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Elizabeth's Blog
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
And the fun continues
Okay, so after my great trip to Tel Aviv last weekend (and a few days of school in between), off I go this morning to the Negev for four days with HUC!!! It's our last class trip and it sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. Hiking, camping out (toilet paper is on our packing list!) and hanging out...looks like a good way to end the year!!! After that, I'm on break for Passover, so technically I don't have class again until May 1st. Wupee!!! Although I have lots of papers to write in the meantime, and a trip or two around Israel to take ;)

Good news: the other day my cousin David and his wife Judi had twin boys!!! Alexander Noah and Zachary Joseph Rabkin....I'm so happy for them!!!

Okay, off to finish my last minute packing for the Negev. If you need to reach me, i have my cell phone on me all weekend.....

Posted by Elizabeth at 6:51 AM
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Saturday, April 9, 2005
Most relaxing day ever....
Now Playing: Craig Taubman
I just had the most relaxing 24 hours ever!!!
At the beginning of the week, we were offered the chance to sing up and go to Kibbutz Gezer and learn about their park, and then have services at the Reform Congregation in Tel Aviv, Beit Daniel. I signed up with my friend Lisa, and then later in the week, Amy asked if we wanted to stay in Tel Aviv for the rest of the weekend and hang out and go to the beach. Ordinarly, I would have said no. For one, I don't know how to relax when I don't have a break from school built in for me. Second, I never want to commit to something if I'm afraid I won't get my work done, or if I feel like i have too much else to do. But something about this week made me say yes. I knew I needed to get out of Jerusalem and just relax.
So off we went. The kibbutz was fascinating, because we went to the park part of it, where we learned a lot about ways to teach text through texture. The park has tons of things from the bible that basically come alive to you and that you start to visualize in new contexts. It was beautiful and uplifting and relaxing and just plain inspiring. Then we went to services at Beit Daniel. I was there about three years ago on my birthright trip and it was lovely. The services seemed very "American Reform" to me (isn't it interesting that i have a category for that now???), but nice nonetheless. We had dinner there afterwards and that was nice too.
Then, those of us staying on in Tel Aviv for the weekend checked into our youth hostel and relaxed for a bit. Amy stayed with Noam Katz and his fiancee Jamie, I roomed with Lisa and Lydia Bloom, and Katie Bauman and her boyfriend Adam had their own room. We went out for a drink, and had a great time. I got a Cosmopolitan and because I hadn't had sooo much to eat that day, I got a bit tipsy off of it. And I broke the glass....OOOPPPPSSS!!!!
But it was just really nice to be out with some new people, with nothing that I felt I had to get up for in the morning, and to just relax. I spent lots of time this weekend hanging out with Noam. I've always known that I liked him and that we get along well, but I haven't had so much opportunity to spend with him. He's the greatest.....
After sleeping in for several hours, we all got a very late start (which was soooo nice!!!) and we went to have brunch at this Israeli chocolatier called "Max Brenners". Now, even though I ordered off of the light menu...what a calorie fest!!! It was all incredible food. Soooo yummy.
By early afternoon we were off to the beach. We layed out on the sand, soaked up the rays and the sound of the Sea (that's the Mediterranean...) and just had a great time. The water was too cold to go all the way in, but we soaked our feet a few times and walked along the shore. Mostly though, we jsut hung out on our towels. We got some juice and some beer and a few snacks eventually, helped Noam think up some songs for this project he's doing, tried doing headstands like this one girl we saw, people watched...and just RELAXED!!!! It was fabulous!!! I intentionally took my watch off so that I would just go with the flow, let others take charge, and be free of all responsibilities for a day. It was so liberating!!!
After that we went to this great Noodle Bar/Asian restaurant called Giraffe. It was super trendy and very delicious. At dinner, I began to realize what a great day I had just had. I felt tired, but a good tired, from being out in the air for a while, from clearing my head, from laughing and being in good company with great friends. It was the best feeling in the world. I can't remember the last time I had such a perfect day. I just felt whole again, refreshed and revitalized for the coming mini-week ahead. After that we headed back to Jerusalem and I slept a bit on the ride back, and thought about ways to make my life more relaxing. This was a much needed mini-break...and I find that I haven't done that enough for myself this year. I mean, I have 6 weeks left here and this is one of the first times that I've just taken off with my friends to hang out outside of Jerusalem. Also, I love Tel Aviv...it's like a REAL city...and Jerusalem (although I love it in so many ways) is just not. And although it's a shame that I'm just learning this now...it's good to know that I learned a huge lesson today. Take time for me! When I need to relax, really relax...don't just avoid the relaxation because it means putting everything else on hold...really take time to feel whole again, and to take a break from life.

Today was beautiful. I loved hanging out with all of my friends, being at the beach and taking in all that fresh air and wathcing the waves, eating good food, and just taking time for me. It was one of my best days ever......and it was great!

Posted by Elizabeth at 10:27 PM
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Weirdness
So, can I just mention how weird it is that people are contacting me about renting this apartment next year??? It feels like just yesterday that I was in Bloomington with my "Year-in-Israel" book, scouting out apartments and trying to decided where I was going to live while in Israel. I remembering writing tons of e-mails and worrying about getting my student visa, and plane tickets and money stuff...wow, was that really a year ago...it feels like it was only a little while ago...but it was a whole YEAR AGO!!!! So much has happened in such a short span of time..and to think that I'm almost 1/5 of the way through rabbinical school is truly frightening. That means I'm like 15% rabbi by now, right?? Everything is just flying by so quickly. I mean, before I know it, it will be two months from now and I will be saying my goodbyes and boarding a plane back to the US...for good. It's just such a weird feeling to know that my time here is so tangibly finite, because other people's experiences here (the new 1st and the 4th year students) are about to begin.

Okay, enough procrastinating. I better work on my torah portion and begin studing for my hebrew test, otherwise I won't ever be a rabbi!!!!! :)

Posted by Elizabeth at 5:13 PM
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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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