Saturday, June 5, 2010

Last Post - Lhitraot Israel

Last week on Year Course 5/23-6/1

I cannot believe that my 9 months in Israel are coming to an end and that this is my last week! It has been a really nice week.

Sunday 5/23

Our last Shevet siyyur. We went to a near by winery to learn about winemaking. I’m pretty sure that we just ran out of things to do and this would be something that we would all show up to. Still only like 10 of us showed up. We went to the Yatir Winery, which has groves on the Southern Chevron Mtns. We learned about what makes Kosher wine Kosher. The whole entire process has to be done by not only Jewish people but by Religious, Orthodox people. The head wine guy isn’t religious so he isn’t allowed to even touch the wine. He has an Orthodox person that does whatever he tells him to do about blending and what not. The Yatir Winery is considered to be a small Industrial winery. Their first year of producing wine was entered and won in some big competition. We tasted a little bit of a white and red wine. They were delicious. They sell in the states so I didn’t buy any there, even though we would have gotten a discount b/c I just don’t have any room.

I then went over to Katie, Naomi, and Julia’s apartment b/c no one was in mine. After lunch it was just Katie and I in the apartment. I got caught up on Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl—both finales were absolutely amazing. And Katie kept yelling and grabbing my arm whenever anyone was shot. Julia went to do laundry and Naomi was out. Eventually we left for my apartment. I showered. We worked on Katie’s paper for Sikkum. We were running late. But Karrie and Emily came over to look at their old apartment. Section 2 came down to watch, including Or and Mike. We decided to get a ride to the youth center with the bus that was at the Mall.

The girls did an amazing job with the Vagina Monologues. It was funny, adorable, unnerving and just fabulous. Afterwards we had an afterparty Mama Mia style in our apartment with drinks. We didn’t watch much of the movie but it was a very fun night. Hannah, Bianca’s friend from BIU, came over to see her perform so she also stayed over. Everyone crashed with us. Hannah, Monica, and I went on a little adventure to the Mircaz.

Monday 5/24

I woke up at 9:15 to go to volunteering. I was a bit hungover. When I woke up I was surprised that others in the living room were up but someone left an early alarm on. I went to volunteering but was only there till about 12:30ish. It was really nice saying bye to everyone. It was weird that we didn’t volunteer that much in Arad but whatever. Ronit gave me mosquitoe bite stuff, repellent and after bite stuff from Orange Beam. She also gave me a ride home.

I came back to the apartment and everyone was still there. They hadn’t really moved. We just hung out all day. Ordered Chinese and played apples to apples, jewish edition. Eventually people left. My apartment—Jessica Leah and I went over to Katie’s apartment for dinner. We brought wine over, but no one had a cork screw. Katie made stuffed peppers and Leah had made a yummy apple honey cake. We are making due with what we have left and making lots of food.

We then went to Muza’s, we opened the wine and drank that. I ordered a Mojito, which was horrible. Muza’s sucks at making drinks. We eventually went home.

I had started packing and did a lot of it.

Tuesday 5/25

Our day of cleaning and packing. I finished packing. The others worked on packing. I cleaned the bathroom. We relaxed. We went out for lunch at Muza’s on the stipend. It was pretty good. Michal left for Bat Yam and we went back to cleaning.

Monica was over a lot during the day. And she, jess and I made our bracelets and burned ourselves.

At 7 we had to meet at Charlie’s apartment for our last peula with Shai, which was a bonfire! We finally got our Yam L’Yam bonfire. We cooked corn on the cob, potatoes and roasted marshmallows. There was also a watermelon! I ate too much watermelon. Eventually we walked home. Jessica leah and I were cleaning, we drank a little, cleaned more, put on dead sea mud and watched Moulin Rouge.

It was a fun night.

Weds 5/26

We relaxed and cleaned all morning. Shai came over and we still have a little more cleaning to do but we are mostly done, there was something in the freezer but not important. He played a mean trick on us saying that Jessica isn’t on our flght but she is! Now we are going to Jerusalem to watch our Marava kids’ ceremony. We got there late because everyone wanted to stop at the gas station that had Aroma on the way up. It was a cute ceremony. Like a mini induction ceremony—they only received baseball caps. But they all really appreciated it. They felt like this ceremony, at the kotel, made having this be there last 2 months in Israel worth it. Shevet got Burgers Bar which was a big dilemma b/c not everyone was on Shevet, but originally it was only supposed to be a Shevet thing. So it was weird some kids having burgers and others not but that’s life. Jessica and I went to the Kotel. It was our last time at the Kotel together this year. We davened together, but during the Amidah we were interrupted because we were going to be late to get the bus. We walked up the stairs instead of the big hill. Yael saw us and almost gave us a heartattack when she told us that the bus was at the gate of the Kotel but it wasn’t. We drove back to Arad, but didn’t get back till 11ish. Thursday was Masada and we would be leaving at 3:20 so I went to bed but didn’t sleep well. Some people decided to pull an all nighter.

Thursday 5/27 – Masada

We groggily woke up for our last siyyur in Israel, SunRise at Masada. We were supposed to leave at 3:20. It is an hourish drive to Masada. We weren’t cheating but the plan was to do the Roman path and not the snake path that most of us are used to. We were all on the bus but still waiting for people. At about 3:30 we decided to call Katie. They had slept through their alarm. Since there was a mini bus also it drove over to their apartment. No one wanted to wait for them. But we are always waiting for others, but when we are late no one wants to wait for us. Jessica and I, and others just wanted to sleep on the bus but the Britts were singing and yelling—as usual. We got to the gate too early, they won’t open till there is some sun light. So we are all antsy and just want to start.

Eventually we begin the climb. It is about a 20 minutes walk up. We get to an outlook and just sit on the ridge waiting and watching for the sun to come up. It was pretty hazy but we finally got a decent sunrise. Since we have kids that volunteer on Masada they gave the history and a little play staring Tamar and Joe. We went to a big water hold, which was Monica’s favorite spot b/c it had pre-48 markings by Zionists. We then went to the echo lookout. We yelled many things—Year Course, F**k it!, our names, California, and many other things. There are some good clips of them on people’s facebooks.

We went back to the apartment, relaxed, wrote letters, slept, I met Jessica at the Mall. We got our last ice cream together, bought some more food for Shabbat and chocolate to bring home.

We relaxed in the apartment. Watching movies, ate pizza and drank a bit. Hailey slept over.

Friday & Saturday 5/28-29 – Last Shabbat in Israel

Jessica and I got up and ready to leave our apartment with sandwiches by 7. We go to the taxi stand at the mall it is going to be 250. We go to the other taxi stand 250. Go back to the apartment to get more money and then back to taxi stand by the mall. Now they want 300. We get it back down to 250 and go to Ein Gedi. Jessica and I hike through David’s Wadi. (This was so early in the morning that it was practically empty). And up to the Cave. We go to the old temple and springs. The waterfalls are beautiful. We wonder what it would be like to climb up. We go swimming in one of the lagoons. There was a group from America but we didn’t want to be with them. So we were kind of off from them. My pants almost swam away from us. Jessica jumped in, I ran around there wasn’t a drop off so it was funny. We went under the waterfall and then got out. We layed out on a bench to try to dry off. The plan was to try and hitch hike either to Arad or to the dead sea and then taxi it from there. There were a couple of cars that stopped for us that were going to Masada. One car stopped but they were full but they still wanted us to go with them? A taxi stopped. We thought that we would just pay him to arad but he was going to eilat so he would drive us for free to the junction, for free. He could have charged us but he didn’t. Then, Jessica and I were stuck at an intersection/junction. Within 5 minutes a car stopped for us, he was going to sderot but we are on the way, perfect. He drops us off at the roundabout and we walk home.

We shower and start preparing food for Shabbat. Boaz came over. Katie and Julia came over. It was a nice meal with a ton of food. But we weren’t really hungry so there was plenty left over for the next day. We were all exhausted and passed out.

We woke up Saturday morning and I made French toast with the left over challah. We spent the day cleaning, eating, and relaxing. Eventually, Jessica and Boaz went for a walk. Katie and I were baking cookies with everything we had including eggs that I borrowed from the crazy neighbor. During the baking Jessica calls me and tells me that Shai and Roni will be over in an hour for an apartment check. SHIT! Katie and I start cleaning like crazy. As I’m cleaning the fridge I say remind me to take the … out of the freezer. And of course we forget. They come home and like 10 mins later roni comes over. He starts checking and opens the freezer. Oh shit! Katie distracts him and takes it out and puts it into jessica’s suitcase. Boaz argues that its just water because it is frozen. Shai comes over. They tell us that we still need to clean the floors—we know thank you.

We try to finish everything. More people come over and we just hang out.

Sunday 5/30

Bags were to be down by 7. Bags were down by 7. They weren’t picked up till past 9! We finished cleaning the apartment, disposing of food and we were just waiting around on our computers for someone to do the final check. No one comes. But a phone call saying the bus is leaving does. We scramble to get everything on our backs and out the door. We see the bus full. We take out the garbages and go to the bus. We give our keys to Shai. He knows nothing of what happened of course. And we begin to make our way to Jerusalem… Good bye Arad

We arrived at the old Beit Ar El – Judaean Youth Hostel. There was a talk by Yael on not to do stupid. We unloaded our bags by flight. The Bat Yam madrichim came over and we talked with them about what we thought about Bat Yam. Its weird that most people didn’t like Bat Yam. I might have liked that section the most.

YC reserved Constantine for everyone. There was dinner and dancing. We danced all night with all three sections. The tsofim made a little dance and video for everyone. It was really cute. It was our last night dancing all together so we, well I and the JRKs, made sure that we got down. And we danced up on our madrichim. The different sections left at different times and eventually we left. Our bus went to Beit Ar El…opps.

We got back to the hostel and just chilled. I went with Monica to try and find a cork screw, instead we found some other tool to push the cork in and also make a mess. I was with the art kids. We were all tipsy and just singing and playing music. Others came over and ruined it. Leah took me aside and gave me my “active plane letter” which made me cry. I called some people at home. I was on our room’s patio with Monica, Stephanie and Kai at different points throughout the night. It was a really strange night. With different people coming up and saying goodbyes and what we thought about each other.

I went to bed about 1. Jessica and I slept together for the last time in Israel.

Monday/Sunday 5/31-6/1 – Last Day in Israel

So I gave up on the whole letter writing because if you write for some people than you have to write for others. And if one person gives you a letter and you don’t have one for them than its just weird so I made it clear that I don’t have letters. But I made people sign my shirt. We had to make these little albums with pictures from Bat Yam that people were signing so I wrote in those what I thought of people. We had peulot with Moran, and Shai. We put our bags back on a truck and did a lot of waiting. We gave back our phones. Katie gave a speech and a killer rap. It was great.

We go to some place for the Closing Ceremony. It was really nice. Everyone was there, including BG. Some people cried. Then came the time to say goodbye. The past two days were all about goodbyes so I was kind of burnt out on them. Seeing Charlie and Tamar say goodbye almost broke my heart. I said bye to my British friends and my Marava friends. There were some people who were just unable to function. It was so sad. I still had a 10 hr flight with most of my friends.

Moty and Efi came to say bye to me at the airport. After I checked in and got my ticket for SD as well I talked with them a bit and then they left me and then it was time to say bye to the scouts and some madrichim that had come to the airport. Saying bye to them was really hard. Eventually we made it past security and to the gate where I dropped my bags and ran to the other gate to say bye to the jersey kids.

We boarded our flight. I tried to sit next to steph but that didn’t work out. So I sat next to jess. We slept a lot on the flight. The food wasn’t bad. The flight was fine. I wrote a letter to Jessica. Katie’s I had already written. Stephanie ended up keeping my headphones. We landed and we were ready to head back to Israel.

I was functioning up until I got my bags at the carousel in NY and it was time to leave. Boy did I cry. I tore myself away from them and went through customs and then brought my bags to the delta counter to be checked. I went to my gate. I saw my teacher from freshman year at New Directions but didn’t say hi. I sat down to charge my phone and then I read my letters from Jessica and Katie. I was the only YCer on my flight. I broke down.

My flight was fine going to SD. I couldn’t sleep but I watched tv and read. Our flight landed early so my family was late picking me up.

Seth met me at the carousel to get my bags and mom was in the car. We drove to ilana’s work to say hi on the way home and then I was home.

Wrapping thoughts on the year:

It was an incredible year and I am so lucky and thankful to my parents for letting me participate. My favorite memories are with the friends I made getting into sticky situations with Israelis, traveling, eating and just hanging out wherever. Israel is a special place, a place where I don’t need to jump up and down and scream that I’m a Jew, but a place where saying Shabbat Shalom is as natural to say as hi, how are you. I’m going to miss the freedom and craziness of living on my own with 5 other girls. The people I met will always be with me, as will the land. Ain li eretz acheret. I have no other land.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Arad 10

5/16 Sunday

A normal day in Arad – Volunteering. This time at my actual place, Orange Beam, where I folded many, many boxes and put products into them—Miren and something called Mus-Lam and Mus-Kal—different lotions. It was nice. Jessica and I had an amazing lunch with all the other Artist Colony people in someone’s apartment.

After lunch we got a ride back to the mall where we looked to see if they have any frames—jessica needs one for boaz. We then walked home, grabbed our laundry and did laundry for the last time ever in Israel (not including socks and underwear in the sink, of course). We have been doing laundry together for 9 months. Michal also did her laundry with us so as our stuff was in the machines Jess and I walked around “center town” to look for frames, we found some nice ones. As she didn’t buy any but we did talk for like ½ hr in an A/C room which was very nice.

So we wanted to have all of the Yam L’Yam girls camp out at the outlook point in Arad and have a little ceremony and make bracelets from my rope and all that girly shit, that I have become accustomed to on YC (as Jessica says, I’ve become a girl). So after our apartment meeting, Jessica, Michal, Elana and I got a ride from Shai to the outlook. We brought tents—something that we didn’t hve on Yam L’Yam—chocolate, flashlight, sleeping bags, rope, and knife. Katie was still on her way back from Beer Sheva where she was visiting her sister. Naomi was waiting for Katie and Monica was somewhere. So the three of them didn’t end up coming. But the 4 of us had an experience unto our own.

We set up one tent. It was so windy, that we were scared that our stuff was going to fly away. We sat, talked, ate chocolate, watched the stars and satellites, and took funny pictures. Eventually it was time to go to bed. We wanted to wake up early and see the sun rise. But sadly, we did not sleep much. Around midnight some kids came by to bother us asking if we had any aish “Excuse me, Excuse me! Do you have fire?” meaning a lighter. We were pretending to be asleep so that they would go away but after a lot of pestering we just told them no. they stuck around for a bit but eventually they left.

The weather was literally bi-polar. It would go from being crazy windy, to extremely warm. So you couldn’t stay in the sleeping bag. Either too cold or too hot—like hot flashes. Ultimately Jessica and Michal got up and set up the second tent so that we could all have more room. Michal was hitting me in the middle of the night to stop scratching my mesquite bites and she didn’t want to get any more—our first tent had a whole in it.

So we had set the alarm for 4:55: for a 5 o’clock sun rise. Too bad it was too cloudy and hazy to see the sun rise. We were disappointed but that’s life. We went back to sleep for a bit and by 6 we were packed up and started on the ½ hr walk back to our apartments. Elana stayed at the bus station for her volunteering at Masada while the others walked home.

5/17 Monday

We got home. I put the hot water heater on. Made a sandwich, ate, showered and went back to sleep in my bed. I called volunteering to see if they wanted me to come in but they didn’t need me to come in because they had meetings with prospective clients in Tel Aviv all day. So I stayed in my apartment and got caught up on TV. It was a very relaxing and needed day.

So we have a lot of random food in our apartment that needs to be cooked. So I made a sauce like chicken dish. I cooked potatoes, onions, and garlic in potato paste; boiled chicken, cut it up and let it all simmer together. Added some honey and some other spices, and wahla—lunch, dinner, and then breakfast again for Tuesday.

Leah was planning on having a Mama Mia! night but it didn’t happen b/c of schedules but it is on for next week. Too bad we had already bought some drinks. So we had a drink while we caught up on our shows and then went to bed.

5/18 Tuesday Erev Shavout

So the Marava kids got off for Shavout. As I was eating breakfast, packing and what not Nicola and James walk through the front door! I was so happy to see them. I hadn’t seen them in weeks. They were being bad and not coming to our very last Shevet Weekend! But I couldn’t blame them really, they wanted some time together. So I left and the Shevet plus other art kids who were also coming to J’ru for shavout were waiting for like an hour for the bus. I ended up needing to run back to the apartment to get money and the straightener for Cara.

As the bus pulled up, most of the Marava kids were on it. They all jumped off, we all hugged and what not. We then got on and drove to J’ru. We were dropped off at Gan Saker and greeted by Boaz where we had lunch—bagels, and salads. It was a lovely day and really nice to be with everyone again, even though many people were missing.

We then drove to the Yitzhack Rabin Youth Hostel in Ramat ? We got our room assignments, and relaxed for a bit, we needed to sleep b/c we would have a very long night ahead of us. Instead, everyone was catching up. Benji flooded his bathroom with the shower. I sewed his buttons and other wholes in his uniform. People were laughing and sleeping. Jessica was yelling at everyone to be quite. We were a family. Eventually everyone napped. Then it was time for candle lighting, services, and dinner.

As usual, on Shavout, there was a discussion as to why we eat dairy—we were just given the halachot regarding kashrut and not sure of the laws so in order to make sure that they didn’t mess up they only ate dairy, another reason that Boaz explained was that it doesn’t fill you up and make you feel heavy and tired that way you can stay up and study all night long. After dinner we grabbed some jackets and headed towards Beit Ar El.

When I say we, I really mean, Jessica, Katie, Naomi, Julia, James G, Boaz, Joel, and Joe. Others would either join us later or go to town. We were given a list of different Shiurim throughout Jerusalem in English that we had the option of going to.

The schedule that the JRKs + Naomi chose:

Beit Ar El to hear the last of Mike talking & Rabbit Yosela of Shalem

Hartmen Institue on the way to Rechavia

Conservative Yeshiva at Agron

Snacks at Beit Ar El

Shacharit and Sun Rising at the Kotel

Walk to the Hostel

Jessica Katie Joel and I walked home from the Kotel at about 6:30ish. We wanted to go earlier but Boaz wanted us to leave all together. The walk home was funny. We kept all singing dumb repetitive songs just to keep going. We couldn’t stop b/c then we would fall asleep. Smol, smol, smol, yimin, smol…It took us about an hr to get back. Everyone who hadn’t gone to the shiurim was up for some reason. The rest of us went to bed. I got up at like 12:45 to shower. Lunch/breakfast was at 1:30.

It was a very relaxing and sad day. Emma, Moran and Ami came to visit. Mike was sick so he was unable to join. They were our special guests. We read Magillat Ruth. We talked about a year and had a rap up. Boaz gave us siddurim—yay for art scroll!—and the ncsy benchers that we have been using all year along with havdallah sets. I had Boaz, Moran, and Ami write in the bencher. It felt like a year book going around and getting your teachers and friends to sign.

We went back to the room. I packed up and headed to the central bus station to see and say goodbye to Raanan and Sharon. The buses weren’t running in the area that I was and there were like no taxis and traffic was horrible so it took me forever to get to them. But eventually I met them at the Central 1 and had some tea. We caught up and said bye. It was really sad but nice. We split up and I caught a bus to Beit Ar El.

We slept in Katie, Naomi, Julia, and Anna’s old room because we would need to be there at 7 in the morning for Desert Queens.

Thursday 5/20 – Desert Queens

We were picked up at 7ish from Beit Ar El. It was a bunch of Section 2 girls, us from Arad and Maya. Shir and other Section 3ers were supposed to come but there was no transportation for them. We drove to Ashkelon and picked up the Aussies then to some parking lot to meet up with the Desert Queens. We got shok in the bag and a baguette. We were split up into different cars. I was with Jessica, Ale and Naomi. We drove by Gaza and along the Egyptian border. It was very unusual to see the Israeli Soldiers on our side and a single Egyptian on the other side with maybe a gun walking along the border. The Egyptians use prisoners as their guards.

We jeeped along the White River-Nachal Lavan. It was really fun. One car got stuck and we had to tow it out. Israeli women love to sing and dance. Every event was an opportunity to do so. We had lunch which was a pot luck of different salads made by the women and drove on. Eventually we came to a look out where we were able to make kites and fly them. I haven’t flown a kite since I was a little munshkin with Grandpa at La Jolla. After wards we had dinner at a park which was also prepared by the ladies. There was a bonfire and good fun. The bus didn’t come till an hour after it was supposed to. I wanted to get together with Shawna for a bit but it was just too late and we were all tired. We were dropped off in Rechavia and stayed at Katie’s apartment. We were too tired to go out. But we have had many wonderful nights on Ben Yehuda.

Friday & Saturday 5/21-22

We all woke up relatively early. We heated up the pastries that we might have stolen from Shavout and had breakfast. Jessica and I left and went to Yad Lakashish. She had never been there before and I needed to buy a couple more things. Rivka wasn’t there but I told them to say bye for me. I bought more wall hangings—some for the JRKs. Jessica was a bitch and wouldn’t tell me which one she wanted and almost refused to accept one. Katie easily picked the green one. Jessica is going to make Boaz decide for her.

So we took a bus to the CBS. I was going to the Haimovitchs and Jess was meeting up with Boaz. I held the ceramic pitcher so Jess couldn’t break it. I left them and Moty picked me up and we went to Nachalat Binyamin to meet up with Tal. We got baked potatoes and walked around Tel Aviv and the beach for a bit. Moty and I went back to their place, Tal would be over later for Shabbat dinner. Efi’s mother had been staying with them for like a week. It was a really relaxing weekend. Moty and I worked on this really hard puzzle. When we all got stuck we decided to kinda cheat. The puzzle pieces had numbers on the back so we turned them over and organized them by that. Efi’s mother, Efi and I loved it. Moty wasn’t too happy about it.

Efi’s mother drove me to Beer Sheva and then I took a bus to Arad. It was much cheaper for me and really nice company. I learned all about her life. Mom and dad she says hi!



Petra & Eilat

Weekend of 5/14-15


We left Sarel, BatSheva in Rishon Litzion, after waiting for the other group coming from the north, which was late and made us worry about getting to beer Sheba on time. We got to Arad and Jessica Monica Michal and I jumped out of the bus. Grabbed our sleeping bags and ran up stairs-went to the bathroom, I grabbed a thing of crackers bisquits and peanutbutter. Monica grabbed one of my bathingsuits and ran back to the bus. It was the 9 of us and Phil, our Sarel madrich, going to Beer Sheba. He was to go to his home in tel aviv while we continued to Eilat. He kept making announcements on the ride to arad that everyone needed to hurry up at our stops bc some people need to go to Eilat. When people were asking me where I was going after sarel I needed to give a very long answer - arad, Beersheba, Eilat, Petra, Eilat, Beersheba, and then back to Arad for a couple of days. Yep, a couple of days....I can't remember the last time I was in Arad for more than just a day or day and a half.

So the bus ride to Eilat was uneventful. We got off and were really excited for the weekend. We had directions to the hostel but couldn't tell what a street sign said so we asked for directions. We were literally 5 mins away.

We checked into the Arava Hostel. (on the bus ride from Jerusalem to arad after shabbat last weekend Naomi and I had made a ton of calls changing the arrangement of the hostel and got the price reduced by half) we ended up in two rooms and Naomi and I slept together, bc otherwise one of us would need to be in a room of strangers and we just felt more comfortable this way. So we checked in and put our bags down. I went for a shower. Others were outside making friends with others staying at the hostel - a bunch of guys living on a kibbutz and doing ulpan right now - alex and zack twins from parkcity that were originally born in anheim, Garreth from South Africa who made Aliyah in oct and wants to be in the navy(met him when i was going to shower and him to pee), a kid from Toronto, hillel from Ny who had left ny bc of legal issues, nat or Nathaniel also from ny, and one other guy who I can't remember where he is from or his name...oops. Anyways, some girls were drinking with the boys, some stayed up to 3 and others went to bed around midnight. I went to be with the earlier bunch, we needed to get up for Petra at like 6:20!

Before I went to bed I went on skype and called home just to check in. When I got off the phone Jordan called me which was quite suiting. I talked with her and said hi to her mom for a bit.


We all woke up and got dressed and meeted up outside waiting for the tour to pick us up.

So in the facebook event I had written that the trip only includes lunch, a snack, and water. People asked me many times and I said that there is no breakfast. Do people listen to me? no, of course not. Jessica Michal and I had bought cheese in Beersheba to go with our crackers for the morning. Others bitched most of the day about not eating anything for breakfast.

Michal and Monica didn't get money the night before so they went with Tomer, tour coordinator, to get money and meet us at the border. The rest of us were in the mini bus going to another hotel to get a bunch of others including a bunch of juniors that are doing a semester abroad in Tel Aviv University. They were mostly from the east coast so while we were waiting at the border crossing into Jordan we played Jewish Geography. In the actual line for passport control I met someone from Poway who actually went to Chabad of Poway for a bit and went there for preschool and we knew all the same Jews but not each other. He is two years older.

We all cleared the border and walked through no man's land to the Jordanian side. We boarded our DesertEco Tour coach bus and started on the 2ish hour drive to Petra with our tour guide Alie. Along the way our tour guide told us about Jordan, the coast line, and Acaba-the fastest growing city in Jordan. Mt Aaron was pointed out, Aaron, Moses brother, is supposidely burried and is a holy site for Jordanians bc he was a profit for monotheism. We looked at the country side and napped. The towns we dove through look like Arab towns in Israel.

We made a pit stop along the way. We stretched and took pictures. Driving along we had passed these huge tents that people live in. They reminded me of Bedouin tents more more rectangular instead of circular. We passed them while driving so I didn't get that good of a look at them.

Things took longer than expected at the border so we didn't get to Petra till almost 1ish. We went to the visitor center after having baklava where we could go to the bathroom, get a map and other information stuff.

Then we finally started on our tour.

Here is a little blurb about Petra from Wikipedia:

Petra means rock in Arabic and is a historic and archaeological city in the Jordanian governate of Ma’an. It has rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established around the 6th Century as the capital city of the Nabataeans. It was unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was indroduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. “A rose-red city half as old as time” and “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” Chosen by BBC as one of the “40 places you have to see before you die.”

So it was good to check Petra off our Bucket Lists. It was beyond beautiful but an exhausting day. We finally all made it back to the bus at 4, hot and tired. We then drove 10 mins to Petra's Magical Restaurant where we had a buffet lunch that was delicious. As soon as we entered the establishment we bee lined for the bathroom to wash our hands. There was an assortment of salads, rice, beef/vegie stuff to put on rice, chicken, fish, steamrd veggies and pasta. It was all yummy and it was supposed to be authentic Jordanian food but it's all the same to me. I love middle eastern food. And the best part was there was watermelon! I love watermelon season! We relaxed and then got back on the bus to head back to the border. We all slept on the bus. Katie got me back and took a picture of Jess and I sleeping bc I had taken one of her and Naomi.

We arrive to the Yitzchak Rabin Border Crossing and we are all ready to just get back to our hostel and shower and get sushi or something. I turn my phone back on and bc it says cellcom I decide to call home. I talk to my parents for a little bit but then had to go through security and passport control. We all proceeded through security and are doing fine till Elana's bag goes through the xray machine. And just like that we all get whisked away to the outside. Some of us have our bags others don't. Some don't have their passports bc the security personel were still holding them. We had no idea what was going on other than shit it's elana's bag again-there had been issues in the CBS in Jerusalem but they never had this big of a problem. Most people were by the exit but the 9 of us were kind of cornered off. Some security guards are talking to Elana and we are all amazed that she isn't crying. Eventually nothing is settled but they let us get our bags and continue to passport control. The security personel weren't allowed to share with Elana what exactly the issue was. While In line for passport control everyone is talking about it and us. We clearify that it wasn't bomb and that it's just her backpack. Everyone recommended that she gets a new one. We all got visas for a month. Sadly we were again reminded that we have just over 2 weeks left. :(

So eventually we all got back to the hostel. We procceed to shower in the 4 showers. These are the nicest showers I've had in a while. My shower in arad is a showerhead in the middle of a bathtub so there is very limitted rom, sarel is just a faucet head and katie's apartment is leaking a little bit. It was wonderful.

We put on clean clothing, and for four of us--Naomi, Jessica, Katie and I- that meant the same thing, black skirt and white tank. I got dressed first. I was outside hanging out when she comes out to tell us something. Naomi was outside with us in pjs and was like wouldn't it be funny if I put that on too. Do it! Jessica was like guess what katie is putting on? No! Yea! We looked like fools. It was funny.

We were all just hanging out at the picnic tables out front, drinking, playing cards and what not. Our game of bullshit was never completed.

Monica Michal and Hailey left to go to the infected mushroom concert. They were pretty out of it when thy left.

We were hungry so we went to the 24 hr store to but stuff. We really wanted to buy challah and eggs to make French toast in the morning but they didn't have any. We thought that everything would be open even though it was shabbat but it's only like that in the city center apparently. So we bought some chips and just hung out outside. Where we met some israelis from Beersheba that we hung out with for a bit. Eventually we went back to the arava. The boys weren't outside so we decided to go to sleep.


We all slept through our alarms for like 9 and didn't get up till 10ish. Let's just say we finally left the hostel at about noon which really pissed a lot of us off bc we were ready and waiting for others. Eventually we left and headed for the beach.

Eilat is hot. Oh and I forgot to mention that this weekend was gay pride weekend. It was about a mile walk but felt like much more. We finally settled on a spot, put our stuff down, and went in. The Eilat beach is not sand but rocks. The water felt so nice but the rocks hurt our feet. We laid out. Jessica and I went to aroma where we shared a sandwhich and salad and drank ice limondas. It was delicious and perfect. And very much needed to get away from everyone. What a surprise, people had begun to tick me of. We returned to the beach and beached some more. Then we packed up and started walking to the CBS. Again, some people took longer than others and we were running out of time so we had to grab a cab. We hate doing that. So some of us were even more annoyed.

So we had bought roundway tickets Eilat-Beersheba but Monica lost hers. At the ticket cooter they wouldn't let her buy another bc this bus was filled. The driver let her though. Since the bus ride is 3 hrs there is a stop where Monica was almost left behind.

On the bus from Eilat to Beersheba I finished my book-No Time For Goodbye--it was decent with a really good twist at the end. Good story, okayish writing. Since then i've been blogging on my iPhone in notes to be sent to email and then evetually to blogger. Can't wait for my phone to be a phone again!

Some things that I've learned about traveling with lots of people: don't! I should just give them the information and let them plan on their own. It's too much. We were 9 girls. Way too many girls for me to handle.

This week should be interesting with Shavout coming up. We will be in Jerusalem. Then there is Desert Queens on the 20th and I'm spending shabbat with Moty and Efi and hopefully I'll see Raanan and Sharon this week in Jerusalem. So once again I won't be in arad that much. But next week, last full week I'll be there the whole week. It's been almost three months for a whole week in arad. Boy! Does time fly.

We are on the bus to arad now and my thumbs are a bit tired from blogging so im not going to start on sarel quite yet. So goodbye for now.

Arad 9

Week of 5/2

Monday 5/3 – volunteering. They didn’t need me in Orange Beam so I was in Kangaroo with Jessica. Jessica came in late b/c Sunday night after we got back from Tsfat she and Katie went to Be’er Sheva to go to the doctors. Katie got her eye finally looked at by real doctors and Jessica got her extra toe cut off—blister. There was no communal lunch so Tal took us out for falafel. She wouldn’t let us pay.

We just relaxed and packed for a week in Jerusalem

Tuesday 5/4 – MASA – Everyone left at 7 AM for Jerusalem for a Mega MASA event. B/c of BFL and David Project, nothing was new for me. The speakers were still good. The Hillel Lady, Esther, did the same lecture that she did for us during BFL. All the BFL swarmed her before hand to calm her down and just say hi. Natan Shransky spoke which was amazing. We then had the BFL graduation. Katie, Jessica and them sufficiently embarrassed me. They were worse then mom, only b/c they were able to get closer b/c we weren’t that many people. Jordana and someone from a different BFL group spoke. We got the brochures of our projects; it is so cool to see them in print and everyone else’s projects. It makes it more real. There was lunch of falafel or other booths. It was really nice being with all three sections and other programs for the day. There were booths with different organizations that will be on our college campuses. We saw Zeev from David Project who was excited to see us—such good hugs—and was excited that we are going to the fellowship this summer. But apparently if I decide to go to IDC I cant go. But his brother is a professor at idc so I should go there. We will see what happens. Dinner was a really bad sandwich. We saw Britty—she doesn’t want to go to GW anymore, she wants to join the army. I always knew that she’d make Aliyah but I was surprised that she is giving up GW. Man I miss that girl. We just relaxed, got tickets for the show and went through security. Security was tight because Bebe Netanyahu is coming to talk to us. Jess and I went through security and since we had our tickets we went in and just sat down. We were sitting there for like 20 mins before we got kicked out—they were doing sound and what not. We went out, and just laid down on the grown before we were actually allowed to go in. When everyone was settled inside someone introduced Natan Shransky who talked for a bit and then introduced Netanyahu. It was so cool to hear him speak! We then watched a clip of Crystal Ariel, who MASA has followed for a bit throughout her adventures on Nativ. She is a friend of Britty that we know. The HaDag Nachash concert was lots of fun. Mike was drunk, which was very surprising. The concert ended and we said bye to the scouts. They were there for the concert, but had their own stuff during the day.

Jessica, Katie, Naomi, Hailey, and I stayed in Jerusalem. All of the arts kids had stuff in Jerusalem the following day and for the rest of us. we are just never in Arad.

Weds – 5/5 – Cinco De Mayo – Jessica and I woke up at about 10, showered and went to the Coffeeshop to blog and have a nice breakfast. We didn’t leave till past 2. It was Grandpa’s Yartzite and Jenny’s English Yartzite. So I didn’t go out the night before with Hailey and Michal. Jessica and I went back to Katie’s to drop off the computer and then walked to the Shook to buy candy for Boaz and banana clips for our hair. We then walked to Ben Yehuda so that Jess could buy a shot glass for Lori. While there, there was some kind of dance competition. We watched that for a bit then when back to Katie’s where we started Alice in Wonderland.

Weds night was Boaz’s induction ceremony at the Kotel. Jessica got a ride with his family so that they could get there early while Katie, Elana, Naomi, Orly and I walked there a bit later. We got there and it was pretty packed. I called Jessica to find out where they were and we finally caught up with her and Boaz’s family—grandpa, dad, mom, brother and two sisters. As usual, I’m too short to see what is going on. Elana went on katie’s shoulders for a bit to take some pictures. I had to put katie’s hoops in my ears. My ears were almost closed, need to wear earings more often. After the ceremony where all of the soldiers run up and receive their guns we all gathered and took many pictures. Katie snuck one of jess and boaz kissing. We had some chips and then separated from each other. Awkwardly we keep running into boaz’s family on the way out. We went through mamilla, and I got an aroma sandwich. We didn’t get back to Katie’s till like 11 so we just stayed in and relaxed. Other people filtered in at different times and eventually we all went to sleep.

Thursday 5/6 – We all woke up at different times. Elana left at like 5 so that she would make it back to arad in time for the ropes course siyuur—the rest of us just didn’t care to go back to Arad. We finished watching Alice in Wonderland. Jessica, Katie and I left to go meet Moran on Emek Refaim for brunch for her BIRTHDAY! We were planning on buying her a balloon or something. We figured that we would find a place that sold balloons. Katie ran into an old rabbi and talked to him for a bit while we went to go find a balloon. We went to a shop that has plants. They had balloons but you need to blow them up yourself. The three of us took turns blowing it till it got big enough. We tied it and set out on our way to CafeCafe. It POPPED! on our way over. We were so upset. We collected the pieces and still continued. We sat down, Moran wasn’t there yet, and decided that we would order a dessert now to surprise her later. So Katie went to the “bathroom” (kitchen) to look at them when Moran was coming in. We had a lovely brunch. Jessica and I shared French toast and Muesli. Katie jess and I finished off Moran’s French toast. Katie hints to me that I need to go to the bathroom. Oh, that’s right, excuse me please. Katie can you help me find the bathroom please? Ughhhh. Okay. So we tell them that we want the waffle. I do go to the bathroom. Moran asks if we should get the check and go. No, I’m not ready yet. Then comes out the Belgian waffle with Birthday Happy written on it. Boy, was that yummy. We then take some pictures and get the bill. We don’t let Moran pay but we do let her use her frequent member card thing that got us 10% off. We leave and take another picture on the way. We all go back to Beit Ar El and on the way we ran into Nathan Chesterman and Scott Rothschild. They didn’t know that it was Moran’s bday. Everyone was going to class. We went to go bother people—madrichim and staff—but only b/c they love us.

We go to the office looking for Boaz. He isn’t there. Jess makes him a sign while Katie and I talk to Joel and Judy re Cairo and getting more Passports. We are allowed to go to Cairo if our parents approve. Yeah, right. So we scratch cairo off our plans but we still want Petra…yeahh next weekk!!!. It keeps getting bigger and more complicated which I don’t like. Joel didn’t like it that we were in Beit Ar El and not Arad but we explained for the millionth time how stupid the schedule is. On Weds there is only Hebrew for an hr so why would I be there? Lunch and learn is optional and its not the same with out BG. This weeks siyyur to the ropes course just doesn’t interest me.

I left Beit Ar El to meet up with Sharon for coffee at the CBS before she had to go to Tel Aviv to see her family. We caught up. She invited me for Shabbat but I have plans. It was really nice catching up with her. I went back to Beit Ar El. The girls were in our old apartment—the Shalem boys’ apartment. Katie was cleaning, b/c she said she would if they friended her on FB. But b/c Ezra doesn’t have FB he can’t friend her and therefore she doesn’t need to clean it. But she still helped out just b/c she is Katie. Jessica was blogging. The boys kept teasing her b/c she was there for so long. I read for a bit and then we left. From like last week we were planning on getting sushi at Sushi Rechavia, for old times sake. The only problem was when. We decided to get sushi on Emek Refaim instead of Rechavia. So we split a veggie and tamakura? Combination—something that we used to split between 4 people (+Britty) now by three people. It was so much sushi! So good. Then we walked back to Katie’s to quickly change and go to the Kotel for another induction ceremony. Katie Hailey and I went.

So a couple of weeks ago we had a siyyur to an IDF Nachal Base by Arad, where we met a bunch of Lone soldiers. Some of them we knew before hand, some were new and what not. Anyways, it was all their ceremony last night. We got there a bit late, but we saw the same ceremony the night before, but we kept running into everyone: Myles, Nate, two Joshes, Jeremy, Aaron, Shoshy, and others. It was so nice seeing everyone. They were happy that we came b/c they don’t have family here. They are each other’s family now.

I was planning on maybe seeing Shawna for some coffee but she was too tired, but I will see her sometime before I leave for home, less than a month :(

So we went home. Relaxed, and changed. I talked to my parents and seth for a bit. Katie and Hailey made banana bread that we would have for breakfast for fri morning and then we went out. Hailey and I got 7 shck beers. We saw a bunch of kids. Almost all of sec 2 was in Haifa at a big party at UltraSound so there wasn’t much YC out. The beginning of the night we were with Yosef and Yoni till they left. I was with Naomi and some of her friends—Josh, Levi and someone else who’s name I can’t remember. Levi I know from preschool, Levi Morrow. Eventually all the soldiers came out. They were all drunk!! Jeremy was burnt and really red and kept singing Erev Tov Lach. They were all just adorable. We were hanging out a lot with Nate and his sister, Emily. They hadn’t seen each other in a year. It made us really miss our siblings. We saw Mikey—he is leaving for home on Sunday. That almost made me cry. Not that it was Mikey, but some of us—us that have been here from the start, not gotten kicked out, are leaving…it makes it more real that the end of Year Course is coming.

We went home at like 3ish and went to sleep.

Friday 5/7 – We all woke up at different hours and people left. Naomi for her aunt’s. Jessica for Boaz’s. Katie and Hailey went to the shook to buy stuff for Shabbat. I stayed in and just relaxed and worked on some stuff for Petra and blogged. Tonight we are having Shabbat dinner here and then walking to Beit Ar El to hang out with some of the Shalem kids. I talked to Cara for a bit and that was really nice, I miss her! I’m game for a chill Shabbat since we have been so crazy busy and the last couple of weekends have been nuts!

[(Added 5/28) At the Shalem boys apartment—our former apartment in Jerusalem we hung out on our old balcony. Ari and I realized that we have all the same friends back home and talked about going on a road trip this summer…only problem is that neither of us have cars. People came and went and eventually Mike came by. I talked with Mike for like ever. Katie and I stole toilet paper and walked home together.

Satuday 5/8 – We went to Katie’s neighbor for kiddish. It is so interesting listening to old ladies who made Aliyah years and years ago bash people back home and the liberal people. I’m from California so I must be going to Berkeley and participating in that craziness. We went back to Katies and just relaxed all day.

Shabbat Shalom L’Kulam!

Tsfat; April 30-May 2

Tsfat – another Jessica but mostly Rachel conglomeration—weekend of April 30-May 2

Shevet left Friday morning (4/30) at 9 in the morning. We were only like 15 (originally about 50, b/c of Marava) kids so they only sent a mini bus (sheirut) for us and no madrich. Dun dun duhhh….would we fight with each other without a watchful eye? No, of course not. We probably behaved better than usual. Rachel had a single seat and Jessica sat with Katie. The whole time people were passed out on top of each other. Rachel started reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” from Kai, read about 200 pages. It was a 5 hour drive. We stopped once for a bathroom and rest where Jessica and Rachel got Magnum ice creams because it was two for 16 sheks instead of the usual 20 sheks. We then started driving again only to stop for lunch that Boaz had left for us at the previous station. Man, when we are only a couple of kids they treat us extra well. There were sandwiches, pastries, salads, and water bottles. We then drove some more and finally came to Tsfat. The driver didn’t know exactly where to go in Tsfat but we finally ended up at Ascent, the Chabad Hostel in Tsfat that we stayed at during Simchat Torah.

We got our room assignments (2 girls room, one boys room) saw Emma, who was joining us from Jerusalem and looked for Ami, who would be joining us from Bat Yam. Apparently Boaz likes Alex as a Madrich but not as a Shevet Madrich…really we just don’t like him, shhhh! Some of the Shalem girls had come up for the weekend and joined us so that was pretty cool to hang out with them. We put our bags down then Rochel, who was with us during Simchat Torah, took us for a tour to the big cemetery. She did seminary last year in Jerusalem and is now a madricha in Tsfat for a seminary. She talked about some of the Tsadikim that are buried here. We said the 20th Psalm and then went over to Chana’s grave and she told the story of Chana and her 7 sons. Rachel still thinks that Chana’s death is suicide even if the rabbis disagree. Some adults from New York kept asking Rochel for directions to different people’s graves, even for people who weren’t buried there. So we had walked down a big hill and a lot of steps to get to this cemetery—up we went. “Yam L’Yam no big deal, Tsfat is going to kill us though.”

We made it back to Ascent to change and make it to Rabbi Lieter’s talk only a little late. He really dislikes people coming in late, but there was nothing we could do about it. This was our first Lag B’Omer talk of the weekend, so it was still interesting. He told a couple of jokes, and the horse one that only responds to the Shema and Baruch Ha’Shem. Katie hates that joke. This was also our first introduction to a man that would stay with us through out the weekend and beyond—Iris, or Moshe. He asks many questions—interesting, but many questions nonetheless.

The girls then lit Shabbat Candles and then davened Kabbalat Shabbat. It was a nice service. We were split up into different groups to be taken to different Host Families for Shabbat Dinner. Katie and Naomi thought that they were going to go to the family that we all went to last time—that Rachel knows from home but it turns out that it was a different family. Rachel, Jessica, Julia and Emma went to the Freidmans. It was a nice dinner learning about the amazing adventure of how and when they came to Israel. They are a Chabad family. The Rebbe sent them to Tsfat with 10ish other families to rebuild the Jewish Community in Tsfat, 30ish years ago. When they first got here there was no running water or electricity. They were newlyweds with an infant. Now there are many synagogues, yeshivot, seminaries, and families. There is some crazy number of charadim people, tons of kabbalists and artists.

The four of us returned back to Ascent. Katie and Naomi had the key so we went to the Farbregen. We were the only girls till Anna and Masha joined us for a little bit. We were all really tired but they wouldn’t let us leave. Finally Julia left to see if the girls were here yet, but they weren’t so she came back. Iris was there along with many Aish and other boys. Everyone but the girls were pretty intoxicated. Iris kept going on about instead of getting married he got stuck with the rabbi. And how wine makes secrets come out—boy do they! The whole time Rachel was thinking that he is perfect for someone back home. How do I get his information for her? We were finally allowed to leave after much persuasion. The rabbi was disappointed, this was the first Shabbat in a long time that the Farbregen ended before two in the morning, and how a couple of weeks ago he didn’t go to bed at all.

We went back to the room and Naomi and Katie had just gotten back to the room. We all went to bed with plans to get up in the morning for services at 9ish.

Saturday (May 1) Katie, Julia and Jessica got up to go to services, Rachel and Naomi slept in to 10 when Katie had come back to the room to “wake us up.” We got dressed and went down for a light breakfast-coffee and cake later to be followed by kiddish of coffee and more cake. There was then another talk. Rochel sat with us and asked what we learned from the farbregen, when she heard that we were there. Rachel starts telling the story about the fisherman that Iris had told the night before but Iris is there so we just ask him to tell it again.

We then went to the cave for lunch. Boaz was at the head, and then Rachel and Ami were on either side with Jessica next to Rachel. We were all sitting down—Shevet at a single table for the first time like ever when Iris came over, asking no one in particular, if the table was full. He then introduces himself to Rachel and asks if she was sitting in the first row during the talk yesterday? Umm, maybe, middlish front I suppose. Ok great, nice meeting you. Boaz then makes a remarks: ohh Rachel that is how those yeshiva boys flirt: were you in the front (licking lips)? Jessica, Ami and Rachel are dying in hysterics. Like almost peed my pants, which isn’t funny b/c Rachel is always almost manic in Tsfat. We most definitely looked like fools. And then Boaz and Ami continued to refer to him as Rachel’s husband for the rest of the weekend…great, thanks guys. The chulent was good, but we didn’t eat that much. Because it was going to be such a late night, as in no sleeping, we all needed to go take naps. Jessica and Rachel left early, before benching, to go nap. On the way out a girl stopped us who just made Aliyah and is from San Diego. We continued walking out when Iris gets up to give a talk. Great, future husband giving a talk and we just walked out. We were standing outside the door so that we could still listen, we didn’t want to walk back in because that would just be weird. But Katie and Boaz were able to see us and kept making comments.

We got back to our room and got into bed. Then others came back in and we all tried to nap but that didn’t really happen.

Rachel, Naomi, Katie, and some of the Shalem girls got up to go for the Mystical tour of Tsfat while Julia and Jessica continued to sleep. And yes, Iris was there then too. Rabbi Lieter’s wife gave the tour—some of it was a repeat from last time that we were there but some of it was different. Iris was making small talk with Rachel about Israel and Tsfat, Katie is keeping out a watchful eye and keeps trying to get me away from him. Eventually we fall behind and he starts talking to Joe and they become good friends. At one point, Katie had her arm around Rachel’s shoulder and then my back, and it might have graved her tush when some guys were like no, no, no, with a waggle of the finger. We crack up and then Katie makes conversation with them. We went to a secret cave thing where there was a burial. There was a question posed by the Rebbatsin as to what was learnt here—Rachel got it right, the Noachide Laws—by Noach’s sons. Hmm? And then Kabbalah. She explained that not everyone is listed in the Torah that lived then, only the people that knew the secrets of Kabbalah are listed—Noach’s sons being some of them. Katie and Rachel made a friend from Norway who is traveling around Israel because he feels a pull to this country. He isn’t positive that he is Jewish but Rachel thinks he is. Not everyone feels that magnetic pull. We all went to a couple of different synagogues. One of them Rachel got yelled at for her top—there was no cleavege, just a little collarbone and chest. I never get yelled at! I just wanted to pull it down lower! But I didn’t.

We finally made it back to Ascent. We missed Mincha but then had seudah shlishit it was okay. Again the Rebbatsin gave a talk, she wanted it to be a Q&A/Talk thing. And Joel decided to ask “if it is idolatry to pray to the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and practically worship, b/c that is how it looks.” Others peoples questions were a lot more simpler. She starts talking and eventually talks about how its not idolatry, on this very long tangent. But Joel had already left. She kept asking Simon, Joel’s twin, if she had answered his question. Yeah, that was enough. Needless to say we all wanted to kill Joel. We all went back to our rooms to just rest up and go to sleep before Havdallah, instead of the Q&A with the Rabbi.

Havdallah was amazing with singing, dancing, and good spirits. We then went back to bed to get up at 10 pm for pizza. Jessica ate 6 slices. Rachel ate 3 slices. And head out eventually for Har Meron. See we did climb Har Meron, just a week after Yam L’Yam! It was packed beyond belief. It took forever for the bus to get there. Shevet had it’s mini bus but others from the hostel got in it so we had to wait for a normal bus. Shevet was singing songs, not necessarily Jewish ones but we were united in our efforts.

We pulled up and all got off. There were people giving away free drinks and food so we all got shock, the chocolate milk in the bags, and continued to the entrance where we ran into BRITTY! Jessica, Katie, and Rachel all practically jumped her! It was great seeing her. She was there with a friend and looking for another, so we had to part our ways. We started walking up the mountain. It was packed. It was like a carnival with people dancing at different music centers and what not.

We finally got to the grave building. The women and men sides are separate. To enter you have to push and shove, not very nice and it is hellish inside. We didn’t push or shove, we just let those behind you push you which in turn is you pushing someone else. It is a domino affect that is beyond claustrophobic. Katie, Naomi, and Julia got to the front and were able to touch the fence. Rachel just wanted to just get out and made way for the exit. Jessica got really close to the fence. Its not like you can touch the actual grave and it is weird touching graves. Jessica and Rachel finally got out and waited for the others by a big yellow sign, where we again ran into Britty. We got to catch up a little bit and then they tried to enter the craziness. Julia, Naomi, and Katie finally made it out of there and we started for down the mountain. We ran into everyone else, after finding free rugulas, of course. Where are my friends? By the food of course. We figured out how to get to the buses back to tsfat. We needed to pee. But didn’t want to go in the port-o-potties so Jessica Katie and Rachel did it in the nature. We rejoined and waited for a bus. Most people got on one but then it was full so we got on the second one. We kept falling down b/c it was a windy road and we were standing…people probably thought that we were drunk—we hadn’t had a drop to drink. We made it to the CBS in Tsfat and walked back to Ascent. Rachel showered, we all got ready for bed and went to sleep.

On the way to the buses we were all talking about what we expected and how different it was from what we thought it would be—some thought that it there would be these huge bonfires with people dancing around them, others thought that it would a mountain like in the nature instead of a paved road and the grave would be at the top and people would be on top of each other trying to get there. People were on top of each other but it was in a building. We weren’t really shocked by the pushiness of people, we have been to other graves on busy days and the Kotel during Birchat H’Cohanim but this was something else. Lag B’Omer is a holiday where we are supposed to be happy but being in the building just made Jessica and Rachel angry.

On Sunday (5/2) we got to sleep into like 10ish, 11 was breakfast, well lunch with chicken and other stuff for before we hit the road. We all talked about the previous night and filled out evaluation forms for Ascent. Iris came in and told us how much he enjoyed our company and that if we were ever in Jerusalem to find him. Joe and him became pretty close, and they didn’t come back to like 4 in the morning. Joe’s stories of the night were pretty cool and scary…almost suffocated from the mass of people. As we were leaving more people were coming.

We left Ascent and started on the 5 hour drive back to Arad. Rachel read another 200 pages…

This wasn’t our favorite weekend but it was definitely an experience

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yam L'Yam 5

Monday (5/12) – Three.five day of Yam L'Yam – “The Kinneret”

Naomi last night wanted us to wake up early, meaning 4:30, so we could leave right when the sun would begin to come up. Monica argued for later, so they settled to wake up at 5:00 to leave by 5:30. It is funny how early that sounds, but at the time it didn’t sound early at all! When it was time to wake up and some of us started to get moving, Judith saw that ants had infested her bag. She accidentally left her food open a bit and her backpack overnight. Some people didn’t get up until way later. Naomi forced Michal to get up at 5:15. Monica told Naomi that she would wake up later, but be ready by 5:30…that was not true, so Naomi was a bit pissed at her. Elana helped Judith deal with the ants and they eventually poured some water in Judith’s bag to get rid of all the ants. Because of this and some people getting ready slowly, we didn’t leave until 6:30ish. Michal wrote a note thanking the family and off we went! Katie scored a point by catching Rachel in the road. HA! When we started to go down the hill leading back to the main road, Michal and Jessica were in the back because they just could not walk. They were limping and Jessica looked a bit like a grandma (but a typical grandma, not her Bubbe Eleanor!) A kibbutz dog was walking with us. We thought that after we got to the main road he would go back up. We thought he was just being a gentledog and walking us to the “door.” That didn’t happen.

We got to the main road and continued down the steep hill we had walked up yesterday. The dog was pretty smart and would tend to stop when a car was coming and wouldn’t continue walking until the car had passed. The dog, also, however crossed the street 2 times and would go right in front of cars. One time it was a truck and after the dog safely got across with Jessica stretching out her hand freaking out, the truck driver honked at her and gave her a look. IT ISN’T OUR DOG! When we finally got off the road because we saw the trail marker, the dog still stayed with us. Katie was a little confused and thought we should be going in another direction. Some people got a little irritated with her, which made Jessica, Rachel, and Naomi sad and mad at those people who yelled at Katie. Why are people mean to her?

We continued on this trail for the majority of the way. We bumped into a few people and 2 men were still in their sleeping bags when we passed them. They had run out of water and were dying of thirst. We knew how they felt so when Jessica gave them one of her water bottles, she thought they would take half or something. They ended up just giving her in return one of their empty water bottles. That works too. It is so fun talking with people, but Rachel was pumped and wanted to continue. When we stopped for breakfast, Jessica wanted to give the dog some water, Rachel wasn’t too happy about that. Regardless, Jessica got some water from Katie (because Jessica was down to 1 water bottle) and in Monica’s container, gave the dog some water. He drank it. So cute. After, he just rested in the shade, waiting for us to continue. Jessica and others became a little concerned about what we should do with the dog when we get to the Kinneret. We already looked at the tag and there was no number to call. Great. We had a quick breakfast and off we went. We have gotten good about taking shorter breaks. We passed through an orchard and it looked like it could be from the Tropicana commercial, so Katie took a picture of Michal and Jessica making it look like they were picking oranges. Later, there was a wheat field and since Katie was a scarecrow for purim, she ran into the field and we took a picture of her looking like a scarecrow. So so so funny. After some time we finally got to the road! We only had to walk on the road for a bit before getting to our final destination! When we crossed the road, so did the dog. Jessica had a cursing fit due to her toes.

We had to decide which beach we want. We tried for the closest one but there was a fee. We went in anyways. The guy stopped us but we convinced him that we just wanted 5 mins there b/c we just did Yam L’Yam Bitches yeah!!!! So he let us. Some of us wanted to go in here but others didn’t b/c it was a muddy beach. After much deliberation we decided to go to Tiberius to go to a nice beach. We needed to tramp (hitchhike) so we climbed up back to the road—we didn’t want to walk all the way around. We walked to the other side of the road in pairs. We figured, incorrectly, that it would be easier if we were in pairs. Noami and Elana went first. They crossed and waited for a car. A car stopped but they didn’t realize so it drove away. A few minutes later another car stopped and they got in. Later we find out that they had 4 seats and could have taken two more. Judith and Rachel were next. (Monica and Katie decided to walk back to the gas station and try there). They crossed and eventually a car stopped which also had 4 seats but we were unable to wait for Jessica and Michal to cross so we left. The guy lived in LA for a bit. We were dropped off at the Promenade. Rachel had told everyone to say the Taylet B’Tiveria (Promenade in Tiberius) but people didn’t listen and some weren’t dropped off there. Rachel and Judith met up with Naomi and Elana and we had to wait for the others. Of course Jessica and Michal were stuck with the dog, which had followed them still across the road. Cars honked and after Jessica pushed the dog, with sad eyes, said “Bivakasha, zuz, lech habita” (please move, go home) (which Rachel had been saying since it started follow us). The dog went up the hill and sat in the shade. A car came and the girls ran after it the dog tried to follow but couldn’t. The girls felt like they were abandoning “our watchdog”. They made it to the Promenade. Rachel and Naomi had gone off to buy new plastic sandals. Rachel’s sandals, her cheetah print reefs from like 2-3ish years ago, the strap shrank and was unable to get her foot in. They were old and she was planning on throwing them out before she left Israel. She bought a pair that look like havianas but only 15 sheks! So we were all planning on going to a beach that Rachel, Michal, Katie and Leah were at when they cycled the Kineret but then we found a beach just off the promenade so we went there.

THE BEACH!!! Rachel brought soap so we brought that in. Some of us, Jessica, Katie, Rachel, Monica, and possibly Michal and Elana? wore just sports bras and underwear (we made sure to wear normal and a dark color), others—Naomi and Judith wore bathing suits. After, again, much deliberation we went in—in to our legs. Count of 3 we all ducked. Jessica started to dedread her hair and gave the hair to Katie. Monica gave a closing speech—talking about each of our qualities—meaningful. We washed up with Rachel’s soap, which almost slipped away once and finally got out. We had to let our stuff dry by the sun and change into something clean? Some of us had clean clothes but it still stank from our dirty clothing.

Rachel and Michal were craving shwarmas. Rachel wasn’t hungry so waited for Jerusalem. Michal and Judith got them on the way to the central bus station. We had to decide between taking a sheirut or bus to Jerusalem and then bus to Be’er Sheva or to Haifa where we could then take a train to Be’er Sheva. The sheirut driver was convinced that Rachel was in charge and tried to convince her to convince the others to go with the sheirut. The drive with the sheirut would have been 10 more shekels than the bus and only about 1.5 hours. We were dumb and didn’t think to ask how long the bus ride would take. We decided with the bus. We waited for a bus for what we thought would be 20 mins but turned out to be more like 40ish. The sheirut came by again and told us that we could have been already half way there.

The bus came and we got on. Jessica and Rachel were sitting together. We passed out. We kept waking up, and no we weren’t there yet. It was like a 3ish hour ride. It took forever, and didn’t seem like it would end. We finally got to the bus station in Jerusalem and had to go through security to get in. I whispered to Elana to play dumb about her knife that we both had. Most of us got in just fine. They didn’t even ask Rachel about hers. Elana’s bag had troubles but not about her knife. To this day we still don’t know what the problem was. Judith took off for Beit Ar El because she was late for class. Rachel got a shwarma which she devoured, but gave the extras to Katie. Jessica took out money and got an Aroma sandwich. We made the bus to Be’er Sheva. On this bus ride we ate our left over chocolate, peanut butter and just bitched and reminisced over our trip. Finally got to Be’er Sheva and waited for the Arad bus. Leah was planning on cooking for us but she had to go to Haifa for her friend’s mother’s funeral. We saw her at the bus station leaving as we were arriving. We split up and went in different directions to our apartments.

Leah had let a chicken defrost for us to cook. So Rachel was preparing the chicken and thought that the skin looked extra thick but didn’t think anything too much of it. We also cut up potatoes and let it all cook. We all showered and we were just relaxing. The chicken was done but it was very strange. There was like almost no chicken on the chicken it was all fat. So we all took turns trying to get the meat off but to no avail. We ate the potatoes but that was it. We had to dump the chicken, sadly. We relaxed and went to bed.

Our trip was 3 days plus 3 hours. Not 4 days. Just want to make that crystal clear. Back off people that told us we couldn’t do it! Hell yeah we did!!! Chicka chicka yeahhh.

It was an amazing trip. It was one of our highlights of this year in Israel. We are planning on having a sleep over in nature where we can make bracelets from the rope that Rachel has. Hopefully there will be a night when all of us are actually in Arad, which is practically never to do so.

Between the Israelis we met and the gorgeous nature, it is very tempting to make Aliyah. Who knows what will happen?

Oh and Rachel has over 20 mosquito bites, including 5 on the face. Jessica has 9 on her face and a pimple.

It was an incredible trip. We are so happy that we did it. We hope that you enjoyed reading our adventures. Sorry to torture you with so many words, but this is more for us than it is for you! Hahahah

We have less than a month left in Israel and we are certainly making the most of it. Jessica and Rachel have absolutely no idea how we are going to part—we have been roommates for 9 months, even though Jessica recently moved out. So family, enjoy our blog.

Over and out. Peace.

Love always,

Jessica and Rachel, the JRKs

P.S. shit, now we are both tearing. Rachel never cries, I don’t know what you are talking about.