it for me. Everyone at home asking how I'm doing and asking about me. My grandmother and my brother coming in for the New Year, and me just not being there. But I have to remind myself, that really I might not be there for the high holidays again for a while. Over the next several years I will have student pulpits, and then a pulpit of my own. So, as my mom said, I will have to just expect that my family and friends will come to me, instead of me going to them. Secondly, services here last night were great. We had services at HUC in the Blaustein hall where you get one of the most spectacular views of the walls of the Old City behind the pulpit. We watched the sun go down on the old walls, and simultaneously began seeing the reflection of ourselves praying in the glass windows...just spectacular!!! And the cantorial choir was unbelievable. But at the same time, i missed the feeling of being able to sing WITH them. It was definately a listening experience, and not a participating experience...it's okay though, they were pretty moving. We then had a Rosh Hashanah Sedar (didn't even know you could!!!) and that was great too! Lots of singing and dancing and it was really nice to be with all my classmates and their SO's. Then I came home and Leah and I called Michael and Phyllis and then I called my folks and went to bed.
This morning I woke up and went back to services at HUC. They were FOUR HOURS LONG!!!!!!! By the end, it was sort of hard to focus. After a relaxing day I went to Josh's for a bit. Needless to say, many interesting conversations ensued. One of our favorite topics right now, as HUC students, has very little to do with our own beliefs on Reform Judaism and more to do with whether or not we feel "observant enough" or "Jewish enough" compared to others (even some of our classmates). So many people have such varied views on this topic, and it often gets very emotional and heated. I think that all of us are sorting out what we knew and what we thought and trying to reconcile it with what we are now learning and some of our new beliefs and attitudes. It's hard for everyone. I know that I am finding myself saying a lot, "Well, I've never done XYZ before so I don't feel the need to do it now." But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I'm not okay with that statement. Tradition, although and integral part of Judaism, does not always mean that it's the right way for you to do something now. So I guess this year is really a big learning year for me....in so many ways. I need to figure out what works best for ME, what MY needs are as a Reform Jew...and how I want to integrate all of this into my life.
(Continued Sat. 9/18) So then on Friday I decided to go to Second Day Rosh Hashanah services at Har El. I had never been there before, and truthfully, I wasn't that impressed. It just wasn't a good fit for me. I know that some of my other classmates really like it there, but it was too small for me and I honestly didn't really like the service. I think I'll probably stick with places like Kol Hanishama, Shira Hadasha, and HUC for services. I walked there and back with the Sherman family (Karen is a classmate of mine...she is in almost all of my classes...and she has a husband and two adorable daughters) and we had a great time together. When I got bored during services I was able to quietly read to Eliana (Karen's 3 year old daughter)or help her color in her book. Afterwards, on our way home, we stopped in to the Great Synagogue which is a huge and beautiful orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem. We had to walk up several flight of stairs to get to the women's section but it is just breath-taking inside. However, Karen's 7 year old daughter Rebecca began asking all sorts of questions about why the men and women had to sit seperately, why men and women had different jobs during services and why she couldn't sit next to her daddy while in temple. Karen and I did as best we could, but Rebecca's questions were so pure and innocent that Karen and I began exchanging a lot of glances. It was a real learning moment for me (as a rabbi to be) trying to explain different people's beleifs and customs, even though we are still all Jewish.
Later that night Leah and I went to Adam and Noah's for Shabbat dinner and had a quiet, delicious, and relaxing evening with them. Today it's off to Lisa's for shabbat lunch, along with the usual shabbat activities, and then of course tonight....homework!!!!
Being that it is now the middle of the high holidays, I tend to be a lot more reflective this time of year, so I will try to write more of that soon in the next few days.

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:59 PM
Updated: Saturday, September 18, 2004 10:52 AM
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Sunday, September 12, 2004
Hebrew is FINALLY getting good!!!
Mood:  chillin'
Now Playing: Toto- by Africa
So okay, let me explain to you what happened in hebrew today...it was so random. My friend Rochelle was giving a speech about knitting and so we started going around the classroom talking about our different hobbies. When it got to be my turn I said, "I like to make people laugh" thinking that it is something I like to do and it was a hobby that hadn't been said yet. My teacher said to me (in hebrew of course), "That's your hobby?" and I said yes. So she said, " Okay, then make me laugh! I like to laugh, so make me laugh." I was so taken aback I almost didn't know what to say. SO I tried to explain to her that it was more of a spontaneous thing but she said, "Why don't you tell a joke...or impressions. Do you do impressions?" Someone in the class said I did (which is sort of true) and my teacher said," Okay, do ME!!!!" Now, that's when red lights went off in my head. First of all, Hannah Shafir (my teacher) is a scary woman. SHe's a great teacher, but you just don't ever want to feeel like you've pissed her off. So I was thinking, how do I gracefully get out of this. I felt like she was screaming at me, "Dance, monkey, DANCE!!!!" So i got up there and did impressions of my teacher from the summer. It could have been funnier, looking back, but apparently people thought it was hilarious. Hannah was practically on the floor dying of laughter....thank god.
I've always thought of myself as a funny person, and I really like to make people laugh and brighten their days, but this taught me not to open my big mouth in class unless i have some material to back it up with!!!!! Luckily it all turned out well!

I'm really liking my hebrew class so much more than my ulpan. Hannah is a great teacher and I feel like i'm learning a lot and enjoying the time I'm spending there. I just wish we didn't have so much homework all the time....but c'est la vie!!!
Okay, off to work on biblical grammar!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 3:03 PM
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Thursday, September 9, 2004
Haircut!!!!!
Well, I bit the bullet and finally got my hair chopped off. My classmate's partner Felicia is giving pretty inexpensive haircuts and i was so sick of my long stringy hair that i decided to get a short new bouncy cut. This is definately the first time in like two years that it's been this short...but I really like it!!! Super cuteness all around. Okay, I'm off to go make honey cake with Lisa....


Cute new haircut pictures to come shortly!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:27 PM
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Tuesday, September 7, 2004
It's been a while
Mood:  lazy
Now Playing: REM - the Great beyond
Okay, so it's been like a billion years since I've made an entry. There are several reasons for this: 1) I was in Barcelona for a week with 9 other girls!!!!! It was great but I was very busy getting ready for it, being on it, and then recovering from it. 2) We started our fall semester this week and the schedule is absouletely insane...I'm barely ever home. 3) When I do actually get home, not only am I exhausted beyond belief but I also have a lot of homework to tackle.
My lovely hebrew teacher (who really is a GREAT teacher, even though she scares me a lot) likes to give us lots of work every night...like a 200 word essay the first night. So needless to say, it's been a crazy week so far. I'm not trying to neglect anyone, in Israel or in the states, it's just that I am trying to survive my first week without a meltdown. So far, so good :) !!!!!
I really enjoy most of my classes. We have a lot of modern hebrew during the week, but it's been really good so far. I absolutely love biblical grammar with Yossi Lechem...the man's incredible! I also really like Liturgy and my history course. My history course is about the general history of contemporary Middle East. We are all basically taking a country and researching all about that country and then when we talk particular themes, we explain our country's position on that theme. Totally the type of stuff I was doing for Dr. Spechler all throughout college, except now I can focus on one country instead of a whole region. I'm really hoping to do Sudan (which our teacher Paul is considereing part of the Middle East because of the Arab population there)....I don't know what my obbsession with Africa is, but I just find it all so interesting!!!!! Bible class was really frustrating because it was in very rapid hebrew and no one in class understood much of what she was saying, and it became a little problematic. Now, I know that having a class entirely in hebrew is a GREAT way to learn, but i'm really afraid I'll miss out on a lot if I don't understand everything that's going on. And after having Prof. Weitzman at IU....how could I not want to learn more Bible??? I'm realzing now how much I really did learn from him, and sort of hoping I could learn lots more...but we shall see what happens. I have rabbinic lit. this year with Marc Bregman and he seems really nice and very funny. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my classes.
Tomorrow, and every wednesday for that matter, we have a seminar day where we spend the day talking about and visiting sites relevant to understanding and discovering Israel. We are going on an archeological dig tomorrow at Tel Dan (where IU goes every summer) and I'm super excited.
I feel a bit like I'm back in high school again, with days that start at 8:30 and go until 5:45 (no joke), although some days I get relief and I am done by 1:30 but for the most part I have stuff to do anyway like our required community service (don't get me started) and errands and such. So I am just a busy busy bee ("You want your busy bee????" ~Best in Show)
Hopefully after the high holidays , when class is sort of variable throughout the week, and our succot break(which is from sept. 29-Oct. 10th) I will really get into the swing of things and feel good about the schedule...it's just kind of tiring right now!!!

So I got several packages today....my winter clothes finally came!!! So I picked them up at the post office, and paid a bill (because that's how you do it here in Israel...at the post office) and got another package at school from Phyllis. She's the cutest! I also got my davka writer software today (for using hebrew on your computer) and so I have a lot to play with now!!!!
I'm also in the middle of the Da Vinci Code and although I'm only getting through a few pages at a time before I have to either go somewhere or go to bed...it's fabulous!!!!!!!!!
Okay, that's it for now folks....I'll try to keep everyone posted with a little more frequency than I have been lately. Have a great week!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:03 PM
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Thursday, August 26, 2004
Off to Spain I go!!!
I'm heading off for Barcelona early tomorrow morning (like we're leaving Jerusalem at 4 am!!!!) and I will be there until next friday (9/03). I will be unavailable by e-mail, IM, and phone for those days...so don't try to contact me!!!!
Okay, off to bed I go!!!!
Have a fabulous week!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 8:29 PM
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Well, that was a lovely interaction!!!! A guy came to repair our fridge and really just didn't speak any english at all. So I had to manage in hebrew...it's amazing how much you can do when you have no other options!!!! Leah and I have been having problems with our fridge and the first time we talked to our landlady about it, she didn't do anything. Yesterday, I came home and our fridge was wide open!!! And was probably like that for about 5 hours!!!! Needless to say, we lost a lot of food and money. Although i am angry about it, there is not much I can do about it now. I also have to remember that although I may have lost some of my food, there really are people in this world that have no food at all, so I shouldn't really complain that much. It was just annoying!!!
My ulpan class went to a restaurant/museum called Beit Ticho. The food was fabulous and we had a great time hanging out!!!
Tomorrow I have my last hebrew test of ulpan and then we have presentations from each of the classes, and after that an academic orientation meeting....where we will FINALLY receive our fall schedules. I can't wait to see when and what I'm taking (I know, you can call me a nerd!!!!)
Barcelona is in like 48 hours and i feel totally unprepared. I mean, I'm prepared in the sense that I have my tickets and travel info, and travel insurance, etc. but unprepared in that I haven't packed yet or bought little travel toiletries and i'm just not mentally there yet. Hopefully it'll be better after my last day of ulpan tomorrow....hooray!!!!!!
Okay, off to study.

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:15 PM
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Monday, August 23, 2004
Friends at home
I miss everyone a lot. Not like in a homesick kind of way..but in a like " I haven't seen you in several months" kind of way. I talked to my good friend David tonight and it was really good to get a familiar voice. I also talked to Phyl for a bit and that was nice too! I spoke with my parents yesterday and caught up a bit with them. I wish I was able to talk to people back home more, but what a crazy busy life I lead...I'm always doing something! Thank god for e-mail, Instant messenger, cell phones, and technology in general!!!!
Anyway, not the most interesting post, but it's better than doing hebrew homework!!!!
If you are from the US and reading this....I miss you [insert name here]!!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 8:24 PM
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Doodoo
So i thought that it would be a one-time phenomenon with Karen. But oh, how I was wrong. One of my classmates (and by classmates, I mean that we sit next to each other in ulpan everyday for four hours for the past six weeks) who is about 33ish with two kids and a husband laughs over the silliest things.
Last week, we were talking about why there was a yud (hebrew letter) in a certain place in one word and I said, "oh, it's just pulling double duty"...and karen goes..."hahah, you said doodey!" and like, couldn't stop laughing!!! We were out of control for the rest of the day laughing at everything!! Well, of course, today we were watching a movie in Hebrew class and there is a character named David. But sometimes, a nickname for David is doodoo (based on hebrew spelling). We all just lost it again. Imagine us, in grad school, hysterically laughing over slang terms for poop!!!! How mature are we????? :)

Things in general are going well. I leave for Barcelona in like four days and I am sooooo excited. We have a really good group going and it should prove to be a lot of fun for everyone (at least that's the plan!!!!) I'm also unbelievably excited to be done with ulpan. Now, it hasn't been the worst torture in the world...but it's been a lot for me to deal with a teacher i didn't like for four hours a day for six weeks. I'm so glad I survived, and even managed to learn a little hebrew in the process (thanks mostly in part to my WONDERFUL classmates in daled!!!)
Alrighty, speaking of which, I'm off to start my second to last ulpan assignment!!! Wish me luck!! And have a fabulous week!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:49 PM
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Friday, August 20, 2004
Today
Now Playing: Peter Cetera - Glory of Love
Today was a day of complete mixed emotions. I decided to walk downtown really early and get some errands done. On my way there, on the corner of Yoel Solomon and Hillel, I watched as paramedics tried to save a man's life. I don't know what happened, but there was a woman, maybe his wife, up the street a bit crying and acting hysterical. I walked to other way and tried not to look, because there was clearly nothing I could do, and there were a lot of police around so I figured if there was any danger or anything just to walk away. I went downtown and ran my errands and decided to head home about a half hour later. I figured they would have moved him by then, but I was wrong. His body was lying on the ground next to the ambulance covered with a body tarp. I've just never seen anything like that before. My friends David S. and Rachel C. saw it too, probably like minutes apart from when I did, so we talked about it a bit later. I mean, I know that I am going to be clergy and that I will be by people's bedside as they pass on, or with a family immediately afterward that is grieving..but this was so real, so tragically in the moment. Anyway, it made me think a bit about all the typical life and death stuff...the whole "when your number is up it's up" kind of thing. But I knew I couldn't dwell on it for too long, otherwise my day would have been miserable. Rather, I said the mourner's kaddish and walked over to Lisa's apartment and hung out with her for a bit.
At 11 am a bunch of HUCers met at school and took cabs to Gan Soccer (big open field by Israel museum) and played co-ed flag football. Now, I have to admit, I've never played before. And...I wasn't completely awful. I can catch the ball real well (and I even completed a pass!!!!) and I'm learning how to block real well. So hopefull as the season goes on I will get better and better and can help kick booty when we play other teams. But our teams were today were great and we had a lot of fun. Being out in the sun and being active was really good...so it was a nice way to spend the day.
Tonight I am going to services at HUC, then dinner at my friend's place. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with friends too and probably going to the park in the afternoon. Typical shabbat stuff. I can't believe I go to Barcelona in a week!!!! I'm so excited. I just have to make it through the last of week of ulpan...I think I can, I think I can.

Okay, enough talk...more getting dressed! I promise my next post will be brighter, as a lot of the past few have been kind of gloomy. It reall has been a good week..just sprinkled here and there with some strange events. Hope you have a nice weekend!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:33 PM
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
This is gonna be a heavy one
Now Playing: Collective Soul - The World I know
Okay, so I have been reluctant to address the whole terrorism/security wall/danger of living in Israel thing since I've been here. Maybe, I'm realizing now, it's because it wasn't real to me. Sure, I can see the security fence from my bedroom window (even thought it's far off in the distance) and I was here when there was a bomb in Tel Aviv....but today, it was the first time I've experienced anything that really frightened me. About 20 of my classmates, Associate Dean of HUC Shaul Fineberg, and I were having a spirituality session in the little garden behind the academic courtyard when all of a sudden we heard a huge BOOM!!! At first, I almost thought nothing of it. But we had been in the middle of reading something, and everyone fell silent and sort of looked at each other for a moment. It was a very loud noise, and clearly very close to us. I can't describe to you the way I felt. My body went rigid, I felt panic and fear...and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Shaul, who happened to be sitting next to me, said it sounded like a car had maybe backfired and we shouldn't worry...but I don't think anyone believed him. Since we were wrapping things up, I told myself to hold it together until we were finished. And I did..although a few classmates of mine also came up to me and told me that it scared them too...good to know I wasn't alone. It really shook me up.
On the way out, we found out that they had decided to blow up a suspicious object right outside of HUC. Somebody had left some t'fillan (prayer garments) hanging on the fence outside HUC...which is sort of strange...and they just wanted to be sure that it was nothing. On the way home, I finally broke down a little bit. I'm just not used to this being a part of my everyday life. I know that they blow up suspicious objects here, but I've never been so close to it before. I know that there is a constant threat here everyday..and just because nothing has happened doesn't mean that I am safe. I really don't mean to be scaring anybody at all right now...but i just had to write about this...it's just nothing i have ever experienced before. But I'm fine, everyone's all fine...only the t'fillan were truly hurt by the explosion.
I just needed to share, I suppose..my new realities. Hopefully, I won't have more posts like these in the next year, and this will become but a memory.
It's just hard right now, in the moment, to not be so affected by it. But, this too shall pass. I am lucky that I have the life that I have, my health, a wonderful life here rich with friends who are becoming like family to me and incredible experiences that I've already had a taste of, and that I know await me during this next year.
On that note, I need to go take a nap so I can hang out with all my friends tonight!!!! Have a good day..and thanks for listening (reading). :)

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:28 PM
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