Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bat Yam 6

Hey everyone,

It has been a very busy two weeks. Time in Bat Yam is flying past and we are crazy busy. Its scary. I don't want my time here to end. We already had an Arad presentation! To pick out our volunteering and apartment placements! I feel so behind in blogging, a little stressed out too b/c of it--becoming like jess in that regard. It has been two weeks. Which means two siyyurim. The siyyurim in Bat Yam have been really great!.

Last week I went to the Nalaga'at (Please Touch) theater in Yafo. This was an incredibly moving night for me--probably one of the reasons it has taken me so long to write about it. It is a normal theatre house at the port in Yafo. The actors however, are either deaf and blind or one of the other. The title of the play was "Not By Bread Alone." We didn't know what to expect except that we would be getting bread at the end. The play started with the 11 actors at a long banquet table on stage, kneading dough. They begin to tell us a bit about themselves: when they became blind and how they communicate. I was surprised by how many different ways there are to communicate. There is talking obviously but that doesn't work in a room full of people who aren't able to hear or see. Some were able to use sign language. Watching two blind and deaf people sign to each other was amazing, one signs and the other has their hands on top of theirs so that they can feel the movement. Another form of, I suppose, sign language is tapping on someone else's hands in a form of what looked like was morse code but was really brail. They went up and down the row of people passing the message like the game telephone until it came to a person who was able to communicate verbally. It took time but it was incredible to watch... The performance than moved into the hopes and dreams of the performers. They acted out what they want out of life: watching a movie with a BIG bowl of popcorn, walking alone in the park, dancing, fishing, getting their hair done by a famous hairstylist, and more. They acted these out on their own or with the help of the crew or other actors. Along with their hopes and dreams they shared with us their biggest fears. The repeating theme amongst their fears is being alone and not feeling the touch of their friends. Touch is the most important form of communication. This show solidified that even more so. The performance made me tear a little. Of course no one saw. The entire time during the show the bread that was being kneaded in the beginning was baking. After the performance we were invited upon stage to eat the bread. It was some damn good bread. And there was pesto or olive oil to dig in...that was my dinner.

The Siyyur (Today) this week was to learn about Samaritans or Shomromim in hebrew. A topic that none of us knew nothing about. We were dropped off from our Shevet Siyyur (see below) and met up with the rest of our group at someone's house. It was a normal home and an old lady greeted us in hebrew. She was our "guide" for the evening. She only spoke hebrew so Yoni, an Israeli scout, translated everything. Surprisingly, I was able to understand just about everything b/c she was speaking in a simple hebrew and slowly enough b/c Yoni would have to translate everything. So apparently, Samaritans are the protectors of true Judaism. They claim that they never left Israel when the Jews were exiled by the Babylonians. They only follow the mizvot from the Torah (five books of Moses) and not from the books of the Prophets or the Writtings. They only celebrate the holidays that are in the Torah: Shevout, Yom Kippur, Pesach, and Succot. Their Torah scroll is written in an ancient Hebrew. Their holy city isn't Jerusalem, it is Mount Gerizim where Joshua conquered Caanaan. Their entire current population is in two locations, Mt Gerizim and Holon. Holon was where we were today, a neighboring city to Bat Yam. There are a total of 700 something Samaritans split pretty evenly between the two cities. After that we walked a short distance to a synagogue. Shoes are forbidden as well as chairs unless you are sick or elderly. There is no mikitza but due to modesty woman usually sit in the back. This style, they say, is how it was in ancient times. So the Samaritans are from the tribe of Menashe. There are some cohanim, and they do believe that they are direct descendants from the times of when the Benai Israel ruled the land. A cohanim chanted a prayer for us. The religion line is passed on through the father. In Judaism it is past on through the mother. Our guide, her mother is Jewish. Her father was the first person to marry a Jew. She had to adopt all of their customs though. Since then many people have married Jewish woman. No woman has married a Jewish man though, they have left and become Jewish though. It was a very different and interesting siyyur.

Zman Shevet, today, was all about T'u B'Shvat which is this weekend--yummy fruit! We discussed and looked at different sources regarding our and Hashem's role and the perseverance of the Earth. My mother's influence has made me very knowledgeable on the subject. Afterwards we went to a dumpsite. The land used to be a giant landfill for like 50 years and now it is being turned into a park. We drove around and saw the trucks and cranes sorting the garbage--i took some beautiful pictures of it. Then we went out to a look out point and saw the Tel Aviv sky line and the location of the park and amphitheater. We learned a lot about garbage. And then we went to the cafe and learning area. All of the decorations and furniture was made out of reused items--cans, a slide, shopping cart, inner tube of tires, car mirrors, bottles and plastic bags. all of the silverware and what not in the cafe was made out of the corn/plastic stuff that i was telling everyone about b/c of Jewlicious last year. And either b/c i'm from California, or b/c we compost at home or i just care about the earth i knew all the answers to the questions about reducing, reusing, and recycling and everything else.

On top of my already busy schedule of volunteering and classes I'm volunteering with Garin Tsedek. Young Judaeans are in charge of organizing all of it. We are volunteering teaching English twice a week to Darfurian refugees. I'm volunteering with Daniel Bowman at a family's apartment in Yafo. The two kids, 12 and 10, don't know much English so I am really using my hebrew. It is a lot of fun but really hard work and exhausting. I think that i am getting more out of it than my other volunteering just because these kids are trying to learn their third language when they haven't even been living in Israel that long. We are only able to come twice a week and they beg us to come more. It is sad leaving them. I can't imagine what it is going to be like when I have to leave for Arad.

Last thursday Jessica Katie and I went to Jerusalem to see our friend Eitan's induction in to the Army. Yes mom, I missed ulpan but it was an Israeli experience. We got their early and saw all the soldiers chanting and edging on the other units. Our madrich, Ami, was there too to see his friend so he was explaining to us what was happening since he has been there and has been to many. It was difficult to see what was going on but Jessica upon Katie's shoulders solved that problem for a bit. We took some cool pictures. When the ceremony started they started with reciting Yizkor for fallen soldiers. After that someone talked and I don't know what he was saying. We did see the soldier run up receive their guns and their Tanachs. After the ceremony we ran into some others who had come to see the ceremony and eventually we all found Eitan. We received ruggula from his lone soldier's parents and talked for a bit. The girls and I left and ran into some other friends and talked for a bit and finally made our way to Marakia, the soup place that Shawna first introduced me to. After a rough and awkward start we had fun time. Oh and we found winter in Israel. It is in Jerusalem. Not Bat Yam. We stayed in Katie's family apartment. We were going to go out to a party but we were too comfortable in our bed with our ice cream that we couldn't wake up from our nap to go out.

Friday morning the girls left for Bat Yam and I stayed for a bit in Jerusalem to take Shawna out for breakfast for her birthday! It was a coincidence that I was in jerusalem, i wasn't on planning on going to the ceremony but everything just worked out so perfectly. I made it back to Bat Yam with a hr to spare before I had to be at the Ulpan center to leave for the Moshav Modien for our Shevet weekend. This is the moshav that we were at for chanukah. Most of us stayed at our host's place and i was with the girls in the trailer. Monty, one of the kids on Shevet, has family on the moshav so he and Benji stayed with them. I had met some of the people our age that live on the moshav at previous events so it was nice to see them again. It was a Karlabach service with lots of singing and dancing. It was a nice relaxing shabbat in a beautiful location. We took a hike on shabbat to a Holocaust memorial. One of the cities that it was remembering was Bedzin. I have no idea if this has any correlation to my family but it was startling to see it. the memorial was set up similar to Triblinka, with stones of various sizes representing the lost communities. We took a hike on the way back, which was little muddy but it was just so beautiful. reminded me a lot of Oregon.

Bat Yam is lots of fun! We go out to Tel Aviv. I have only been here for shabbat twice but that has been enough. There isn't anything to do except to go to the beach but we do that during the week anyways. We haven't ran this week b/c its been raining. so i do miss the beach. but we have been so busy so i haven't missed it that much.

hope all is well. lila tov,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bat Yam 5 - Dialogue in the Dark

Hello everyone,

So Dialogue in the Dark was absolutely amazing. Family that was here in November, you definitely should have gone to this. So it is located in Holon which is a neighboring city to Bat Yam, about a 10ish min bus ride. We are split into 4 different groups of 10 ppl each. Jessica and I are the only girls in our group. Just a note, that they clarified for us: it is not a blind museum, it is not going to make you see or feel what it is like to be blind, it is only going to give you a hr of time with your other senses heightened and not being able to see; however, you are not blind for that time. You see darkness not nothingness.

As we are in the grey (still some light but not really) we are being told how we will be walking around for a 1 hr and a 1/2 in complete darkness where you cannot see your own hand in front of your face. All of your senses become heightened. It was really eery walking into a darkness that completely envelopes you. It makes you feel tiny and insignificant. Every sound and vibration directs you in a certain path. The voice of our Guide, Talya, led us into a room by the sound of her voice and the touch of a wall. This room had three masks that we had to find and feel--an African, Bull head and Indian. There was also a bed, a wall that was made out of bamboo, a book shelf with old books, a chair, and a trashcan. We were again, guided by the wall and the voice of Talya into a magical garden. As we walked around we walked, as I would assume zombies would walk--arms out, with a timid walk scared that we might fall, unsure that our feet would be able to support us.

We were again, guided by the wall and the voice of Talya into a magical garden. We stepped out on the gravel, only detectable by the crunch beneath our feet. "Find the benches, they are on the grass." Slowly stepping out, trying to sense the difference beneath our feet. The difference was soon felt and with hands out in front of me I sat down and announced it, calling others with my voice. Explaining to others how to sit down so that they wouldn't sit on me was the next step. Yoni sat beside me. We scooted to the edge to make room for others. As everyone sat we were told to listen to our environment. Birds, water, breathing. It felt like any other park that I've enjoyed when I take my naps, except that I didn't have the warmth of the sun beating down upon my body. We stood and followed the whispers of the waterfall to touch the water. On to the next room...

We feel the uneasiness of a bridge beneath ourselves, the clank of a chain against the railing. We slowwwwwllllyyyy continue in the boat, trying to be careful not to fall and make a fool of ourselves. I sit down and I'm between Yoni and Jon. We are trying to figure out if we are actually on water or if it just a simulation--in this day in age we aren't very trusting unless we actually see the water. We reach behind the boat and feel the raised hebrew letters spelling out the name of the boat-Chana--chet, nun, hey. We here birds chirping and we can feel the wind rustling through our hair. We make it to the other side of some place; where, I don't know. And walk up a rickety bridge into the next room...

A busy street corner. Fell the cobblestones beneath your feet! Be careful not to trip on the curb! listen to noise. Feel the doorbell, window, door knocking thingamajig, a car with a license plate number of 86, a bicycle, streetlight, and garbage can. There is a banister that we were supposed to follow to the right. So I went right. We followed Talya's voice to the banister and I was at it. Little did I know that I was on the wrong side of the banister. I hear that we are getting farther away from Talya. I turn around but Josh is in my way thinking that we are going the correct way. After some confusion and shouting as to where Jessica is. We can't be separated like this! We make it to the other side of the banister and continue to the next room....

And all of a sudden we are in the middle of Jerusalem at a bustling shook--Machena Yehuda. Our hands are drawn to the bins lining the wall, filled with fruit and vegetables. We are told we can eat whatever we want. My left hand falls upon an orange. I peel it, placing the peel in the pocket of my jacket. While eating the orange I found a spot where I hadn't peeled. It was at this point that it hit me that I cannot see. This wasn't just me flouncing around in the dark. I had an opportunity to use my touch and I fall back on my eyes. Kai asks for the trashcan and he finds it with the help of Talya, I hand him my peel and he tosses it away. And Jessica continues to find me by touching my hair. We continue on our journey to the music room...

Our instructions are to go find a wall and lean against it. I find a wall and lean against it waiting for everyone to do the same. We are told to sit down, which I had already done. Lay down, we scoot out and lay down. As I would if I were to look up into the night sky and stare at the stars. The entire time music is playing. Beautiful, sweet music. The kind of music to melt away all of your fears. Being told that it was time to move to the music dancing around in my head was almost painful. Music is so much richer when all of the distractions of sight are taken away. If music is richer than what is food like...

We enter the cafe by being led to a counter. While holding onto the counter practically for dear life, considering that it is the only thing that we actually know in this strange environment we are read the menu--drinks and snacks--everything under 10 shekels. I wasn't hungry so I didn't buy anything and I had experienced eating without sight--my orange from the Shook. Those of us who didn't buy were led to a table. I was the first to sit down on the bench and I had to scoot all the way down to the left, the only way to know I was at the edge was by almost falling over. Here again, I am between Jon and Yoni. Well Yoni is on the bench to my left that is perpendicular to mine. Everyone is curious to know what everyone else ordered and if we can share food and how to pass. More importantly it is our opportunity to talk with our wonderful guide, Talya.

Talya is Israeli. Her English is very good. She lived in LA for a few years. She taught Ivrit in a Jewish Sunday School in LA. She took the buses. She also taught while she was in Israel. She is retired now but still very active and works at Dialogue in the Dark anywhere from 2 to 4 days a week. Oh and did I mention that she is blind? She was born blind. She cannot see us. She can see some shading between dark and light but cannot tell you if it is a tree or a pole before herself. She told of a time when she was in LA and had missed her stop so she had to cross the street to go on a bus in the opposite direction. However she wasn't used to the area and didn't know where the bus stop was and since everyone in LA drives there weren't any people on the streets for her to ask help from like there would be if she were in Israel. She obviously made it, but it was very frustrating for her. And I had fears about coming to Israel! We asked many questions about the museum, it's history, how it was arranged and apparently they are very simple rooms and we would probably laugh at them if we were able to see them. For us they were like a maze and indescribable. She learned the layout in about 3 minutes.

After the cafe we went into the light. The shock of the light after being accustomed to the dark was painful. Jessica still makes fun of the expression upon my face when I walked into the light. In the light we were able to see books of Brail in both Hebrew and English as well as a game of checkers. The pieces of the checkers set were not black and white, rather raised and flat pieces with little sockets on the bottom to place into the raised or indented checkered board. There was also a brail typewriter. And of course I had to sign the guest book.

There truly is a foreign world out there, out there in the dark.

Strangely enough throughout the whole experience I kept bumping into the same people over and over again--Jessica and Kai. And whenever we needed to sit I was between Yoni and Jon. As we left every room, Talya would ask if anyone was left behind.

And as a note writing this was extremely difficult because I don't have the ability to think about as to what I saw. I have to delve into a different part of my brain to try and remember the order of what happened, what I touched, and sensed. Just ask Jessica...oy vey. So we came to realize that this blog was a joint effort.

And we did come to realize that we can just copy and paste each others blogs b/c we are always together! love her. Oh and Julia is in the shower and she is singing in the shower "Love Songs" and now opera. and i can't breathe. my stomach hurts. i'm crying. daddy alert. jk. but really. ok then. bye.

Sorry about that last paragraph, but while writing this. I had to write in sections b/c I needed to look things up or go back and insert something and so I had to write what was happening at that moment for the above paragraph because it was just too funny to pass up. I do see that it makes no sense within the context of this blog.

I do hope that you enjoyed my travels at the Dialogue in the Dark. I hope that one day you will be able to experience this incredible journey either here in Israel or even at the one in Atlanta.

Love always,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bat Yam 4

Hello Everyone,

Don't worry Tali this post will be a lot shorter. So everything has gotten back to normal with full classes, and volunteering.

Ulpan has started. I'm still in the 2nd to highest level and guess what? This time my teach is not an 84 yr old teacher who can't remember who we are. We have had three classes and one test so far (I got a 91%) and I learned more in the first class than I did in all of Jerusalem. To be fair its hard to learn Ivrit in Jerusalem b/c everyone just speaks English. Hearing people speak English in Bat Yam is a strange occurrence. Yesterday, Sunday, after a run to the beach with Michal, Jessica, and Katie, some Israeli female soldiers asked Michal and I (Jessica and Katie were making some weird spectacle) if we are on Year Course. We started up a conversation, and they were Sofim last year on Year Course! They knew that we were on YC b/c we spoke English, which is my point I think? It is exactly a mile from our apartment to the beach. So it is a pretty good run and then we usually walk&or run along the boardwalk and then walk home. I've ran for the last three days in a row and now my tush and body is sore.

Volunteering has been pretty good. Depending upon the day decides which classes we get and some of the 4th graders are just crazy and exhaust me. Anna returned to Israel on that Monday so she wasn't at volunteering that day, and it was Simon's first day at volunteering. Simon is a Brit, he makes volunteering quite interesting. We play Bingo a lot in class. Simon just wants to talk about football (soccer) with the kids. We actually played a game, where I ended up tripping a kid by accident :( I felt so bad. No more playing football for me.

Classes are going pretty well. The David Project is pretty cool and we are practicing using our ARM (Address, Reframe, and Message) responses to questions regarding Israel. It took some time for me to get used to formulating my answers like that but while looking at people's interviews they definitely use that form of answering questions. (If you want powerpoints from class let me know and i can forward them to you). The King David class is going well. We are almost up to the point where David comes into the picture. We had to go back in time to look at the reasons why we needed a King. The system using the Judges wasn't working. So we learned how King Saul was anointed 3 times.

My Siyyur last week was to Rabin Square and the Tel Aviv Opera house. But first that morning, Shevet went to the Kabblah Center in Tel Aviv. It was an alright activity. If we had a better speaker I'm sure it would have been more interesting. We learned about how Kabblah makes your life better but not about how to actually use Kabblah. But I did learn that "The Secret" that was taking over the nation a little bit ago is just Kabbalah. And is sold at the Kabblah center. Okay so we had three hours to kill before we had to be back in Bat Yam to meet up for our siyyur. Since we were already in town we didn't want to go home. I went with Jessica, Kai, Joe, Julia, and Nicola to the mall to grab lunch. After which Joe and I separated to go to Rabin Square. After asking for directions many times we take a lovely walk through Tel Aviv and end up at Rabin Square where we see Ami (madrich) and Leah. Leah, Joe and I go get an ice aroma at Aroma and then return to Ami. Joe and Ami start playing frisbee. I later join and we continue to pass the frisbee while waiting for everyone to join the siyur (we didn't need to return to bat yam). Everyone arrives about a 1/2 hr late but we got a private talk from Ami about Yitzhack Rabin's assassination, Nov 4, 95. Ami related his own personal memories of when he and his community found out while he was a child playing baseball. He remembers the reactions of the adults around him rather than his own thoughts. I don't remember what happened, only that it was Talya's 2nd bday. Afterwards, we walked to the Tel Aviv Opera House. It was just like any other theatre but we got to go on and back stage. It was fun and I miss being back/on stage. After that Katie, Leah and I leave to go on a hunt for some art shop for Leah. After not finding it we return home.

Tomorrow I'm going on a siyyur to the Dialogue in the Dark. I don't know what to expect really but it should be interesting.

Oh and tonight as Jessica and I were leaving to go get frozen yogurt in Tel Aviv we are spooked by a porcupine in our path. I might have yelled like a little girl. and then walked into a man who asked us what was wrong and all we could manage was our giggling and then we saw james who didn't understand us either. so yeah....tel aviv is cool

And sadly violence hit Bat Yam today. There was a drive by shooting between gangs involving drugs. One man died and another was critically injured. I was at the Ulpan building with Jessica and Julia, laying out in the sun listening to music before a class when we heard the shots. we didn't know what we had heard but later, when we had heard the news we knew where we were when it occurred.

Mom don't freak out.

Okay so i dont' know how to end this one,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bat Yam 3


Wow, it's 2010! That's Crazy... I just want to thank everyone for an amazing year. 2009 was really special, and the friends that I made last year, I think are some of the best friends that I have and will have. So thank you.

Winter break was amazing and is about to come to a close. Tomorrow I have class again. So it is a bitter/sweet ending. As nice as break was it will be nice to get back into the swing of things.

Okay, so I left off last time talking about my first classes. I believe we only had one class since then. We only had the David Project one b/c the teacher for the King David was with her grandkids from the states. It was interesting class, all about the middle east region and how the Arab/Israeli conflict is a regional conflict and that it is not the only conflict in the middle east.

Oh and Jessica's friend, Lori, came in the previous day when we were on our siyyurim. Lori was with us for most of break. I went to Independence Hall for my siyyur. The declaration was signed in an art museum that was the home of the first mayor of Tel Aviv--Dizengoff. I had never been before and i learned a lot. There are so many tour groups this time of year so we were with a Birthright group as well. After I went with Katie to the Carmel Shook where we met up with her sister who was on her way home for break. Katie's sister is in med school in Ba'er Sheva. Earlier that morning we had Zman Shevet where we learned more about Shabbat, and the differences between Secualr and Religious views on it. Afterwards we made Havdallah candles. Only a few of us stayed to make the candles so it was extra fun. We melted clear wax and then added acrylic oils to the cans and dipped wicks in. I also made some finger candles...dipped my finger in, like at bar mitzah parties, and then filled the finger casing with wax and a wick. now i have a set for shabbat. hahah

Thursday was Adam Monty's bday so we all went out to a club weds night. It was a fun night until someone stole all of the coach money. so we spent about a hr scrounging up another 1400 shekels to pay the driver. oy vey.

Thursday was volunteerring and then WINTER BREAKKK!!! We (Me, Katie, Jessica, Lori, Naomi, and Ale) and others who were headed to Jerusalem took a bus to Jerusalem. We stayed in Katie's family's apartment. It is an amazing location--20 mins from Ben Yehuda, 30 from Old City or Beit Ar-El. It is one bed room with a dream bed thing by the window + an open up couch. That night Britty and Cara also stayed with us. Yep, Britty came to Jerusalem a day earlier to seee us. It was the first time we had seen her since she has gone off to sem. It was so nice to see her! We all went out to Ben Yehuda, of course. And we see Or and Mike, our old Madrichim. It was nice catching up with them and all the others that we know from Ben Yehuda. Oh, and we run into them with their parents, since it is Winter Break.

Friday, Katie and I go to the shook to buy food for Shabbat, but instead we just hang out with Cara and Moran, b/c Jeff Sidel is going to hook us up for shabbat. We make it over to the Kotel and are separated for dinner. I'm sent with Katie to a Chabad Rabbi in the Old City. It was a lovely and veryyyyyy long dinner. We left early, about 11 and they were only on the soup, b/c Katie wasn't feeling well. We meet up with Jessica, Lori, and Cara and start the walk home where we meet up with Ale and Naomi who had ran into Mike and some of his friends. We hang out for a bit and then head home. But first, Katie, Jesssica and I reinact our Divar Torah from the Keshet weekend about Joseph and the dreams. hahah

Saturday we took one of the longest walks of our lives thanks to googlemaps. googlemaps in israel sucks. we wanted to go from rechavya to east talpiyot, and it told us to go to the end up emek rafaim and then up yehuda to talpiyot. little do we know we could have just taken derek chevron. so i know a short cut to the end of emek, we walk through rechavya, katamon, baka (past Beit Ar-El), and to East Talpiyot (passing the Tayelet), and b/c google said to take the first exit in a round about so we do. and when we are walking down a hill for a 1/4 hour without seeing the street name that we need we decide to ask someone. back up the hill we go. and we needed the 2nd exit. we get to Sam and Daniel's about a hr late. Sam and Daniel are friends of Joe's. And Joe went to Aish for a little bit and is friends with all of us through the Brits on our program. Its kind of confusing how we all know each other but that is Jerusalem. We have a great time there and then Lori, Jessica, and I take a shabbat nap and then we play Articulate (like Taboo but better), and then we eat some more and walk home with the yeshiva boys. It took about 1/2 as much time walking home as it did going there. That night we all kind of split up to see different friends in town. Jessica and Lori see friends from school. I go out with the Felbers, Shawna, and Chelsea to sushi (I had, had sushi for lunch as well), and then for drinks. Naomi and Ale go watch the Joe and them at a football (soccer) match. And Katie met up with some friends from the March of the Living. We all kind of met up on our way home, since we only have one key to the apartment.

Sunday, we (Katie, Naomi, Ale, and I) go to the Old City. Ale and I bought Hadaya rings, mine says "Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, and Today is a Gift," while Naomi picks up two rings that she got for herself and bestfriend, Heather. Heather is on Birthright and so we run into her a lot and she is going to stay with us after her trip. We meet up with our yeshiva boy friends and they take us to some places we haven't been before. We find this orange tree in the middle of this quarter and we pick oranges. they are extremely sour and i actually cry from eating one. Katie's purse gets stuck in the tree during the procedure. We hang out on a roof top of a yeshiva close to Aish. We tried to get to the roof of the new Aish building but there was construction up there due to an upcoming bar mitzvah. Naomi, Katie and I head home. I detour to pick up Eitan and he heads back with us to drop his things off. He has dinner with some family friends. And I go back out with the girls to meet up with everyone else for Joe's goodbye dinner at Bar Burger (he is heading back to England). We all kind of split up, I meet up with Eitan and Bernie for a bit back at the apartment, they go out, people come home than we go out. Eitan meets up with some of his friends and his friend from camp, Daniel ends up staying with us as well. I swear, Katie's place is like a hostel. Oh and Heather finished Birthright that night. Instead of just staying in Jeru she had to go back to the airport with the group before she could separate and come back to us. So there were 9 of us there that night.

Monday, is laundry day. Yes, we brought laundry from Bat Yam to Jerusalem just to do it at Beit Ar-El, an excuse to go there plus it is much, much, much cheeper there. Oh and considering none of us have bus passes we walked everywhere in Jerusalem, its not far where we want to go but still we had a lot of laundry. We took turns carrying it. We drop Jessica and Lori on the way at Aroma on Emek Refaim for lunch with a friend. Naomi, Heather, and Ale, go get bagels and Katie and I continue to Beit Ar El to begin with the laundry. We go and look at our old apartment which only has 10 girls living in it. We hang out with Moran and Or for a while. We do three loads of laundry. Or invites us over for dinner at this Grandmother's. We walk home, he drives the laundry though. He picks us up in two shifts to take us to his grandmother's. We have a lovely time and look at pictures of Or as a little kid. We get kicked out when it is time for her to play bridge. Katie and I start walking home. But Or returns b/c we have the key. We jump in the car and shhh don't tell, but we have 4 in the back seat. which is something that israelis are a stickler about.

Tuesday is a another very long walking day. So Ami, one of our Madrichs in Bat Yam, told us about this great hike, with a natural spring called Liftah, near the central bus station. so we walk to the central bus station, through the shook where we pick up pita and lunch meat, and humus, for sandwhiches later. we walk past the station and ask directions. we start walking. we start walking down the hill from Jeru. and i think that we should stop b/c i dont want to walk up this hill. We stop by the house and look around and call Ami, we decide that we should go back up and ask some hitchhikers for directions. all the while this crazy lady starts yelling at us, crosses the busy road, and yells at us more for scaring a dog or something, we still don't know. We walk back up, we get directions, and its close by. so we start walking down the path. Its like in the valley between the two roads leading to Jerusalem. There are some houses along the path and ancient ruins it seems. We get closer to the spring and we see religious men coming up. Little do we know, we happened upon a mikvah. We turn around and start hiking up the hill. we call Ami and yell at him. He is still convinced that its a natural spring that they are using for a mikvah. We stop at an outpost and have our lunches and just laugh about we just saw. when we get back to the road and we see the people who told us the way we asked if its a mikva or a natural spring. Oh its a mikva all right. We hike back towards home. Instead of taking the path we know we see a sign for Rechavia and decide to go that way. It is a different and possibly longer path. It was a different side of Jerusalem and we passed a beautiful park that reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York. I love getting lost. We didn't really get lost, but still. Lori and Jessica didn't come with us b/c Jessica had to take Lori to the airport to fly home.

Wednesday, we pack up, relax and then I go to the Kotel for the last time for 2009 with Ale and Katie. We return home and finish packing. Jessica comes home and Boaz drives our things to the Central Bus Station. We hustle over in the rain and we almost miss our bus to Bat Yam.

Thursday, New Years Eve, I go to the Carmel Shook with Katie, Naomi, Ale, and Heather, we are looking for crazy outfits and after lots of stress and time we just end up with some cool tights. We go home and nap and get ready to go out. We go to the street party on Florentines. It was pretty fun and crazy and we ran into many people from different sections. I run into Talia and Adam Schecter. It was a pretty good New Years. So it was about 3 am and we decide that its time to go home. I'm taking care of Katie and somehow get separated from Jessica and others. We all find each other and head towards the bus stop. We are at the bus stop and see the bus but its stops at a differ bus stop. we go to that stop but first we get ice cream. we sit and wait a while for the bus. some israelis try to convince jess, katie and i that the bus isn't coming till 5. it comes at like 3:3o or so. we make it home. Katie sleeps over.

Jessica and i wake up early (9ish) Friday morning, to go to the office to get our new bus passes which we dont end up using friday or sat night. We go back to sleep and eventually get up and go to the Super Douche (supermarket) to buy food for shabbat that we are having with Nicola, James, and Daniel. Fridays are crazy at the Douche, as in there is almost no food on the shelves, especially veggies. its crazy. But we end up having a very nice shabbat meal together. Nicola and James returned from Eilat at about 3ish and we finished cooking past shabbat but whatever. It was our first real shabbat in Bat Yam, and first one of the New Year. After dinner we go to Kai, Daniel, Joel, Tomer, David and Benji's apartment. We attempt to play Articulate with a bunch of people. We watch a British tv show called the Inbetweeners, we, americans, understood most of the british humor. i mean we better after living with them for 4 months.

Today, we slept most of the day and watched Remember the Titans, well finished it, we started last night, and also She's the Man. Julia came home today from her visit back to the States. And tomorrow we have class....

Thoughts on break: too much time with anyone, and i will want to hurt them, doens't matter if they are family or not. I miss the snow, and it doesn't feel like chanukah without my family or the snow, yes i realize that i'm from San Diego. Anyways, Oh and I missed Jessica a lot. Even tho she was with us she was doing her own thing and after being with her all of the time its weird not being with her. but i did have Katie :)

Happy New Years. I wish you all the health and happiness...