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Elizabeth's Blog
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Politics and Relationships (but not together!)
Now Playing: Bette Middler- The Rose
Today was an excellent Shabbat. I truly feel rested, which is more than I can say for some other Shabbatot that I've had recently. But today was just beautiful. For one thing, the weather is gorgeous right now. We've gone from the threat of snow and cold yucky gray days, to beautiful sunny 70 degree weather with clear skies and yummy smells of spring. How could you not be happy and content on a day like this?

Second, I finally cashed in on my "Sex & the City" day. Back in Septemeber, I paid money at a silent auction (for charity) to have a day of watching a "Sex and the City" season with four friends at my classmate's apartment (who own the DVDs). It took me a while, but we finally did it today. We had bagels and lox, tuna and egg salad, and hand-dipped strawberries and wine. It was exquisite. I decided to invite some girls that I truly enjoy and that I often don't get to hang out with.
The meal started off with us talking about very causal things. But then, we started talking about Palestinean and Israeli relations (because one of the girls took a tour of East Jerusalem yesterday) and things started to get a little heated. We talked about human rights, and America's involvement, and other countries interests in the Middle East. That's when I had this huge realization. There is conflict EVERYWHERE. Including at the lunch party we were having. We all had different opinions on the situation and on elements of the situation, and that's why these issues are so difficult to deal with. We are all human beings with our own opinions and ideas and it's hard to find a middle ground in conflict.
Then we began talking about 9/11 events and how that has changed America and even the way we think about the Arab world and the rammifications of that day. It was sad and heavy (on a day that felt very light and springy) but it was important. These things are important to remember and to bring up and to stuggle with. Otherwise, we just forget, and we become numb and lifeless.

It also made me think about an issue that i've been struggling with lately: Zionism. Last night the President of our college spoke to 100 high school American NFTY exchange students (EIE program) about Zionism, and I led a discussion group with about 10 students and we talked about the role of Israel in our lives. Although I was more than happy to talk about it, it's still an issue for me. I didn't grow up in a particularly strong Zionist household. Judaism was always important, and being concerned about the state of affairs in Israel was important in my synagoge, but the actual idea of being in, living in, or knowing much about Israel was never stressed to me at home, at synagogue, or even at camp. And I don't blame anyone for that...not by any means. But as a future Jewish leader (in a movement that is really trying to reintegrate Zionism back into it's agenda) I need to think about what Zionism and the land of Israel mean to me. For instance, I would come back here in a heartbeat...no matter what the situation may be like politically, socially, or religiously. I feel that it is my duty to support Israel and it's land and inhabitants in whatever way I can. And although I value people's opinions and different views, I no longer feel the need to completely listen to people's views on Israel if they've never been here, never lived here, and never experienced it's richness, beauty, hardships and struggles. I want them to experience it for THEMSELVES! I guess I'm beginning to realize that I am a Zionist. I support the building and maintaing of a peaceful Jewish state in the land of Israel. I think supporting Israel in every sense of the word is one of my biggest responsibilities as a Reform Jew and as a Jewish leader. And I think it's important to promote that idea for others.


So then, we started watching "Sex and the City". I forgot how much I loved it. We watched a few funny episodes (Charlotte's Jewish wedding is absoultely hysterical) and then we watched the last few episodes of the last season, that are a little more serious. And it made me think too (of course). It made me really miss my friends at IU. Particularly my friends Kari, and Karen, and Ashley and Jenny T. who were really my support for the past few years. The more touching episodes made me think of them. We were there for each other through a lot...lots of laughs and good times, and lots of cries and hard times. It really made me miss them.
There's this line in the last episode that talks about all the relationships that people have in their lives. "Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."
And this made me so happy. Because I truly feel that. Living in a place that is so far from my loved ones has made me realize how important everyone is in my life. My parents. My brother. My grandmother. Michael, Phyllis, and David. My friends. My mentors. My life.
But I've also been able to experience new friendships...and even new loves. A new love of the unexpected and the unknown. A new love for my classmates and friends. And most importantly, for me. I've learned so much about myself this year, and I've really learned to love myself..in all ways. I love that I love it here. I love that I miss home. I love that I struggle with my life here.
And I know that by finding out who I am and truly accepting it all, the relationships that I have in my life will only get stronger. And people will love and do love me for the me that I love! And that's the greatest blessing of all......

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:50 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 11, 2010 9:15 PM
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Mikor Baruch
Today was awesome.

Every Wednesday we HUCers drag our tired bodies out of bed and come to school for our "Israel Seminar Day". It's a day when we don't just have to sit in the classroom (although we do a bit of that too) and learn but rather we get to go out into Israel and learn about different aspects of it's culture, language, religiousity, politics, etc. Lately, it's been a little stagnant, feeling like we got stuck in this routine where we go to school, sign up for a mini-field trip and return to debrief.
I thought today was going to be like that too....but it wasn't. I mean, yes, we did meet and get lectured to, and then go off around Jerusalem, and then come back to debrief...but today was just cooler somehow.

We all broke up into small groups of our own choosing, and we went into different neighborhoods around the city in order to talk to people. Not just to be taught, but to actually listen to them...to take a survey of the socio-economic conditions of the area, the inhabitans views on politics in Israel (which are always complex and ever-changing), and to figure out what people's lives were like in these different areas.
I had an incredible group. My friends Dave Reiner, Rachel Bregman, Noam Katz, Joel Simonds, and Kevin Kleinman and I went together to a religious community called M'kor Baruch. We started off by walking around together in a big group, going into some stores to check stuff out and try to talk to people, but then we decided it would be better if we split up. Kevin and Joel went into a Yeshiva and had a cool experience watching what they were doing and seeing what was in it. Rachael and Dave walked around and went into a store where a man taught them a Midrash when they inquired about economic conditions.
Noam and I had experiences too!!! We met this lovely old woman at a bus stop who was very sweet, but wasn't so helpful in the information department. Then, we went into this guy's office under the guise of wanting to look at apartments in the area. This guy was a tax collector and had lived in the area his whole life. He was so fascinating. He was also willing to talk to us about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we wanted to know. It was really cool.

Now, I have to admit that Noam's hebrew is much better than mine. But I was finding that I was understanding a lot of what he was saying, and I was doing well enough communicating with him on my own. No one in that area of town spoke any English...which was great. It forced me to use my Hebrew and that was really cool too.

After that, we met up with the rest of our group and did a little more talking and walking and observing and then headed back downtown to eat lunch and walk around before we had to head back to school.


I just really love what we did today. Jerusalem, and Israel for that matter, is such a diverse place and because I tend to spend about 8-10 hours each day at school, I rarely get a chance to see it all on a regular basis. I live in a very secular, english-speaking, yuppie area and it was nice to see a different type of neighborhood. It was also great to have an excuse to interact with Israelis. I'm so sheltered here, in this little bubble of HUC and although I mostly love it, I would hate to regret not getting to meet more Israeli's this year. I mean, I have less than 4 months left, and I don't feel like I've truly experienced it all, lived it all, or seen it all. And I know that I can't possibly do it all in the next few months. But, I also can't get lazy. Now, is a critical time for me to do this. I know the city and the language and the culture well enough to be confident and to understand my interactions with Israeli's at this point. So I can't just stay in my bubble because it's easy and it's what I know. I still need to challenge myself all the time and get out of my comfort zone and experience it all...because trust me, there's a lot to experience!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:04 PM
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Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Struggles
Now Playing: Shawn Colvin- Sonny came home
Some days, I just struggle.

I struggle with it all. I mean, that's what I'm here for, right? That's what I'm doing in rabbinical school...taking time to understand and learn and to figure myself and the Jewish people out in order to help others do the same. And I know that there's nothing more important to Judaism (or at least Reform Judaism) than the struggle. We need to stuggle with it and with ourselves each day in order to always better ourselves. And even Jacob wrestled with God. I know all this.
But some days it's hard.

Like today, I just kept thinking...how did I get here? What am I doing here? I feel like rabbinical school was just this momentum in my life and for a while I was in charge of it and had control over it, until one day i realized that it really had control over me. All the stuff getting ready for it, looking over and gathering stuff for the application (all the while just thinking, let's see where this goes) and then filling out the application and interviewing and waiting and getting in and going to israel....and now HERE! And here I am and I sort of don't remember how I got here.

I'm starting research for my D'var Torah that's in about a month. And I was in the library today looking at all sorts of commentaries and texts and getting nowhere and feeling frustrated and confused and I thought.....wow, I REALLY don't know how to do this. And I'm not used to feeling that way in my life. That's when I realized that rabbinical school has made me feel that way a lot this year. I don't know what I'm doing. But I always learn. I feel so much more confident in calling myself a "rabbinical student" now than I did at the beginning of the year. And I know after the D'var Torah process is over, I'll feel more confident there too...but right now, it's hard, and i'm struggling.

In my portion, Vayikra, it says "And he was called"...talking about Moses being called to recieve the laws of sacrifice. Was I called to this profession, or did I just happen upon it? And if I was called to it...why do I stuggle? Why do I feel like this is sometimes the one and only thing I could see myself doing, and other times I feel like this is so weird and such a bizarre thing to make my life out of. I feel so removed from my choice to enter into this profession because I get so caught up in the biblical grammar, and hebrew verbs, and i can't see what i'm doing.

I know this is right for me. I do. There is no where else I'd rather be than here. And I love it..i can honestly say I've loved my experience here so far and I would never trade it for anything. But still, I struggle. I struggle with my Judaism, and with my beliefs, and with God, and with my studies, and with myself. And most days it's a joy to struggle and to question and to discover new things. And some days... it's hard. And I have to remember that it will not always feel so bad, and that the hard days are good too. Maybe even better and more fruitful than the easy days. But sometimes, it's a struggle.

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:48 PM
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Thursday, February 10, 2005
The "Elizabeth" Dilema
Now Playing: "A Mighty Wind" soundtrack
"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet..." ~WS


I've been thinking a lot lately about names. Well, actually for the past 7 months. And no, I'm not pregnant!!!! I've been thinking about my name.

Everyone here knows me as Liz Wood. But my entire life I have been Elizabeth. In fact, when I was younger and my brother called me Liz all the time, I hated it so much that I trained him to call me Elizabeth. And various friends throughout the years called me Liz..but they didn't do it on a permanent basis and it never really stuck. I always introduced myself as Elizabeth and thought of myself as Elizabeth. That's who I am.
Then something happened in college. I started experimenting with "Liz". At certain events or in certain places I tried it out. I think this was becasue my very, very close friends Michael and Phyllis Sommer called me Liz. And part of me really liked it. Maybe it's because no one else called me Liz, so it was like their special name for me. Heck, their son calls me "Auntie Liz" beause it's easier for a 3 year old to say that than "Aunt Elizabeth".
Then this year, I started living with my roommate Leah who knew me through Michael and Phyllis and knew me as Liz. When we got here to Israel, she kept calling me Liz, and I thought...okay, I'll try it. I still occasionally introduce myself as Elizabeth, but mostly I introduce myself now as Liz Wood.
I struggled with this at the beginning of the year, thinking, well I need to make a decision NOW, because these are my future collegues who will know me the rest of my life and call me either Liz or Elizabeth. Although I was a bit uncomfortable with it as a permanent answer, I went to Liz.
EVERYONE here knows me as Liz. I mean, when my brother came to visit and he called me Elizabeth (because I trained him so well, he can't bring himself to call me anything but that) people snickered and laughed and teased us. And the more I've been thinking about it, the more I love that my name is Elizabeth, and not Liz.

Here's what really broke the camel's back: We got e-mails from the college asking us to verify information that they were sending on to donors and stuff, and they wrote my name as LIZ WOOD. Then, I realized that they always use Liz. The institution, without me even telling them, began assuming that I am Liz, and not Elizabeth...even though I write Elizabeth on absolutely everything official and unofficial that I give to HUC. That's when I realized that this Liz thing has gotten a little out of hand.
So what's my conclusion???

Liz is okay for my friends and close loved ones to call me. Even faculty here and rabbis that I know and people in the community. Liz is okay. But it's not my name. I'm Elizabeth. And i will always continue to introduce myself as Elizabeth. And although my classmates and future collegues may always refer to me as "Liz"...that's okay. I see it as a term of enderment, and closeness. But it's not the real me. I'm really Elizabeth, and I think it's a beautiful name, and so what if it's not as easy as Liz or if it seems too formal. It's my name, and I don't want to give it up.

So call me what you want (within reason) and expect that it won't always be black or white whether I go by Liz or Elizabeth. (Don't ever ask me to pick one over the other.) But know that either one is acceptable, and I have come to love and appreciate both for what they stand for.

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:45 PM
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Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Snow and stuff....
Now Playing: Mike and the Mechanics - The living years
Today, in Jerusalem....it snowed. Now, it only lasted about 20 minutes, and it was mixed in with freezing rain, and it didn't stick at all on the ground..but it WAS beautiful. And it was so weird to see snow in Jerusalem, or even Israel for that matter, which is a country that I associate with being hot and dry (it is the middle east after all!!!)

Now, I understand how cool it was for a lot of my California counterparts to see the snow (because well, they don't get to see it that often, or at least, they barely ever get to watch it fall). My friend Karen even started crying a little, and that was really touching to watch. But, aside from the fact that it was very pretty, I wasn't all that excited about it. I mean, i'm from Indiana. I don't think I've ever experienced a winter that didn't get at least a little snowfall (even if it was only for a few days). And on top of that, those of you who know me, you know that I absoultely HATE snow and ice. It's dangerous to walk and drive in, it's so cold, it gets all ugly and slushy after a few days...it's just no good. Frankly, I think I was looking forward to a winter without snow this year. My midwestern classmates agreed with me....it wasn't anything for US to freak out about, it seemed really normal.

Plus, on top of all of that...the snow began falling heavily while I was in the middle of giving a presentation in Hebrew class. We had been talking about sexual education in Israel in our class, so I did a presentation on what I used to do last year as Human Sexuality TA at Indiana Univ. I even handed out condoms!!!! But alas, it didn't prevent people from getting up in the middle of my presentation to run outside and play in the snow. Once their snow fetivities ended, people came back in and were more than happy to listen to the rest of my presentation. In fact, I even think they quite enjoyed it. But there was definately something lost in it, due to the snow situation.


Being who I am, I of course, have discovered friendships that go beyond my peers or with teachers in the classroom. I was watching some of my peers around me connecting with faculty members on a more personal, one-on-one level and it made me think....why didn't I do that already? I've always been one to form relationships with others based on my interest in them as a person, what I think they have to give me as a person, and what I think I can give to them....regardless of who they are, what their job is, or how they feel they "should" relate to me. I'm talking about people like Mr. Meister or Ms. Anderson, or even Dr. Spechler. People with whom I had academic relationships in High school and in college, but whose friendship and mentorship I saught out on my own. These people have proven to be some of the most significant people in my life (besides family and close friends) and I know that they always will be. And I knew a few months ago that I wanted a relationship like that with people here, but I didn't seek it out, and I'm not sure why. Then, when I saw my friends forming those types of relationships with faculty at school, rabbis in the Jerusalem community, and others, I thought....this is stupid. I should be doing this too!!!! Not because I need to, but because I want to, and I wasn't taking the time to really think about my needs and what I wanted.
Well, luckily...I think I've found it. I set aside some time each week to "hang out" with a faculty member that I really like, that I have stuff in common with, and that I think will prove to be a good friend in the future. And so far, I've really enjoyed that time. It somehow helps me. Like, i can talk about anything or everything or nothing, and it's just a good time to connect with another person who understands my situation this year, who is getting to know me and understand me, and who can help me see things I don't see, or find new perspective and meaning on the things I do know and see.

I hate using the word "mentor" because it seems so fake and rigid. Mr. Meister was like a mentor to me, but we shared so much more than just that, so I was always uncomfortable using that term because it seemed to cheat our relationship. It's a category and a label, and I don't like to label things that seem beyond labeling. No two relationships are ever alike. So while I see the need for categorization in order to organize things in our life....I never wanted to put that label on him, and i certainly don't want to use that label here. She's not my mentor, she's not my friend. She's a little of both and something else in between. In truth, I don't know yet what she is...so how could I possibly explain it. I just know that right now, I am glad that I decided to start fulfilling my needs of connecting to others that intrigue me and that I want to get to know better and spend time with. So far, it's never proven to hurt me in life...only help me and who I am and who I struggle to be and become.

May we all be so lucky to find people in our lives that we have a special connection to, that we learn from, that we share ourselves with, and that we grow from.

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:18 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2005 6:39 PM
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Sunday, February 6, 2005
Vagina Monologues
Now Playing: Rain, outside my window
Last night, I and about 15 of my classmates performed the Vagina Monologues at HUC. What an experience!!!! Now, I've done some theatre in my life, but this was unlike any other theatre that I've ever experienced. For one, we all had a huge part in what we were producing. We gave input, had very open auditions, and collaborated on everything from the 'zine we published, to the causes we were giving money to, to doing costumes, makeup and decorations. This was a truley a "group" project, and I couldn' have enjoyed it more.
Secondly, for some women in our group, this was the first time they had ever performed in any kind of "serious" acting atmosphere. And this is a really hard topic to just jump right in to. I mean, I take for granted how comfortable I am with all of this material, but for others it was a real struggle. But they knew just how important it was to be a part of it all, so they let themselves struggle, and they grew from it. Watching me and my castmates grow during this production into confident women and actresses was an incredible blessing.
Third, I cried on stage. I was performing a piece about women in Islamabad, Pakistan who are victims of abuse by their husbands, and I cried. I didn't think I would, but I was in the moment and I was thinking about all the women that I was representing, at that second, who would never EVER have the chance to speak out like I was doing. Who would never have the chance to say the things I said last night, and who had been tortured or who had died as a result of abuse, neglect,or worse. I pulled it off, but after I got off stage (and the two other girls who were in the scene with me got off stage) we had a crying moment. Sometimes, theatre is not all fun and games, but there is an importance to it that needs to get conveyed to the audience. Well, I don't know if they got it last night....but I know I'll never forget it.

Finally, it felt good to be back on the stage again. The last time I was in a real production was about 6 years ago...and until last night, I forgot how much I missed it. There's so much work that goes in to brining a character or set of characters to an audience, but the rewards are incredible. Although I'm not going to drop out of rabbinical school and become a professional actress (as someone suggested I ought to, last night) it doesn't mean that I don't have room for both roles in my life. I want to make my career out of Judaism, and I want to leave and eat and breathe my Judaism....but that doesn't mean that I can't have hobbies.
You know how people always say: Take time for yourself, do what makes you happy.

Well, I guess I've figured out that this is also what makes me happy, and I shouldn't give it up just because I feel too busy or too tired, or too burntout on other stuff. Do what you love and love what you do!!! I know I'm really going to start trying to do just that......

Posted by Elizabeth at 8:49 AM
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Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Something's better on the other side.....
Now Playing: John Mayer - No such thing
What a week it's been. No, what a few weeks it's been. I think I have really understood the meaning lately, of feeling "stress" in my life. It's when too many things happen all at once, and although you think you know how to handle all of them...you aren't able to.
I came back from break and was thrown right back into a rigorous academic schedule that was stressful enough. That, and I've had two guests...which always requires a little extra attention. But I've loved having Immerman and Phyllis here!!!! That, and I lead services this week with Leah, my roommate. They were stressful, but came together beautifully and we had a great time...and i'd like to think we did a pretty good job of bringing a meaningful prayer experience to others. But over the past week, that took up a huge amount of my energy and time just practicing and perfecting everything. That, and I've had rehearsal for the "Vagina Monologues" (which is going up this Saturday Night!!!) like crazy. And my brother had back surgery on Monday. The operation was simple and went very well and he's recovering nicely.
So as it turns out, everything is playing out nicely, even though I felt so bogged down these past few weeks. There are some really good things that came out of the past few weeks too.
First, I have the most incredible support here and in my life back home. I cannot begin to thank my friend Karen enough for her support, constantly. And my parents and friends at home (I'm looking at you Abby!) were awesome too. That's just one of the neatest feelings ever. I mean, I honestly think I've never been so "stressed" in my life...and certain people really recognzied that and were totally there for me. Thanks everyone....it made it easier for me.
Second, it taught me that no matter the ups and downs...life goes on. Part of me always needs to remember that no matter how bad or hard my problems or life seem, it is all SO relative. Things could always be worse. Life could always be harder. Problems may never be resolved. Luckily, the mere speck of dust upon time and space that I am is both for good and bad. My ability to be here and do change and have an affect on others is finite...but everything around me is finite too. That's why living in the moment and appreciating what you have is so important to me.
Finally, i realized that it's important to tell people the way you feel about them. I mean, I think this is always important, but in times of stress, it's much more important...for our own sake...to tell those that we care about just how much we do. I told two people this week, whom I had never said it to before, how much their friendship meant to me. I told them how I think that me just knowing them makes me a better person, creates meaning in my life, and helps me see them for who they are and what they have to contribute in life. And although I'm sure it made them feel good, it made me feel good too. Try it. Just even one person. Tell them how much they mean to you. You'll be amazed how great it will make your day feel!

So the moral of the story is....stress ends. Live life. And trust me, you won't be sorry for it!!!!


Posted by Elizabeth at 5:09 PM
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Friday, January 21, 2005

Based on a conversation I had tonight with Rachael Bregman, this quote inspired me to think about my relationships with others, and particular relationships in my life:


I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you



I try to live a life without regrets. And sometimes that means taking risks in life, and stepping outside your comfort zone to let things in that will be meaningful to you. I've taken some real chances in my life that have definately paid off...but it doesn't mean that it wasn't scary for me or didn't make me feel vulnerable. It just reminded me that in order to get the things you need...you need to be aware of what your needs are and never be afraid to seek those needs.

And most importantly, recognize your worth. When that's recognized, you will no longer doubt what you need to do in order to become who you need to be.


Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by Elizabeth at 11:38 PM
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Thursday, January 20, 2005
What a crazy week
Now Playing: Vertical Horizon - Best I ever Had
This has definately been a crazy way to come back to HUC. First of all, there was all sorts of balagan (hebrew for craziness) with me taking my bible final. Luckily, everyone was very flexible and all got resolved (it ended up being one big miscommunication mess)...but it was a little stressful for a while. But, at least it's checked off the list of things to do. Then, starting yesterday, we've been doing our mid-year colloquium. I thought it would be a nice way to come back from break...but, truthfully, it's really tiring. I mean, it's interesting stuff...but it's just exhausting me every day. We are dealing with a lot of personal and professional issues that come up in Reform Judaism and are struggling with some big stuff. Then, each night after we are done, we have "Vagina Monologue" rehearsals very late into the evening. I was at HUC last night until about midnight. That's 15 hours I was at school...that's just too much HUC time. I hope tonight's rehearsal isn't that long!!!! On top that, one of my closest friends from camp, Brian Immerman, is coming into town tonight. Now, I know I don't have to be his tour guide or anything...but he's my friend, and I want to spend time with him. He also knows a lot of other people in my program, and others in Israel/Jerusalem...so it will be good to have him around, but it will just add to my busy schedule.

Next week, I found out that I have two tests, on top of more rehearsals (where our scripts are now memorized...addded pressure!!!) and have to really prepare with Leah for our service the week after that. And right, I have school too!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!

The nice thing is that I'm getting to see lots of people in the next few weeks. Brian is coming, and my friend Dan Schwartz is here for the colloquium (he's a 2nd year student in Cincy and is helping us all out), and my friend Phyllis is coming next week to Jerusalem. So that's nice. And I've been able to meet some lovely new people. The 2nd year student from the New York campus, Rebecca Robbins, used to live in our apartment building last year. So a few nights ago she came over (because she was really friendly with the people in OUR apartment and wanted to see it). It was a really nice opportunity to sit down with her and talk about the realities of being back in the states as a student, and hear about all the gossip from last year...and just get some new perspective about this whole place and experience. And...she was really cool, I enjoyed meeting her. I've also had a chance to meet Rick Sarason, a professor at the HUC-Cincinnati campus, who knows my friends the Lipson-Walkers, very well. He's very intelligent and it's been delightful getting to know him and hear him speak.

We had our "state-side campus" dinners last night which was nice and scary all at the same time. It was nice, because I have some great friends coming with me to Cincinnati. It was scary because it was sort of like: Oh wow, I'm going to be spending the next 4 years with these same 14 other people. There are a lot more people going to the LA and NY campuses, but they sort of felt like that too, I heard. And it was hard facing the reality that in a few months, there are a lot of people...very close friends, in fact...that I'm just not going to be in class with over the next four years. And that was really hard. Karen (going to LA) even had to call me last night because she had this realization that we weren't going to be together...and it was hard for her. This from a 35 year old woman with a family and life in LA...and she was upset too!!!!
Reality just sort of bit us all in the face a little too much last night.

This year has been great, but it's not what the majority of my time at HUC will be like....by any means. Sometimes, I feel so lucky to be here, to have this incredible experience. To be given the opportunity to experiment and struggle and to dream and to learn and to meet incredible people and experience wonderful things. And even though my life is hectic, and I've been getting no sleep lately (partially due to jet-lag, and partially cause I've had no time) and I'm tired all the time....it's great...and it's finite. And although I know that being in the states is where i need to be and is what will help me accomplish my dream, and will lead to memories and a life of it's own, it's hard to think about that right now.

Right now I just have to look at what's in front of me, and face all those challenges and experiences head on, with both eyes open, with ears perked, and with no regrets!!!!

Off to rehearsal...have a great day/night!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:33 PM
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Saturday, January 15, 2005
Back in Ritz Ritz
Now Playing: Mike and the Mechanics - All I need is a Miracle
I am back in Israel. I have been gone for two weeks, and it feels really good to be back. Home was nice, but it was sort of weird, because my life isn't there anymore..at least not this year. So the whole time I felt like a visitor to this life that I wasn't used to. It was also broken up very weirdly, and I didn't really get as much done as I had hoped. At first, I was consumed by my family and friends and the New Years stuff that we did. Then I got sick for a few days...I mean, really SICK. I had to go to the doctor twice in less than 24 hours (and I barely ever go to the doctor). It wasn't exactly the flu, but it was flu-like and I was all feverish and snotty and gross. But once the powerful antibiotics kicked in, I was doing much better. Than my grandmother came for like a day and a half on her way back from Arizona. That was really nice, but again very rushed. Then we had this crazy ice storm and snow storm (nothing says welcome back to the midwest than that!) and so i stayed inside a lot and didn't really do anything. Then, it was time for me to go back to chicago and spend a day or two with Michael, Phyl, and David before I got my flight back to Israel. So I guess, I sort of feel like...I didn't really do anything. It's like I have nothing to show for my two weeks home except that I feel less sick than before I left.
I got to see one of my best and oldest friends, Tamar, who I hadn't seen in about 2 years (our studying abroad overlapped) and that was really nice to spend time with her and her family. I also go to see my friend Courtney for a little bit...but that was about it. Everything just felt so rushed, and like there was no real substance to it anyway. And by the end, I felt really ready to come back to Jerusalem. I missed a lot of my friends here (because remember that my brother was here for two weeks right before I left..so I haven't had a normal life here in over a month!), and a lot of my life here. It was a weird feeling..sort of all blah all the time.
And it's not that I wasn't happy to be home, and to see my family and spend time with my mom and my dad, and see how they are doing and what's going on in their lives. It just all felt so unsettling in a lot of ways.
Myabe I'm already dreading living here in about 4 1/2 months. I mean, I've already spend 6 1/2 months here, and I love my life and school, and the things i am doing. It's going to be very hard to say goodbye to everyone at the end of the year, and to say goodbye to living here in Israel. And it will come and go before I even know it. I have so much to do this semester, and I know that with every little thing that I accomplish and do, it will get me one step closer to the place I need to be, while simultaneously bringing my one step closer to ending my experience this year.
These next few weeks alone are going to be very busy. I have several guests coming in the next few weeks, I still have to take my bible final on Monday, we have this colloquiem thing all next week, I have to memorize and perform my piece in the "Vagina Monologues" in early February, and I'm leading services at the end of January. For March I need to write my D'var Torah and prepare for more visitors (my high school teacher and his wife are coming to Israel!!!) And on top of all that, I have to do normal school stuff, try to see the country, and have a life. And eventually, by April and May, I need to think about packing, and all of my preparations for going home (and I'm chanting a lot of Haftorah at the end of the semester). Whew, I get tired just thinking about it...but i love it too! I'm really happy here this year. And even though things can get stressful...that's life, life is always stressful, but at least I enjoy all of what i am doing.

So, I guess I'm trying to say that even though my break wasn't what I expected, it was still pleasant. And I'm glad to be back home in Israel. And even though things will be stressful for the next few weeks..I can totally handle it. And I'm looking forward to every minute of it!!!


"Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? --- Carpe --- hear it? --- Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary." ~Dead Poets Society

Posted by Elizabeth at 4:48 PM
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