Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Idan Raichel to Thanksgiving

I'm sorry that I have not written a blog posting in a very long time. As you will see I have been keeping myself very busy and therefore have had very little time to write, however I figured I would try my best to catch everyone up with what has been happening since Simchat Torah.

At the end of October MASA which is an organization that helps Jewish youth spend various amounts of time in Israel held their annual opening event which is an Idan Raichel concert at the Binyanei HaUma. It was a great concert because I enjoy Idan Raichel's music but I have never heard him live in concert. It was a wonderful evening and I even got to see some of my friends on other gap-year programs.

That weekend some of my friends and I decided to finally get out of Jerusalem for a weekend so we went down to Eilat. After a 4 hour bus ride, we arrived, found our hostel and had lunch before heading down to the boardwalk to walk around before Shabbat and do some shopping.  Friday night we had in improvised Shabbat dinner of wacky mac, challah and grape juice and then just chilled out for the rest of the evening. Saturday we spent the whole day at the beach relaxing, swimming and working on our tans and after Shabbat was over we headed back home.

The following weekend we had a seminar on Conservative Judaism with Jules Gutin. We had two very interesting sessions with him, one about The Revelation at Mt. Sinai and one about the different options regarding adding the Imahot in the Amidah.  Regarding the Imahot I still don't believe that they should be added but I'm glad that I got more information about this sensitive topic.  That Saturday we had to optional programs, either a memorial to Yitzchak Rabin in Tel Aviv or a memorial concert for Shlomo Carlebach at the Binyanei HaUma.  I decided to go to the concert and its theme was L'chvod Shabbat (in honor of Shabbat) which meant that various artists sung Shlomo Carlebach tunes for various Shabbat tiffilot starting with Kabbalat Shabbat and going all the way to the end of Shabbat. It was an ok concert due to at times we did not understand the Hebrew or the music was to slow. After about 2 hours in they were only on Shabbat morning and we were tired so we left.

On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan and each following Sunday before Rosh Chodesh our female staff decided to have a girl program because there are many explanations on Rosh Chodesh being a women's holiday. Therefore the first time we talked about our female role model and the next time we made chocolate balls (which were amazing) and talked what we liked about being a Jewish woman.

In the evenings there are various optional evening programs and I have taken a part in some of them. On Monday nights there is cafe Ivrit where we go to a local cafe where we get the menus in Hebrew and have to order and speak only in Hebrew. This is a very fun way to work on my Hebrew without even realizing it.

Tuesday nights are still Erev Nativ which means each week we have a different program either with all of Nativ or just with Kibbutz. A couple of weeks ago we probably had one of the most interesting Erev Nativ. Yossi (the director) told us that we were going to learn about dealing with anti-Semitism, missionaries and the like on campus and therefore he had brought in someone from Jews for Jesus named Mitch and then afterwards we would have Rabbi Tovia Singer come speak to us because the two would not be in the room. We all just sat there shocked and thought maybe Yossi was joking but in walks someone with a t-shirt on that says Jews for Jesus and that's when we knew it was real. He started off bringing in quotes from the Tanach that state Jesus is the Messiah and kept saying that because we did not believe in X or Y we were going to go to Hell and therefore he asked if could pray for us and if we take Jesus as our savior we will be ok. He even said to one of my friends that he will become the next Messianic Rabbi.  After a 1/2 an hour of him bashing Judaism and telling us to take Jesus as our savior and our rebuttals we thought the evening was over. However after Mitch leaves Yossi gets up and says he owes us an apology but Rabbi Singer was here to speak to us but 'Mitch'. Most of us could not believe our eyes seeing the same man who moments before was telling us about Jesus was actually Rabbi Singer. He went on to explain to us and analyze what methods 'Mitch' used with us and how on campus next year we can use what we learned to deal with people like 'Mitch'. I'm very glad we had this program and I feel like I'm more prepared for want I might face next year on campus.

Another good Erev Nativ was a night photography lesson in Yemin Moshe and some reflection on Jerusalem and our time here so far near the Jaffa Gate. Here are some pictures from the evening:

Wednesday nights I decided to participate in an 8 week Jewish educators training program with Mark Lazar who is the crazy hippie with really long hair and says lots of inappropriate things so it's lots of fun. Mark has been involved in formal and informal education since 1973 and runs seminars and programs on various topics and uses various methods throughout the world; and he was the same guy who came one of our first Erev Nativ's and did some crazy ice breakers with us. Throughout the weeks I have learned many new methods and techniques that I can use in any classroom as well some games and lesson plans that I can use if I teach in a Hebrew school or the like.  I'm very happy I decided to do this program because I feel like it has definitely helped me become a better and more confident teacher.

Thursday nights I look forward to each week because it's Disney b'Ivrit. Each week we watch a different Disney or Pixar movie in Hebrew with English subtitles and I have learnt lots of new words. Over the weeks we have watched Tarzan, Toy Story, Hercules and many more.

Two weeks ago on Thursday afternoon/evening a few friends and I volunteered at a kid run soup kitchen out of their high school. It was nice to finally be volunteering and giving back to Israel which has given so much to me. While it was nice experience I have not gone back.

As well, two weeks ago I went to Yad LaKashish with some friends and bought myself a new tallit which I have fallen in love with and very happy that I finally got around to buying it. And as you can see by the pictures below I have gone with the pomegranate seeds theme.

This past Tuesday some friends and I were going to go to the Biblical Zoo but due to the rain we went to the Malcha mall which is a gigantic mall with lots of American and Israeli stores. However the following week we did end up going to the zoo which was a lot of fun to walk around and see all the animals some of which are mentioned in the bible. There was even a big replica of Noah's Ark.

Thursday night we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin and apple pie. Besides for Nativ, Bogrei Nativ (Nativ alumni) who made Aliyah, in the army or are just living in Israel and various other guests and staff joined us for dinner.   After Mariv, a wonderful performance by Kol Nativ ( the Nativ a cappella group) and a video showing what we have been up to on Nativ for the past 3 months we were split up by tracks and so where the Bogrei Nativ for dinner. When we were walking into the chedar ochel we each picked up an envelope and inside was a surprise which were letters from home (I got ones from Ima and Abba, Gabriel, Grandma Jeannette and Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob) and it was so nice to read them but at the same time it made me realize how much I do miss home and how much is going on. Thursday night began the 1st of the 3 weekends that are part of Hamshushalayim which is a collection of various cultural events and more throughout Jerusalem.  Therefore after dinner and a video some of the Nativers made asking us various Thanksgiving questions, we headed to the Bible Lands Museum which was one of the museums which was open later and free. It was an interesting museum looking at all the ancient artifacts and how the bible was incorporated but I'm glad I did not have to pay. Next week we hope to go to The Israel Museum to see the museum and enjoy a free a cappella concert.

This past Shabbat I traveled through the West Bank to Kibbutz Ein HaNatziv near Beit She'an where my friend Yardena is studying at the Midrasha there. Kibbutz Ein HaNatziv is a religious Kibbutz of about approximately 150 families and the main export is palziv (rubber foam) and dairy. After arriving and putting my stuff down in her room she took me on a tour of the Kibbutz and showed me around and also the main hangout place, the maayan where a got a lovely surprise from a bird on my arm. We then headed back to her room to relax before Shabbat started. Once Shabbat started we headed down to the Beit Midrash to light candles and daven Kabbalat Shabbat and Mariv which was nothing special but I did get a beautiful view of the sun setting. After tiffilot we headed to the chedar ochel for dinner which was ok and then to one of the classrooms for a sicha (which we did not stay for the whole thing because we were tired and I was having trouble understanding the Hebrew) and a tisch and then it was back to the room for bed. However throughout all of this the Kibbutz was having electrical problems and therefore there were periods throughout the night where Yardena and to guide me through the blackness. After a restful night sleep we woke up at around 8 for tiffilot which were in the Kibbutz's Beit Keenest which was big and beautiful. Tiffilot were quick (done by 10) and then we headed over to Yardena's friend adoptive Kibbutz family for lunch but it felt more like brunch because it was so early. Lunch/brunch consisted of salads, kugel, burekas and much more. After lunch was over around noonish it was back to the room for rest before another tisch and havdalah. After Shabbat I packed up my stuff and Yardena and I headed to the playground for a bit before we had to head to the bus stop. So all in all it was great seeing Yardena and I enjoyed seeing a bit what a Kibbutz is like before I live on one in a few months.

This past month I have continued to enjoy all the classes that I take at Yeshiva but I can't believe that my time there is coming to a close in almost a month. Throughout my time there I have made many friends and I even went to one of their apartments for a delicious Friday night dinner. I have realized how glad I am that choose Yeshiva because I have been able to hone the skills that I have learned at CHAT.

Some things that are coming up that I'm looking forward to are:
• Visiting Kibbutz Hanaton for Shabbat
• Volunteering for Chanukah in Jerusalem
• Gabriel and Abba visiting Israel in December and January
• doing an archeological dig in northern Israel or volunteering in Haifa in January
• my winter break trip to Greece (any information or tips would be greatly appreciated)

So as you can see I've been quite busy but also have a lot to look forward to. I will also try to be better at updating my blog.

Until next time,