Monday, December 21, 2009

Bat Yam 2

Hey everyone!

Okay well I'm getting ready to go out with the girls to Mike's Place. Mike's Place is the famous American Bar in Tel Aviv that was bombed a few years back...

Bat Yam has been incredible...the beach is just beautiful. Okay so whats been going on here...We had our 1st apartment meeting--we passed! Since it was Chanukah we didn't have volunteering, instead we had different events taking place. We had an amazing hike in the Carmel. It was beautiful and slippery, it had rained the day and morning before. We were very muddy and it was probably one of my favorite hikes to this day. Afterwards we went to a Druse Village and walked around their for a little bit. It looked like any other small main street to be honest. I did by a pair of cozy socks.

The next day, Tuesday, all of Shevet went to Mevoh Modi'in to experience Chanukah. Its a moshav, which is kind of like a kibbutz but the people own their own homes and they just share the equipment. This moshav is famous for the music that has come out of it. Yes, The Moshav Band is from here. We didn't hear them, but we did hear a moshav band perform. Katie Jessica and I of course made fools of ourselves dancing but it was lots of fun. We davened mincha and then had a relaxation section with our tour guide and soufganiot. I always hated these back in the States, but they are delicious in Israel. (You can get them with chocolate!) Earlier that day we took a tour of the Macabean graves and a monument of fallen soldiers. Strangely enough it is now confirmed that these are not the graves of the Macabees but people still go there at this time of year.

On Wednesday, Shevet went to a hospital to give out gifts and play with children. Luckily there werent many children in the hospital, which meant that there wasn't much for us to do. Thursday evening the Tsofim created a chanukah mini carnival with games and fun. There was musical chairs, guess how much gelt can fit in the jar, sufganiot competition of fitting it in your mouth in 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 bite. We made some candle melting art, which i love considering i love playing with fire, and i might have made a whole in the plate that i was working on...ooops.

And on Friday Shevet headed to Yishuv Keshet in the Golan for the weekend. But first Jessica Nicola and I had to walk to the Ulpan building in the rain! And at the bus stop we ran into a Birthright group where I saw Talia Schecter and Naomi ran into her bestfriend, Heather. It is a very small country! Keshet was lots of fun. It was cold and kind of yucky out Friday night but we had a nice dinner all together. Lots of singing, some drinking, and many laughs. I roomed with Jessica, Katie, and Naomi. Saturday i missed davening, i'm sorry but israelis daven wayyyyy tooo early for what i'm used to. We made it to lunch though! And then we went on a walk/tour with Ami, our madrich, who lived at Keshet for a year when he first made Aliyah. We got to see beautiful views of the Golan and Syria in the distance. We walked through Syrian bunkers that are now Israeli. Someone talked to us about making Aliyah and our views of why we are hesitant. Keshet has programs for new Aliyot to become accustomed to Army life and israeli life. It is a religious Yishuv. Also at the Yishuv were some people who are trying out the army to see if they want to convert to Judaism. I don't really understand their program but it sounded interesting I guess.

Yesterday we had our first classes. I'm taking a class on King David and then the David Project. The King David class is taught by an American from Jersey who made Aliyah 3 years ago. It should be interesting, it was just about background information leading up to why the Jews needed a King. The David Project is an Israeli Advocacy aimed towards educating highschoolers and college kids so that they are able to fight the inaccuracy and issues on college campuses. And last night, we had a bonfire with S'mores. It was really nice and a fundraiser for Garin Tsedik, which is an organization that Year Coursers has adopted teaching english to Ethiopian refugees.

Well I'm heading out now with girls,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bat Yam 1

1st week in Bat Yam:

I’m in love with Bat Yam. I have been to the beach almost everyday to read, run, or just walk around. Today Jessica Katie benji and I actually went in. it was nice once we actually got in to the water. Our tops might not have actually stayed on…

I found out my placement for volunteering—Yad Mordechai, an elementary school literally right behind where I live so I have a tiny walking commute. We, Anna and I, only went for one day because now everyone is on their Chanukah break. Simon who had gone home for something will also be volunteering with us. For our first day of volunteering we helped the children, 5th and 6th graders, learn about Chanukah in English. It’s weird because back home in the states the holidays were always an excuse to learn about something in Hebrew. Alona, the English teacher, and our advisor is really nice and showed us around and where the teachers lounge is.

This past Shabbat was a Shabbat Biyachad, it was relaxing and different from Jerusalem. One of my observations about the difference between Shabbat here and Jerusalem was that more people take the buses in Bat Yam and because the buses don’t run on Shabbat they are forced to keep Shabbat. I don’t know if they want to or not. We had a few peulahs on Chanukah and an Israeli update all led by the madrichim. We have four madrichim, two female and two male. The females are Israeli and the two male are American. I haven’t really formed opinions on them yet. But Noa, our madrchia, is really nice and helpful. We had our first apartment meeting this morning and we passed our cleaning inspection!

Tel Aviv is about a 30-40 min bus ride. I went once with Shir and Jessica to go read in a park that was down town. There was a dog park there, so we spent most of the time watching the dogs. There are many more dogs here than in Jerusalem. It was a beautiful day out. I love just walking the streets. We ran into the fashion track girls on their way home from their internship. Instead of volunteering they have an internship with a famous designer. We also went out Thursday night for David and Stephanie’s birthday. It was fun.

Tel Aviv and Bat Yam is definitely different from Jerusalem but it is lots of fun. And the ocean is very calming to be around.

Happy Chanukah everyone! Chanukah has been the first time that I’ve felt a little homesick. I miss Seth’s latkas, playing poker with gelt with my cousins, and all the other family traditions. The kids are all out from school and you can see chanukiot in the windows of most families. Lighting candles has been a little bit of a challenge because no one smokes in my apartment. Hahah

We are living with Tsofim, Israeli Scouts (similar to Boy and Girl Scouts in the States but much more popular here and its coed). They are our age, and this is their gap year program before they head off to the Army. They are volunteering the whole time and they stay in Bat Yam. There are 16 of them. It is really nice being with them so that we have a more authentic Israeli experience. Shir is our Tsofa. She and her parents are really nice. Her parents brought us some plates and extra tupperware.

It has been very interesting....can't wait to experience the rest of Bat Yam.

Okay well hope all is well,

And see I can write more often.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Last Jerusalem Post

Hey everyone,
Wow, I'm really sorry for not posting like at all. I am really going to try to blog more often, b/c I want to be just like Jessica. hahah.
So I am leaving for Bat Yam tomorrow. I cannot believe that my time in Jerusalem is coming to an end. It has been three amazing months. I am going to miss this place, not so much the living with 15 other girls but everything else i will. i am ready for the change.
So let me catch you all up with everything since Oct 1, hahah. So my birthday was Oct 9th. I went out for Sushi (saki bombs in a glass that doesn't fit the shot glass leads to a giant mess) with friends from home, Chelsea and Shawna, and friends from here, Jessica, Katie, and Britty, and then of course my brother. Seth was still pretty hung over (it was during Succot and apparently you have to have a buzz every time you sit in the sukkah). We went out after that, and it was lots of fun.
My family came in November-parents were here for 3 weeks, and the sisters were here for 2 weeks, and other family was here for other amounts of time. My cousin Raanan got married to the lovely Sharon. The wedding and festivities was so much fun. It was crazy when everyone was here trying to juggle my classes and volunteering and also the family stuff. I was practically never home. My roommate, Jessica, joked that she never saw me for like a month and that it was finally nice when everyone left. Adventures with the family--seeing my parents' kibbutzim when they were here when they were my age. It was so nice meeting everyone. I wonder if I'll be in contact with the people I meet at this age. If you know my parents you know how influential their year in Israel was for them. This was my mother's first trip back since she was my age--37 years ago. We went to a kibbutz in the north, Maayan Baruch, and practically took a tour of Lebanon and a base up there because of a friend of my father's who is a police officer on that kibbutz. We went rafting in the Jordan (wish I will be doing again with my friends in the spring when the water level is higher). We toured Haifa. and just lots of good family bonding..... Oh and one night my parents took out me and some of my friends for Talya's SWEET SIXTEEN at the Tico house, that place is so much fun... And then others joined and we went out of dessert at Rimon. Yes, James, I know that Tali is fit. That night was the last time that Seth slept over at our place b/c he left later in the week to go visit his girlfriend in Baltimore before heading home and then to Colorado. My roommates were very sad to see him go. It was very nice having my family here but it was really weird how they all came in at different times and then boom, they all leave. and i was left all alone again. However, since they were here and getting tours of everywhere I got to sneak on, and since I'm kinda like living here I know my way around and can show them stuff which was pretty cool. OH, and so we went to a Henna party for a family friends' (the Haimovitchs) niece who was getting married. It was a crazy Moroccan party with lots of food, drinks, dancing and costumes. I later went to the wedding, which was also lots of fun. Two weddings in two weeks. lots of fun, i must say.

Classes & Volunteering and then just me talking - Both are over now since we are leaving tomorrow morning, bright and early. I will miss volunteering at Yad LaKashish a lot. I won't miss how much money I spent there. But how could i resist when the work that they do there is so amazing! seriously, you should come on by and see it. Stevie, our teacher for Genesis Parables, has been amazing. His class has influenced me more than probably anything else I've ever experienced. Looking at the Torah as a figurative piece of literature has really changed how I view Judaism. Also he is an amazing, odd, eccentric, funny teacher. Avi's class on Jewish Art history will also be missed, mostly because he is just an amazing person and can teach us about anything. my favorite class with him was this past week when we went to the Ethiopian Church, Tico House, and Museum of the Psalms.

Jerusalem has just so much to offer, and i'm a slightly disappointed that i haven't experienced everything. This week I've certainly made up for that--I ate out a lot and some very interesting establishments. A small bookstore/cafe that you would miss off of Ben Yehuda if you didn't know about it and Arcadia, an Ethiopian place, that again you would miss if you didn't know about it.....all with the lovely Leah. oh and thursday night was Marakia, soup with Shawna and Chelsea. My apartment is going there tonight with our Madricha, Moran. Moran is awesome, and i'm going to miss her so much. she answers all of our questions and i might be closer with some of the madrichim than i am with some of the others on the program. There was also Sushi this week...but it was my last week in Jerusalem so I had to make it count. i also got a hair cut this week. yay!

I am probably going to miss just walking the streets the most. Walking with friends, and laughing has been the majority of our three months here. and trust me we have laughed a lot.....

Shevet had a weekend in Efrat. So that was very interesting. Jessica and I were lucky and we were set up with a great family. The wife was from England and went on a gap year program and made Aliyah after that. They are settlers. When I've thought about settlements before I thought of small villages with like shacks as houses. Boy was I naive. these houses and communities are beautiful. People move to Efrat for different reasons--space and luxury, ensuring that the Arabs cant live there, and many other reasons. Efrat has more doctors per capita than any other city in Israel. A lot of the people work and commute in Jerusalem. The family that Jessica and I were with, the wife is a teacher in the art college by where we live, and the daughter that is our age, volunteers where Jessica teaches English. It is a very complicated and interesting issue. Some of our friends were in really uncomfortable and racists houses. Efrat was definitely an experience, and the future home of Britty.

Other random sightings--I had dinner with my mother's cousin, Helen, which was really nice at the Tico House. I hadn't seen her since my bat mitzvah, 5 years ago, and she was on a tour here and finally called me. I went with Jessica to a family friends' sister who lives here. Rochelle's sister, Debbie who lives just outside of Jerusalem. Her son, Noam, picked us up and we had a lovely evening. Debbie's daughter, Talia had been to Young Judaea camps and knows a lot of the Brits that are on my program...small world. Oh and I've also seen an old friend that I met on the March of the Living when we were staying at the Judaean Youth Hostel, who was on Year Course last year. he has made Aliyah and is in the army. and catching up with him was nice.

Last shabbat in Jerusalem-friday night dinner, Britty, Katie, Jessica, Julia, Ale, one of Britty's friends from Nativ, and I went to one of the Shevet teacher's house for dinner--Rabbi Eli Deutsch--it was very interesting and relaxing. We had many questions to begin with and now we have even more, they were answered but they just lead to others. By learning you just begin to realize that you don't know anything and that there is just so much more out there. Israel has matured all of us. Some of us more than others, and hopefully with others it will finally hit them and they will grow up as well.

so just a wrap up--Jerusalem is lots of fun, but Ben Yehuda and being around the American bubble has begun to get old. However, I have learned that there is more than just that area, but finding it was difficult but i want to experience more. Learning never ends. I can't wait for Bat Yam. oh I just found out that Jordan is going to come visit me in the Spring, I CANT WAIT!!!!!

oh and Thank you to the Madrichim for being runner up for biggest party animal--"But we only kissed." and thank you to my new perspective on life. hahahah. And I will be blogging more often, i know that i said that in my last blog, a month ago, but i really am going to. i see that it is important to write down what is happening.

love always,