Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Week

Another week gone by, and since I made it a goal of mine to update the blog every week I am doing so. With that being said, this blog is not going to be a very long one... sorry.
This week was another week of school. Nothing very exciting happened. On Wednesday for our Israel Seminar class we had a day of looking at Women's Status in Israel. We heard from different women that have jobs that are focused on helping women that live in Israel. The first woman went into detail about how the orthodox community is trying to make segregated buses so that men and women don't have to sit on the same bus. This is not allowed and the bus company out here won't allow it so instead what the orthodox community has done is made it so that women have to sit on the back of the buses. This is not something that happens on all the buses here in Jerusalem, just the ones that go through the orthodox communities such as Meah Sh'arim. What was interesting was that the day after hearing this I saw Mohammed and he told he that on Friday he was going to be driving one of these buses that have women sit in the back. I got so excited and asked him if I could join him on this ride. I was excited because I really wanted to see what this was like. He told me that if I did join him I would have to dress like an orthodox girl and would have to sit in the back of the bus otherwise I would get yelled at. I obviously agreed to doing so. On Friday morning as I get up and begin to get ready to go, Mohammed called me and told me he was no longer driving that bus. I was a little disappointed because I really interested in experiencing this.
The other woman, Rachel, works in the government and has taken it upon herself to help women that are specifically in the orthodox movement. We learned that how on the buses here in Israel there aren't any pictures of women's faces because the Orthodox men can't look at them then. She told us about a story of a woman that came it and said her husband had rapped their 6 year old daughter and the courts told the woman that there was nothing they could do because it is a matter between her husband and he daughter and it didn't involve her. So Rachel has taken on the role of helping women in these situations and trying to make it equal for everyone. We then watched clips of a few films and analyzed the role of the women. A lot of the statistics they told us were really disturbing and it makes me want to have a more active role and creating equal rights.
That was the most exciting thing that happened this week, otherwise everything else is the school school. We did have our conference call for LA on thursday night and it was really interesting and it made me really excited about moving down to LA. So of course, out of my excitement I began to look up apartments.... didn't find anything too exciting. I think it is really just going to come down to me needing to go and look at places. I also don't know if I want to have a roommate. Any opinions?
Tonight is the Debbie Friedman concert. For those of you that don't know who Debbie Friedman is, she essentially changed the face of Jewish Music. Much of her music is sang at congregations, and communities around the world. Over my winter break, Debbie passed away so tonight at school we are having a concert to remember her. Me and other students are going to be singing one of her famous songs Lechi Lach. Moms favorite song! I am going to try and get someone to record it on my camera and then I will try and post it tonight on the blog for you all to see.
This week at school we only have 3 days of class because we are having what we a Colloquium. I have no idea what the means but once we have it and I am there, I will fill you all in. That's about it for tonight, nothing exciting :)
Hope everyone is well!

Friday, January 21, 2011

First week back....

Yes, this week I led T'fillah. While this statement would normally not sound as bizarre, it is. When I was in Arizona I led services all the time...but as the Cantor. This week my role for leading the service was totally different... I had the more "Rabbinical Role". While I did not feel as though the service went well, I have been getting very positive feedback from my classmates, staff, and administration. I probably feel weird about the situation because it was the first time I was leading a service in this position.
The first week of being back has been pretty exciting. I got in on time and headed right back for the apartment. I was greeted by my new roommate abbey who is great... (she actually cleans up after herself!) I tried really hard not to but I took a quick 30 min nap until Shabbat was over. I was starving since I didn't eat the breakfast one the plane. Breakfast plane food scares me especially when it's kosher. So I woke up after 30 mins and headed downstairs to Soya to get food. I was greeted with big hellos and hugs!!! And of course, out of the goodness of their hearts they didn't make me pay for my meal. They are so good to me. I immediately gave them their yummy yummy gifts, Sconza Candy and they LOVED IT! I gave Tomer (the guy that works at night at Soya) one to give to Eran (the guy that works in the morning). The next day I saw Eran and asked if he liked the candy and he had no idea what I was talking about because Tomer ate his!!! I felt really bad but I didn't have any extra so I told him I would figure something else out. I also got a Giants baseball cap for Tomer's sone. I guess he loved it so much he wants more hats!!! So, look out Uncle Dennis, I have an international order coming your way.
I didn't get to see Moshe until Sunday night. He too was very excited to see me. I gave him the chocolate and said he couldn't eat it until later in the evening because he had just eaten meat. (For Kosher laws you have to wait 6 hours after eating meat to eat milk, and since the chocolate has milk... well you can figure it out from there.) So that evening I went to dinner at my friends house and I get back at 9:15 so see if Moshe had eaten the candy yet (oh btw, I have him the Chocolate covered Cherries) and he only had 4 left in the bag!!! He loved them sooo much. He said he was saving the rest of the cherries to give to his Yeshiva friends. He wanted me to get him more but I clearly have no way of doing that so I told him he should have savored each and every bite.
Then I FINALLY was able to see Muhammed. He is doing well, minus the fact that they changed the bus route a little bit so it takes him a lot longer but the company didn't actually allow for this extra time in his schedule so he rarely gets a break during the day. I rode the bus with him for 4.5 hours!! (that's definitely a record for me). We talked and just enjoyed seeing each other again. When I was home I made sure to get him something for the bus. On his normal bus, his partner has up all this heart stickers over the different mirrors on the bus, so I thought it would be nice to get him something to put there to. So I ended up getting him I really cool sticker of the Golden Gate Bridge that says San Francisco over it. He put it up right away. I also got him some American Flag stickers (how could I resist?) and he put three of those up. So I am forever more a part of that number 18 bus! Last night I got on the bus and after we smoked Hookah. We hadn't done that in a while so it was really nice to in a way go back to the old ways.
School has been good. Nice to get a few new classes and nice to have a schedule again. I have been absolutely exhausted though. Between getting home at 1am from the bus rides and getting up at 645am I am surprised I am still a functioning human being. Even today, Friday, a day when we don't have school, us education students had to be at an elementary school at 815 so we could observe the school. As cool as it is to see... ARE YOU KIDDING ME! 815 ON A FRIDAY MORNING! so tomorrow is my 1st day being able to sleep in since being back. I have a feeling that since I have slept-in in a while I won't be sleeping in as late as I would like to. Thats also okay though since I do have some work I need to get done.
The weather here as been cold. During the day it is pleasant out, and I can get away with wearing a skirt with leggings and a jacket, but at night I need layer upon layer upon layer.
Something that was really shocking to me when I got back was how much I missed it here. I was having such a hard time adapting to the culture and society and I was very much looking forward to coming back... who knows, maybe now I will move here! :)
Even though it's a friday night I am absolutely exhausted and I need to get some sleep. I still need donations for my trip to the Ukraine so I will be sending out another mass email soon. Thank you to those of you that donated. I will post again soon!


Friday, January 14, 2011

And we begin again...

So first and foremost, my apologies to my extreme lack in blog postings. It is a new years resolution of mine to be better about posting. (we'll see how long that lasts)
First to try and update you about things that happened during the last part of my first semester. Uncle Dennis came and visited and we had a great time. Unfortunately he came right in the middle of midterms so I wasn't able to go and do things with him, but he was able to keep himself occupied. We did go up to Tel Aviv and Herzalyia for a weekend and had Shabbat dinner with and old friend of his. That was nice for me to be able to get out of Jerusalem for a while. I was very excited when he brought me a World Series Champions shirt that I was able to sport friend Ryan who's brother is the GM for the Rangers i am sure was less then thrilled. After uncle dennis left I had to get ahead in all my school work to prepare for mom coming!!!!
The followings weeks were pretty uneventful minus the trip we took to the a Kibbutz. A Kibbutz is a community that lives together. They also eat together in a dining hall and all work on the Kibbutz and usually whatever is being made there is used throughout the country...for example there is a Kibbutz in Israel that provides the milk for most of the country (obviously there is more than one milk company but they are the best). On our trip up to the Kibbutz we stopped in Tzfat. Tzfat is a small community, one of the 4 holy cities of Israel and got a tour. We walked from the top of Tzfat to the bottom and were lucky enough to stop at a kabbalistic art place along the way. This man, Avraham, who talked a lot about his name, created some of the most amazing pieces of art. I bought 3 pieces (one for me, one for mom, and one for Dmitry) If you want to see the art work I got mom just ask her and I am sure she would be more than willing to share it with you. There is an explanation that goes with the art but it's similar to a yin and yang idea with what you give and what you get, as well as the idea of conditional vs. unconditional love. Once we got to the Kibbutz I was not feeling all that well but regardless, again, it was nice to get away from Jerusalem
Then, MOM CAME! it was a very emotional moment when I saw mom entering the "family waiting area" also for her since her last leg of the flight was not the best (and that's putting it nicely). I had a nice that said, "mommy, welcome to Israel!" as well as a little teddy bear with a blue sweatshirt on and an israeli flag. Mom loved it! From the airport we went right to my apartment and were the 2nd people dropped off. This was really exciting because usually I am one of the last people. We got to the apartment mom quickly unpacked a couple things and then we were off to Ben Yehuda street. Ben Yehuda street is a very popular touristy area. Tons of shops with little nick nacks. She LOVED it! From there we went to dinner and then went to bed. Lets just say the first night of sleeping was not the best for me. But by the end of the two weeks we were able to work it out.
Some other highlights of mom coming to visit were: she came to school with me one day and joined my Hebrew Class at the Italian Synagogue. I tried to translate what the guy was saying because he was speaking all in Hebrew, but if I started telling mom then I would miss the next thing he said and wasn't able to tell mom, so after a while i just kinda gave up. Mom also came to T'fillah one day which she really enjoyed. We went to Tel Aviv one night. We were supposed to walk around but I accidentally had us get on the bus that goes to the northern part of Tel Aviv rather than the stop right when you enter the city, so we were sitting in traffic for a while and just ended up getting milkshakes and dinner at Yotvata, which is right along the beach. The food was well worth the journey. Also, once weekend we went up to a cute little town in "wine country" called Zichron Yaqov. I love this little town and was glad that I was able to take mom there. Other than those bigger trips mom and I stayed around Jerusalem and explored the city. We went into the old city, the Cardo (arab market) and the Shuk. Mom was very lucky to meet Muhammed. She thought he was very nice and good looking. I made sure to tell him this and he was very flattered. He also told me to say hello to all my friends and family for him... so "HELLO!" Mom and I ate at a different restaurant every night and finally by the end of the trip she started to get a little more experimental with the foods she was eating. She enjoyed every place we went, which I was really grateful for. On Shabbat we went to the park which was really nice. Mom was truly amazed with how everything really does stop. So, Mom, Nina, Sam and I all went to a park that is close to my apartment and had a little lunch and then Sam, Nina and I did a little studying for finals. Obviously mom met Moshe. SHe loved him :)
Then mom and I flew home. It was a long journey...especially since our flight from Zurich was delayed by 2 hours, but we were still able to make it home on time for me to sleep through new years!
My time at home was pretty amazing. It was nice to come home and see all my friends and family. It was exactly what I needed to make it through the next 5 months. There was a part of me that was nervous that I wouldn't want to go back after being home for 2 weeks but in actuality I am really looking forward to going back. I am anxiously sitting at SFO and soo excited to go back and see everyone. I made sure to bring everyone back something from the states. For all my friends that work in the shops below my apartment building I am bringing them Candy from Sconza's! And for Muhammed I am bringing him a cool San Francisco sticker to put on the bus... since his driving partner has so many up. So I am really excited to go back and see them all.
While I was home I did a lot of shopping, which was obviously very necessary :) Now I have 16 hours of traveling to figure out which outfit I want to wear to school on Sunday. I will definitely let you all know. I am really excited for the new semester because I have some new classes. I am taking an Arab-Israeli conflict class and a history of Jewish Music class, which I am really excited about.
I will try my hardest to keep you all posted about everything over the next semester. I am really looking forward to 5 more months of new experiences.
Love you all soooo much!!!
PS.... this new astrological sign business.... i am sooooooooooooo not down. (i just feel bad for all those people who got tattoos of their sign and now they're different... )