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