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!!!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

"We Are Family"

Hey All,
Not gonna lie, pretty boring week. Especially because my last post was on Tuesday. O well, so this will be short, then you can catch up on my other long posts that you haven't finished (giggle giggle).
The rest of the week I had classes, and for some reason they felt even longer then they normally are. Hebrew in the morning, and classes right after. I really love my classes, but now that mid-terms are coming up, I am getting even more homework, study material, and essays that want to take over my life. I have a 5-6 page paper for my Holocaust due in a week about the bombing of Auschwitz, complete with commentary from MANY European sources. Plus, I can't just write about the bombing of Auschwitz, I have to create my own topic on the subject, and expand on it using new sources other then one's that my professor gives me. Can you say OY?? I then have a midterm for my art course, which will be my professor showing us 40 different art pieces that we have seen, and we have to choose 6-10 pieces (maybe), and identify the artist, and write everything that you know about that piece (aka biblical text stuff, and artistic composition). My other midterm that I have is for my religious foundations course. It will be all multiple choice, and we are going to go over the answers right after everyone is done, so that we can discuss our answers and use the midterm to study for a final in the future. I absolutely love this class, we get into the best tangents with the professor on the most random things, then always end up connecting to the original subject. We are also going on an ALL DAY trip to the North to look at some religious areas that relate to the different movements in Judaism.
Wednesday night I then went with Shaina and Sarah to Margot's apartment to make pasta and salad, and watch Grey's Anatomy. We all had missed so many episodes, and Margot found some way to collect all of them on her computer so we could watch FULL EPISODES instead of bits and pieces from YouTube. It was great, we watched 3-4 episodes, and we were laughing and getting way too excited the entire time. We then left around 9:30 or so because both Shaina and myself had to do homework for Thursday.
The next day I breezed through my classes, and got ready to go to my cousin's for Shabbat. My friend Becca was coming with me, so when I got back to my room she was already there with her backpack ready. We met Debbie outside of the building and we went right to her house. When we got there I through a load of laundry in the wash, and we sat around snacking and watching Israeli television. We then realized it was only going to be four of us for dinner that night (Gil was included in the four) so we made tuna melts and onion soup. We then sat around the dining room table eating our comforting dinner and chit-chatting about children's movies we used to love. We then sat in front of the television for a bit watching something silly until we got tired (yay for comfortable beds!!). The next morning Becca got up a little bit earlier then me and watched some stuff on her computer, and I slept for another hour. We then went up to get some breakfast. Debbie came into the kitchen and was taking requests for breakfast, we all had eggs in a hole, and sat a our the kitchens mini TV and watched mindless soup opera's. The rest of the day Becca and I sat outside and did some studying for school, and just enjoyed the cool but sunny day. We then watched Mona Lisa Smile's and hung out until I started making dinner.
I decided that I wanted to make a big Shabbat dinner for my family, so Debbie went out shopping for some lovely chicken, and I cut them up into strips and made lemon chicken, pasta, and veggies for the family (Debbie, Alon, Avigal, Avigal's boyfriend Yonaton, Guy, and Shai)(Gil was sleeping at the farm that they have horses at so he was not at dinner). It was wonderful, and it seemed like they enjoyed the food (pleasepleaseplease). It was nice to spend more time with my family on a more intimate level instead eating and running around. We ate dinner, and sat and talked (a little bit of Hebrew and a little bit in English). Everyone else then went into the living room to look at pictures and I got to sit at the table with Avigal. We hadn't been able to really talk since I got here, so we talked about school and the things that I am doing here, and many other things. I was so happy to spend some one on one time with her because she works late nights at the airport so whenever she is home she resting before her next shift. I hope that soon we can go out, and hang out with her boyfriend and our friends (we are the same age). That night Becca went to bed early, and I stayed up with Debbie and Shai watching old episodes of CSI:Miami, and drinking hot Shoko (Israeli chocolate milk, it's AMAZING).
Saturday morning Becca and I woke up and made ourselves some eggs. Shai got up around the same time as us so she joined us. I made Shai and Becca eggs over easy, and a tomato, onion and cheese omelet for myself (which Becca ended up having half of because she was still hungry). We then sat in front of the television for a bit watching a soap opera (that I don't even remember the name of), and cleaned our stuff up to get ready to go back to school. Debbie took us back to school, and we thanked her for a great weekend, Debbie then said that she would be in touch with me not only to check in, but also to let me know about their Pesach (Passover) Seder on the first night of Pesach. Debbie and I thought that it would be nice for me to come to spend the first seder with them. I completely agreed, and now I am so excited to spend my Pesach break (spring break) in Cyprus and with my family. That night I relaxed, watched a TV show that Sarah, Shaina, and I normally watch before bed, and made some pasta and veggies for dinner.
Hope that was short enough...hehe...hope everyone has a great week!!!
Miss you all very much!!!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Zoot Suit Riot"

Hey All,
So because I am writing on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday this week, I am going to TRY and get together ALL of the stuff I did last week going into this week. Simplicity isn't really my thing, but those of you who actually enjoy reading my blog (or are procrastinating in other subjects) will have a lot to read.
I had class on Monday night and then rushed back to my dorm to get dressed. For those of you who don't know what Purim is (and without getting into the historic background of the amazing Jewish holiday) it is a mix between St. Patrick's Day and Halloween (oy...I know). I got back to my room, did some quick homework, ate dinner in lightning speed, and dressed up to go to Tel Aviv. I dressed up as Bleeker (M. Cera from the movie Juno), Shaina was a Tiger, and my friend Sarah was "The Dead Sea." We ran to the bus stop that is just outside of our dorms, and took it to the central bus station, where we again ran to the bus that was taking people to Tel Aviv. We were some of the first people to get on the bus, so we got seats right away. Once we got to Tel Aviv we called some of our friends that had left a bit earlier. We were supposed to meet them at the main street where all of the craziness was happening (Florentine St.). When we got there, it was packed with MILLIONS, and I do mean MILLIONS of people. There was music going on everywhere, people dancing on cars, on buildings, lights flashing, and probably anything else that you could possibly imagine. We found our friends at the "beginning" of the street and linked arms to work our way through. We attempted to get through at least one block without getting separated, but clearly that wasn't going to happen. Some of us kept breaking the chain because other people were trying to get through (not noticing that there were two arms linked in front of them), we would then call out each others names, and try to identify someones clothing as something to follow. We got through one block and had to rush into an open alley in order to not get trampled on by unknown characters. When we got through, I called one of my Israeli friends (Daniel) and had him come and find me so that we could hang out for a bit. It took forever for him and his friends to find us, and by the time they got to where we were, all of my friends were exhausted and wanted to go back to Jerusalem (it was 3am already). I really wanted to hang out with Daniel so everyone else left and Shaina and I stayed. Daniel said that we should walk to a frozen yogurt shop that was only a couple blocks from where we were, so that seemed like a good idea. We ended up walking for an hour trying to find this place, and by the time we got there, it was closed. Then Daniel suggested that we get some sushi, and by this time Shaina and I were SOOOOO tired, so I said my goodbye to Daniel and told him that I would be back very soon to hang out with him again. Shaina and I then took a cab to the Sheeroot (taxi-bus) station and headed back to Jerusalem. By the time we got back into our room and into bed it was already 5am (OY!!!). However, even though it was a long night of craziness, we needed to experience it, and we ended up having a pretty OK time.
On Tuesday, my best friend Andrew (who is studying abroad in Tel Aviv) came to Jerusalem. His family, of whom are my second family basically, were here to visit him for 2 weeks. So they gave me a call when they got into Jerusalem, and I met up with them on Ben Yehuda street. After they had lunch we walked around, and went shopping. Karen (Andrew's Mom), Sara (Andrew's Sister), and I stopped in a lot of places, while the boys (Andrew and his dad Lou)(I think I spelled that wrong) walked around waiting for us (some of the time). After being on Ben Yehuda, we walked to the Shuk to do a little more shopping before dinner. Karen took us to a GREAT Israeli restaurant on Machaneh Yehuda called "Sami's" which was really great, when we got there we ended up meeting with one of Andrew's Camp Ramah friends that goes to Hebrew University with me as well. After dinner we walked all the way to Emek Rafayeem (about a 15 min. walk from Ben Yehuda) to another restaurant called "CafeCafe" to get some coffee. It ended up that my friends Sarah, Ariana, and Leah were there having dinner for the second night of Purim before going back out. I sat with Andrew and his family, and then when they wanted to leave to go back to Tel Aviv I stayed behind to hang out with my friends. It was really nice seeing Andrew and his family for the day. I had been getting really homesick in the past week, so being able to get a "mommy hug" and a "daddy hug" was really helpful.
After my girls were finished dinner, we walked BACK to Ben Yahuda street and found again MILLIONS BEYOND MILLIONS of people celebrating the second night of Purim (forgot to mention that within these two days, aka Tuesday and Wednesday, I didn't have any school)(yay for Jewish holiday breaks). We tried walking through the many crowds but it was even crazier then Tel Aviv. We could get through the crowds of people this time, but it was even noisier, and even younger people. Which basically meant that they were running around, bumping into people, and light firecrackers ALL NIGHT!!. Some even got really close to where we were walking and made an incredibly loud noise right next to us. By this time it was midnight, and we were ready to go back to the dorms. I went to bed right away because I knew that I needed to get some sleep that night into Wednesday before the rest of the week.
Thursday was back to classes (which didn't really make sense because after that we had the weekend, aka no classes on Fridays because of Shabbat), I breezed through them and went right back to my room and hangout with Shaina and Sarah. That night we went out with our friend Becca and her boyfriend who was visiting her in Israel for a bit. We went to Ben Yehuda street again and just sat in a pub to talk. We didn't want to stay out too late so Shaina, Sarah, and I went back to the dorms early(Shaina and Sarah were getting up early Friday morning to go to a weekend retreat "Shabatone" which I didn't get a chance to sign up for so I wasn't going)(I was assured that there would be more int he future). All day Friday was Emily time. I slept in, made a good breakfast, did some homework, took a LONG shower, watch a movie (or two, or three), made Shabbat dinner for myself and then went to bed. The next day I go up and again made some breakfast (shakshuka, aka tomato's and other lovely vegetables and pouched eggs), then walked to the student village to spend the day hanging with my friend Larissa. Larissa and I know each other from camp, and we had not been able to truly have Larissa and Emily time since we got here, so it was nice to hang with her, listen to music, watch a movie, and just talk for a bit. Larissa then decided that we should go to a waffle bar for dinner/dessert, so we got a couple of people together and took a bus to Ben Yehuda to eat some AMAZING waffles (waffle with chocolate ice cream, and a waffle with warm cinnamon cream cheese spread on top). After we were finished I got the best phone call of my life, the EYH trip (Expand Your Horizons) from Wagner College (my school yay) was here.
I left Larissa and friends, and met up with the group, I was so very surprised when I saw some of the girls that live on the Earth/Green floor with me. It was so exciting to see people from school, and Kathryn Steingraber, who was the person that truly helped me with EVERYTHING that I needed to get here. I showed them around Ben Yehuda and showed them where the night life was. We went to "Crack Square" so they could see where a lot of the parties go on (clubs, bars, etc.). We sat down in a pub for a bit, and talked about my time here a little bit. They asked a lot of questions as to the classes I am taking, what the school is like, and what I have truly been up to during my already two months here. I then left them to hang out on their own. I had class the next morning so I needed to get to sleep.
On Sunday, Kathryn came to two of my classes (Religious Foundations of Judaism, and In the Community: Israel Case Study, aka my internship course). After my first class, I took Kate to a salad bar that we have on campus that I love, and chit-chat about my time here so far. We then had a little bit of time before the second class, so we walked to my dorm so that she could check out my room. I think she liked it, and said that it seemed cozy. We then went to my second class, and we both took many many notes. That day we were talking about the structure of different organizations. Everything was VERY clear to me because I am studying management in the arts, so I take classes about how different organizations work. Kate was taking notes on what the professor was saying, as well as how the class connects to the things that Wagner is looking for in a study abroad program (I have a feeling that she got more then she needed). After the class, I met with my teacher so that he could know how I am doing in my internship. He liked that I was happy in what I was doing, and to contact him or my advisor with any problems that I might be having (we were told this many times, but it feels good that they are so concerned). Kate and I then went out to dinner. I took her to Fococcia Bar, which is a Tuscan grill like restaurant off of Ben Yehuda. We had a great dinner, and talked about how to endorse the study abroad to Israel program, and the experience that I am having here both as a regular college student, and from a religious point of view. It was a really great opportunity for us to debrief about the program, and really have some down time from the rest of the group, and from school.
The next day I had class bright and early. I couldn't concentrate all that much though because I knew that the Wagner group was coming to Hebrew University to get a personal tour of the campus by me. I got them through security, and we walked to the Rotheberg International School building (Boyer building), where we took a quick picture of all of us in front of the beautiful view from the top of the school. I then took them inside, where they had a brief introductions to the RIS program, and the things you can do on campus. I then took them through the building, around a couple of court yards, through the forum, and then took them to the Botanical Gardens that are on campus. I thought that would be a nice last stop so they could see how much, not just my school or Jerusalem, but Israel cares about the environment, and the immense amount of natural agriculture that is here. I explained to them the Israel takes pride in their land, and that everything here is properly nurtured, and taken care of so that all can enjoy it. we then left Hebrew U. and went to the Community Center in Pisgat Ze'ev for lunch with Karen Kalif (my internship advisor). They learned about the community and what the center does, and what kind of internships you can do there. I then had to head out because I had my last class of the day very soon. I said my goodbyes, and wished everyone a great rest of semester, and that I would see them next fall (Senior Year!!!).
I ended my Monday night with my internship, and had a great time playing some Theater games with the girls and getting them a little bit more prepared to go to London. I love being with them, and they seem like they enjoy being with me as well, and I hope that I am making a big enough impact on them that they will go on their trip with a positive frame of mind.
I have a feeling that this was really long, but then again like I said in the beginning, I am not really a simple kind of girl.
I hope everyone is well and happy, and had a great St. Patrick's Day!!!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Get This Party Started"

Hey All,
Busy, Busy week!!!
I had a long week of classes, filled with BIG exams, and mini quiz's.
All week I was preparing for two Hebrew quiz's. One on words from the week, and the other was for infinitive words, yea I said it, infinitive words such as; to go, to read, to speak, to learn. They all also have different rules, not all are spelled the same, it all depends on how the original word was set up. For example; Gar is "Live" (I live there), or lomed is "study" (I study art). However, when you are making these two words infinitive, they are put into two different categories. "To Live" is La'gor, and "To Study" is Leel'mode. It gets very complicated, and some words have exceptions to the original words. I studied very hard for both quiz's and I am hoping that I did well on both.
The big exam that I had was on basic knowledge of the Holocaust. Which means to me; who is Adolf Hitler, when did the Nazi's come to power, what are ghetto's, what is "the night of broken glass," what are some of the major camps, etc. NOPE!!! I had to read an entire 382 page Holocaust book in 3 days in order to know; other names of generals, officers, commanders, places, vocab, events, and specifics about certain camps. All of this information spanning from 1930-1945. I attempted to read the entire book within those 3 days (same time that everyone else had) and got to about 1939 when I realized I couldn't retain anymore information. I figured I would wing it, and I would have a good amount of information to at least get a decent grade. I went into the exam, and we had to choose 10 out of 20 people, places, events, and vocab to describe in one paragraph each. Then when we were finished with those descriptions, I had to write an essay, out of four VERY different choices. I got to a point towards the end of my essay where I felt that I couldn't write anymore about the Holocaust or I would start crying (because of the actual event, and because I could write anymore information)(I was literally "dead" in the subject). When I was finished, my friends Nicole and Ayala went to celebrate finishing the exam. We went to Burgers Bar which is a great burger place in Israel with a million choices as far as both poultry and meat, and toppings. They also have the BEST fries ever. It was nice to relax after class with my friends and talk about how crazy the exam was, and how now we can look forward to so many other things without having to worry about studying for any more exams in this class (for my Holocaust class you just have that exam and two papers, NO FINAL!!).
On Thursday, I had my regular classes until 2:15, and then got ready to go to the Center again. A board a important people from the Staten Island JCC was visiting Israel, and they were in Jerusalem for Thursday and Shabbat. I went to the Center and met them (all 9 of them) in one of the meeting rooms. Then after they went around the table to tell me there names, we headed out to go on a quick tour of Pisgat Ze'ev (the same tour that I went on when I first got here). They were all really nice, and wanted to ask me a million questions. It was great, and I felt very close to them (like family) after just meeting. After the tour we had a nice buffet dinner in the same meeting room that we started in. By that time, Yoel and Shai had gotten there, and we sat around and ate good food, and had some wonderful conversations. The next day was Shabbat, and I spent I think the whole day in bed, studying, and hanging out. It was a very quiet day, and at night I watched a movie on my computer and made myself some dinner (pasta, and vegys). I then went to bed early because I had to get up early to meet up with the group again.
On Saturday, I got up extra early to take a shower, and get dressed for a walking tour of the Old City. I checked the weather before I got dressed, and it said that it was going to be 80 degrees. I was sooo excited, I wore jeans and a tank top, and brought a light jacket just in case (in some parts of the Old City you have to cover your shoulders for modesty). I met the group that the hotel that they were staying in, and we started walking from there. We met up with two of there Israeli friends that they met when they had home hospitality Shabbat dinners, and they took us to another meeting area where there were a million other groups waiting to go on a tour of the Old City as well. When we got there it was so packed with touring groups that we decided to just go on our own. We figured that we have to two Israeli's with us, and they know their way around, why not go on our own personal tour of the "real" Old City. It was great, they took us through the back alleys of Ben Yehuda, and I got to give my two cents on the places that I had been (aka night life), and then we headed through some other little towns on the outskirts of the Kotel (Western Wall). We got to this little park that was absolutely beautiful, overlooking the Kotel, Jaffa Gate (pronounced Yaffa), and the Arab quarter. We walked through the park and ended up in a little village that we found out was the 1st community built outside of the Old City. As we were walking through, a woman stopped us and asked if we wanted to come into her home. She said that she was an artist, and that she had a beautiful home, and she just wanted us to come inside and experience it (and maybe even buy one of her art and poetry books). We excepted and it was the most beautiful home I had ever seen. It was very small, but everything was hand made, and very antique looking. The walls were COVERED in her art pieces, and felt so warm and cozy. I remember thinking that when I have my first home, I want it to look just like this; lived in, bohemian, hippy, chic. The woman we found out was from Holland and moved to Israel when she was 22. She painted everyday, and would never think about what to paint, she would just paint whatever she felt, and somehow it just came out this amazing masterpiece. It was really wonderful, and she stopped me before I left and said that I should come back to her soon and we would relax in the park and paint together. I thought that was very sweet, and I hope that if I do go back she will remember my face, and we will do exactly what she said we would do.
We finally got to the Jaffa Gate and we walked around the Arab quarter so that the group could do some last minute shopping before moving on. After they were finished we walked to the Christian quarter where we took the group to Church of the Holy Seplicur(I know that I did not spell that right) (the supposed place where Jesus was buried). I didn't go inside because I had already been before and didn't find it to be all too exciting when I first went, so I sat outside in the sun with our two Israeli friends and chit-chat about living in Israel, and if I had ever considered moving to Israel in the future.
After being in the Old City, we took a couple of cabs to the "Israel Museum." We went to the dead sea scrolls exhibit, and checked out the beautiful sculpture garden that was there. There wasn't really a lot to see because the museum has been under construction, and wont be complete until 2010, it was still a very nice experience anyway. Once the group was finished we walked back to the Hotel and rested until dinner. I went to the room that some of the woman were staying in, and took a nap on their couch. It was very relaxing, and when I woke up they acted very mother like, and offered me a million things (they said that since they were away from their own children they needed someone to baby). That night we went to a great noodle bar called River to have dinner. Shai was there, and we sat and hung out and had some fun conversations with each other and the people around us. By the end of the night I was so tired I had to go to bed (I had class early Sunday morning so I thought sleeping might be a really good idea).
All in all it was a wonderful week. I know that this blog is very late. I was having some personal problems so I needed to write it a little later. This coming Sunday however will be filled with EVERYTHING that i did for Purim, so no worries, I will be completely put together by then.
Much Much Love!!!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

"If I Only Had a Brain"

Hey All,
So this week I got to experience all of my classes for the semester. Every day it is something different, and ALWAYS eventful. The only thing that I have everyday is a Hebrew class. It is at 10:30 am until 12:15 everyday except for Monday mornings when it is at 8:30.

Hebrew is really hard, but I am learning slowly but surely. At this point I feel comfortable with asking for things, such as; directions, food, prices when I need to buy things, etc. I feel like a am better at speaking it then understanding it because I have to ask the person that I am talking to to speak slowly, or speak in English. My teachers try to go slowly so that we don't get too frustrated, but it is kind of hard considering that we are all learning this language for the first time. For some (including myself) this is the first NEW language they have ever taken other then learning Spanish or french in middle school and high school.

My other classes I have are great. Sundays and Tuesdays I have Religious Foundations of Judaism: Intellectual Trends and Ideological Developments. This class has 10 people in it now, and we all come from different religious backgrounds. Including one guy named Kendal who is christian (hmmmmm?). We talk about the beginning of the Jewish faith, aka the middle ages until now. We started out talking about the differences between "written Torah" and "oral Torah." As Jewish people we read the Torah word for work, but not all of the laws that we abide by today come from actual words from the Torah. For example; in the Torah it says, word for word, "you shall not boil a kid in it's mothers milk." However, nowhere does it say anything about having to separate dishes, as well as if you boil a calf in sheep's milk does that mean that it is still kosher? Clearly the calf is not the "kid" of the sheep, so it is OK to eat together. There is also nothing said about eating poultry and dairy, because clearly chickens don't produce milk. This where "oral Torah" comes in. The Rabbi's of that time read the literal meanings, and then thought about how they can create laws to expand on what is said in the Torah. In the future we are going to be talking more about the different movements in Judaism, as well as the issues that other religions have had with the Jewish faith thought history.
Sundays and Thursdays I have Biblical Figures and Stories in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Art. This class is right up my alley. It is going into the different famous stories within the Torah, and how they differ from christian stories and Islamic/Muslim stories. Then we look at different art pieces throughout history that depict the same stories. We analyse the art, and think about what the artist was thinking as far as what is said in the old testament, new testament, and the Koran which is the Islamic/Muslim Torah/bible. It is a lot of fun, and it gives me a chance to relax and learn about something that I have an immence interest in, as well a passion for art in general.
Mondays and Wednesdays I have Jewish-non-Jewish Relations and Rescue During the Holocaust. This class is a little bit more intense (for more reasons then just that it is about the Holocaust). It has about 40 people in it, and everyone gets to the class really early so that they can get a good seat. Once we find a place to sit that is a good distance from the board as well as where the professor is standing, we take out our notebooks and get ready to listen and write notes for 3 hours. It is quite literally a lecture class, where the students sit and listen, and the professor talks until he is blue in the face. My professor that goodness as very good at what he does, so he goes over arts of history that we didn't know a couple of times before moving on. He also is always so excited about what he is talking about. It is as if he wants us to get just as excited about history as he is. I for one am definitely feeling the thrill of history that he is seeking, even though the subject matter is VERY depressing. We are going to be talking about the years leading up to the establishment of the ghetto's and concentration camps. Then we are going to move into the bombing of Auschwitz, and the Pope and the Vatican's views of the Holocaust. It is really interesting so far, and I am pretty sure I am taking enough notes to teach my own course in the Holocaust. I have only had 2 lectures in this subject and I already had 15 pages worth of notes just from class time.
The other course I am taking is not very much fun for me. I am doing an internship with the community center in Pisgat Ze'ev so I have to take a course/workshop about working in an internship. In the Community: Israel Case Studies- Academic Internship is a course where you sit in a class every other Sunday and talk about the fundamentals of working in an internship. It is quite boring because I have experience in working in different kinds of organizations, so I know the protocol for meeting your employer, and the other people that work in the organization. It is basically going to be a class that I will hopefully get through easily. I can also see how important it is to understand Israeli society, and how to work in it.

Another fun event that happened this week was my friend Nicole and I figuring out what we are doing during our spring break. Nicole and I had met in the airport on the way to Israel, and we instantly became friends. A couple of weeks ago she had suggested to me maybe going on a cruise with her and her cousins during our spring break. I had told her that I still didn't know what I wanted to do, and that money was definitely an issue, considering that I didn't come to Israel with a lot of money to spend on vacations, and other forms of traveling. Then, on Wednesday after my Holocaust course, Nicole got all of the information that I needed for the cruise. A 3 day cruise to Cyprus, for people in a room, 4 meals a day, pool, hot tub, night life, etc. All for the amazing price of 250 dollars (yep dollars, not shekels). I immediately said YESYESYES!!! I had to give my mom a call first to see if it was OK, and she was so excited for me that she of course said yes. I am going with Nicole, our friend Ayala and one of Nicole's female cousins in one room, and the other room is Nicole's male cousins and one of their friends. I am so very excited, and I couldn't wait to tell all of my friends from the states about my up and coming adventure.
After that set of good news, I was ready for a relaxing weekend with my cousins. On Thursday, after my Biblical Art class, my cousin Debbie picked me up from my dorm and we drove to her home that is only 25 minutes away from my school. All of the kids were home which was really nice. We had a quiet dinner together, and spread out to do some work. I put in my LARGE BAG of laundry and started on some readings for two of my classes. After my laundry and reading was done, Debbie, Shai, and I watched a movie, then went to bed. It felt so good to sleep in a real bed with comfy sheets and fluffy pillows, I felt at home with my cousins. On Friday I woke up around 11am and had some breakfast while doing some more reading. This is how it was the entire day. Me and most of the kids just sat around doing work, or some crafts, in complete silence. Finally Gil decided to watch a movie, so I stopped what I was doing and joined him. Considering that it was thundering outside, Debbie made some soup, and we got comfortable on the couch to watch Quantum Of Solace (the James bond movie), which was pretty OK. After the movie we all got ready to go out to dinner. My cousin Avigal joined us for dinner with her boyfriend, and we had a really great time. I made sure that they spoke in Hebrew with me so that I could learn more. It was great, I could understand a lot of what was going on, and when I didn't understand a word I would ask Debbie what it meant and would go right back into listening to the different conversations.
That night was also very relaxing. We got back to the house and Avigal and her boyfriend were getting ready to go out. We hadn't planned out my being there very well because I wasn't able to go with them. However, Avigal told me that next time I come for the whole weekend we would go into Tel Aviv together and meet up with both of our groups of friends. It sounded like a good idea to me, and I was very excited to figure out when we could make that happen. After they left Debbie, Gil, Shai, and I watched some television and went to bed around midnight. I slept really well again, and ended up waking up the next morning at noon. I went to the kitchen thinking that I would make some cereal for myself, but found that Debbie was already making a HUGE brunch for everyone, and was taking requests for how people wanted their eggs. It was really nice just sitting around the table eating brunch and watching TV, because right after, I started getting ready to leave. I said goodbye to the kids, and Alon (Debbie's husband), and headed out. Debbie drove me back to school right before Shabbat let out, and I was very sad to say goodbye. We said to each other that it was a good thing I wasn't too far away, and that it was nice to have family in the area for a long period of time instead of many miles away in the States.

I am looking forward to another wonderful week of classes, and the beginning of my internship!
Hope everyone is well and happy, and I miss you all very much!!!