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Elizabeth's Blog
Friday, April 22, 2005
Back from the Dead Sea getaway
Now Playing: Maroon 5 - This Love
I am back from the Dead Sea getaway week!!!! It was SOOOO much fun!!!
It all started on Tuesday morning when Jane Jacobs (who works at the Rape Crisis Center with me and Karen...and who kicks butt, in general) picked me and Karen up and we headed down to Ein Boqueq. We had a great car ride down (except for needing to stop and switch seats with Karen cause she was feeling a little green in the back seat) and Jane was a fabulous tour guide out of jerusalem and down the West Coast of Israel. Once we got there, we headed straight for the pool and swam a little, sun bathed, and had a bite to eat. After Anne arrived from Eilat (where she had been earlier) we all got Aromatherapy messages that were about an hour long. MMMMMM....it was sooooo nice!!!! Then we went into the spa area where they have an indoor version of the dead sea (in this huge octagonal pool) and some steam rooms and hot tubs. After partaking of the spa area with all the other old, heavy, russian men and women, we headed back up to the room where Karen napped and Anne, Jane, and I sat on our balcony and took in the view and chatted. After dinner, we said good bye to Jane who headed back to Jerusalem, and after seeing that there wasn't much night life happening, we headed up to the room to be girly. Anne chose the single bed, and Karen and I shared the HUGE bed in the second bedroom. Now, you would think that this would mean that we would both have tons and tons of room. That's what I thought, at least. But it turns out that Karen likes to cuddle up in bed...she defiantely took a good 2/3 of this bigger-than-king-sized bed and although I had enough room...it didn't feel overabundant. She's too funny!!!
After sleeping in (a huge luxury for Karen who has a 4 and 8 year old and is up EVERY MORNING AT 6 AM!!!) we got up, got breakfast and then the rest of the Sherman family arrived. We all got ready for the pool, but it was really cold out that morning, so Karen and I played with Eliana and Rebekah on the playground and a bit on the kid's waterslide. I would have preferred more time with the kids on the waterslide...but that's just me, a BIG KID at heart!!!
After lunch, Anne and Karen and I got facials. After a quick nap (because it had been such a strenous day!) Karen and I went to go get our bodies wrapped in mud. This was by far one of the most interesting experiences of the whole trip. You basically go into this room that looks sort of like a scary doctor's office and the russian woman with a thick accent tells you to take off all your clothes and lie down. Then she comes in with a hot bucket of steaming mud, and slathers it all over your back, arms, and legs. She wraps a sort of saran wrap around you, and puts horse blanket over the rest of you, shuts off the lights, and says "GOODNIGHT" in that thick slavic accent.
OKAY. Several thoughts were running through my head at this point: 1) Did I just pay NIS 180 to do this (roughly $40)?? 2) This is a woman's job? She wakes up every morning to slap mud on people? 3) Karen told me she felt Dead in her wrap..like that's what it would have felt like to be dead...I just felt like a big tortilla. 4) It almost felt very Nazi-concentration camp experiement to me...I couldn't move, I had hot, steaming dirt on me, and I was waiting for something....anything to happen. Weird.
After a while the woman came back in and said: "Get up, and go to the shower, I will wash your back." So I walked over to the tiny shower in the room, and was hosed down by this woman.
The Mud in the Dead Sea is supposed to have such healthful minerals and oils in it, and it's supposed to be very good for the skin...but Karen and I couldn't help but laugh at the whole process. Very memorable!!!
After dinner, Anne wasn't feeling well so she went up to the room, and the Sherman's and I took a walk on the beach. As we left the hotel, we saw some men burning the chametz (bread products) off of serving trays in order to make the kitchen kosher for passover. In fact, the hotel had been in the process of doing this the whole time that we were there. Half of our meals were normal, half were already kosher l'pesach. But it was weird watching these guys taking blow torches and trying to burn off every single crumb that could have possibly been there. Karen and I , or course then got into a whole conversation about what it means to be Kosher for passover, the extent people do and don't go to, and what it all means. Very rabbinical of us, if I do say so myself!
The next morning, we packed up, checked out of the hotel, and headed to Masada so that the Sherman's could see it (because only Karen had been there before). We all went up the cable car (which was cool, I've always hiked up it) because we had the girls with us and the Sherman's let me be their tour guide at the top of Masada. It was fun, but it was getting hot and the girls were tired, so Anne and I took Eliana and Rebekah back down the cable car while Karen and Harvey hiked down. We got the girls popsicles, and we took them into the shop and had lots of fun with them.
After we headed back to Jerusalem, we all got together for dinner at the Sherman's and ordered in. Then Anne and Harvey and I went shopping in order to get all of our Passover food.
All in all, it was a lovely few days spent with some lovely folks.
Part of me wishes that I had gone to the FSU with my other classmates, but being at the spa was sort of like it's own FSU. The way that people speak hebrew and some english in jerusalem is like that near the Dead Sea, only with Hebrew and Russian. I had so much russian spoken at me, and unlike Hebrew...I had absoultely NO IDEA what they were saying. Also, the food at the resort was very russian...lots of smoked and pickled fish, salads, meats, etc. And all the people that worked there were Russian olim. Most of the guests were older Russian men and women and they were all in the spa, getting their joints back in order, crowding me in the hot tub, and just letting everything hang out in general. So, I got my own little taste of the FSU.

Also, I'm really starting to realize that I have about 5 weeks left here in Israel. I'm glad I didn't go away for this break because it's the only break I've actually spent in Israel, and it will give me the opportunity to get a lot of work done so that I can spend the next few weeks here enjoying the time I have left. Part of me feels such a sadness that this year is over, because it has been one of the most life-changing, growing, fun, and unique years of my life. However...I'm feeling ready for it to be done. I know that this year can never be duplicated, no matter how hard we try, and so I have to just appreciate this year for what it had been. I feel like I've done everything this year that I wanted to do, that I've taken advantage of all of the things that I've wanted to, and that I've grown in ways that I may not be able to see right now, but changes that I know have happened.
Part of me is ready to come home, because I know that I will be back. I know that this year has had a profound impact on me and my relationship with Israel and with Reform Judaism, with my own Judaism, and with my own views about myself. I'm ready to be back in America and see what I can do there. I'm ready to see my Mom and Dad again. I'm starting to miss them...a lot. I'm ready to see my friends again, and to tell them about all of my experiences, share with them the wonderful memories I've made this year. The year is coming to a close, and although I cannot put to words the deep sadness that I feel about leaving, I think that in a really healthy way, I'm ready to leave....I can see the end coming, and it's okay.
For now though...I'm just loving the break and the down time to just be here, living in Israel...just living, learning, and loving it all!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 3:11 PM
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Monday, April 18, 2005
I'm on break...and in between trips
Now Playing: Shawn Colvin - Sonny came home
So I'm back from the Negev. What a trip! It's really beautiful in the desert. I mean, it's sort of unexplainable how connected you can feel to the earth and to nature when you are standing at the precipice of a mountain top. When we left on Wednesday, we stopped at S'day Boquer and picked up our Negev tour guides. We then went to Ain Evdat which is this beautiful spring in the middle of a mouuntain's edge. I took a picture there that reminded me of one that Phyllis took of her classmate's crossing the spring with a cool reflection of them in the water (I think this was the same place...it sure looked like it!). The water was a lot less clear, but the picture I took is cool, nonetheless. Then we hiked up the mountain's side which wasn't too steep but was a little challenging with the ladders and the rugged path. We stopped and looked inside a Monk's cave. The actual hike itself was quite short and a lot of fun. I met one of our tour guides, Gal, a 19-year-old Israeli who is doing a year of community service tour guiding before he goes into the Israeli Army. He had impecable english (from studying in Amsterdam as a kid) and he was really a great guide and fun to talk to. I love meeting people in Israel, they're just so open about everything and open to meeting new people.
After that we went to Kibbutz Lotan and learned about the different ways that they are trying to improve the environmental situation in Israel. Very interesting. Then we spent the night at Kibbutz Yahel. Both of these kibbutzim are reform Jewish kibbutzim, but I didn't feel like religion was they key to our trip..it was just that these were the kibbutzim that we stayed at.
The next morning we woke up early and loaded the buses with food and supplies and headed off for our hike of the day. Now, our guides said this was going to be an "easy, maybe 3 hour hike". All downhill, they told us. So I was excited. I love hiking when it doesn't involve going up so much and even rough terrain is a fun challenge, I think. We started off for about 20 minutes on top of a mountain and it was a beautiful hike. We stopped at a beautiful overlook and decided to have morning services there and breakfast. It was nice, but all in all it took about two hours....too much time, I think. After that, we began the real hike. It was a LOT of downhill...down a MOUNTAIN, in fact. And this is the desert so you have to remember that there is a lot of soft sand mixed in with the rock. And we were literally holding on to chains that were palced on the side of the mountain to help us down. But...it was HARD!!! I kept slipping and fell a few times (don't worry mom, I'm okay!) and by the time we got to the bottom, I realized how hard my body had been working. By now,it was mid day and hot and so we kept trying to find shady places to stop and let the rest of the group catch up. We went through a big rock valley that was deserty and hot, but then we got to this huge open sandy valley, and that was really cool. After squeezing through a few narrow rocky passages, we started going up the next mountain, and then down again. All in all, about 6 hours we were hiking. It was fun, but very exhausting. Then we went to the Underwater observatory in Eilat. It was fun, but we were all pretty tired. After that, one of our buses broke down and we ended up having a bit of balagan trying to get to our campsite. But we got there and we set up our stuff, eventually got a campfire and dinner going, and all learned to enjoy going to the bathroom in the great outdoors. Sleeping under the stars was beautiful. In the morning we packed our stuff up and some of us headed to the beach, while others went hiking again. This is where I must say...I love the water. I think there is nothing more beautiful than water. I mean, hiking is all good and well, but if you want me to have a beautiful and meaningful experience, give me a body of water any day. It just does more for me than a mountain...and I can't explain why.
So a bunch of us went to the beach and met up with the hikers when they were done. After that, we ALL went snorkeling at the Coral Reef Beach in Eilat. Wow...I forgot how much I love snorkeling...it's just so peaceful. And by a random series of chance events, I met this woman Maria who used to live in West Lafayette, who worked at Purdue's Hillel and that knows my Mom. She was vacationing in Eilat with her family and they happened to be snorkeling where we were too. What a small world!!!
After a bit of lunch at Yotvata (the famous dairy place) we went back to Yahel for a tour of the Pomelo farm and then to clean up for shabbat. After services in dinner, we indulged in a little kareoke and alcohol at the Kibbutz pub. Saturday was a day of total and utter relaxation (which I totally needed because it's now four days later and my body is still sore from the hike), and we left late that night and got back to jerusalem a little after midnight.

Now, I'm officially on vacation until May. But I have lots to do. Yesterday I went in to school's library to get a bit of work done, and then went to the movies and to dinner with friends. I saw "Finding Neverland" which was excellent and which I've been meaning to see for a while. Totally worth the wait! Now, today, I'm trying to see some people before they leave for their Former Soviet Union Pesach Project, and before I leave tomorrow for my Dead Sea getaway with Karen, Ann, and the Sherman Family. I'll be back on Thursday, but the Library closes that day for the rest of break, so I have to make sure I have everything that I need before then from school. Also, my friends and I are conducting our own Sedar on Sat. night (the first night of Pesach) and so we have a lot to do between now and then to prepare for it. It looks to be lots of fun, but a lot of work too.

Okay, so I'll update after my Dead Sea Spa getaway with the girls!!! I can't wait...massages, and treatments and facials...oh my!!

(PS-My camera hasn't been working so well lately, so I'll have to borrow other people's pictures from the Negeve trip and from our Dead Sea trip in order to update my pics...please be patient for them, I promise they'll be worth the wait!!!)

If you're on break...enjoy!!! If not...live vicariously through the rest of us!!!!

Posted by Elizabeth at 9:42 AM
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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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