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Elizabeth's Blog
Friday, December 3, 2004
Choice through Knowledge
Now Playing: Craig Taubman - Shalom Rav
So today, I let it all out. I totally let what's been building up inside of me for the last five months out. It was like word vomit. (Why do I love the movie "Mean Girls" so much that I have to quote it in everything I do????) I will try my best to get the highlights out to you, but keep in mind that it was about a 2 hour conversation with many, many different people about a wide variety of topics. So if you are brave enough, read on.

I'm going to be the first one to publicly say...am I in a Reform Jewish Seminary that supports choice through knowledge? Maybe the institute does, but does everyone in this institute support the personal choices that I make? Like my last entry, I talked a lot in my outburst today about choices and making them during T'fillot. For example, there are some things that I, and my classmates, are doing this year that we've never done before and that we might not ever do again. So...why do we do it? I am not against learning this year..not by any means. In fact, quite the opposite. I think it is important that we learn as much as we can about the traditions Judaism has, across the board. But then we, as Reform Jews, need to have the tolerance to say to each other "WE CHOOSE TO/NOT TO DO THIS!!!!" And we need to respect other people's choices.
I was talking to one or two people about this, and I was getting so worked up and so adament about my positons, I was sort of drawing a crowd. And people were like, Amen Sister. Or...right on! Or...you go girl!!! It turns out I'm not the only one who feels this way. So why haven't we been vocal about it? Why do we keep saying the longer Birkat Hamazon at HUC events when there appear, to me, to be so many people that are uncomfortable with it? Why have I felt so swept into all of my new learning, that I forgot what my Judaism means to me...the ability to choose what feels right and meaningful and spiritual for me. And those of you that know me, know that I am a strong and confident person who is not afraid to speak my mind....so why has this been such a challenge for me? And if i'm struggling with all of this, who knows how other people are dealing with it.
I also think that it's very hush-hush this year, to veer away from traditonal Judaism and more towards the Reform Judaism that many of us know and are comfortable with, because we are in Israel, and some of us don't feel valid here as Reform Jews. Israelis don't understand progressive Judaism like Americans do. (Not that they alwasy do such a good job either...) People sometimes ask if we pray to Jesus, or are appalled that as a woman I have the nerve to become a rabbi. And so i think we are caught in these shells. We are trying to protect ourselves from the more hostile greater community of Jerusalem/Israel and we forget that we are here this year to experiement, to learn, and to choose. And that we shouldn't be afraid of making personal choices for ourselves, even if no single other student makes that same choice. I mean, isn't that the beauty of Reform Judaism???

I have this theory (that i developed today) that when people learn something new, they are impressed by it. They want to share it with others. It gives one the ability to say..hey, I know why we do this. For example...I understand now why before the Amidah some people take three steps backward, or why during some prayers people bow, or why people sit (or stand) during this prayer. And for some reason, it validates their actions to incorporate this newly learned piece of information. And maybe they feel that if they don't do the action that they have learned about, it means that they are uneducated, or invalid, or doing it wrong. But I think it's time we stop doing this. I think that we need to not only learn why things are done in Judaism, but also whether or not we WANT to incorporate these newly learned things into our Judaic or spiritual life. And if the answer is no..that's okay. And if the answer is yes...that's okay. Far be it from me to judge what is right or wrong for you.

So don't judge me or my actions either. I am simply making educated choices about my Judaism and the way I want to live my Judaic, spiritual, and personal life. And I'm telling you, world, I am no longer afraid to really start thinking about and making those choices. Choice through knowledge...there's nothing more powerful than that.


Posted by Elizabeth at 1:30 AM
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Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Prayer and the rabbinate
Now Playing: Indigo Girls - Closer to Fine
I had the best realization in liturgy the other day. We were debating some issues in the liturgy of Reform Judaism and whether current practices were similar to those of the old reformers. We talked a lot about what we know as individuals, what we think the movement does liturgically and where we think the Reform/Progressive Movement of Judaism is headed. And the truth is, right now is a very exciting time, liturgically speaking, for Reform Judaism. A new prayerbook is in the works (even though there are many drafts out there) called "Mishkan T'fillah" and in the next few years, the Reform Movement will have adopted this book as our prayerbook. In fact, my class is the first HUC class to be using this book, rather than Gates of Prayer, to learn from and conduct our services from. This all caused me to think about the evolution of prayer and liturgy and about how me and my contemporaries are going to be very influential in the next several years, in terms of the liturgy that we use, the minhag that we develop from using this prayerbook and the liturgy included in it, and the views we have about using this new prayerbook. What an empowering and inspirational feeling!!!! There is such a positive energy in knowing that I get to make decisions in the next several years with this sort of brand new slate, and that I truly am the future leadership of Reform Judaism!!!! I mean, I knew all of this already, but it was so refreshing to have this ephiphany in liturgy class...to know that what i ma studying and what I am doing really has a greater significance to it than just me earning grades and getting training for a profession.

Reform Judaism, I am proud to say, has come to be a kind of Judaism that deals a lot with choice. Choice through knowledge. I am learning so much this year, and i know that i may not always do or feel comfortable with all that I am learning and the new customs that are old traditions for some but new for me. But that's the beauty of choice...when you know what things are for, why they are there, and what their purpose is, that's when you get to make your choice. Is this right for me? Do I want to be this type of rabbi or that type of rabbi? In cantorial class the other day, someone made a comment about knowing why we do things so that with confidence we can say "I understand that we do it this way, but I CHOOSE not to do that." I think that this year I forgot all about my love of choice in Reform Judaism. Like I'm afraid to reject things that are uncomfortable for me because I am learning that they are in place for a reason. Just because they are there and NOW I know about things I didn't know before, doesn't neccesarily mean that I have to chose to do those things. I can't be afraid of choosing what feels right for me. Because if I am not empowered to make choices that are right for me, as a future Jewish clergy person, how will others gain the confidence to do it for themselves? None of us should be afraid of making choices that are different from others...in school, in work, in life.

Posted by Elizabeth at 8:20 PM
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Monday, November 29, 2004
Shtuff
Now Playing: Jackson 5 - ABC
Well, on Saturday night we had our second Beit Cafe (talent show) and Joel Nickerson and I MC'd the event. It was tons of fun!!! The acts were are really great and we saw some serious talent!!! Joel and I had a lot of fun telling jokes, dancing, and performing our interperative trope scenes. Trope, for those of you that don't know, are the signs that tell you how to chant the Torah, and Joel and I decided to make up a love story, chanting only trope. It was quite funny, if I do say so myself. The cantor that teaches us non-cantorial students trope had specifically requested that we do it, so we were more than happy to oblige her!!! I posted new pictures that show a lot of the stuff I did that night, so be sure to check it out!!!

Tonight I went to a Weight Watchers meeting after not having been in about three weeks. The problem is that we have these professional forums right before my meetings, and I really usually enjoy these forums at school (and well...they are mostly required) so sometimes I just don't get to my meetings as much as I would like. But I had to go tonight just because I hadn't been in so long. Last time, I gained a few hundred grams, and this time I lost a few hundred. I have officially hit a plateau...and it's not GOOD! I can't seem to lose weight in this country!!!!! Now true, i'm not really gaining...I'm just sort of maintaining, but it's so frustrating. I am working out a ton, really trying to watch what I am eating...yet, my body is sort of like: forget you, i'll do what I want! Which, apparently, is just not losing weight.
Now, I know it's sounds obsessive, talking about weight loss on an online journal...but the truth is that I think it's much better being concerned about it and thinking about it rather than just letting it go. People who have been in WW (which i'm finding out everyday is more and more of you) know what I'm going through...the joys and the frustrations and the benefits of it all. I just wish I could figure out how to start getting on the LOSING side again. Any suggestions?????

Other than that, not much else is new. I can't believe it's almost December already. This month is going to be busy with end of the semester stuff (which means PAPERS!!!!), my brother coming to visit for two weeks, finals, etc. So hopefully I can just stay chill and get all my work done, and keep cracking the jokes and smiling....well, that last part shouldn't be hard...it's what I do!!!

Speaking of which...I'm off to go study for my liturgy test like it's my job....oh wait....

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:41 PM
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Friday, November 26, 2004
An UPDATE!!!!
Mood:  lazy
Now Playing: Counting Crows- Big Yellow Taxi
Okay, I'm a bad, bad person. I know. I haven't updated since the beginning of the month, and it's been killing you...I know!!! Well, much has happened, and I've been so busy that I've barely had two minutes to myself, let alone time to sit down and write a whole entry. But, now it's catch-up time!!
A few weeks ago the president of our college came and spent the weekend with us here. He's a very personable and lovely man, and I enjoyed getting to know him. I think he enjoyed getting to know me too...let's just say, we had a few *funny* interactions!!! Never a dull moment around here!
I also went to the Israeli rabbinical ordination that weekend. It was very different from American HUC ordinations, but it was very nice and very emotional (especially when I kept thinking about my own ordination).
Last week, my entire class went on a trip up north to see the mystical town of Tzfat, and to spend a few nights in Haifa. Of course, there were many other stops along the way which were quite enjoyable, and the bus ride was entertaining as always, but it was really Haifa that I loved most. We spent one day at the Leo Baeck Institute and it was really a beautiful (with a beautiful view of the Mediteranean Sea) and interesting educational center. I stayed there and worked out, and then we had shabbat services and dinner there that night. And unlike Jerusalem, bars and clubs are actually open in Haifa on Friday night, so about 10 of us went out that night to a fun bar and had a good time. Coming back to Jerusalem was a little difficult because it had been such a beautiful mini-vacation, but it was also nice to come back home.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It wasn't as hard to be out of the US for this holiday as I thought it would be. My family has never made a HUGE deal out of it, so it's not like I was missing some longstanding family tradition or anything. But I was lucky enough to go to a beautiful Thanksgiving Dinner at my friend Josh, Joel, and David's apartment with about 15 other classmates. We had such a good time, and spent a little time talking about what we were thankful for and stuff and it was just a really nice time to reflect on the year so far, my life, my family and my friends, and all sorts of warm fuzziness!
I was supposed to go to a kibbutz this weekend to help lead services for the High school NFTY exchange students here for the semester, but they ended up not needing me so I get to catch-up on some sleep and some work today!! WOOHOO!!!

The weather in Jerusalem has taken an unexpected turn for the worse. All of a sudden it became winter. Now, it's not that it's SOOOO cold (hello I'm from the midwest, I understand cold winters!) but it's that it is soooo windy here and that the buildings are not meant to keep in heat...in fact, they are meant to do the opposite. Because Israel is so HOT for much of the year, the buildings are designed to keep cool and keep heat out. That, and my building only turns on heat from like 5-10 at night. So I went out and bought some space heaters (with the help of Sara Reichenbach and her car!!!) They aren't great, but at least I'm staying pretty warm at night. It also rains a lot here!!! I guess winter here is sort of like early March in the states..but it's just so COLD!!! BRRRRR!!!!

Okay, I'm off to go be productive before shabbat!
Happy Thanksgiving and have a great weekend!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 3:03 PM
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Tuesday, November 9, 2004
" I bent my wookie"
Now Playing: Indigo Girls- Closer to Fine
So yesterday I burnt my hand. Don't worry...I'm fine!!!!! I was rounding a corner trying to be very careful with my newly poured boiling hot water and my friend Seth accidently bumped into me. The water went all over my hand. At first, my friend David went to go get me some ice, but apparently you don't put ice on a burn. So then I went looking for a first-aid kit, because the burning feeling wasn't going away. Well after going from Na'amah, to Rose, to Dina at the front desk, to the Security Guard station, I found the first-aid kit. While looking through it with only one hand, I realized that there was no burn cream in there. Great. By then, I had amassed a crowd at the front entrance area of HUC (which included some random woman who kept telling me the most un-helpful stuff about my burn). Finally it was decided that I should go to the pharmacy down the street, but I didn't have my wallet with me so Cantor Tamar was nice enough to accompany me and spoke wonderful hebrew to the pharmacist. All I remember them saying was "Acshav!" which means now (in reference to my immediate need for the cream) and something about putting it on 3-4 times a day. I was literally almost on the verge of tears, my hand was hurting so much, and so it was nice that someone else took care of the situation for me, seeing as how I just wasn't with it so much at that specific point in time. Much thanks to everyone's involvement yesterday.
I am happy to report that my hand feels fine today, and there was no blistering or scars or anything. WHEW!!!! Hey, at least I didn't have to go to the emergency room!!!!

In other news, I've been working out like crazy lately and I've actually really been enjoying it. My workout buddy, Rochelle, is in the states this week for her mom's bat mitzvah, but she'll be back soon enough (and hopefully impressed at my ever-increasing endurance levels). I don't know...it's like, for the first time in my life, I can really run and I can run for a long time, and I can walk so fast for like an hour or so and it doesn't make me unbearably tired...and it's a nice feeling. It totally relieves stress, it boosts my energy levels, and it is a good end to my day. Those health magazines really don't lie (well, at least not about this)....the benefits are great!!! WHo knows, maybe I'll even start training for a marathon or something....well, maybe not just yet....but someday....someday.....

Sometimes when I'm doing errands around town, I stop and think about the fact that I am in this totally foreign country, doing such normal things like paying my bills, or having copies of keys made (for my roof, people...don't worry, it's nothing illegal!) or ordering food at a restaurant and doing it all entirely in a different language. It's really a very liberating and exhilirating feeling. I like that my life is here. I feel comfortable living this life this year. I'm not so sure if I'd be totally comfortable if it were longer than a year...but the year's been good to me so far, and I can only see it becoming more and more comfortable as the year goes on.

The president of our college is coming to Jerusalem this week (in fact, he may already be in town) and it'll be interesting to meet him. He's addressing us on Thursday, and then we have a dinner with him on Friday night. I'm sure I'll write more about that later, once I actually get to meet him and hear what he has to say to us.

It seems like a lot of my classmates have been getting sick lately. There's a stomach thing going around that I have managed to avoid so far, and bronchitis, and just general yuckiness. When I was at IU, I used to call this the mid-semester blah's. Our bodies are just tired, and we don't take care of ourselves well enough, and don't have breaks in sight, in order to recouperate. But, and those of you that don't know me so well (or have never lived with me) might be surprised by this, I will never, EVER sacrifice my sleep time. I WILL get a full 7-8 hours of sleep a night...no matter what. That's why I'm not a procrastinator...I must figure and use all my time wisely so that I can get enough sleep every night. No staying up till dawn doing work for me. Now, admittedly, I often will get up early and do some work that I can do quickly in the morning, or review for a test(because that's when I am my freshest) and I have always been like that, ever since high school. But I think that my sleep habits are what help me from getting really sick. It's a great way to take care of yourself and ensure that your body gets the break it needs from your daily activities.

Speaking of which...why am I not in bed yet?????
G'night...I'm off to dreamland!!!! More updates to come soon!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 11:42 PM
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Sunday, November 7, 2004
This is my life....embrace it!!!
Now Playing: Violent Femmes -Blister in the Sun
So on saturday at lunch, Yossi the intern (cause I can't pronounce or spell his last name..and that's what he'll forever be to me) came over and asked us all an interesting question. WHy don't more of us offer to help read torah on Saturdays. My first inclination was to say, well, my hebrew and my experience reading torah isn't good enough yet to do that. But I didn't say that. Because that's a stupid thing to say. THIS IS WHAT I AM HERE TO LEARN!!! I need to face the fact that my profession involved reading hebrew texts, reading from the Torah, chanting torah, reading haftorah, etc. Just because I haven't done it since i was 13 is no excuse for me any longer. There are lots of things I'm good at, and will really help bring to the rabbinate, but reading torah is not one of them yet. Reading hebrew, in general, is what i consider to be my biggest hebrew weakness. So I need to start admitting that I am not good at it, and start practicing at getting better. That's what this year is for. That's what the next five years are for. That's what the next fifty years are for. This is my life, and this will be part of my job. So instead of avoiding it, I'm choosing to embrace it!!!!
My first order of business was talking to the cantor at HUC and telling her all of this, and telling her that I WOULD like to read torah some Saturday next month (maybe even when Jeffrey's here) just to get the practice in of preparing for it, and doing it, before I get graded on it (which I will be in the spring). My second order of business is to start really practicing reading hebrew aloud every night, or every other night or so. I know that I am smart enough to do this, I just need the practice.....it's not going to learn itself!!!!!! So I'll start with liturgical pieces, biblical passages, and even just modern hebrew newspapers. Hopefully I'll have the discipline to really stick with this.
Third, I need to relax and really start embracing it. I won't be a hebrew machine overnight, and I need to set realistic goals for myself. And I do have a long ways to go, but it's not like i need to know it all by tomorrow. Slow and steady wins the race....

No other news really. Life is normal as usual. Still loving J'lem and my wonderful classmates, and the program. Now, I just need to kick it up a notch....BAM!!!!!
(did I just really refer to Emeril????)

Going to bed before another long day!!!!!! It's great, but it's exhausting!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 11:41 PM
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Saturday, November 6, 2004
Realizations
Now Playing: Dido - Thank you
I had the strangest feeling yesterday. It was like, I don't know who I am anymore. Not like my personality or myself or anything, but like...what I used to be. My friend Phyllis received the new Jewish Studies Newsletter from IU (don't ask me why) and there was this article about me on it with a picture. Well, I actually was able to find it online, and as I was reading it, I realized that my life right now is so different from what it was just six months ago. Last year I won the Piser prize for being the most outstanding senior in Jewish Studies continuing on in the field (specific, I know). And the article talked a little about the prize and a lot about all the things I had done over the past four years, which looking back...was sort of a lot. Now those of you that know me well know that I do not like to brag, I do not like to boast, and nine times out of ten I would much rather be modest than arrogant. But damn....I was hot stuff! Besides the whole PBK and summa cum laude thing, I definately was super involved as an RA and student govt. member, worked with the chancellor on long-range planning, was spechler's TA...yada, yada, yada. I have to say that I was a big fish in a HUGEEEEEEE pond. I mean, IU has 40,000 some students and I always felt like I knew everyone on that campus and they knew me. Students, admin., faculty, res. staff...etc.
SO what's going on here? Why do I feel like such a small fish in a small pond? No, not even a pond...we're like a rain puddle here we're that small. Is it just that this is grad school and you have to work 10x harder just to even get noticed every once in a while? Is it that we all came from being the best of the best in what we were doing (and i know we were...I've talked to lots of people about this) and now we don't really stand out because we are all the best at what it is we do? Or is it that, technically, I'm just a "freshman" again, and that I need to spend the next five years working on becoming hot stuff again????

When I read that article about me, it was like I had forgotten all of that about me. I've been here for four months and i don't even recognize my old life...
I knew that I would come to Israel and struggle with a lot of stuff, but I really just thought it would be all related to Judaism, or the rabbinate, or school...not with my new role in all of this. And my lack of what I once was....
I'm sure this also relates back to my feelings of non-mentorship in this program so far. Maybe I would feel unique here or accomplished or something if i had someone who knew me more personally, like a faculty or administrator or something. Not like a friend, because like I said...I don't say these things to my friends...they don't need to know about my past accomplishments. We're all starting new, and that's what matters now, not all the old stuff. All that should really matter to them is my here and now...I mean, ultimately, isn't that the really the only thing that should matter to us in life?
Anyway...it just felt weird to read an article about someone, and then realize that it was really about you.

Shabbat has been nice so far. I had a lovely diner last night with friends (new and old) and then went to services this morning to hear Leah and Marcy sing...beautiful job ladies!!!!
Then, we just had a seriously impromptu lunch at our place..it was so random, but really turned out very nice indeed. Now I'm off to nap a little or do a little bit of work before tonight.
Have a lovely weekend y'all!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:20 PM
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Monday, November 1, 2004
Professional Forums, Voting/Election
Now Playing: I'm Every Woman - Chaka Khan
Mondays are my longest days of the whole week. Not only do I have t'fillah in the morning, but then I go through very intensive classes all day with no break (except to scarf down my lunch and work on whatever homework I need to do during lunch time). T'fillah (prayer) is nice in the morning, but my day is just so long after that. And then, on alternating weeks, we have something called Professional Forum. Well, it's most every week...but sometimes it's optional. Now, after a long day i know that i am tired and cranky, so I really try to make the most of these professional forums because they aren't really like class. I understand that their purpose is to educate me on what the profession of being a rabbi will be like, and some neccesary tools for that, etc. etc. However, sometimes it just feels useless, or it ends up being a forum of hostility and complaints. For example, tonight we talked about the changing role of the clergy. That's not what we actually talked about, though. I mean, we touched on it here and there...but mostly we just listened to three different people's opinions on what one should do in their job, or in their chosen profession. And then came the hostility. Questions from my classmates, defensive responses from the panel, stupid comments, etc. Some days, I really just can't handle it. All of the negativity and hostility. I want my classmates to not make every session with teachers and administrators a political arena for complaints. I want the educators and administrators at my school to stop being so defensive and really start telling me what is most important in this profession. I want these people to be my role models....no, I crave it! I desperately want someone to take me under their wing and be my professal/spiritual/educational mentor. But, I'm learning more and more that it probably won't happen this year. And I understand that they don't do it because some people in my class aren't ready for it by any means, and it would be disasterous for them...but I know myself pretty well, and I have to say, i think it would be useful for me. Oh well...maybe I'll have to seek it out myself!!!!
Then, after professional forums, I definately go to my english-speaking weight watchers meeting (which means I'm extra cranky on Monday from very carefully watching what I eat that day...since I weigh in at night). First of all, I love the meeting group I'm in. The women are all mostly older, mostly immigrated from America, and they are so funny and very sweet. After having gone here for about two months or so, they definately feel comfortable around me, I know tons of the people in the group quite well, and we have a good time. The weight itself hasn't come off the way it did when I was back in the states (where it was practically flying off my body), but that's okay too. At least I'm not gaining!!! And I have lost about 5-6 pounds since i've been here (which is good since my goal for the year is about 30 pounds). Anyway, so that's sort of a nice end to my Mondays.

So tomorrow, November 2nd, is a HUGE day!!!! It's my friend Michael's birthday!!!!!!
STAM!!!!!!! (It means "just kidding" in hebrew)
It's also Election day!!!! I voted while I was home over succot break and I cannot begin to tell all of you how very important it is to get out there and vote your conscience! As a person who holds a B.A. in political science and who's mother ran for state representative when I was younger, I can honestly say that voting is the most American and democratic thing you can do in your life. It's also good to feel like you are really contributing to what's going on in our government (even though we have this messed up electoral college system) and to have the right to complain about things when you don't like them, and enjoy things when you do like what's going on in our government.
I, for one, am really very nervous. I told some of my friends that if Bush won, i might not come back to the states. Don't worry...i'll be back...i may just be living in Canada...hahahah. And although a lot of people say that Kerry is better than Bush, I disagree with that statement (personally). I really like Kerry's politics. He and i are very aligned on a lot of the same issues. And, frankly, nothing would give me better joy than to see him elected as our next president.
Anyway, I think it's important to get out there and vote (especially if you are young...the numbers of young people who don't vote are atrocious) and pray for the best outcome possible. Whomsoever the people choose (in a totally legitimate and fair election) is what our democratic system is all about. But I might just pray for a certain outcome anyway.....

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:17 PM
Updated: Monday, November 1, 2004 10:27 PM
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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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