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Elizabeth's Blog
Sunday, March 27, 2005
PURIM IN JERUSALEM IS AWESOME!!!!!
Now Playing: Bangles- Manic Monday
I cannot even begin to explain to you how much fun I've had in the last three days....but I'm going to try.

In the real world, Purim lasts for one day and consists of people dressing up in silly costumes and getting a bit tipsy and reading Megillat Esther.

Here, we have done MUCH, MUCH more. First of all, I and five of my future colleauges lead an absolutely hysterical service on Thursday night for the Megillah reading. We changed all the prayers around, had a lot of song and dance to all the prayers, spoofed on lots of stuff, and made fun of a few faculty members. When the actual Megillah was being read, all of my classmates were at the back of Murstein synagogue and we drank ourselves silly. I literally felt like i was tailgating at a football party. We were standing on chairs, cheering, shouting, and being crazy...and DRINKING!!! The cantorial students that got up to chant stayed in character, meaning that Linda Richmond from Coffee Talk (Shapanka) and Barbara Streisand (Shira) and a Milwaukee White trash man (Arik) all made guest appearances. Jason K. dressed up like a Torah and we picked him up and paraded himm around after the reading. By the time the reading was over and we had to get back up to do finish the service, I was ready to pee my pants on stage from the alcohol and from laughing so hard. I don't know how I kept it all together. The only down side of the evening was that I really hadn't had anything to eat before all of this.
So right after that a few of my friends and I went to RESTOBAR (formerly known as MOMENT) and got some grub. Then, there was an HUC invasion and like 30 of my classmates come in and we had a great time.

On Friday morning, I agreed to wake up early (first mistake) and go to Mevasseret to help out in the Purim Parade they were having. Now, although several HUC students were helping out with their Ethiopian families and dressing them for the parade, Rose gave me a special job. I had agreed to dress up as a big Disneyland-like character (second mistake) and Dan Medwin and I were to march seperately in the Parade as characters. Here's the thing I never realized....being in a giant furry costume with a mask that only has a square inch mesh piece to see out of and breathe out of, while dancing in the hot oppressive sun for 45 minutes is not going to be the most pleasant experience in the world. I mean, it's not like I ever once in life said to myself...hmmm, I'd like to come to the Middle East and dress up in as much clothing as I can and dance around in the sun!!! Also, in order to keep myself cool, I opend a bit of the back of my suit and ended up sunburning the hell out of my neck.
Being the character was actually a lot of fun...fromm what I could see. Little kids were thrilled to wave to me, come up and take pictures with me, and dance with me. A few high school kids came up and taunted me and made fun of me...as if my ego wasn't fragile enough already in that giant furry costume.....
Hey, at least I can put it on my resume someday...right????
Aside from all the craziness, the parade was actually lots of fun and I'm glad I could bring joy to the masses.
I went home and showered and slept for hours and then got up and had shabbat dinner at Joel's with all my friends. It was a great, but exhausting, day.
Yesterday, I went to services at HUC to see Adam give his D'var Torah, then over to his place for lunch to meet his family. They were really sweet. After that, Leah and Noah and I went to Beit Shmuel to help Leah with a B'nai Mitzvah that she was doing. The Am Shalom family (Phyllis's congragation in Glencoe, ILL) are in Israel and so I got to see Steven and Julie Lowenstein, their kids, lots of Am Shalom families and help lead Havdallah after the B'nai Mitzvah. It was really cool. Then...the parties began. I met my friend's at Jill and Erin and Jen's house where there was a b-day party for several people. I began drinking, again, early...so the party got really fun really fast. Then, after that, we all headed over to Nick and Jen Strauss-Klein's place were we spent the majority of the evening drinking, dancing, eating, and going crazy!!!! I never knew rabbinical school could be so much fun!?!?!?!?
 

Today, Sunday, I don't have school. Normally in Israel the school week is from Sunday - thursday...but it's still Purim here (because we live in a walled city) and so I am off. Instead of continuing to engage in merriment and general stupidness (which is still going on), I think I'm going to take the day to rest, get some work done, clean up my  room and reflect on the fun I've had the past few days.

Posted by Elizabeth at 12:15 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 11, 2010 9:09 PM
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Thursday, March 24, 2005
Purim in Jerusalem.....like Little 500 @IU
Now Playing: Blister in the Sun
How can I explain to you how excited I am to begin Purim tonight here in Israel????
For those of you that have absolutely no idea of what Purim is, let me explain a little. It's a holiday where we read the entire Scroll of Esther, which tells the story of her courage and how she saved the Jews in Persia from death and destruction from the evil Haman. That's the Sunday School version. The actual biblical version is a little more gritty and raunchy, but then again...what isn't in the bible???? It's customary for everyone to dress up in costumes, for adults to become so drunk that they can't tell the difference between certain characters in the story, to eat funny trinagular shaped pastries, and to engage in general merriment. This is what I always thought of as Purim. No big deal, a holiday that is fun, but nothing special.

Not the case, here in Jerusalem. First of all, the best way for me to describe what is about to happen is to compare it to a major college weekend that happens at various campuses. For example, if you know of Indiana University's Little 500 week/weekend, this is somewhat comparable. If you know of Purdue's Grand Prix week/weekend, you understand. If you know of any place where people get drunk and go crazy in the streets throwung eggs, and shaving cream and silly string...then you know what I'm talking about!!!
Also, there are several events that will be happening, outside of the small parties that my classmates are throwing all weekend. Tonight, for example, I am helping to lead services for the Megillah reading. Now, this is no ordinary service. Everything on Purim is meant to be "Hafuk" meaning opposite. So this service will be a little crazy, somewhat silly, and very very funny. We will do parts of the evening service prayers, but mostly....just good around. I think it will prove to be most enjoyable.
Tomorrow morning, there is a parade in the nearby town of Mevasseret. I agreed to dress up like a DisneyLand character (you know, with the full garb, the big head that you put on that makes you sweaty and gross). Look out for a giant Mickey Mouse!!!!!
Then, there is the usual shabbat dinner, followed by crazy parties and silliness all weekend long.

Now, I don't usually drink. I don't like the way alchohol makes me feel and it's lots of extra uneeded calories and it makes you act stupid. But....it's Purim in Jerusalem. I think I would be lying if I told you I'm not going to be consuming some beverages with a little extra kick to them. It's just inevitable, really....

I'm sure I'll update after all is said and done...but I have to tell you, it very hard trying to contain my excitement....

Have a great weekend. And if you're celebrating, Chag Purim Sameach!!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 8:25 AM
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Friday, March 18, 2005
Being here in times of loss
Now Playing: REM - Everybody hurts
Yesterday, my grandfather passed away. I had no idea he was sick until the day before. I hate that being here means that people don't tell me what's going on at home, because they don't want to "worry" me for no reason, or because they don't think it's important enough for me to worry about. That's the worst thing I've ever heard. I also hate the distance. If I could go home for like the weekend, just to be with my dad and my grandmother, I would give anything for that. But I can't. And they don't want me to.
So I sit here alone, like several of my classmates that have lost friends and relatives this year, not sure what to feel or do or say, but just feeling a certain emptiness inside. I have a wonderfully supportive community here, like Rochelle and Lisa who came over last night without any question or hesitation, just knowing that I needed the company. For that, I will be forever grateful. But it still doesn't shake this fog, or this quesioning or these thoughts running through my mind about life and death and the frailty of it all.
I was so sad earlier this week when Karen's friend from home passed away from battling cancer for a long time. It hurt me so much to see my friend, Karen, in so much pain. And a lot of the time, I didn't feel like I knew the right thing to say or do for her, I just tried to be there for her. Now, I understand that that's all we can really do for each other. Just BE THERE, with an ear to listen to how a person feels or what the person needs, or a shoulder to cry on, or for nothing at all...just to let them know there is love and support for them, and that whatever they may be feeling is genuine and important, because it is what they are honestly feeling.

I love being here this year, you all know that. But I never imagined that when I said goodbye to my grandfather at the beginning of the year that it would have been the last time I spoke to him. I never imagined how hard it would be to lose someone and not have my family around me to grieve with them, or to be able to comfort them. I never imagined that in a year of such learning and exploring and possibilities and experiences, that some of those experiences would be sad, and challenging and difficult.
I know my grandfather is at peace now, he no longer has to struggle or suffer. I just wish I could have been there, or that I could be there now. Because it's sad here, on my own...not knowing what to do or say or feel. It's just sad.

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:26 AM
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Monday, March 14, 2005
D'var Torah
Now Playing: Stairway to Heaven
In about two hours, I will be giving my first D'var Torah ever. I have to admit, I feel nervous. Not about getting up in front of my classmates, or about making mistakes, or about feeling unprepared. I am worried about what they will think. What if they don't like it? What if they think I don't actually have anything to say? What if I poured my heart and my soul into this, and it's only received half-heartedly? I know that no matter what happens today, this is a learning experience, and I can only grow from here...but I still want people to gain something from what I am saying. And although people always think that I have everything together and I am so confident and that I have nothing to worry about, I am still scared, just like the rest of you. I still care about whether people think it's good or bad. I still care that all my hard work pays off. And it's not that this year has made me feel that way more or less, it's just there have been more opportunities for these totally human and natural fears to be exposed.

I know everything will be fine. In fact, I am looking forward to standing before my classmates today, speaking from my heart, and enjoying giving my view of Torah to them.

But I'm also a bit nervous......

Posted by Elizabeth at 7:55 AM
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Thursday, March 10, 2005
My Heart is in the East
Now Playing: Dan Nichols- Album: It was You
So the thing about being in Israel since July is that I never got a copy of Dan's CD that he released at the end of June at camp last year. He let me hear the preview for it when I was there but never the final version. Luckily, Michael brought it for me today (along with himself!). I forgot how much I love this new album "It was you". I mean, the title song is incredible, but I expected that, I remembered how much I liked it. But I forgot what else was on the CD. The first song was nice, but then his song "My heart is in the East" came on. And I started crying. I'm not sure really. Maybe it's because it made me realize how much I love this country and my time here. Maybe it made me sad to think that all my time will be over soon...all the relationships that I've formed and the connections I've made and all that I've learned. I know that in the next few years I will make tremendous connections and learn more than I can ever imagine...but this year is special, and I can't help thinking about how sad I will be when I need to leave it all. I know that I've changed. I've changed opinions and views and beliefs and changed who I am and the way I interract with others. And I can't wait to see what changes I truly bring home with me.

Having the Meisters and Michael here is sort of surreal. They are two completely seperate but special parts of my life. And they bring me back to my old self, that is still part of me, but that is somehow different now. We walked a bit around downtown Jerusalem today, and seeing it all new again through the Meister's eyes was intense. I had to explain a lot, and I realized that I was not only telling them about the city itself, but about myself, and my life here and my religion. And it was fabulous. But also a little hard to explain everything. How do I describe what has happened to me over the past 9 months? How do I begin to do justice to this place and it's significance and meaning and rich history and feeling. It's hard. But everyone would do it if it wasn't hard. The hard is what makes it great.


I took my rabbinic lit. midterm today...it was really long!!! I wrote 7 pages. It wasn't extremely hard but it was just tiring. That and the other test I had today. And a service rehearsal where I think i might change some stuff in my D'var Torah. And then my guests. It was a nice day, I'm just tired. I am really looking forward to this weekend though and being able to just hang with Michael and meet lots of guests at Rochelle's and just relax for a bit. I'll need to get some work done, but I'm not stressing it.

Anyway, just thought i would write and let everyone know where I'm at....as if you had a doubt in your mind?????? :)

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:43 PM
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Tuesday, March 8, 2005
I got to play with a Golden!!!!
Now Playing: Peter Cetera - Glory of Love
It's true....I got to hang out with a golden retriever for a few hours yesterday. I was in heaven getting to play with a dog again. I know that Amy and I have talked about having a dog next year and how hard it would be with us out of town and stuff, but I just love dogs. It was hard going from living with a doglast year, to not living with one this year. But there were so many changes between last year and this year that it sort of made it bearable. But Beth P. was totally right...you just get used to having the animals around, and it's hard if you move away from that.
So anyway, I was helping walk Tamar's dog yesterday and he was such a funny dog. I played with him at home for a few minutes (where I think he was in heaven because I gave great belly rubs and ear rubs) and then we went on a walk. He loves to roll around in the grass...he was happier than a mississippi pig in July. He also likes to eat lots of trash and rocks, and sometimes he just stops in the middle of the walk, and you sort of have to pull him. A bit weird, but a very very sweet dog indeed.
After that I came home and slept for a bit (still feeling a bit under the weather yesterday) and then went out to dinner for Karen's b-day and for Joel's b-day. Lots of fun had by all!!!! :)

Today I just had lots of class, and now i'm about to work on my various tasks. I have an impossibly crazy midterm in rabbinic literature on Thursday and a vocab test that day in hebrew. Also, my guests are both coming in on Thursday, so I have to have everything clean and ready for them. Also, my D'var Torah (like a sermon) is next Monday, so I'm trying to still work on that a bit. One would think that I would be pretty stressed out, but the truth is...I'm not. I will study tonight a lot, study tomorrow for most of the day (once I'm done with class) and do that best that I can on my exams. And my D'var torah will get to where it needs to be... And hello, my best friend and Mr. Meister are coming to town....how exciting is that???? SO I'm surviving.....and not too stressed out at all!!!!

Anyway, why am I writing all this? I should be off doing some work!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 9:47 PM
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Friday, March 4, 2005
Pweese pass da kweenex
Now Playing: Beck- Loser
I am sick. And let me tell you, it's no fun. I even missed a few classes (that's when you know i'm truly sick...nothing comes in between me and my learning). And I actually broke down and went to the doctor here in Israel. It was actually surprisingly easy and considering that it was free (gotta love a country with socialized medicine) I'm not really sure why I haven't gone before. Unfortunately, it wasn't too productive of a visit. The doctor told me I have an upper respiratory infection and that it should clear up in a few days by itself as long as I rest and drink lots of fluids. WHAT ARE YOU SOME KIND OF GENIUS??? I could have told you that in my sleep!!! He told me to come back for antibiotics if I developed an ear infection or if I couldn't breathe. Awesome, I can't wait for those symptoms to start without any meds in my body...that should be REAL FUN!
On the plus side, even though my symptoms (i.e. lots of green snot and sore throat) haven't gone away, I feel a little bit better each day. Also, I've managed to write a solid first draft of my D'var Torah which I am giving on March 14th (when the Meisters and Michael are here!!!) That's taken a lot of stress off of me. Now, I just have to send it out to my advisor (who's in Rome meeting with the sick Pope right now...why is he so cool?) and to others and begin editing and reworking it to my liking. I'm also chanting torah, again, on saturday morning. I've come to realize, that I love the challenge of chanting torah. Honestly, I've learned a lot this year, but Torah chanting is the most applicable, tangible skill that I've really grasped and that makes me feel more rabbinical. Thank you, Tamar Havilio.
In 6 days I have three guests coming in to town (well, two sets of guests really). I'm excited to see all of them, but I know that guests can often change daily routine and life can get a bit busy when they are here...but I am so looking forward to it. As my wise friend Courtney said, it's better to have many people who love you fly halfway around the world to see you all at once, rather than no one at all. so true, Courtney Hachachama.
So this weekend I am just resting, writing, chanting, catching up on a bit or work and working ahead. I hope to be productive!!!!
Have a great weekend!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 11:02 AM
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Saturday, February 26, 2005
Golan Trip & other stuff
Now Playing: Three dog night - Joy to the world
Last week, our class took a trip to the Golan Heights. It was awesome. The thing that I forgot about the Golan was how absolutely gorgeous it is up there. Everything is lush and green and mountainous and the weather hasn't gotten too hot yet so it was lovely and temperate. Just amazing. I had a really good time with my friends too!!! They are amazing, my classmates, and I'm lucky that I'm reminded of that every day.
We left Jerusalem at about 7am and ended up at Tel Dan for most of the morning and early afternoon. It's a very famous archeological site where the House of David inscription was found and many ruins have been uncovered there. It was beautiful getting to walk around, see the ruins, and be out in nature. Then we went to Tel Faucher, which is sort of like an army outpost that was important in the 1960's. Syria used to hold it, and then Israel was able to gain it. The actual land was so interesting because there were all these bunkers and tanks everywhere and we were all climbing all over them and everything. It was very cool, and pretty interesting. Right near there were a lot of mine fields, from leftover mines that the Syrians had planted. The fields are well marked though and no one wandered off. ALthough, there were lots of cows grazing by and every once in a while a cow will step on it and become BBQ. I, however, didn't witness that...
From there we went to go see this movie about the Golan (which I think i've defiantely seen before when I was here in 2001) and heard this woman speak who is a settler at one of the kibbutzim in the Golan. Her manner was a little abrasive, to me, and we were all pretty tired, so it was nice when we got to leave and head to the fieldschool where we were to stay that night. We had dinner in the dining hall, and then a bunch of us went into town to check out the happenings. Well, it wasn't happening...at all! So we went to a little convenience store and bought some snacks and bummed around a little bit. Rose, one of our staff members, warned all of us about the wild pigs that sometimes come out night...but again, I wasn't lucky enough to see one. I saw a dog that looked a little pig-like...but no actually pigs.
When we went back, my friend's Joel and Rachael adn Kevin and I went to the edge of the fieldschool where the bright moonlight was illuminating the rocks leading down to a wadii (deep valley with water running through the bottom) and it was abosultely gorgeous to look out at the country through the moonlight. Unbelievable.
I was rooming with my friends Erin Ellis, Amy Rossel, and Jason Kaufman. Even though it was only for one night, we had fun!!!! Lots to talk about and joke about.
The next morning our group split up into two: those that wanted a smaller hike, and those that wanted a more challenging strenous hike. I chose the latter, hoping for a good adventure.
What a good choice I made. We hiked into this valley that had a stream running though it that eventually lead to a waterfall. The way down was awesome. It was really rocky and rough terrain and it was so much fun to climb all over. Once we got down to the waterfall, a few people went in. The water was freezing though, so although I would have loved to have dipped in, I knew i would have been miserable being super cold and very wet. The hike back up the mountain wasn't so much fun, but whenever you go down...you must come up!
Then we had a picnic lunch and headed off to the Golan Winery where we had a fabulous tour of the grounds (and a not so fabulous movie beforehand). At the end of the tour we got to taste test three wines and got some information on great ways to open wine bottles, how to check if a wine is good, etc. Too much fun.
Then, we all gathered out on the lawn as the sun was setting (and I have to admit I took a bit of a nap) and waited for everyone to be done purchasing their items (I got a nice Pinot Noir for my parents). After that we headed back to Jerusalem!!!! It was such a great tiyul, and so good to get out and see the country.

Now I'm just procrastinating writing my D'var Torah (like a sermon). It's not until March 14th, but I'm hoping to have a rough draft out in the next few days so that I can begin the big long editing process. I have a ton of research done, and I know exactly what I want to say..I just have to do it. It's sort of harder than just writing a paper, because it's something I have to deliver. I have, in fact, never delievered a D'var Torah, so I'm a bit nervous. But it'll happen. Anyway, not much else is new. Having a lovely shabbat as usual!!!
Hope you all have a good rest of your weekend/good week!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:24 PM
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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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