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!!!


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