First off I hope that everyone had an easy fast.
Sorry that it has been so long since I last blogged. I've been veryyy busy. I'll give a recap but things will not be in order, but that is life.
Rosh Hashanah - the new year - new years resolutions, apologizing to friends and family, taking account of sins, and pretty much just an over view of the last year. Taking a look back on this past year was very much needed, in order to just account and realize how different my life is right now. Last year I was able to say "Next Year in Jerusalem" and here I am saying it again, but this time I probably won't be in Jerusalem next year. For the chag, I went with my friend, Ale, to her family in Afula. It was a very relaxing Rosh Hashanah filled with laughter, good food, and family.
Yom Kippur - ahhh, Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. This was amazing. Hands down the best Yom Kippur experience of my life. Sunday, I went with some of my roommates to buy food for the meal before and after the fast. We cook, eat and get ready for the synagogue. The fast started at 4 something so it was a very early dinner. I drank sooooo much water that day, 4 liters in probably about 4 hours, since that was about how long i was up before the fast started that i could barely zipper my dress. As the evening progressed I became more comfortable. hahah. okay so We, most of my section go to Kol Nedray (spelling?) services at Yedidiya, a synagogue around the corner from us. Services were very nice and they were very accommodating to a bunch of teenagers just showing up. We returned home and changed into comfier clothing and go for a walk. I'm with Britty and Jessica and we meet up with Benji, Nicola, Orly, Ale, and Adam and just walk along Derek Hebron, a main street by our apartments. Everyone is out on the streets just hanging out. No one is driving (except for a few cop cars that we saw). We lay down in the middle of the street and just goof off. Kids are racing their bikes and its a lot of fun. We return home and people decide that it is a good time to go to the Kotel. So we race up stairs and change back into skirts. I walk with Britty and Jessica along Emek Refaim, another main street by us, and a similar experience is taking place here as well. It is less family orientated though--mostly teenagers just hanging out. It is about a 45ish min walk to the Kotel. The weather is perfect and as always we run into people we know on the way. We get to the Kotel and meet up with everyone else. Simon says (hahah) "It's the holiest day of the year and we are at the holiest place in the world!" We all just sit on the ground after we pray or go touch the wall and just hang out for a couple of hours. We walk home, and people are still out on the streets. Walking in Jerusalem and not worrying about cars or street lights is very nice. Jessica and I sleep most of the day while Britty and all the boys + Emma (a madricha) go to services. I am actually up, I was reading. We all get dressed and I make three bagels for us. Spreading the cream cheese and not licking my fingers after was the most difficult part of my day. (The bagels are for the break fast). We walk back to the Kotel. We were planning on going to Niela (spelling?) services at Aish but the women's side was full so we head back over to the kotel to say our own Amidah and just listen to the services. I do run into my brother at the Aish service for the minute that we are there. Once again we are sitting on the ground at the Kotel and my brother eventually joins us when he wants to get some air. He convinces Britty, Jessica and I to climb back up the stairs to listen to the shofar being blown and the break fast. Eventually we agree and we walk up the stairs very slowly. There is about 15 mins left of the fast at this point. The shofar is being blown and the three of us get to eat our bagels. Many, many people mention how smart we are for bringing something to eat, yes it was my idea. My friend, Chelsea, from back home meets up with us, she was in the services at Aish. We go over to Jeff Sidel's (spelling?) for more Break Fast and just hang out. Eventually we split from each other. Britty, Jessica and I wait a long time for the bus but eventually we make it home.
Since a lot of Year Course kids from other sections came to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur there is a party of course. So we all go out to Ben Yehuda to a club. And it is a very interesting change from the spirituality that was not so long ago.
Classes - Due to the chaggim we haven't been having some of our regular classes. I haven't had my Visual Arts class in two weeks. And classes this evening were canceled so we haven't had ulpan or my favorite class with Dr. Copeland in a week. And with Succot next week we won't be having classes for the first half of the week. Just because there aren't classes doesn't mean that there is free time. We have had other classes about the holidays and field trip to 100 shearim, which I will talk about later. And tonight we had a very long apartment meeting with our Madricha, Moran. It was very much needed, to say the least.
Volunteering - So I got like the best compliment today and yesterday. Yesterday, Rivka, who is kind of like my Tiffany, office manager of the gift shop, and she called me efficient. And I love efficiency and I love it when people get things down quickly and they don't bitch about it! And today Rivka and Ani, another volunteer, asked if they could adopt me. I am really enjoying working in the gift shop. I like administrative things and when I'm organizing the storage rooms it is the only time I have to myself of the day so it is really nice and very much needed, considering I'm living with 15 other people and there is always people sleeping over and others in the apartment. It is awesome having people over but I need my alone time and I love to get lost in work, so it is a perfect balance.
Siyurim - So I believe that the last time I blogged I mentioned the Jewish Quarter siyyur. So I wasn't feeling well that day, so I can't recall everything. But we did a lot of walking that day and learned about the old city. Last Tues, we went on a water hike by Tiberias, and then did tashlich (throwing our sins via bread to the fish) in the kinneret. The hike was lots of fun and then we got to walk around Tiberias for a little bit. Some of the kids decided to go on a banana boat, and they left their clothing and shoes on the dock. Others decided to go get their clothing. When the boaters returned they only had their shoes. The pictures are priceless. This past Tuesday, I was on a hike in an ancient winery, HaSataf. It was a nice hike.
Random Adventures & Notes - One day last week, Britty Jessica and I went to the Promenade. We had all been there before with tour groups. It is like a look out over Jerusalem and its a good view of the security fence. We are sitting and reading when a glass bottles comes within feet of hitting us. We leave.
Running into friends, and friends of friends on Ben Yehuda is always entertaining. Pretending to be frum, is fun too.
My brother/Shabbat/other adventures - so he hasn't even been here a week and some how I have seen him a lot. And some people think that he is part of my program. Late last thurs night he arrives and I meet up with him after walking home from Ben Yehuda (2 miles away by walking) with Saul. He sleeps over and then leaves for his place while Britty, Katie and I go shopping for Shabbat Dinner at Machena Yehuda. Seth returns and helps us cook. So we all thought that friday night services were only going to be about 40ish mins. So we left the chicken in the oven. It was 2 hours! Thank goodness two roomates stayed home and took the food out when they smelt it burning. It didn't burn and it was a very delicious meal. After dinner we go over to another's apartment and hang out there and play games. Seth tells his adventures and people keep saying how that is so something that Rachel would say. Which is funny b/c growing up people would always say to me that it is something that Seth would say. So finally the tables are turned. Saturday we sleep and just hang out. Seth leaves. And we all head out. Sunday we don't have volunteering b/c of Yom Kippur (see above). Sunday & Weds is the one day I don't see my brother. Tuesday I get a Facebook message from Sharon, my cousin Raanan's fiance, saying that she has left overs from break the fast and to bring friends to come eat! So Katie, Britty, Jess and I head over for a delicious meal. Seth is there again. Funny thing is Seth wants to go out for a beer after dinner. And being the good girls that we are we say no and go home. But first we must run after the bus to catch it. Yesterday, Weds, as I'm about to get on the bus after volunteering Seth calls me saying he wants to meet up for lunch. So I have an hour to kill till he is done with class and Mamilla is right by me. But I'm not allowed to go shopping right now. It is a little America there since it is all American and European stores there so it's pricey. So I read and then we go to Bar Burger, definitely one of the best burgers I've had. I wonder how I am going to go home, since they put amazing things on these burgers. Who puts pesto on a hamburger? me. So Seth misses his class trip to 100 Shearim to have lunch with me b/c he knows that Shevet, my specialty track, is going there later that night. So we go back to his place so that he can change into more kosher clothing. We head home, relax and then meet up with my group. We learn about the 4 hamanim (lulav and etrog) for Succot and daven maariv. We head to 100 Shearim. Oh and Seth is allowed to come with. And people are confused and think that he has joined Year Course.
100 Shearim - (I'll edit my views to say the least). We go to the shook to look at the lula and etrogs. Katie buys one for her mother, who is coming this weekend. The buying experience was very interesting and fun. Then we are supposed to walk through 100 shearim to just see what its like. We don't want to and try to head for a bus. We get lost and no one knows where the bus stops are since they never really leave this area. We then find our tour guide and she tells us that we have to walk through the main street to get to the bus stop. After others confirm this we decide that we have to do it. We walk very briskly.
We return home. Jordan, a friend from back home, is sick, so she is on skype! I was so happy to talk to her! And then I got to talk to my friend Jill, from the March of the Living on Skype. These conversations were very much needed.
We all get dressed and head out for a streetlight party at a bar on Ben Yehuda - Kings. The premises is that you wear green if you are single, yellow if its complicated and red if you are taken. I wear my black dress with the red, yellow, green, blue and pink polka dots on it. I can't be too obvious. Britty has a field day with some people that are wearing red. I don't stay long at the bar and end up walking home with a friend, and we stop and sit staring at Jerusalem. It is just so beautiful at night. and during the day. There are no words to describe her.
So sad to say only two more months in Jerusalem....
...I will blog more!
Hope all is well! Chag Sameach! Oh and as Seth has learned this week, every time you sit in a Succa you must become buzzed from wine. L'Chaim!