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,