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Elizabeth's Blog
Friday, October 29, 2004
A week in my life
Now Playing: You're the inspiration - Chicago
So it occured to me (through the help of my father) that I talk a lot in my blog about all the fun crazy stuff that we rabbinical students do, but I don't really give you much of the academic substance of what's going on. I guess it's because it's not as exciting as everything else, so I sort of don't really feel a need to talk about it. However, I am happy to oblige those of you that want a little bit more of my day to day activities.

First of all, as much as you hear the cute anecdotes and see the wonderful pictures, this is not a piece-of-cake year for me at all. First and foremost, I am in my first year of grad school and there is lots of work. What I didn't expect so much of is all of the time that I am actually IN class! My school day starts at 8:30 in the morning (or 7:45 on the lucky tuesdays that we have services) and I often am not done until about 4 or 5 in the afternoon (on average). All of my classes last for an hour and a half each. On Sunday's I actually have two doses of Hebrew..a whopping three hours!!! I also have rabbinic literature that say with Marc Bregman. He's great and the class structure is fabulous. We are studying Pirke Avot (from the Mishna) as one big chevrutah (study group) and so we do a lot of translating, reading commentaries, and debating. On Sundays I also have my elective course which is Cantillation of the Bible. Yes, that's right folks, I am learning to chant Torah. The truth is, it's just not that hard..you just need to learn how to do it! And we have a lot of fun in that class so it's a nice end to the day.
Every Monday we start out in the morning with Student Led Services. Every rabbinical student is required to lead one service, chant/read torah at least once, and give one D'var Torah throughout the year. Mine are all in the spring, so I just get to enjoy them all now! Then I have hebrew, Biblical Grammar (with Yossi Lechem who is incredible!!!) and Bible. In Biblical grammar, we learn the most amazing things about the real structure of the hebrew language, accents and vowels and all the rules that go along with the hebrew language. It's so helpful, not just for that class and in general, but because it helps me understand lots of things in modern hebrew as well. Simply Fantastic!!!
Bible isn't so great because the teacher insists on speaking in very rapid complex hebrew and like 2 students really understand what is actually going on in the class. My only consolation is that I've had Bible before and am very familiar with the content (hi, I was a Jewish Studies Major at IU!) and so I often know what we are talking about, even though I don't know what the heck she is saying. After Bible we often have a professional forum with lots of guest speakers or programs relating to our Jewish professional lives.
On Tuesdays I have hebrew, liturgy, and History. Liturgy is basically what it sounds like. Reading, translating, and talking about Jewish liturgy. It's a great class. Then I have History with Paul Liptz. He might possibly be one of the most interesting men alive. He is from Zimbabwe, lives in Israel, looks like Colonel Sanders, and knows everyone in the world. EVERYONE! His class is called Contemporary Middle Eastern History, but it's really more of an Arab culture class. It is so interesting and I learn about 10 new things (if not more) every class period. We've all been assigned Middle Eastern Countries and every day that we talk about new issues (i.e. Women in Islam, the Family structure, etc) we tell the rest of the class how our country feels about the issue. I have Algeria and it's been absolutely fascinating so far! This class was also sort of an elective (although it's required) because I got to choose between this and the formation of the Zionest state. That and I didn't have to take remedial Jewish History (as Karen calls it) because I got plenty of that in my undergrad.
Wednesdays are special days. No really, they are! We have "Israel Seminar Day" where we talk a lot about the last 100 years of Jewish History and then go out into the country and see it for ourselves. We've already taken day trips to Tel Aviv, Yad Va'shem, Har Herzl, and next week we are going to some Kibbutzim to see what life is like on a Kibbutz. Sometimes, these days are fun..sometimes they are excruciating...it really just depends. Paul, my history teacher, is actually the leader of my group so that;s a lot of fun. He's so knowledgeable!
Then Thursday's I just get Hebrew (with a test every week!) and Bible again.

Now, I can't begin to tell you how busy I am with schoolwork. Part of me never really feels quite on top of everything. Thursday nights are really the nights that i go out, and then Friday morning/afternoon is devoted to either sleeping in for once, getting errands done that I neglect during the week, or getting ready for Shabbat. Then Saturday is shabbat with services, luncheons, and more relaxing. Finally, by saturday night when shabbat is over...my week starts again! And, none of this "regular week" involves any special stuff going on like people's birthdays, our flag football team games and practices, my hours volunteering at the Rape Crisis center, or any of that stuff. This year is all one big balancing act. Anyway, more to come soon. Off to get ready for Shabbat!!!!
Have a great weekend!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:08 PM
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Friday, October 22, 2004
Oh what a night!!!
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Oasis- Wonderwall
Wow, last night was serious amounts of mad fun. Rochelle came over, then we went out and met Lisa at Joy (or Joi) for dinner. We saw Zoe and Jason and even Ann while we were sitting there. Good times!!!!
Then we went back to rochelle's for a bit and chilled, and eventually over to Lisa's for a little pre-partying with Joel. After that we all went out to Arik's b-day thing at that place next to Zolly's...so many people were there!!! It was crazy but it was a lot of fun!!! Then, about 20 of us headed off to Heleni for our usual dancing and continued partying. Except for little bits of craziness at the end of the evening, a good time was had by all. I think i got to bed around 3 am. Now this is what I have to say:
1) Who am I? I didn't even do this kind of stuff in college...am I making up for lost time? I love getting to hang out with my friends and spending time with them, but i;ve never been a night owl before in my life...where has this come from all of a sudden??
2) I like that when we all go out, we really tend to take care of each other, in soooo many different ways. It's better than just "friends you go out with", my classmates are really good people and it shows through in lots of situations.
3) I haven't had this much to drink in a long time ('cause I usually don't really ever drink) so it's gonna be a bit of a struggle today. But every once in a while you need to just let your hair down, and have a crazy fun time!!!

In the wise words of Sara Mason : I love rabbinical school!!!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 1:44 PM
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Feeling at home
Now Playing: Don Henley - End of Innocence
So i'm totally avoiding translating my bible homework...and studying for my hebrew test tomorrow (luckily it's just a vocab quiz!!!). I've been thinking a lot lately about how comfortable i feel here. At first, when you come to a new place, as much as you love it, you also sort of hate it a little bit (maybe even secretly) because it's not home and you miss home and it's hard to be away from the things and ones you love and miss. But as the year goes on, you become more and more attached to your life abroad...you understand that you do have a life here. I was walking home from the Rape Crisis Center (where i volunteer, and which i love!!!!!) and thinking about how my attitiude has really changed from just getting through my year in Israel by having fun and not missing things back in the states, to recognizing how much I love my life here. And now, I know that it will be hard to leave in June. And it's only October!!!!!
At the beginning of the year, Na'amah Kelman who directs the year in Israel program said there are two parts to the year: getting us acclimated to living in Israel, and then trying to focus on not being sad about leaving Israel. I can really see what she means. And although my sadness doesn't affect me everyday, it is still in the back of my head that I am only here for a year, and that this year will fly by much faster than I think (have I really already been here for almost 4 months?????). I love waking up in the morning and opening my large sliding glass door and window and gazing at the beauty of Jerusalem. I love walking down to Mircaz Hair and running errands, or walking down Emek Rafayim to go shopping. I love going ot to Cafe's to study, or out to eat at night with my friends, or out on our Thursday "Night Out" at Zolly's and Heleni's. I love our campus and it's beauty, and yes (even though it's hot as hell) the weather. It's October and it's still almost 90 degrees during the day!!!
What can I say? I love it all, and I'm glad it's my life right now...and i love the people I'm sharing it with.

Today, instead of our usual "Trip Day" around Israel we had a day with Moshe Silbershein(one of our professors who I just love) and we talked a lot about shabbat. It was interesting and very informative, but about an hour too long. Oh well!!! We are also having a traditional shabbat dinner on Friday night at HUC with more learning from Moshe, so it should be fun! Tomorrow, I have class until early afternoon and then I think i'm going to do some grocery shopping and run an errand or two.
That's about it for now...back to studying I go!!!

PS Is anyone ever gonna call me? (847)-748-2008...that's why I got an American phone number!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:07 PM
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Yes, I'm alive....i just haven't written in a month!
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: Eric Clapton - Layla
Okay, so I have much to comment on...here goes.

Many of you may or may not know that I was back in the states for a week during the very beginning of October. I started out this year thinking that i wouldn't go home at all, but I have to come to realize that life cannot always work out the way you plan it. It was a bit of an unexpected trip, but after my mom had been very sick for a few weeks, I just couldn't stay in Jerusalem any longer. Luckily, I had a 10 day break and found a very cheap flight...(and had some very generous friends who lent me their car for the week)....and was able to go home and see my parents and my brother. I didn't really call anyone because it wasn't that kind of a trip. I was there for a reason, and that was what took priority. Luckily my mom is feeling much better, is doing quite well, and I was able to see her at her best. Thanks to everyone here for all of your encouragement during those first few very hard days (and for helping me to realize what to do) and to everyone else who made my trip home possible. It all meant so much to me.
After my trip, I realzied that I am a big proponent of going home during your "year abroad" if you don't have a fear that you might not get back on the plane to return, and if you have the means to do so. Not only did it help to reaffirm that I had a life back in the US, but it was great to get away for a while and be able to miss all the new people that I've come to love so dearly. It also was a fabulous experience coming back. It really made me realize that I do have a life here, even though I miss my life back home, and that my life here is really a lot of fun...school, friends, volunteer work, socializing, studying, being jewish. I think that because I hadn't been home in several months, and I didn't think that I would see my home in the US for a whole year, it made me miss everything so much that I lost sight of what I have here in Jerusalem. And, you must remember, I am by no means "homesick", it's just a natural way of feeling when you live abroad. It was great to get that insight, and to realize that although this year will be different than my next four years in rabbinical school, it will also be amazing and will help me to be thankful for what I have in my life, in so many different ways.

There was a bomb in Sinai about a week ago....everyone from the HUC community is fine (even though Adam was MIA for awhile, but he turned out to be fine too!) but it's just so sad. SO many people died, so many were injured, and it was a very hard home-coming to Jerusalem for me. Lots of people ask me if i'm scared of living here, and the honest (maybe naive) answer is: NO. I can't spend my entire year living in fear. The college and I take many precautions having to do with safety, and if it's my time than it's just my time and there is nothing I can do about it. Luckily, as of yet, every time there has been in a bomb in or around Israel, I haven't been anywhere near it. So for now, I'm safe...but I know many of you are worried. I wish I could ease that for you, but this is where I need to be this year.

On a lighter note, I love my volunteer work that I am doing at the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center. I'm doing lots of research projects and it's a great office to work in. My "boss" is the coolest chick ever (she's from Britain and has a wicked sense of humor) and I love getting to work for her. And I think Karen Sherman might be working with me too....cause we don't see each other enough every day, all day...good thing I like her!!!!!

Anyway, other than that I'm just a busy busy little bee. Tomorrow is our Israel exploration day. We are going to Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) and Mt. Herzl...very touristy spots, but very important and enjoyable nonetheless.

Also, I know this is unbelievable, but I actually have a phone number that is based in Chicago but reaches my phone in Jerusalem (it's through a company called Vonage and uses our internet to connect to us here in Jerusalem). So essentially, it will be like you are calling to chicago, but you will get me here!!!! And i have unlimited minutes to call you...so expect a phone call or two!!! I'll send out an e-mail soon with the new number.
Okay off to make dinner and do some homework! Have a great week!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:26 PM
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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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