Monday, May 25, 2009

"The Story Goes On"...Part 1

Hey All,
I know I have not been very good at updating my blog, but a lot has been going on in the holy land. For the next week I am up to my neck in studying for finals, and writing papers, while trying to also experience as much Israel as I can before I leave. I go home in a week and I want to do everything that I possibly can so that I can come back to the states and write two blogs about my last couple weeks in Israel.
So no worries, I am still alive and well and having an absolutely amazing time. If you can't wait for the new blogs in a week I suggest checking out my pics on facebook (if you have a facebook that is).
I hope everyone is having an amazing beginning of their summer or end of the school year, and I will see you all VERY VERY soon!!!

Much love, and Blessings,

Monday, May 11, 2009

"By the Sea"

Hey All,
So all last week I had crazy class stuff, papers to start writing, and an oral presentation to start preparing for. I feel like all my fun stuff happens at the end of the week, it a bit weird, but interesting at the same time. I work really hard during the week, and keep myself awake long enough to realize that I don't have anymore homework, or things to study for. I realize I stay awake really late during the week because I can't make myself fall asleep any other time. I guess that means that I have gotten used to a new time schedule in Israel, I wonder how that is going to work out when I have to go home in 3 weeks!!!.
Thursday, Shaina and I had a field trip to the north with our Biblical Figures and Stories in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Art class. We joined another class that was learning about some of the same themes as our group. We got up at 5am and packed our breakfast and lunches for the day (and 2 LARGE bottles of water) and headed to the bus. Everyone was absolutely exhausted, so much so that some of us were even laying on the sidewalk while we waited for our bus to pick us up. When the bus finally got there we got on and snagged our own seats before anyone could sit with us, we all wanted to be able to sprawl out on the seats and sleep on the way. The bus was completely silent, and I feel asleep so fast that when I woke up we were at our first destination, Bet Alpha. Bet Alpha is an ancient synagogue that has the most amazing mosaic floor built by the Romans, hence the amazing combination of Greek/Roman and Jewish art. The center was of the Zodiac which is a Greek ideology, but the seasons and the actual zodiac names were in Hebrew. We then headed to Tiberias to see another ancient synagogue with the same mosaic as Bet Alpha. Then we went to a church that had another set of amazing mosaic art, which was all Jewish depictions, which was kind of interesting. After that we went to Tzippori where we saw again the same kind of mosaics as before, however, we were told that this particular mosaic was thought to be the "Mona Lisa" of mosaic art in the north. By this time we were all so exhausted. Shaina and I even turned to each other and compared this trip to being on Birthright because we just keep on moving with no time to rest, and that we were being filled with so much information that we were not only physically drained but mentally drained. Our last stop was Bet She'arim, which is a place that I had been to with my family when I was in Israel in August, so I already know what was going on in this place but it was still fun to be there and remember how much fun I had with my family. We then all slowly got back onto the bus and passed out hoping that we would also sleep the entire ride back, I was wrong. I woke have to go the bathroom. I walked to the professor and the driver and asked how long it would be until we got back to school and they said not for another HOUR!!! I then asked if there was any way that we could pull over or if there was a rest stop coming up. They then told me that we were on the main highway and that there was no rest stop for another half hour, and that we were not allowed to pull the bus over because the driver could get a fine. I then told them that I could try an hold it until we got to a rest area, but that we needed to think of something quickly because I was about to pee my pants. I tried holding it for a bit, and the professor came to me to ask how I was doing, I told her that we have two choices right now; either I pee in a bush on the side of the road, or I pee on the bus. I think that the driver over heard me because he immediately pulled over and I asked if any one else needed to go to the bathroom, thank god we stopped because another girl on the bus had to pee as well. We ran off the bus and went down a small hill and took turns shielding each other so that we could take a "nature pee." It was absolutely hilarious, we got back on the bus and everyone was congratulated us for our amazing "nature pee" experience. We then spent the rest of the ride back to school talking about other "nature pee" experiences. When Shaina and I got back to our room we put all of our stuff away, and then went straight to bed.
Friday was amazing as well. I slept in until 11am, and then did some work on my computer. Then I got a phone call from my friend Margot who was at the shuk getting food for shabbat. She called me to see if I wanted to have a laundry party with her (aka do our laundry together) and then stay at her apartment at the student village for shabbat dinner with some of our Israeli friends. Right away I said YES, not just because I did need to do my laundry, but I also had yet to have some alone time with Margot for so long. I scrounged around my room looking for food to bring to her apartment that I could make for dinner, then I put an insane amount of laundry in my rolling suit case and headed over to the student village to meet Margot in the laundry room. I think this was the most fun that I have had doing my laundry, I plugged in my computer, and we blasted my music through the entire laundry room, people were walking past and just staring at us. When we got towards putting our wet clothes in the dryer we found that the machine that is supposed to take our money in order to start the dryers was not working. It was crazy, we called the maintenance people at least 5 times before anybody actually came. We then put our wet clothes into our bags and walked to the dorms that were around the corner in order to dry our clothes. Margot decided to make the most of our adventure though, and brought colored sharpies so that we could decorate her laundry bag while we were waiting. After our clothes were good and dry we went back to Margot's apartment and watched some T.V. shows on her computer while cooking dinner and waiting for our friends to come. When our Israeli friends (Uri, Ofer, and Shai) , and Sarah got to the apartment we started eating right away, we were all so hungry, and everyone brought something that looked so good. The entire dinner was filled with Israeli humor, American humor, and just all around craziness. I don't think there was a point in our dinner where we were not holding our stomachs in laughing pains. After dinner, Margot and I cleaned up and we all sat in the "living room" to watch Wall-e, which was so much fun because none of our Israeli friends had ever seen it so it was great to see their reactions to every little part of the movie that Margot and I absolutely loved. By this time it was about 1am, and we were so tired. I packed up my stuff and Uri insisted that he take both of my bags, I argued with him about it but he just kept on telling me that I was being silly and that I shouldn't have to carry two heavy bags back to my room by myself. So Uri, Ofer, and I went back to my room and hung out for a little bit. They ended up staying until about 3am and realized that going to sleep was a really good idea. The boys left, and I stayed up for a little bit longer to put my clothes away, and talk to some friends online. I then got a phone call at around 4am from my cousin Julia. Julia's Bat Mitzvah was that Saturday, and my entire family was at her home in Baltimore the Friday before to get ready. It was so exciting to talk to Julia before her Bat Mitzvah, I was so upset that I couldn't be there, but all the people that passed the phone around to talk to me said that I was there in spirit, and that they are counting down the days until I come home.
Saturday was a very relaxing day. I slept in, and then got some homework done. I then went to hang out with my friend Sarah Nager at the student village. We sat around listening to music and drinking cranberry tea. It was really nice to relax with Sarah for a bit because we barely get to spend time together because our classes are all at different times. It started getting dark and a bit cold outside so I headed back to my room to get some more work done. I ended up sitting at my computer playing more music and playing games. I feel like I have no motivation to do any work at this point. I just want to be finished with school so that I can travel Israel more, and make the most of my last 3 weeks here.


There are so many pictures from this week that I can't choose the ones that I want to put in this blog. If you have facebook you can see all of them, if you don't hopefully I can send pics out to people if they really want them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Power of Two"

Hey all,
So last week was really boring. Class after class again. At the moment we have been getting ready got a bunch of field trips. One fore my Judaism course, and one for my Biblical Art class. They are supposed to be really exciting, so we have just been going over things that we should know about the places that we are going, and what to expect.

This past weekend however, was soooo much fun!!!!

My friend Larissa, and our Israeli friend Amit (from camp), took a road trip to the Jordan Valley and the Kenneret (a really big lake) to visit our other camp friend Ruvik. He lives with his wife in Kibbutz Degania Bet which is one of the first Kibbutzim in Israel. Just to give a quick idea of what a kibbutz is, it is a community where everyone lives together in a closed off area. Everyone in the community works together, eats together, everything together. It is a communal community, the job that you have on the kibbutz is for the community, and the things you earn you share with everyone. People sometimes share clothing, food, water, heat, name it...they share it. It is sometimes compared to a camp, where your goal is to truly be an enriched, and loving community.
When Amit, Larissa and I got to the kibbutz Ruvik greeted us with open arms. He right away took us on a tour of the school that he works at, where he teaches sailing, and P.E. He then took us to the gym that he couches basketball. It was really wonderful, all of the basketball players are in the army, and they get together every shabbat to play, and hang out with Ruvik. He is clearly very popular in his community, because there was not one person that he didn't know. Ruvik reminds me a lot of my grandfather, which made be feel completely relaxed when I was with him.
When we got back to the kibbutz we put our things in his home, and met his wife. We then hopped on some bikes and took a tour of the kibbutz. We first went to the cemetery, which I immediately thought, why here, there are so many better places to go, this is so sad. Then Ruvik took us to a line of graves, and we realized that is was his family. His great-grandmother, great-grandfather, grandmother, grandfather, an father. He told us that he is a fourth generation living at the kibbutz. This was absolutely amazing, his family had been living here for years, and now he had children of his own, and grandchildren, that is 6 generations. Larissa and I were completely taken back.
After the cemetery, we rode our bikes to the farm, and got to look at the huge cow barn that they had there. We then got to pet the baby calves which was so much fun, Larissa and I were squealing the entire time. Amit and Ruvik were laughing at us, and were most likely thinking; "mmmmm, meat." When we got back to Ruvik's home, we washed up and got ready to go to dinner. We walked together to the dining hall where everyone was headed for a communal shabbat dinner. When we entered the building there were so many families sitting together, some of the kids we realized were 7th and 8th generation in the kibbutz. The meal was buffet style; chicken, fish, rice, veggies, salad, soup. It was amazing, we sat at a table with Ruvik's mother, sister, niece, and her new born baby girl. The entire dinner was filled with laughter, and kibbutz stories, and I think the best part was that most of it was in Hebrew, so I got a chance to practice what I had been learning for the past couple of months. After dinner, we walked around the kibbutz for a little bit, then spent the night in eating fresh fruit and watching a movie on the television.
The next morning, Ruvik, Amit, Larissa, and I took a long road trip up to the Golan. It was absolutely amazing, it felt like we were going up a million mountains (mostly because my ears were popping the entire time), then when we started getting closer to the top of one of the mountains, Ruvik told Larissa and I to close our eyes, and not open them until they told us to. The car stopped, and Ruvik took my hand (Amit took Larissa) and led me out of the car and what felt like the edge of a cliff. I was right, Ruvik told me to open my eyes and I realized I was on the top of a mountain over looking the Kenneret. It was so amazing, I could breathe for a minute because I was so taken back by what I was seeing. I felt like I was on the top of the world, and I could see until forever. We then started down the mountain, and headed to a town close to Mt. Hermon.
Ruvik had told us before that he wanted to take us to a very special restaurant for lunch, where we were going to have the best fallafel in the world. It truly was amazing, they gave you 4 fallafels' about the size of my fist. Then give you 6 hot out of the oven pitas', and every topping imaginable; salad, hummus with beans, eggplant, tehina, pickles, olives, peppers, cheese. It was amazing, we just dug right in and completely destroyed our meal, nothing was left. We then sat at the table for a little bit just chit-chatting about this coming summer (we are all working at camp again), and Larissa and I talked a bit about our amazing time in Israel so far.
After lunch, we got back into the car and started driving back to the Jordan Valley. On our way however, we stopped at this mountain/monument place where you had the most amazing view of Mount Hermon, you could see the snow that was on the very top, which was kind of funny because where we were was warm and sunny, and Mount Hermon is cold and windy. It was beautiful, we walked around for a bit and Ruvik and Amit gave us a quick history lesson on where we were. I wish I had listened more carefully, but I just could not get over the scenery. There was also a part where you could go underground and see the living quarters of the soldiers at the time. After we got out of the tunnel we headed back to the Kibbutz. We decided to have a quick ice cream break before going back to Jerusalem, so Ruvik took us to a chocolate place that was actually on the kibbutz, he then told us the people come from all over to eat their chocolate treats and ice cream. He was right, I had some amazing ice cream, it really hit the spot and made a great ending of an already wonderful day.
After ice cream we said our goodbyes to Ruvik, and headed back to Jerusalem. The ride back was very relaxing, we listened to music and talked about some activities that we wanted to do at camp, and got started with planning them actually. It was really nice to spend the weekend with Larissa because we don't get to see each other too much during the week. Plus, Amit and I have been wanting to get together since I got to Israel, but it had been really hard because of all the work I had been doing for school. Now we are going to be hanging out more before I leave. Then we get to hang out for the whole summer.

Blessings to my loves!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

"House at Pooh Corner"

Hey All,
So I just posted my pre-mommy week, and now on to the fun stuff!!!

I got to Debbie's on Thursday night and just relaxed, making sure that all of my plans for my mom's visit were set. We woke up early Friday morning and headed to the airport (which just happens to be 15 minutes away from where Debbie lives...YAYAYAY!!). When we got to the airport I swear I was shaking all over. I was so excited for my mom to be coming for 10 DAYS!!! I waited impatiently by the gate, waiting for her to come out with a million suit cases and some kind of bright clothing to make everybody stop and stare. I was very wrong, she walked out with a huge smile on her face, two big suitcases, and sweatpants. She didn't even have time to put down her purse because as soon as she got close enough for me to hug her I wrapped my arms around her and didn't let go. I was so excited, and was truly needing a mommy fix. We then walked to the car and put her luggage inside. The first thing that she did however was go into her largest suit case and take out a huge bag of her extra special chocolate chip cookies (they were still soft!!). We later found out that this bag was not the only extra special item that she brought. When we got back to Debbie's home she opened the same bag that my bag of cookies was in and found that this particular bag had no clothing in it, it was filled to the top with another bag of cookies, and 6 boxes of Tastykakes (yes that is how you spell it), they are only sold on the east cost and my cousins from Israel only get to eat them if they come in for Thanksgiving. My mom did good, she got regular chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter and chocolate, and butter scotch krimpets. I swear three of the boxes we completely finished by the end of the weekend.
After a relaxing weekend, I had to go to school early Sunday morning. It was not too bad however because my mom met up with me at school, and came to my Judaism class. I think she really liked it, which I thought she might. After class we went to the Bed and Breakfast that she was going to be staying at in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. It was literally a 2 minute walk to the Kotel, which was so nice. We dropped her stuff off, and went up to the top of the building, and right when you walked out the door you could see the dome of the rock, and part of the Kotel. I thought I could touch the dome because it was so close, this view was amazing, you could see Jerusalem for miles.
After settling her in, we walked around the Jewish Quarter, had some lunch, and arranged that I was going to meet her on Ben Yehuda Street after I was finished for the day. I got back to school and I had to go to a rehearsal for my school's Yom Hashoah Ceremony (a ceremony in remembrance of the holocaust). I was supposed to sing one song with my friend Larissa and my roommate while a couple of Israeli students read testimonies (you can see it on facebook). We only had a couple of hours to rehearse that day, and we had our dress rehearsal the next day from 6-10pm. After the first rehearsal, Larissa and Shaina came with me to meet my mom on Ben Yehuda Street for dinner. I took us all to Foccacia Bar so that I could show my mom my favorite restaurant. It was a great dinner, we talked about everything that we had been doing in Israel, and we just sat there talking and laughing for a good two hours, it was great!!
The next day I had class really early, so my mom slept in and I met her at the Bed and Breakfast after my class. I dropped my books off in her room, and we went out to explore the Arab market (it's right next to the Jewish Quarter). My mom picked out a couple of presents for people back home, and I showed off my Hebrew skills (or lack there of). After we got a bit tired we walked to this great jewelry store right around the corner from where she was staying that makes amazing stuff that you can engrave Hebrew writing anywhere. My mom got me a ring (sized to fit my thumb), that says "Gam Ze Ya'Avore" which means "This too shall pass." I was so excited, I couldn't wait to get it in a couple of days and never take it off. I then had to leave my mom for the whole night (to fend for herself), so that I could go to dress rehearsal for the ceremony the next morning.
Tuesday was Yom Hashoah, and Shaina and I had to get up early and be at school by 7:45am. We got there and went through the entire ceremony before people got there. I quickly picked up my mom from the coffee shop right next to my school, and we ran back. The ceremony was really beautiful. In Israel for Yom Hashoah and any other holiday that we remember those that we have lost, a siren goes off through the entire country. It is amazing, the whole country just stops, traffic stops exactly where they are and people get out of their cars to stand in silence for 1-2 minutes. When the siren is finished everyone goes back to what they were doing, and that is what we did for the ceremony. We opened all of the doors in the building and everyone stood in silence, it was very powerful, and I could tell that some people were getting a little bit emotional. After the ceremony, I skipped my two classes of the day and spent the whole day with my mom. We went to Ben Yehuda for shwarma, and then did a little shopping. We then walked to the shuk to buy some snacks to eat when we got back to the room. We then spent the rest of the day relaxing in my dorm room, eating dried fruit and sunflower seeds. Then we got washed up and changed to go to dinner at River Noodle Bar. We had some great sushi, and fried rice, and just talked about the things that are coming up for the summer.
Wednesday was crazy. I had Hebrew in the morning, and after that I was in a really bad mood. I had done not so great on my Hebrew mid-term and all I wanted was to be with my mom and not have to think about anything else. Lucky for me she was a quick phone call away and I took a cab to meet her at the "Biblical Zoo" (yea, I said it...and no the animals are not set in two's). The sun was so bright, and the sky was completely clear of clouds. We walked around the entire zoo making animal noises and making baby faces at the smallest of furry creatures. Then a funny thing happened, my foot was starting to throb in pain every time I put any pressure on it. I knew that it was not broken (because I would have been in more pain), but there was clearly something wrong. My mom and I took a cab back to school and I took her to Burger's Bar for lunch, but after we had been sitting for a while my foot started hurting again as we got up to go. It was so bad that I couldn't even walk down the hill from the student village to my dorm (which is a 8 minute walk). We got back tot he room by cab, and I put my foot up on my bed to rest a bit. We stayed in my room for an hour or two before having to meet Yoel (my "host dad" if you will) and his wife Chava for coffee at the cafe that is right next to my dorm. They brought me an ace bandage to wrap my foot, and we got to sit for a while to drink some good coffee and talk about my experience so far here. My mom I think loved meeting Yoel and Chava, I think it made her feel at ease knowing that I was being taken care of, and that I had another home stay that was closer to school. After coffee, Yoel drove mom and I to the Jewish Quarter to go back to her B&B. I was sleeping over for the night so that I could help her with her luggage on our way back to my dorm in the morning. The people that run the B&B were so nice, they filled a container with ice for my foot, and offered us dinner, even though my mom and I had already bought shwarma in the quarter right before going to the B&B. We just sat on the roof eating our dinner and relaxing in this amazing place for my mom's last night in Jerusalem.
The next morning we got up early to pack my mom's stuff, and went up to the kitchen to see that the people that ran the B&B were already up and ready to make us anything we wanted for breakfast. My mom and I just had a quick coffee and toast, said our goodbyes and headed out. My mom dropped her stuff off at my dorm and decided that she was just going to hang out at the cafe while I was in class, and that we would head to Debbie's after I got out. I was so excited for this weekend, but also really sad at the same time. On the down side, my mom was leaving Saturday night, but on the upside, my friend Ariana was coming with us on Thursday to the farm that my cousin's work at to go on a trail ride. When we got there we were put on our own horses right away so that we could get on the trail before it got dark. We were laughing the entire time because both me and Ariana's horses kept on leaving the line to eat flowers on the side of the trail. We had to pull and kick and click out tongues so much to make the horses listen to us. Everyone was having a great time, and it was really nice to be out and about in nature.
Thursday night we went out with the family for a sushi dinner, and then went back to the house to watch movies and hang out. The next morning Ariana left early so she could get back to Jerusalem before Shabbat, and my mom and I and Debbie went to Tel Aviv to go to an outdoor shopping area. We ended up calling my best friend Andrew (who goes to Tel Aviv University) to meet us for lunch. After a GREAT Israeli lunch, Andrew gave into my please and ended up coming back to Debbie's with us for shabbat dinner. I loved having Andrew there, it was so nice having two amazingly important people in my life at the same table. I felt complete relaxation, and serenity. It is truly what I needed before my finishing up my time in Israel.
Saturday was very sad. The whole day that fact that my mom was leaving Israel was hanging over my head. There were a couple of times where I got tears in my eyes, but my mom would just shake me and tell me that I was going to be home in a month, and then I would not be able to get rid of her. After packing her stuff up, we went to a quick goodbye lunch at this great place called Elvis, which had cover to cover pictures of Elvis all over, and would only play Elvis songs, it was insane. When we got back to the house my mom and I spent some time together, just chilling, and making sure that she had everything, then it was time to go to the airport. When we got to her terminal, I started getting really emotional again. My mom then grabbed me, and hugged me tight, and told me that she was so proud of me, and everything that I have accomplished here, and that we will be celebrating my homecoming VERY soon.

That's it guys....sorry it was so long, but I know some of you actually enjoy all the fun details. Next will be about my trip to the North, and spending time with camp friends....only one more month until I come home...get excited...and keep reading!!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Four Jews In A Room Bitching"

Hey All,
I am so sorry that I am 2 WEEKS LATE!!!!!....It has been a really crazy two weeks that I honestly just was not at my computer, and had absolutely no time to write anything. I am here now though and I am ready to catch you all up on the goings on in the holy land.
When I got back from Cyprus (two weeks ago) it was the first night of Pesach (Passover). So as soon as I got home from the cruise I picked up my laundry, other overnight items, and my roommate Shaina to head to my cousin Debbie's for the first seder (which is interesting because in Israel they do not have multiple seders, just one). We took a cab to Reut and we once again warmly welcomed into Debbie's home, her husband, four kids, and a surprise guest were waiting in the kitchen for us. Debbie's sister Shelly was in from the states to visit and I was so very excited to see her and catch up on everything that was going on. The food was almost ready, all we were waiting for was Alon's family (who live in Tel Aviv). So everyone got washed up and I started making matzah balls for the matzah ball soup.
Once Alon's family was there we started the seder. Alon read the Hebrew very fast so that we could get right to the meal. I was told that a lot of secular families in Israel tend to go through the beginning section of the seder very fast so that they can get to the food and family time. I rather enjoyed it actually, I was reading the Hebrew as Alon read it and understanding bits and pieces as we went along. Then we put our books away and started eating the most delicious food I have every had. Matzah ball soup, chicken, and vegetables, and chopped liver, and gefilta fish, and matzah, and so much more.....OY!!!...I was stuffed by the end. Right after dinner we just sat around the table chit chatting, telling stories, and relaxing (as you are traditionally supposed to do on Pesach). Everybody then left, and the whole family went right to bed. The rest of the weekend was really was just relaxing, spending time with Shelly, Debbie, Alon, and the kids, and getting ready for another week of break.
My second week of break was very uneventful. Shaina and I went to Ben Yehuda on Monday to get some quick shopping in at the pharmacy and the department store. As well as the market to that we could get more matzah and other items that were kosher for Pesach. We then spent the rest of the week watching movies that we borrowed from Debbie, and catching up on A LOT of sleep that we had missed before break started. While I was resting I was also getting ready for the weekend and week ahead....because....drum roll!!....MY MOM WAS COMING FOR A SURPRISE VISIT!!! mom had called Debbie, and contacted Shaina, and my best friend Andrew on facebook, telling them that she was planning on surprising me. However, she could not keep quiet for much longer because she ended up calling me at 3am (my time) to tell me that she was coming and that I should get an itinerary ready for her. Well at that point I was so excited I didn't know what to do, so I started planning EVERYTHING waking moment to be spent with my mom.


I feel like you have all figured out that my mom was here, and left, so let me compile all the things that we did!!!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

"I'd Rather Be Sailing"

Hey All,
So the couple of days before my cruise to Cyprus were really boring. Class after Class, Midterm after Midterm. I had a feeling that writing about those couple of days for that coming Sunday would be pointless. SO I figured that because my cruise started last Sunday, you all would want to know mass detail about my cruise.

On Sunday (April 5th), I got up early to meet my girlfriends at the Student Village to catch a bus to the Tachana Meer'kazeet (Central Bus Station), to then get on a bus for 3 hours to get to Haifa by 2pm. We ended up getting there around 1pm instead, so we had three hours to kill before having to check our baggage and get on the boat. So we walked to a small cafe down the road to have some brunch. It was really nice to sit and relax with the girls and get to know them a little bit better. I had known a couple of them from classes, and such, but two I didn't know very well so we all got to sit and chit-chat and talk about how amazingly excited we were for the cruise.
Around 3pm we walked back to the terminal and checked in our bags. We had to separate ourselves by room because that was the way that they were putting us through security. In my room was Nicole, Ayala, and Justin (Nicole's cousin), and in the other room was Hannah, Hannah (pronounced Honnah), Lindsey, and Molly. Justin's friend Jess also came, but because he got there at the last minute he was in a room by himself on a lower level.
When we got on the boat we got our room keys and set off to check out our rooms. We opened the door and we were in shock. I didn't know whether to cry in disappointment or laugh. The room smaller then a single bed room at Wagner College, with bunk beds. We had NO room whatsoever to move around without being on top on each other. We figured that our ridicules room would be the least of our problems, so we sucked it up, put our things away and explored the boat. We went to the main deck where there was a pool, hot tub, snacks and drinks to start the cruise off. Hannah brought her cards and we all played a couple games before the boat started moving. There was then a huge crash of music, and a man announcing "THE ROYAL IRIS DANCERS!!!!" Yes, this was all real, there were 4 female dancers standing on the outside parts of the pool dancing to the electric slide "remix." I swear it was like a car crash, we wanted to just look away and laugh, but we could not pull our eyes away.
After the "pre-dinner entertainment" we ate dinner together and hung out in the front of the ship, looking out over the dark water and no land ahead. I felt complete relaxation at that very moment. I felt free and happy and realized for the first time that I was on vacation. The rest of the night consisted of running around the ship, discovering new rooms, going all the way to the top of the ship (where we almost got thrown off the boat by the wind), and then ending the night with a midnight meal. Yes I said it, a midnight meal. The cruise included 4 meals a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a midnight snack/meal that I think we all went to EVERY night. It just hit the spot after a long night of fun and complete craziness.
The next morning we had arrived in Cyprus, YAYAYAYAYY!!!! It was absolutely beautiful, we docked at the Cyprus sea port, and got all of our stuff together to go to the beach. I think we walked for about 2 miles before reaching the beach. We all then got so sunbeds that were sitting around, and put our stuff out. Hannah, Justin, Jess, and I then ran to the water and dove right in. The water was perfectly cold, definitely not freezing, and the sand bar went out for at least a mile, we then got really tired and walked back to our chairs. Right when we got back there was a man that was asking for our tickets to use the sunbeds. We told the man that we didn't know that we had to pay for them, and that the only money we had on us were Shekels (Israeli money). We also told him that we tried to exchange our money for euros but that the bank would not let us. He then started yelling at us saying that Israeli's are so rude and disrespectful, and leave their trash everywhere, and don't pay for things, among many other crude comments. I then opened my big mouth, which I probably should not have done, and said that we are also Americans and we have a lot of respect for countries that are not out own, and that he can clearly see that we have no trash on us except for our water bottles, which still had water in them. He still just would take it, and we said that we were sorry and then left.
Everyone else wanted to explore Cyprus a little but more, but Ayala and I were just so angry about what had happened that we walked back to the boat and sat on the deck for a little bit before getting ready for dinner. That night some of the girls were not feeling well, so a small group of us got dressed up and walked to a fun bar right next to the beach. We spent a good 3 hours there just hanging out, talking, and enjoying each others company. We got back to the boat around 2am and went to bed.
The next morning we all got up early to have breakfast together, then we all got on a bus that was taking the people on the cruise to another beach/touristy area. It was incredibly sunny out, but also amazingly windy, so we all had our sweaters on, and our hair flying everywhere. Then the funniest thing happened. As we were walking through the little strip of shops a puppy started following us. It was a stray puppy, and attached himself to us right away. He ran on the beach with us, and then slept in the middle of the group and would not move until we left. It was so cute, he was so sweet, and fun. He kept getting into our stuff or chewing our clothes (because the wind was blowing it everywhere), and when we had to get back onto the bus, he just sat staring at the buses leave. We all felt so bad, and we didn't know what was going to happen to him, we all secretly wished that we could hide him in our bags, and sneak him onto the boat.
When we got back to the boat we were all so exhausted that we took a 3 hour nap until dinner. It was crazy, we woke up so groggy, and found that the boat was moving (we were heading back to Haifa) so we all ended up feeling a bit sick from the boat rocking back and forth. The rest of that night consisted of a quiet dinner, a little bit of dancing in the boats disco, and chilling out side for a couple of hours before going to bed.
The next morning we were woken up at 6am by an announcement saying that we had arrived in Haifa and that we had to leave the boat in an hour. Basically, we got to Haifa two hours early, and they were kicking us off the boat because of that reason. We all rushed to get our stuff together, and eat a very fast breakfast before running to catch a bus to the central bus station, to then get on another bus to take the 3 hour ride back to Jerusalem. The cruise was really nice over all. There were definitely some parts where I was not happy with the organization of everything, but when we were actually having a good time, it was a REALLY good time. I loved hanging out with my friends that I already knew, and then making new friends that I hope to hang out with in the future during my last bit of school that is left.
It is now Pesach and I am spending the first Seder with my Cousins, and I am so very excited!!!
Pesach here I come!!!

Much Love

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Coffee in a Cardboard Cup"

Hey All,
So this has been a really long week, and as I sit here on my bed writing my new blog post on a Saturday instead of a Sunday I starts thinking about how long I have been in Israel. It has been about 11 weeks since I was on that airplane coming to Israel to study abroad. I have been here almost 2 months and 3 weeks, and I only have 2 more months left. This seems so crazy to me, I feel like last week I was home sitting on my floor with my friend Kristina picking out clothes for me to bring while I am away. Which is probably why I can't remember what I did last week. I guess I can try to remember though considering that this is the reason that I have a blog in the first place.

Sunday and Monday we very slow. I had a field trip to an art museum on Sunday morning for my Biblical Figures.... course. It was really nice to take a break from sitting in a room and taking notes about a million different slides. The room that we went to was filled with classical and modern art all representing "the binding of Isaac" (the part in the Torah where G-d tells Abraham to kill his only son Isaac to show how much he respects G-d). It was absolutely amazing, I think I was standing in front of each painting for 10 minutes each just taking in the art piece as a whole. I had a feeling that not everyone in the class was as into it as I was, but then again that's what happens when you come from a small town art community and artistic family from Pennsylvania. After the museum we went back to school and I had my Judaism course, and that was it. Monday was also a very slow but kind of fun day. My internship was rescheduled for Thursday night so I didn't have to leave my Holocaust class early. Plus, we didn't even have a real class that day. We had a field trip to a movie theater to see the movie "Defiance" as a class. It is the story of the Bielski brothers, and how they hid Jews in the forest and created a community while hiding during the Holocaust. We had to read the book for class and then our professor bought the entire class tickets to see it in the movies. It was absolutely amazing!!! The movie was really well made, and held true to A LOT of the book and the actual history of the Bielski brother's and what they went through in order to survive. I would recommend it to anyone that like true historical stories, and if you haven't seen a good holocaust movie since Schindler's List or Life is Beautiful.
Tuesday was really nice because after my classes I got to hang out with Shaina's Mother and Brother who came to visit her here for a week. After they settled into the Bed and Breakfast that they were staying in, we went to the old city and walked around the Arab quarter. From there we walked down to the Kotel (the western wall) for a bit. It was such a site to see. We got there and there was a graduation ceremony for the soldiers that had just finished there training before doing their service. They were all lined up in the center, right in front of the Kotel and their commanders were yelling instructions to them and they had to respond. After going to our separate sides of the Kotel to touch the wall and pray for a bit (there is a men's side and a women's side to the Kotel, they are not allowed to pray together, and the womens side is A LOT smaller then the men's side) we headed back up to the Arab quarter so that we could catch a cab to Ben Yehuda street. As we were leaving the soldiers were still there waiting for the end of the ceremony I guess. It then started to rain a bit, and got a little cold, good thing we were on our way to get some dinner in a nice warm restaurant. We went to Foccacia Bar for a good meal, even thought Shaina's mom and brother were so tried from the trip that they could barely keep their eyes open. Shaina and I were also pretty tired because of the weather and the busy week we had a head of us.
Wednesday morning Shaina's family came to our dorm room for breakfast before we went to classes for the day. e had some cereal and fruit, it was actually really nice because normally Shaina and I are so tried in the morning that we barely talk, and just kind of drag ourselves to class. That morning we were a little bit more peppy, and up, and ready to go. After my classes on Wednesday I came back to the room and started reading/studying a bunch of articles in order to start writing my first paper for my Holocaust class. I think I sat for a good hour in silence just reading and highlighting and taking notes on the material. The paper is due next Wednesday but I really needed to get started early because I had absolutely no idea how to write this paper (and the professor was not all too much help in that department either, everything that he told me to do was completely broad and impossible to understand).
All of Thursday I was reading my articles again and barely paying attention to anything else. At the end of my day I had to go back to school to go to a meeting about possibly singing for a Yom Hashoah remembrance event (Holocaust remembrance). I got there and told the main person Amichai that I had to leave early because I had my internship that night instead of the day that it is supposed to me on. He was fine with it because all he needed from me was to hear me sing so that he could get my voice type. I think he really liked me, and my friends in the other room could hear me and were also really impressed. He said that he would find something for me to do, and he did. My friend Margot told me that night after my internship that he wants me to sing a duet in Yiddish with one of the other girls in the group. I was so excited, I couldn't wait to get started the next week. internship that night went really well, not all the girls were there again, but the ones that were there had a great time, and they are really making a lot of progress, and I am very sure that they are ready to go to London for their dance re-treat with no problems.
That night I met Margot, Leah, Ariana, and Sarah N. at a sushi bar called Japanika. We had a great dinner, and it was nice to hang with my girls before having to work on my paper ALL weekend. After dinner we went to out for a couple of drinks, and some girl talk. We had a great time listening to fun Israeli music and being in the center of some great Israeli culture. We ended up staying a little bit later then we wanted to, so we got into some cabs and went right home to go to bed to get ready to stay in my room for the entire weekend to study and write my paper.
Friday I sat in the room reading, and studying, while Shaina and her family went to the shuk to get food for Shabbat dinner. When they got back we just hung out in the room for a little bit, and then started making dinner. We made chicken fajitas with veggies, chicken, three different cheeses, and laffa bread (large pizza type doughy bread, usually you eat it with shwarma). It was really good, Shaina and I are definitely going to be making it again in the future. I am also thinking about buying some extra veggies and chicken breasts so that I can make chicken soup (which lasts for a long time). After dinner we ate some ruggala and watched a movie on my computer. Shaina's family then went home to get some sleep because they were going to be getting up early the next morning to go to Tel Aviv. The rest of the night Shaina and I were just doing some work on our computers, and then got ready for bed.
The next morning, Shaina got up early to meet her mom and brother to go to Tel Aviv. I slept in for a little bit longer then started typing my paper. It is really hard to decide what information is the most important because to me everything that I have read proves my ultimate point. So by the time I got to four pages I had finished talking about the first article out of four that I was focusing on. I have a feeling that this paper is going to be longer then six pages long. I just hope that my professor notices how hard I worked on it so that can get an OK grade (I have been told that he is a really difficult grader, and that he is sometimes unpredictable when it comes to grading papers).
That's all for this week...I just have one more week to go before I go on Pesach break. Next Sunday I leave for Cyprus for my three day cruise. I am soooo excited, and I don't think I am going to be able to concentrate ALL week. Wish me luck!!!
Much love!!!