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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!!!