Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not שלום But להיתראות

I can't not believe that I'm sitting here none months later on the plane home to Toronto writing one of my last blog postings (even though this will be posted when I get home). As you can probably tell from my blog, I have had a truly amazing year and one that I will not forget and I'm hoping that the friendships that I have formed will still be there in the years to come. But now on to how I spent my last day on Nativ 29!


After a morning of taking my last shower and packing almost everything, we as kibbutz walked to Ticho House for our kibbutz final banquet. The food that we had for lunch was very delicious with various pastas and salads and it was a great last meal in Israel. Before the banquet was over, speeches were given to and by Shosh and Nadiv and all of them were very touching and moving and really showed how much of a family we have become these past months and Yossi also gave a speech which was along the same lines. It was a very nice afternoon and an enjoyable way to conclude our time as Kibbutz 29. It was then back to Beit Nativ to have some down time and just hang out with all of my friends. At around 4:30 we all headed down to -3 for our final all Nativ banquet and that started with some great desserts and fruit from Holy Bagel but due to being so full from lunch I did not have that much to eat. We then headed into the auditorium where first speeches and gifts were given to Elkana and Yossi and just like the speeches earlier in the day, they really showed how close we have become with the two of them and how much of a friend they have become. Next Elkana gave his speech to us and then we watched the final Nativ video which Anna had put many hours into making and it was a great summary to a great year. Yossi then gave his final talk to all of us, where he thanked a bunch of people. It was then time to take everything out of our room, load the truck with our suitcases and then get on the buses to the airport.


Once we were at the airport, we all checked in to our flights and then before security we all hung out and waited for everyone. However we Canadians realized that we did not have much time until to our flight so we all started saying our tearful goodbyes and then it was through security and off to our flight. The flight itself was uneventful and I slept, watched The Princes and the Frog and just relaxed. The meals on the flight were so, so but due to being so hungry I ate almost everything. Once we landed in Toronto, I got through customs fine and then get my bags and somehow despite them weighing so much I got my bags and then walked/run out to my parents whom I was so happy to see.


Now sitting here finishing writing this on my couch at home, it feels weird to be home but at the same time I am very glad to see my family and friends here and it was great to sleep in my own bed last night. Now until June 13th, I will just be hanging around and catching up with friends and then I'm off to visit Sara and my Grandma before starting my summer job as a staff member on USY on Wheels.


So I don't know if this is the last blog posting, but if it turns out to be, then I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences over the course of the year and if you want to hear about anything just let me know.


Thanks for sticking with me throughout the year.





Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Tearful But Exciting Last Shabbat

Friday night began with all of walking down to Yemin Moshe, near the windmill and overlooking the old city and it was very fitting because this is where we davened on our first Shabbat in Israel so it was nice to come full circle. Tiffilot themselves where very nice with Yossi and Elkana leading but at the same time I was shedding some tears knowing that this coming week I will not be able to daven overlooking the old city of Jerusalem and tiffilot will not be as lively and spiritual. We then walked back to Beit Nativ for a not so delicious diner, but I know it will be much better next week. Finally to conclude the evening we held our last tisch which included some delicious Marzipan and lots of singing which last for about two hours.


Shabbat morning, I went to the Ashkenazic shul in Yemin Moshe and as always it was quick but nice and I've enjoyed going here due to the overlook of the old city as well for the services and the amazing Kiddush that they always have. At the end of shul they announced that Nativ was leaving and that we will be missed which was very nice of them to do and shows that we really do have some impact on those who we meet. When we got back to Beit Nativ, I read and took a nap before another not so great lunch and afterwards we had a final kibbutz program with Yossi where he asked as questions from, what is your favorite movie to what will you miss most about Israel. It was a thought provoking program and made lots of people, me included, cry by the end. The rest of the afternoon I played a final round of the amazing game Rhymation and then just read and relaxed. We then did Mincha which was fine and then Yossi had a final talk with us. He talked about what he believed in (he promised to do so last week on kibbutz), which was the sense of community. He discussed his grandparents and there community and then went on about how Nativ is like a community but we will be leaving and we will need to find that community next year on our college campuses. As well he talked about how life back home did not stop and how we will need to fit back into that community. By the end of his talk I was crying once again thinking about going home and all the changes. We then went upstairs for Seudah Shlishit which was ok and then we sang some slow songs to wind down Shabbat and once we started with " אם אשכחך ירושלים" I was a mess once again, but I'm glad that throughout all these tears this past weekend I have had so many friends to comfort me and to cry on. After a nice Ma'ariv (which I lead) and a great Havdalah, I went with Ari, Ben and Eric to Tito Bravo for dinner (got great Mac and Chesse) and then Ari and I walked down to Emek Refaim to meet up with Josh, Kay and Becca to walk around the area for a bit to take pictures. By that time it was around midnight so we walked back to Beit Nativ and I just hung out with all of my friends and enjoying my last night in Jerusalem and Israel.


Sunday has been and continues to be a very emotional day as it is the last day of Nativ and I will write all about that when I get home.




Friday, May 21, 2010

Completing The Holiday Cycle

Friday morning I chose to go to Gan one last time and once again the kids ran up to me and I enjoyed spending the morning there, and I realized once again how much I will miss the Gan and everyone there. The rest of the day prior to Shabbat was spent continuing to pack and cleaning up my room.


To begin our last Shabbat we started with a program which was centered on the NPR program, This I Believe. It began with first listing to a few of the essays that have been submitted to the program and then we had time to write our own. It was then time for a very nice Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma'ariv before our last Shabbat dinner on Kibbutz which was ok. Shabbat morning we had tiffilot before heading of one last time to my host mommy, Rivkah for lunch which was delicious and we got to meet some of her family. Shabbat afternoon I spent it relaxing, hanging out with my friends and reading before we had part two of our program. This part was each one of us reading our This I Believe essays and I really learned a lot about my fellow kibbutznicks and then we concluded Shabbat with Mincha, Seudah Shlishit, Ma'ariv and Havdalah.


Sunday was spent finalizing packing because later that day we loaded a truck with suitcases that we will not see until the airport and boxes/drawers of items that we are leaving to next year's Nativers. Later in the evening we held a 'banquet' to say thank you to our host families and to our bosses. It was very nice and I received a booklet of pictures that the kids had drawn which was very touching.


Monday morning after a very tearful goodbye we left Kibbutz for the last time and headed to Jerusalem for our final week in Israel. When we got back to Beit Nativ, we took our group picture and had lunch before moving back into our old room and had some down time before our final Kibbutz program. This program was sharing memories from the year in various art forms. So I chose photography and our theme was Jerusalem so we want out took a few pictures and then we all came back together to present. Monday night there was a Nativ talent show which for the most part was funny and another nice way to bring the year to a close.


Tuesday morning we were free and I went with some friends all of Jerusalem to pick up gifts and other things that we needed before we left and we also stopped at Holy Bagel for lunch. The rest of the day before chag was spent relaxing and getting ready. We started Shavuot with Mincha and Ma'ariv followed by a pretty decent dairy dinner (blintzes, lasagna, and cheesecake), we then had until 2 AM to go to various places around the city for different study sessions. I chose to first go to Beit Avi Chai to hear Dr. Micha Goodman talk about the meaning of humanity according to Maimonides "Guide to the Perplexed." It was a very interesting session and made me think a lot about what he was talking about. I then walked back to Moreshet Yisrael for a session by Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein and he taught about how to deal with the disagreement between science and the creation of the world. I also enjoyed this session a lot and it felt like being back in midrash class. I then took some time to relax and then from 2 AM-3:45 AM there were Nativ run study session and I taught with a friend about Ruth and conversion and there was a break in the middle for ice cream and cheesecake. At 4 AM we walked to Robinson's Arch/the Southern Wall for services. It was very nice to wear my tallit and tiffilot were nice but at times it was quite cold and because there were a lot of people it was hard to hear who was leading at times.


When services were over at 7:45 AM, I walked back with the 10 or so people who had stayed until the end and then had a bit of breakfast before heading to bed due to the past 23 hours without sleep. Once I got up, I had lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon reading, relaxing and napping, we then had Mincha, dinner and Ma'ariv to end chag. This was also as the title of my blog states, the concluding of celebrating every single holiday in Israel (pilgrimage let me celebrate the two summer holidays) and it was for sure very nice to be able to get the chance to celebrate each one in Israel. Wednesday night I went out with Ari to get a 2nd dinner at New Deli and then we hung out with some other friends on Ben Yehuda.


Thursday was a full day of programming and the morning was personally a waste of time, hearing about programs that are not relevant to the majority of us or programs that we have already heard about. The afternoon was probably the most amazing program ever. It started off with Yossi pretending that we were juniors and he showed us the Nativ promo video and then talked to us about why we should take a gap year as he or Nachum had done 2 years ago. He then explained the afternoon program which he told would be reflecting on the whole year. We were then sent down to -3 in groups and I was amazed with what I saw. They had converted all of -3 into all the various aspects of the past 9 months and we were given a journal with questions relating to each part of the year and we were given the whole afternoon to sit and go through it at our own pace. I loved how one of the best programs was sitting, writing and reflecting in quite for around 2 hours. Thursday night I went out for some delicious and filling soup (I got vegetable) and then hung out again on Ben Yehuda and surrounding area and I also got some ice cream.


Friday morning I got up and went to the shuk for the last time and picked up a plethora of items that I wanted to bring home in including marzipan and gummies. As I sit here writing this, I'm finishing getting things packed up and just enjoying my time here; I'm looking forward to my last Shabbat and then Sunday will be my final day in Israel which is bittersweet but I'm ready to come home.




Thursday, May 13, 2010

Completing Our Travels In Israel

Thursday was a very bittersweet day as it was the last official day of work. Work went as usual but before lunch all the kids and staff came together to say a few words and give me a gift from everyone.  The head teacher explained to the kids that I was leaving and asked if they wanted to say anything so some of them wished me good luck and to have a safe flight. The teachers then presented me with pajamas, a wooden keychain that says thank you and a Havdalah set from the bottle tree store and I gave the Gan a photo album with a bunch of the pictures that I had taken. It was very sweet and it made me take a step back and realize how much of an impact I have had over the past few months. Friday even though I had the day off I chose to go to Gan because I love it so much and they were celebrating one of the kids birthday. When I walked in most of the kids ran up to me, which reassured me how much of an impact I have made.

Shabbat was relaxing and I got to go to my host mommy for dinner which was nice and then the rest of Shabbat was spent reading and sleeping.

Sunday began our last tiyul of Nativ which would be touring the northern part of Israel.  After leaving Kibbutz we were supposed to go to a Druze village for lunch but we were told that due to violent protests we would not be going ( something had to go not according to plan- we're Nativ) and instead we drove to a national park and the Druze people brought the food. Lunch was quite delicious with laffa, rice, kabobs and more. We then continued on with our day and I chose to take a tour of Old Akko instead of hiking. In Old Akko we saw the remaining walls and cannons from the fighting days many years ago and we also just walked around the area and along the cost, while Elkana explained the history of the city.  It was a very nice city and I got to learn some new information and a good way to start tiyul. We then travelled to Rosh Hanikra and the youth hostel where we had dinner, ma'ariv and announcements before showering and heading to bed early.

Monday morning I chose to do the harder and longer hike due to not wanting to go to Tzfat again and I also wanted to challenge myself. So after about an hour drive we arrived at Nachal Merion which later on would change into Nachal Amud. The hike while long (about 6 hours give or take) was very scenic and beautiful and there was even a bit of flowing water at the beginning which was a bit of a shock. So while the hike was not that hard, towards the middle/end of the hike I started not feeling well due to the heat so the last bit was really tough but I got through it with the help of my friends and at the end I was really proud of myself for getting through and choosing to do the harder option. It was then off to Kibbutz Merom Golan for the evening where we had some free time to unwind and shower before dinner and our evening 'activity'. What the activity was, was Masa having us fill at a survey about gap year programs and various aspects. It was a very tedious survey and once I finished it was back to the room and to bed.

Tuesday morning I chose the easy options and that was a leisurely stroll through the Banias Nature Reserve (. It was a very nice walk through the reserve and we got to see a very nice waterfall and it was refreshing to feel the splash of the water because it was getting hot out. Afterwards we headed to Kfar Blum to go kayaking/ rafting down the Hatzbani and Jordan River. I chose to go rafting with Alex K., Reuben, Sami and Sara B. and it was a very nice trip down the river including a small rapid but at times the river was very congested so it was hard to go without getting splashed and there was also some obnoxious teens throwing mud at us. When we were done we had a delicious pizza lunch and then it was off to Katzrin and the Golan Heights Winery for an explanation of the wine making process, seeing the humongous wine cellar and getting to taste three different wines (a Gamla White Riesling, a Yarden Merlot and a Yarden Muscat) and we got to keep our wine glass (we'll see if it makes it home).   When we were done we headed to Karei Desha (where we stayed for archeological dig) to put our stuff down and then it was off to Tiberias for the evening and dinner.

Wednesday I chose the easy hike which was a rocky walk through the Upper Zavitan stream. It was a very easy hike but there were a lot of rocks that we had to climb over or on but that just made it more fun and there was also a nice pool of water and a waterfall along the way. When we finished we headed over to the Manara Cliff where some people took a ride on a slide along the cliff and then we all took a cable car ride up to the top of the cliff, looked around and then took a ride back down before heading back to Karei Desha. Once back we had a BBQ dinner before heading out to the Hamat Geder hot springs and I chose not to smell like sulfur ( a.k.a rotten eggs) so I just stuck my feet in my while sitting there I got a bee sting ( but I'm ok) so it was an eventful evening. One quick, cool thing to mention that while on the drive there and back while in Israel we were able to see both Syria and Jordan at the same time which was really cool because I don't think there are many places in Canada or the USA where you can drive along and see right across the fence or road into the other country where there is no border crossing.

Thursday was our last day of tiyul and we spent it at the Sahne Natural Pools. It was a very relaxing morning and a nice way to end tiyul and out travels throughout Israel with Nativ. We then headed back to Kibbutz where we had a dinner and I did some hand laundry and continued the process of packing. This weekend is our last on Kibbutz and I will try and make the most of it.


I did not take many pictures this tiyul but here are the ones I took.


Until next time,



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Standing Up For My Homeland

Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday we spent it in Be'er Sheva learning about the proper tools to advocate for Israel on college/university campuses next year. As well, Yossi talked to us about how we can choose how much or how little we advocate and get involved with Israel on campus but we will for sure be put in the spot light so we need to be prepared.

Tuesday morning was taught by Neil Lazarus and he began the morning by calling on various people and demanding them to justify different situations about Israel and its current situation (for example situations about settlements and the Gaza War). This was a great way to start of the two days and it made me really think about how I would answer if I was put on the spot. He then showed us the movie Crossing the Line: the Intifada Comes to Campus, about the situation that is happing on college campuses both in and out of the classroom. It was a huge eye opener and shocker and made me want to stand up for Israel even more next year. Neil then spent the rest of the morning going over tactics and strategies to help us advocate better and know when it is the right time to step in. In the afternoon, a woman named Michelle who is the director of Diaspora relations for an organization called Stand With US did a presentation more about how to advocate and also about how to deal with teachers or other faculty who are being anti-Israel. To end off the day we watched the documentary by Alan Dershowitz called the Case for Israel. Despite it being a late day and being tired, I still enjoyed the movie and I thought it did a good job of wrapping up the day with summarizing what we are advocating for by going over the issues Israel is facing and basically defending Israel. It was then back to Kibbutz for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Wednesday morning began with a presentation by Daivd Abitbol, one of the founders of the online magazine, Jewlicious, spoke to us about advocating for Israel via the internet. He went over how we can better use sites such as Facebook, YouTube to our advantage and the importance of using them for the right reasons and how to make sure our message gets across. We then had a presentation by Itamar Marcus, who works for the Palestinian Media Watch. He spent the time going over some very disturbing clips from Palestinian TV that instill hatred into children (for example the Palestinian Mickey Mouse, Farfur who death on the show was blamed on the Jews). He also showed us how they name schools, street names and more after Palestinian "martyrs" who are actually some of the worst suicide bombers during the intifada and how they wipe out Jewish History and Israel from the map. For the afternoon, Neil had planned a simulation activity where we become member of Nativety University and were assigned to different student groups (I become a member of the Palestinian Social Justice Group) and had to plan a week long set of activities for freshman week to endorse our group. We then set out planning our programs and we actually had to "call" the university to book rooms, security, catering, arts and booking speakers and singers etc (who were actually all our madrichim). This part of the simulation was the most frustrating aspects because having all 5 groups trying to call one person at the same time does not work so a large amount of the time was spent making the calls. As well throughout the afternoon we received texts saying that there was an attack on Muslims that was blamed on the Jews and there were death threats to Zionists. When we got all back together to share our week of activities, we analyzed how we could do things better and I learned a lot and Neil was very impressed. One thing that was stressed throughout the two days was that if you are not comfortable speaking in public there are many other ways to advocate for Israel such as through technology or planning programs and activities that show of Israel such as a fashion show.

Throughout these two days I learned a great deal and I hope to use these skills one way or another next year at McGill.

Saturday Night began the festive holiday of Lag BaOmer and the popular thing to do is to make bonfires, so for a little while Miriam and I walked around the Kibbutz and the surrounding area to see the various bonfires including one right behind my carven which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday in Gan we also made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows and potatoes and I also in the process got a minor burn (but I’m A-OK). Sunday evening all the young families on the Kibbutz had a bonfire so I went to it for a bit to see some of my kids from the Gan and then later in then we as Nativ, made another bonfire and we roasted marshmallows and just had a good time. 

This Tuesday we went to the closing MASA event in Jerusalem that included workshops and speakers to help us prepare for next year as well as hearing Bibi Netanyahu, Natan Sharansky and Hadag Nachash. We did not get there until the afternoon portion because the morning was dealing with Israel advocacy and Branding Israel which we had already dealt with. So the few sessions that we had were ok (not that interesting or helpful), and we also got to hear Natan Sharansky talk about his time in prison in Russia which was fascinating and he had such a great sense of humor. That evening after going through somewhat intense security we sat down for the closing session of the day. After a few brief introductions we got to hear from Prime Minster Bibi Netanyahu who was also a pretty good speaker (you can see his speech here) and then it was time for the concert by Hadag Nachash. This was definitely a great way to begin ending my year in Israel.

Tomorrow is my last day at work which will be a bittersweet day followed by the last open Shabbat and then Sunday we began Northern Tiyul followed by our last Shabbat on Kibbutz and then heading back to Jerusalem for our final week of Nativ. So as you can see we have a lot to do with very little time.

Until next time,



Monday, April 26, 2010

יום הזיכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל ולנפגעי פעולות האיבה ויום העצמאות

Sunday night began the Yom Hazikaron, the 2nd of three special and different days in Israel. Due to me being on the va'ad for Yom Hazikaron, I spent all day Sunday after work doing last minute preparation and setting up the Moadon for the evening. That evening a little bit before 8 we started with ma'ariv and then our tekas began with poems, a movie about Alex Singer, an American lone solider killed in Lebanon and songs relating to the day. At 8 PM the 1st siren for the day went off and some of the feelings that I had felt a week ago on Yom HaShoah came back. We also included in our tekas a round robin program and I taught about heroism and told the stories of Eli Cohen and Hannah Senesh. Once these sessions were finished, we concluded the evening with everyone reading the brief information we found on just 42 of the 22,684 soldiers killed since the beginning of the state and lit a candle. This part was very emotional especially since Nadiv and Elkana knew three of the soldiers personally. Once our tekas was over I went back to my room, checked out the TV, which just like Yom HaShoah, had either programming for Yom Hazikaron or saying that programming will resume the next day.


Monday began a crazy 36 hours with little sleep. After tiffilot, we drove to Jerusalem and went straight to Har Herzl and it was really hard to get there due to the traffic, but the bus was able to drop us off close by. We then started our walk to the cemetery and on the way students from various programs and soldiers were handing out flowers to put on graves, water and books of tehillim to say. Once I got into the actually cemetery we had the time to go where ever we wanted so I chose to walk with some friends towards the graves for soldiers killed in 1948 and for a lot of soldiers there was just a mass grave because their bodies were never found. At 11 AM the 2nd siren of the day went off, and it was pretty amazing to see the thousands of families, friends and soldiers come to a stand still for the 2 minutes. Once the siren was over, a ceremony started and you were able to hear it over the loudspeaker but it was hard to hear and it was also all in Hebrew. Therefore I spent the time walking around seeing all the graves and because I stuck to the section for the earlier years of the state there was not as many people, but still a lot. I think that being able to go to Har Herzl really allowed me to see how much Israel comes together as a nation on this day due to almost everyone knowing someone who was killed. As well, when the ceremony was over and we were leaving I was able to see how around the graves in the newer sections were packed with no room to move.

Once we left the cemetery we went to Beit Nativ for an uneventful lunch followed by an afternoon of various speakers. We started by hearing from Elkana and him talking to us about him being a tank commander and some of the soldiers that he had trained where killed in the 2nd Lebanon war; he also played a song for us that he had composed the tune to. We then heard from Michael Levin (z"l) parents about him and his story and told us both the good and the bad. I won't go into detail about exactly what we were told but it was quite moving. We then watched the movie "As If Nothing Happened", about the terrorist bombing at the Beit Lid Junction and the movie focused on a family that was sitting in limbo not knowing if their son had been killed or not and the tension surround this event. To conclude the Nativ portion of Yom Hazikaron, Yossi talked to us about the contrasting effects of Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut being one after another and little bit about some events going on that evening.


Since there was not much to do until we were heading to tiffilot later, I took a nap downstairs in -3 because all the room were being used by March of the Living. At around 6 we headed out, made a quick stop at Cup O'Joe and then continued on to Shira Hadasha for services. Services began with Minch and then there was a tekas to move from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha'atzmaut. This tekas included poems, speeches and songs and also people stood up and said names if they knew someone killed in a war or terrorist attack. It was quite moving and was a nice way to end such a somber day. Ma'ariv was then began with instruments since it was a weekday and Hallel was also said and since this was such a festive occasion Hallel took quite a long time but with the instruments and everyone being a great mood I enjoyed it immensely. We then headed out to Emek Refaim to grab something for dinner and then went back to Beit Nativ to put things away, and change for the rest of the evening. We then headed out for the rest of the evening and when we were walking towards Ben Yehudah St. there were people selling various toys and such for the holiday and everyone was in a crazy festive mood. When we got to Ben Yehudah, it was packed to the max with people celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut and there was music, food and dancing all along the street. While I had wanted to stay out all night and celebrate Israel's birthday, I had a really bad cold so I chose to go back to Beit Nativ and try and sleep. However, due to Nativers coming back at all hours I did not get much sleep.


Tuesday morning, once I got back and got my things together, I hung out with some of my friends who were up and then began to help prepare for our huge Nativ Mangal (BBQ) which is the Israeli thing to do and after being in Israel for so long, it was only fitting. We began by skewering and marinating vegetables, steak, turkey and more and then I helped BBQ for the afternoon. Of what I did eat, the food was amazing and it was great being outside and party with everyone else; we also saw a few fly-bys which were really cool. The afternoon before heading back to kibbutz was spent hanging out and enjoying being outside and in Jerusalem for Yom Ha'atzmaut.


One thing I noticed was that when Hatikvah was played Monday, it had a whole new meaning for me after being in Israel for the past 8 month and realizing how special Israel is as a country and a homeland. I was so glad that I was able to finally celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel and despite being sick still had a great time.


Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent in Be'er Sheva learning about how to advocate for Israel and I will report back later in the week.


Until then,



Friday, April 23, 2010

יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה

Sunday night began Yom HaShoah and as Yossi told us, Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut will be a totally different experience in Israel that back home. So, Sunday after another great day in the Gan and in the afternoon doing some work, we started at 7:30 our program/tekas (ceremony). It began with Mariv followed by lighting candles in memory of the victims, Yossi talking to us, and various people reading Megillat HaShoah, a Megillat created by the Conservative Movement, discussed suffering, stories from the Holocaust and the final chapter discussed the future of Jewish life post Holocaust. Personally, I thought the Megillat was very well done and probably one of the best things the Conservative Movement has done in a long time. Afterwards we had a round robin consisting of 3 sessions where we learned about how various countries are teaching/or not teaching the Holocaust, how Israel helps Holocaust survivors and finally we talked about reactions to visiting Poland. After the sessions we had to the option to watch Defiance (a movie about the Bielski brothers and the partisans in Poland), due to work that needed to get done for Yom Hazikaron, I did not watch, but I still want to see the movie when I get chance.


Monday was for the most part a regular work day in the Gan and due to the kids being so young we did not tell them anything about the day except for that there will be a siren later morning. At 10 AM that morning that siren went off but due to clocks being seconds off I could hear the sirens in the area start and end a few seconds apart. While the siren went off I stood in silence and though about those who were killed, as well I got the chills from actually hearing the siren. Some of the kids continued playing during the siren, while others chose to stand with me or one of the other teachers.


Monday evening we drove to Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (a kibbutz named in memory of Mordechai Anielwicz, the commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). This ceremony was one of the official closing ceremonies for Yom HaShoah and I'm glad that we had the chance to experience this. A majority of the ceremony consisted of a lot of very long speeches in Hebrew and I was only able to understand bits and pieces of what they were saying, but I was able to get the gist (also thanks to Nadiv explaining afterwards) that they were generally saying never again, and they won't hesitate to act against those who see the Jewish peoples downfall. There were also some very beautiful and moving musical numbers which I thoroughly enjoyed and at the end some people from one of the local youth groups lit torches for some of the destroyed communities.


One more thing, Sunday night on the TV and radio all programming was related to Yom HaShoah and if a channel was not showing anything, it said that programming will resume Monday night. This was something that made me realize how special of a place Israel is.


Being in Israel was for sure different then being home, but it is hard to put in words how. Though due to this feeling, I was looking forward to Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut the following week.




Sunday, April 11, 2010

לשנה הזאת בירושלים

Last year at the end of the Seder the words: "לשנה הבאה בירושלים" took on a whole new meaning because I knew that I would be spending the following Pesach in Israel and I was looking forward to that so much.

In Gan the week before Pesach we got the chance to make matzah which was really fun to do with them and then on Sunday we had a little Seder including the typical Seder fixings (egg, lettuce, charoset etc.). Both were really good and I'm glad that I got to help them and participate with them.
Here is a link to photos of the kids in the Gan.

Sunday after coming back from Gan it was time to start cleaning and kashering our caravan for Pesach. Therefore we swept, washed, wiped, lined counters and kashered the microwave for the afternoon. In the evening we had pizza for dinner, did bedkiat hamatez and watched The Prince of Egypt.

Monday began our week of for Pesach, so that meant after eating breakfast and our last bit of hamatez I caught a bus to Jerusalem. Once in Jerusalem I picked up some flowers and then on a bus to Kfar Adumim where along the way on almost every street corner there was a bonfire with people burning their hamatez.  Once in Kfar Adumim Josh Goldsmith picked me up and took me back to their house on Yishuv Alon. The Goldsmith ( Debbie, Josh and their kids- Yael (7), Kerem (4) and Shai ( 1 1/2) lived in Cleveland where I was born before they made alyiah so we have known them and Debbie's parents for a very long time. Once we got back to the house and meeting every one, I spent the afternoon relaxing, playing with the kids and helping around the house. Once chag came in and we lit candles we went over to shul and got their in time for Mariv. Tiffilot where nothing special but I was a bit lost because the shul is both Ashkenazic and Sephardic (depends on whose leading) and also they said hallel which I guess might be because they don't have the extra day at the end of the chag.

For Seder we were with 3 other very nice families from the Yishuv (one of them even went to Ramah Canada and has a cousin at McGill). For the 1st part of the Seder we were at one of the families houses sitting on pillows, mattresses and chairs around a low table. This part was nothing special and towards the end people where getting hungry so we read through it very quickly. However there were some funny things that some people/families did; a quiz about Pesach, a song about the plagues, a song about the exodus and probably the funniest (even though I only understood parts) was a list of things that happen only in Israel during Pesach for example- only on Pesach is Israel sold to the Arabs where the rest of the year we give it to them in war. Once we finished with the second cup we all walked over to one of the other families' house for the rest of the Seder around a long table. Dinner was delicious but because it was 11 I did not eat that much. Due to it being late we finished the end of the Seder quite quickly (around 1) and walked back to the Goldsmiths and went to bed.

Tuesday morning I got up, had breakfast and Debbie told me that due to certain situations we were probably not going to make to shul but there was a baby naming that morning and Yael wanted to go so she and I headed off to shul. When we got there were on hallel and the rest of shul was done quickly and we were finished by 11:30. When we got back home, we had lunch and I took a nap. When I woke up Debbie, Josh, Shai and I went on a walk to see where Kerem and Yael where because they had gone to a friend's house earlier in the day and we found them playing in the park. A little while later we went back home minus Yael to have some dinner (matzah lasagna), relax and start winding down. Afterwards Josh went out with the kids to get Yael and Debbie and I had a very interesting talk because she is a Nativ alumni, for the past 10 years she was the co-director of Year Course and in February she switched jobs and co-founded Aardvark Israel ( a new gap-year program); so we talked about the pros and cons of each program and I got some insight into her programs and I realized that each program has certain things the others don't and each person should find the one that suits them best. After Chag was over (loved the 1 Seder and 1 day of chag) we just relaxed for the evening.

Wednesday after packing me things and helping to get the kids ready Debbie drove me to a bus stop in Ma'aleh Adumim to catch a bus back to Jerusalem where I then caught a bus back to Kibbutz. Once a got back to Kibbutz (a bit later due to Pesach traffic) I repacked for the rest of chag and got some work done on some things I needed to do. Later in the evening I met up with Gillian Haber and her husband, Shimon and we want out to dinner at Aroma (got a tuna salad) and I got some things that Ima had sent (including her wonderful Passover cookies and brownies that I'm still eating and everyone is raving over). When I got back I hung out with some of my friends who were on Kibbutz before heading to bed.

Thursday begin a very long day of travelling. After getting up, finishing packing and getting some breakfast, I caught a bus to Tel Aviv and once there I walked over to the train station to meet Becca and Sami who I would be spending the rest of Pesach with. We then all took the train (which was very nice and relaxing) to Nahariya and then a sherut to Ma'alot where Elkana's parents live to spend the evening. Once we got to Ma'alot we took a nice walking tour while trying to find the house but once we found it we put our stuff and headed to the "Stone in the Galilee" International Sculpture Symposium, festival that is held each year during Chol Hamo'ed Pesach down at the lake. So we walked down, saw the sculptures as well as all the other vendors that were selling various good. The nice thing about being in Israel during Pesach is that all food that is sold is kosher for Passover; you just have to worry about kitniyot. Once we were done hanging out we headed back to the house to have dinner (matzah lasagna and other goodies) and then in the evening Elkana took us on a driving tour of Ma'alot and the surrounding area and we saw some amazing views.

Friday morning we got up at 5:30 to walk back down to the festival for a Meir Banai concert. Despite it being early and cold out I still enjoyed the concert and it was a great way to start the day and weekend. Once it was over, we went back to the house where Elkana made us great matzah brei and then he drove us to the bus stop to catch the bus to Tzfat. About half way there, the bus stopped for a ½ hour or so and we soon realized that the bus had broken down so we transferred to another bus and made it the rest of the way with no problems. Once we arrived we walked to Ascent Chabad where we were staying for the weekend. So we checked in, put our stuff down and showered before heading out to the candle factory (which was closed), walking around Tzfat (where we met up with some friends from Nativ who were hiking in the area and were staying in Tzfat for the weekend) and also picking up some snacks. We then went back to Ascent to rest and relax and Becca went to meet Brittany (who was coming from Yerucham) at the bus station. To start off Shabbat we met to light candles and then we had a meet and greet and also were told who our host families (Becca, Sami, Brittany and I got the Storch family) for dinner were. Afterwards we davened Kabbalat Shabbat where there was a lot of singing and dancing but it did not end until around 8. We then all walked over to the area where the families live and were dropped off at their homes which was around 9. When we arrived we met the family but realized that the table was not set and we were a bit confused and we were told in order to not have the matzah not touch water and therefore become hamatez, the table will set after Kiddush and motzi. So we did both and when we walked into the kitchen to wash our hands, the kitchen was covered floor to ceiling in foil and the taps were covered in gauze- like a sterile environment. We then all sat back down at the table to do motzi and we were then each handed a plastic trash bag with matzah in it and was clearly instructed not to get matzah crumbs on the table and one of the kids got yelled at for getting a few crumbs on the table. Once we were done with the matzah and made sure there were no crumbs on table the plates and silverware was brought out and we helped to set the table. For dinner we had salad, soup, chicken, vegetables and a baked apple for desert, and due to their strictness about hamatez they do not eat any processed foods. Over the course of evening had some very interesting discussions about  him becoming a ba'al teshuva, Conservative Judaism, vegetarianism, females roles in Judaism and of course a large dose of Chasidic and Rebbe tales- let's just say that we were then until almost 12.

Shabbat morning we got up and headed over to the Ashkenazi Ha'Ari synagogue for tiffilot which were short but there was a lot of Ashkenazic pronunciation so it was hard to understand but none the less it was still enjoyable. We then walked back to Ascent and napped and read until lunch, because the davening at Ascent was still going on. When we went downstairs for the lunch the session that was happing before was not over but one of the other teachers sat down us and taught us a bit about the parsha and spirituality. Lunch was quite interesting; first off the food was not that good and I probably at the most amount of matzah since the beginning of Pesach. Secondly during lunch the rabbi talked about how the only thing you should fear is god and any other fears are disorders and anxiety is related to your ego. I did not really agree with him but it was still interesting to hear his opinion. After lunch we went outside to read for a bit before taking another nap. Later in the afternoon we went on a mystical walking tour of Tzfat and I saw and learnt about some new places. When we got back to Ascent we had Seudah Shleshit (which was not that great once again) but the rabbi that spoke to us (a different one from lunch) about Pesach and Shabbat regarding spirituality and elevation. We decided that because we were all tired and we had to get up relatively the next morning that we were not going to go the musical Havdalah or the 2 concerts. Therefore we went back to the room to pack and just relax and due to the music being so loud we could hear it in our room so we felt like we were there.

Sunday morning it was another early morning (6 am), so once we got up and made sure we did not leave anything behind we headed to the bus station where we caught a bus to the Aco train station. Once there we met up with Stasia, her grandmother and brother and we all took the train to Be 'ear Sheva (which once again was nice and so much better than the bus) and then we met up with other Nativers and we all took (an overcrowded bus) to Yerucham where I was spending the last day of chag. When we arrived in Yerucham, Sami and I walked over to the boy's apartment and hung out there before meeting the girls at Supersol to help them carry the groceries back to the house. We then just hung out there as well as preparing dinner and lunch ( 3 kugels, veggie burgers and vegetable soup with matzah balls that turned out more like matzah brei), as well as seeing Josh and Rhyan who were joining us.  Before I knew it was almost time for chag so I walked back to the apartment to shower and get ready for chag. By the time I was finished with everything I had missed shul so I helped get the table set and everything else ready for dinner. At around 9ish everyone came over with all the food and we sat down to a very nice dinner and by the time dinner was over we were all exhausted so we headed to bed.

Monday morning none of us woke up in time for shul so we just read, relaxed and played games until we had a late lunch which was leftovers from dinner. Later in the afternoon a bunch of the people from the girl's house came over to hang out for a while and when they left we had an hour or so until chag was over so we all just chilled. When chag was over (so great having one day at the end), we did Havdalah and a little while later we went over to the girls house to have a hamatez dinner (pasta, carrots and salad with croutons).

Tuesday was another lazy but relaxing day and in the late afternoon we made our way back to Kibbutz. Once back on Kibbutz we had dinner and then I unpacked and did some work. Wednesday and Thursday were regular work days and I was happy to be back in the Gan with the kids.

This past weekend a bunch of us (Sami, Josh, Rhyan, Kay, Ari, Sara, Adam, Brittany, Alex and I) decided to go camping in the Ein Gedi/Dead Sea area. Therefore Friday morning we took a bus to Jerusalem and then another bus to Ein Gedi. When we got to Ein Gedi we first found out some information for the weekend and waited for Brittany and Alex who were coming from Yerucham. Once they got there we went to the Ein Gedi National Park to buy our tickets for Saturday and get some other things that we needed. Afterwards we walked over to the campsite, put our stuff down and those who wanted to went swimming in the Dead Sea (due to lots of cuts and not being in the mood I did not go in but read and slept) and we also took in the amazing view.  When everyone came back we started to get wood and a fire going before Shabbat and once Shabbat started we spent the evening around the campfire eating and talking and enjoying being where we were. Soon enough we all were getting tired and headed to bed and when I finally fell asleep about an hour later ( around midnight) until who knows when, a bunch of Israelis decided to have a birthday party with a really loud DJ. At one point Josh and Sara went over to tell them to turn it down so the rest of the night I tried falling asleep despite the music, the wind blowing and not being able to get comfortable but one thing that made everything a bit better was looking up at the amazing night sky and the stars in the sky.

Shabbat morning when we finally all woke up, we got all our things and walked over to the park to hike there for the day. When we got there we put all our bags that we did not need in lockers and then began our hike. We hiked through some beautiful areas around Nachal (wadi) David and then we started to climb up towards a cave and spring but Sami, Sara and I for various reasons decided not to, so we walked back a bit and found a nice little pool of water and sat down and relaxed and read for a while. We then chose to go swimming since it was getting really hot so we walked over to one of the waterfalls and went swimming for a while ( which was very refreshing) before relaxing for the rest of the afternoon while waiting for the rest of the group to finish hiking and meet up with us. At around 4:15 we left the actual park and went to the entrance area to change and eat something and at 5:30 we had to leave the whole park because it was closing so we walked over to the bus stop and just sat, read and relaxed. Alex and Brittany caught a bus earlier then us so that they could catch their bus from Jerusalem to Yerucham. We took a later bus and because it was coming from Eilat it was packed so I sat on the floor. When we got to the central bus station we saw Alex and Brittany, who had just arrived, which was surprising since they left aprox. 40 min before us; we all went up to the food court and got some dinner before catching the bus back to kibbutz. Once we got back to kibbutz I took a quick shower and then it was off to bed to try and get a better night sleep.

Sunday night we will be holding a ceremony for Yom Hashoah and the following week we will be holding a ceremony for Yom Hazikaron and will then be going into Jerusalem for Yom Hatzmaut.

Until next time,




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning how to be Esther or Mordechai

After a great Shabbat and another wonderful day in the Gan I headed to Jerusalem for the wedding of one of my good friends, Max Marmer, brother's wedding. When I arrive at the wedding I saw his family and because I did not know any one they took me in which was very sweet of them. The ceremony took place on the roof of the hotel so it was a bit chilly, but a beautiful ceremony with lots of tears. We then went back to the banquet hall to enjoy a delicious dinner, dancing and more. Before I knew it was time to say my goodbyes so I could head back to Beit Nativ to try and get some sleep before getting up early the next morning to catch the first bus back to kibbutz in order to get to work on Monday. Here are the photos from the wedding.

Tuesday was our first Nativ run Yom Nativ and it was Yom Cultures. Throughout the day we learned about different culture groups ( Americans, Ethiopian etc.) that have made alyiah to Israel and some stereotypes that are related that culture. We also made skits combing some of the cultures, learned dances, talked about immigration and their absorption to Israel and made (or tried to make) hummus. It was interesting to see how Israel tries but does not help to integrate some of these communities as well as some of the stereotypes.

Thursday began Leadership Week which included more rain, celebrating Purim together and learning more about how to be leaders in our communities. So Thursday after work, we headed to Tel Aviv for an evening sponsored by Masa which consisted of one of a couple different workshops and a concert. We first had a session with David Broza with a group from South America, and he explained to us his background, song writing process and sung for us a few songs. Afterwards there was a Subliminal concert where all the Masa participants came together from their different workshops and I got to see my friends from Yerucham which was exciting. I did not enjoy the concert that as much as David Broza because I do not like concerts so much and it was quite loud, so I spent the 2nd half of the night just hanging out and talking with my friends. Once it was over, in the pouring rain, we walked to the buses and headed to Ma'aleh Hachamisha which is the Judean Hills. Due to it being very late it was straight to bed because Friday was going to be an early day.

Friday morning after tiffilot and a great breakfast we headed to the Eretz Yisrael Museum. While there we learned about the Tel Aviv that used to exist, glass making and the history of Tel Aviv, but it was not that interesting of a museum so we all sort of zoned off and walked ahead of the tour guide so we could see stuff on our own. We then went to the Palmach museum which I was looking forward to a lot. The Palmach was a fighting force of the Haganah (the Jewish army during the British Mandate). The museum takes you through different multi-media rooms telling though the eyes of some new recruits the history of the Palmach and some of the battles they fought against the British and more. For sure the museum met my expectations of being a very worthy museum and I'm glad that we got the chance to go. Afterwards we were supposed to go to the Nachalt Binyamin street fair but do the weather we went back to our hotel early to get ready for Shabbat. We all started Shabbat together with candle lighting, tiffilot and a delicious dinner. We then had our first of two sessions and I chose a session with Yossi looking at the future of American Jewry through a series of e-mails sent back and forth between Jack Wertheimer of JTS and Joey Kurtzman of Jewcy (a Jewish culture magazine). It was a very captivating and made every one really think about where we will be as Jews in the next couple of years; if you would like to see the e-mails let me know. We then had a very nice tisch including learning some new songs before heading to bed.

Shabbat morning after breakfast and the usual tiffilot we had the second session before lunch and I chose a session with Jules looking at Amalek. Throughout the session we discussed who were these people, why it is still relevant to remember these evil people today and more. It was then time for lunch where a few times there were power outages but we still managed to finish lunch before resting for the afternoon. Due to Saturday night beginning Purim, the end of Shabbat was a bit different; we all came back together for a snack, shirot and then we said the bracha "hamavdil ben kodesh l'chol" in order to allow us to go back and change. So we had about an hour to get ready for our Nativ Purim; I was going to dress up as a bag/box of jellybeans but due to bag trouble and balloon trouble I put on my jeans and shirt backwards and wore two different flip-flops on the wrong feet. We all came back together to daven Mariv which also included Megillah reading which was done very well. It was then dinner time before having a dance/karaoke party but I did not stay for that long because I do not like that sort of thing and I was quite tired; however when I turned the TV on in my room later that evening they had broadcasted live the Megillah reading which I thought was really cool and reminded me that I'm in Israel. Here are the photos from Purim.

Sunday morning after tiffilot which included Megillah reading we handed out to two people mishloach manot which we had prepared ahead of time and also fulfilled the mitzvah of matanot l'avyonim through donating money to a soup kitchen in Dimona to help pay for a Pesach Seder. We were then supposed to head to Holon for the huge Adloyada Purim parade but due to the weather it was cancelled so instead we chose between doing laughing yoga and learning about medical clowning and I chose the latter. The basis of medical clowning is that being in a hospital is sad and depressing but if there is someone there to help cheer you up and help the doctors with the medical procedures being in a hospital won't be so bad. The clown that came played with us some games showing us how to be silly using our body and voices and let ourselves go and it was lots of fun. Here is a great video explaining a little more about medical clowning. Afterwards someone came in to do with us some Israeli dancing which was a lot of fun and brought back memories from Philly. It was then off to restaurant in Bat Yam for a Purim Seudah but it wasn't really anything special but it was still nice to get out of the hotel after being coped up due to the rain. We then went back to Ma'aleh Hachamisha to rest before dinner and our evening program. That night the Playback Theater Company come to perform for us but how their performances work is that we tell them stories from our lives and they perform it for us. It was very amusing and they did a very accurate job of portraying our memories. I then decided to stay up and watch the men's Olympics gold medal hockey which was very exciting and I'm glad Canada won in the end.

Monday we left Ma'aleh Hachamisha and headed to Caesarea, 2 hours late because the buses were not ordered, to an outdoor center to do some leadership and team building activities. These activities included paintball, rock climbing and 3 or 4 activities where we all had to work together. We then went back to Jerusalem and Beit Nativ for the next couple of nights and played the game of 'whose room and bed are you sleeping in." After dinner which was not that good we headed to the Tower of David for their Night Spectacular show. Over the course of 45 minutes, portrayed on the walls of the tower, the history of Israel is shown using lights and sounds. It was a very good show and I was really surprised how much can been done with some projectors. Due to it being kind of cold outside, after the show Becca and I went to Aroma to grab a hot drink to warm us up before going back to Beit Nativ for the evening.

Tuesday was our first of two days in different leadership sessions that we got to choose from taught by our staff as well as some people they brought in. In the morning I chose a double session with a women name Rachel Sklan where we spent the time discovering ourselves, reflecting on our year and trying to possibly put some purpose into the bit of time that we have left here. Also throughout this session I had the chance to really take time and think about the past 6 months and what I have done, how I have grown etc. After lunch, my first session was with Nadiv where we look at some Jewish leaders and discussed what qualities they had as leaders and what made them great. To close off the day I had a session with Jules about how to teach a Jewish text to people at different levels and how to teach so people are interested and engaged. That evening after dinner, it was a free evening so a group of us headed to a local waffle place which was delicious.

Wednesday morning we started with a session by an AIPAC employee. He did a good job explaining what AIPAC is and some of the work it does, but he did a very poor job, I felt, in explaining to us about how we can be involved with AIPAC in general and next year on our college/university campuses. I then I chose a session with Elkana about learning to speak so other will listen and to listen while others are speaking. After a lunch I had some free time so I walked with one of my friends to Gans Judaica to pick something up and just to get out for a bit. My last session was with Noah looking at comic book superheroes and the Golem and seeing what we could learn from them. After a quick dinner, Ido Aharoni who works at the Israeli Foreign Ministry showed us a presentation about branding Israel. What he showed to us what that many people only see images of Israel and think about Israel in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but no one is seeing the culture, active, fun side of Israel. So he told us some ways that they are trying to get Israel's name out in a better light and trying to make a positive brand for Israel.

Thursday morning, to end the week, we had another session with Jules about Conservative Judaism. The topics and questions that were brought up were a lot of the same ones that we had discussed in November but the new topics were very interesting and I thought it was a great way to end leadership week.

For Shabbat I decided with Sara, Sami, Josh and Rhyan to spend it in Yerucham where the other half of Nativ lives. Since we had some time before the bus was leaving to take us, some of us went to the shuk to pick up food that we needed for the weekend and I also got some Marzipan goodies for myself. When we got to Yerucham, we took our stuff to where we would be staying for the weekend; because the girl's house did not have enough room Sara and I stayed at Kowler, Reuben and Eric's apartment. Due to it being sort of late, we ordered pizza for dinner and we ate at the guys' apartment and then Sara and I walked back with those living/staying at the girl's house to help start cooking for Shabbat. After not a lot of cooking being done and more schmoozing and getting late Sara and I walked back to the apartment and thankfully found it on our own. We then hung out with the guys before heading to bed. Friday morning we woke up and went back to the girl's house for pancakes which were delicious before cooking everything else that needed to be done. Since there is only so much space in the girl's kitchen, Becca, Sara and I walked back to the guy's apartment to back some M & M cookies, but when we started baking we realized that we did not have enough butter so we waited until Reuben's cousin who went out do some errands came back with butter. Once that happened, we continued the baking process to only then realized that we should have melted the butter because pieces of butter is really hard to mix with a whisk, so after much trying and not succeeding and just decided to mix it by hand. One the dough was formed we started scoping out balls of dough onto an oven rack covered with foil because of the lack of cookie sheets and started baking them but Shabbat was creeping upon us so Becca ran to Gelb and Ethan's apartment to borrow their oven rack so we could speed up the process. Finally all the cookies were backed and they tasted quite delicious. After bringing the cookies back to the girl's house, I took a shower and got ready for Shabbat.

Friday night we went to one of the many shuls called Afikim and services were quick and simple. Then those who were not vegetarians walked back to the guy's apartment for a delicious homemade dinner of chicken, vegetable, salad and rice. After dinner we hung around for a while just relaxing, reading and playing games before all heading back to the girl's house to have a tisch with Marzipan rugelach and I think it was one of the best tisch's on Nativ. We then stayed up for a bit longer before heading back to the apartment to go to bed. Shabbat morning we did not wake up in time for shul, but when we all eventually woke up we walked over the house to enjoy lunch which consisted of baked ziti, green beans, Caesar salad and for desert the cookies that we baked along with banana cake. After we went to one of the playground parks to relax and play before ending Shabbat, packing up and having a tofu, vegetable pasta stir-fry for dinner. We then began our long bus rides back to kibbutz but 3 hours later we made it back.

Sunday began another week of work and every day I fall a little bit more in love with the kids in the Gan and the Gan in general and my Hebrew is getting better each day. Tuesday was our second Yom Nativ and it was Yom Handicap this week. We each got a different disability (I had locked elbows) had with this disability had to eat breakfast (my friend Sami fed me) and perform a task (I had to write a letter). We also had a discussion about different mental and physical disabilities, as well as programs and what is being done to help the disabled in Israel and in the USA. Overall I thought it opened my eyes and exposed me to life without the use of my elbows and more. Tonight we watched the Israeli movie Sallah Shabati and I was confused through most of but I still enjoyed it a lot. This weekend some of my friends who we visited in Yerucham are coming to spend Shabbat on Kibbutz with us and it should be a blast; besides for that there is nothing else going on until Pesach so there might not be another blog posting until then but we will see.

Until next time,



Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting Adjusted to Kibbutz

Friday was spent finishing the last bit of unpacking and organizing that needed to be done before getting ready for Shabbat.

Our 1st Shabbat on Kibbutz was amazing. We started Friday night with Kabbalat Shabbat and Mariv in our Moadon. This Moadon will be our hang out place until Pesach so tomorrow during Yom Nativ (instead of Erev Nativ during 1st semester) we are going to decorate and make it feel like home. After tiffilot which were upbeat we headed to the Hadar Ochel for dinner. Dinner was a better that what we are used to at Beit Nativ so that was a great welcome. We then headed back to the Moadon for our 1st tisch, and while there was no Marzipan rugelach we did have Ein Tzurim chocolate croissants which will delicious. 

Shabbat morning we headed back to the Moadon for tiffilot which were short (around 2 hours) and I also read torah. Lunch was earlier then what we are used to, and while it was good I was not that hungry due to it only being 11:30. After lunch we had the head of the kitchen speak to us a bit about the Parasha and connecting it to his life story including his alyiah to Israel which was quite interesting. Shabbat afternoon I sat outside on the grass, playing games, reading and just hanging out with everyone. The weather was just right and I look forward to the weeks and months ahead of sitting outside. It was then time for Seudah Shlishit, Mariv and Havdalah and afterwards we had time to change before meeting back in the Moadon for the moment we have all been waiting for-finding out our jobs. I found out that I will be working in the Gan which is what I wanted to do, in order to gain the experience and hopefully learn different varieties of teaching. The rest of Saturday night was spent relaxing and getting a good night sleep for our 1st day of work.

Sunday I was very excited because I have been looking forward to the time that I can finally give back to Israel and the Kibbutz. After breakfast, the 6 of us working in the Gan were told that on the Kibbutz there are 5 different Ganim ranging in ages from newborns to age 5+ and we would be split up among them. I ended up with 2-3 years which I was fine with because I had worked with the same age group at camp during the summer. The 1st day was a bit hard due to the language barrier but I still had a great day. After work I had some down time before a BBQ dinner which was ok.

Monday was a better day in the Gan because my Hebrew was getting better and I also knew the routine a bit. As well due to my skill at learning names, I knew all the kids names and they also had warmed up to me a lot more so it was easier playing with all of them. Overall it was another great day and I'm looking forward to the months ahead and I can't wait to improve my Hebrew even more. Monday evening we did laundry for the first time on kibbutz which was fine but prior to doing so we had to label all our clothing with our laundry number, mine is 834.

Tuesday was our first Yom Nativ. We spent it choosing programs for our upcoming Yom Nativ's as well as decorating our Moadon to make it more of our home. Some of the Yom Nativ's that we have
coming up are: Yom Culture, Yom Handicap and much more along with programs that will be planned for Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron.  

Wednesday and Thursday were regular work days and I started adjusting and figuring out the routine and now at the end of the 1st week I feel that I will for sure enjoy my time in the Gan and working with the teachers and children.

As Shabbat is coming upon us I look forward to another restful Shabbat as well as Sunday, which is my good friend Max Marmer's brother's wedding that I was invited to and I'm sure I will have lots of stories to share.

The next few months will probably go very quickly but I will take advantage of every moment. Over Purim we have leadership seminar, then we have a week break for Pesach and in the beginning of May we have northern tiyul. 

Until next time,



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nativ Brings the Bad Weather

Thursday morning began our tiyul throughout the Negev which would end next week on kibbutz.  So Thursday despite hail and a minute of snow falling we started the drive down to Ein Gedi for hiking. However when we got there, our staff told us that do to flash floods and unstable ground warnings we would not be hiking but had the option to either hike Masada or go to the Ein Gedi spa and I chose the latter. I chose not go into the sea because it was cold and I had cuts, but it was relaxing and I got some reading and napping done.  When we were done we headed to the Bedouin tents but on the way we saw something that you do not see every day in Israel; roads being covered but loads of water and the rivers gushing with water. We were also told that with all this rain Israel has had lately some of the places we walked on dessert survival were covered with water. When we arrived at the tents we put our stuff down and then took camel and donkey rides which was a lot of fun despite my legs hurting the next day. We then enjoyed the traditional Bedouin hospitality drinking coffee and tea and learning about the Bedouin lifestyle which is very interesting. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious dinner with rice, meatballs, salads, pita and more. Since it was cold and we were also very tired we layered up, had a nice bonfire and then headed to bed early to the sound of rain. On a side note, this was probably one of the best ways to spend my birthday.

Friday morning after a very restful night we woke up to a rainbow which you do not see every day in southern Israel. After tiffilot and a great breakfast, despite the heavy rain we started on our way. Throughout this tiyul we got to choose which hike we wanted to do as well as some of the other activities, so I chose to go to the colored sands in the   Machtesh Ha-gadol. When we got there it was quite cold and due to the rain it was more like colored mud then sand but it was still beautiful. It was then onto Kibbutz Ketura where we were staying for Shabbat and Sunday. After we got ready for Shabbat we took a tour of the kibbutz and learned a bit about Ketura. Kibbutz Ketura is one of the few kibbutzim left that are not privatized as well one of the only kibbutzim which does not have a religious affiliation which was interesting to see. Afterwards we had tiffilot, a delicious dinner and a tisch before heading to bed early.

Shabbat morning after tiffilot which were the usual and before lunch we has 3 different options of activities and I chose "Kibbutz Values in Practice". Throughout this activity we learned about the democratic governing system at Ketura and then split into groups and got a case that was brought before the Kibbutz council and had to come up with an answer about what we would do in the situation. Throughout this session and the tour the previous day it made me really think about Kibbutzim and their values and beliefs. After lunch, rest time and the conclusion of Shabbat we had 2 choices of evening activities and I went to one of the neighboring Kibbutz’s, Kibbutz Lotan to participate in some holistic exercises. Over the course of the evening we learned Shiatsu and a form of Tai Chi. It was a very relaxing evening and I learned some techniques that I might be able to use in the future.

Sunday instead of taking a hike in the mountains behind the Kibbutz, I chose to participate in a Desert Art Workshop looking at poetry. We started by looking at various poets and their poems and the various styles that they used. Then we had time to sit where ever we wanted to around the kibbutz and write. If you would like to see my poem, contact me. After the other art groups presented and we had lunch we had free time before heading to have some of the most fun we have had on Nativ. After a 10 minute hike we arrived at the Kasui Sand Dunes where for the afternoon we frolicked and rolled around in the dunes which had the softest sand I've ever felt. When we got back to the kibbutz we had more free time before enjoying a great BBQ dinner. That evening/early morning we had the option at 1:30 AM to watch the Superbowl but I decided to get sleep.

Monday morning we left Ketura, and I chose to go to Park Timna. Timna used to be a site that the Egyptians and Midianites mined copper at many years ago. We started off with a short movie about Timna and then started our drive through the park. We saw most of it from the bus but we did get off at one point at walked around for a bit and even walked through some of the ancient mining shafts which was cool. In the afternoon we headed to Eilat and were supposed to go on a boat ride but due to a possible storm that was brewing in the sea it got canceled but we got other options and I chose to go to Kings City which is a biblical amusement park. It is a very small with only 4 'rides' but it was still a fun afternoon. When we got back to the hotel we got our rooms and then got money to get dinner on our own. Josh, Becca and I went to Big Apple Pizza which was quite delicious and then walked around the boardwalk for a bit before heading to bed early.

Tuesday was our last true day of tiyul and we started the morning with hikes and I chose a hike through the Red Canyon. It was great to finally be hiking after the previous days of not really hiking. The hike was pretty easy with a few hard parts; as well the scenery was great and the weather was perfect for hiking. After going back to the hotel to change and rest we went to the Haleluyah restaurant for lunch and we were supposed to head to the beach for some optional water activities but it got cancelled due to the winds again. So instead we just hung out with each other before dinner at the hotel. After dinner we had the night off so I went back to the boardwalk and mall to do some last minute shopping before heading back to the hotel to pack and get a good night of sleep.

Wednesday was a day that I could not believe had finally arrived-it was the day we were moving to kibbutz. After saying goodbye to all my friends heading to Yerchaum we started our drive with a stop in Be'er Sheva for a mumps booster shot due to the recent outbreak. When we arrived at kibbutz we unpacked and had dinner which was very good which was a sign that hopefully all our other meals would as be just as great, before heading to bed early.

Thursday we got a tour of part of the kibbutz which was nice to start seeing part of our home for the next 3 months.  As well we received our numbers which will be used in the Chadar Ochel to get food as well as for the laundry, so my number is 611. The rest of the day was devoted to finish unpacking, organizing our rooms and some of my friends and I went to Tzomet Kastina where we picked up some things that we needed.

I have already started to feel that Kibbutz Ein Tzurim is becoming a home for me as well as carven 10B, A.K.A Abe Lincoln’s Log Cabin with my roommate Ari and our carven mates: Sami and Kay.

Here are the pictures from the tiyul.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking Through Various Lenses

After a spending our last Shabbat in Jerusalem for now, we started on Sunday The Israel Today Seminar (ITS). The premise of these 3 days was to expose us to different issues, and open our eyes to sites that we might not know about. Also on Monday and Tuesday we had some options to choose from to allow everyone to hopefully learn about something that they understand.


Sunday we started of the day and the seminar with a lecture on Israeli current issues with Jeff Barack who is an editor/journalist for various newspapers (check out his credentials here). He spoke to us about the vast amounts of Arab and Haredim who are affecting various aspects of Israeli society such as education, politics, welfare programs and Israel's reputation. He was not that captivating of a speaker but did make me think about the future of Israel with these two groups of people being a larger part of the future voters due to the high birth right. Afterwards we went to The Begin Centre which is devoted to the life of Menachem Begin. The museum was split into different rooms each showcasing a different period of time in his life which was shown through videos. It was a very interesting museum because I did not know a lot about his life so I feel that the center did a great job explaining his life. After The Begin Centre and a bit of rest time we had a panel discussion about the IDF with 3 of our staff members and two Americans who had joined the army. Even though I do not plan on joining the army it was a very interesting discussion and I learned a lot about the various jobs, challenges and more in the army. That evening we had time to relax, pack and hang out with our friends


Monday morning was our first day of options and I chose to learn about Israel and the environment. We first visited the Hava & Adam Ecological Farm which focuses on education and sustainability. We first got a tour of the farm and got to see how they have built their farm in a green manner using mud and manure as walls, compost toilets and more. They also have a solar panel for energy and many other aspects that make this a very ecological farm. After our tour we got a chance to make our own lavender oil even grinding our own lavender and I'm looking forward to using it. We then went to The Ayalon Recycling Park and learned about the process of garbage disposal and what the plant is doing in order to minimize the amount of garbage that is sent down to the main site in the Negev. Probably the most interesting part was the visitor's center where most of the furniture and decorations is made out of recycled materials (chairs out of slides, garbage cans and signs made out of old furniture etc.). After our tour there we went to the Holon Cinematheque to see the Israeli movie "Lost Islands". It was a movie made in 2008 about two twin boys growing up in the 1980's in Israel and their families. Throughout the movie the characters learned about love to one another and a significant other, loyalty and attempting to fulfill ones dreams without giving up to much. Personally I thought it was a very well done movie, using great background sounds and making us laugh throughout most of the movie. For dinner that evening we went to the Azrieli Mall in Tell Aviv and I had a great Chinese food dinner.


Tuesday was our second day of choices and I chose to learn about Israel and politics. We started off the day by taking a tour of the Israeli Supreme Court. The building is just 20 years old and is a beautiful and stunning building with great views and lots of symbolism throughout. While there we learned about the judicial system and the differences from the US judicial system and it was very interesting and we also got to see one of the courtrooms. Afterwards we went to the other youth hostel in Jerusalem for a session about the constitution or the lack thereof in Israel. We discussed the pros and cons of having one and then split up into groups discussing various topics that might be in a constitution such as symbols and the anthem. Our last stop of the afternoon was The Gush Katif Museum. This museum commemorates the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the lost of the settlements and lives there. Our guide had lived in the Gaza strip for 23 years and raised his family of 9 kids there so this for sure added a different level to our visit. Prior to visiting the museum and did not fully understand about the disengagement and its effects but throughout our time there I really got to see what the evacuation had done to all the families living. We learned about the buildup of the various settlements and saw pictures from prior to 2005 as well as pictures, videos and artifacts from during and after the disengagement. Our guide also told us his story of after the disengagement they were put up in a hotel in Jerusalem for what was supposed to be 10 days but turned out to be 7 months of hardship and he us told us that when some of friends had looked into their storage boxes a lot of their belonging were not useable. As well, the graves were dug up and reburied and beautiful homes, synagogues and Yeshivas were destroyed. The worst part is that the disengagement did not achieve much and many people are still not in a stable home almost 5 years later.


That evening was most likely one of the best so far on Nativ. We went to the Nalaga'at Canter to see the play "Not by Bread Alone." The show is about baking bread (kneading, raising and baking) and how you cannot live on bread alone but you also need love, company, to have dreams and more. The special thing about the actors is that they are deaf, blind or deaf and blind so it was very interesting how those could not speak signed to those who could speak to speak for them or they signed and a translator spoke what they were signing. Those who could speak spoke but they were blind so they had to rely on others to help them wither their sight. It was a wonderful thing to see everyone helping one another whether it was moving around on the stage or speaking. As well there was Hebrew, English and Russian subtitles as well as someone signing so really anyone could understand the play. Throughout the process of the play as mentioned before they baked bread so after the play was over we got to meet some of the actors and eat hot, fresh, baked bread which was delicious. The show and actors were truly amazing and inspiring and it made me realize that such simple things, sight and hearing, which I take for granted others are not so fortunate. At the Nalaga'at Centre there is also a café with deaf waiters and a restaurant called Black Out where you eat in the dark and has blind waiters. As you can see it was a great evening and a great way to end The Israel Today Seminar.


Wednesday morning was spent having orientation for Kibbutz learning about the job opportunities, meals and more. The afternoon we packed and enjoyed our last day in Jerusalem before leaving for Negev Tiyul.


Until then,




Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Seriously Want to Date a Stone Wall-Week 2 in Ελλάδα (Greece)

Sunday we started by visiting Syntagma metro station to view some artifacts that where found while excavating for the subway. Some things that were found were bones in grave and roman aqueducts. We then went to Syntagma square to watch the changing of the Evzone guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The whole routine was quite comical especially with their very funny outfits. However probably one of the funniest things is at one point someone went to take a picture with one of the guards and he started laughing and so did we all.  Now these guards are supposed to stand still for their allotted time and not move or smile so seeing him laugh was just hilarious and he had to take a breather in his post box.  After an amusing morning we went to grab lunch and something hot to drink because it was cold and rainy (lox sandwich and hot chocolate).  We then went to the new Acropolis museum which houses all the artifacts that were found while excavating the area as well as showcasing an Athenian village that was discovered during construction. The museum was very crowded because it is so new but we still got to see everything that we wanted which was amazing. I couldn't believe the vast amount of artifacts found and how grand some of the statuses are. We then did some shopping before continuing on to see Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Both were amazing and it was interesting to see how elaborate they were building thousands of years ago. We then went to the Panathinaiko Stadium where sports for both the ancient and modern Olympics were held.  Afterwards we took a stroll back to the Plaka to look around before heading to the hotel to rest. For dinner we went to this very good restaurant where I had fried eggplant with feta and tomatoes.

Here are the 5 videos of the changing of the guards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Monday morning we started by visiting Mt. Lycabettus. This mountain is the highest in Athens and from it you can see all of Athens and even sometimes the island of Aegina. We took a steep cable car ride up to the top of the mountain and then looked at the amazing view. It was nice to see from high above the whole city as well as all the sites that we had seen. After the cable car ride down we went to this vegetarian friendly restaurant and it was so nice to have lots of options; I chose a sundried tomato and mozzarella sandwich which was great. We then walked to the National Archeological Museum which is both the largest archaeological museum in Greece and houses some of the most important artifacts from all over Greece.  It was a great museum seeing all the artifacts and it was a great way to end our 2nd to last day in Athens. Afterwards we headed to the hotel to rest and then went for dinner (spaghetti with tomato sauce, vegetables and tuna fish).

Tuesday we woke up early to go the island of Aegina. After a short (45 minutes) hydrofoil ride we arrived on the island and started exploring. Our first stop was the Temple of Aphaia on the other side of the island.  After figuring out which bus we needed to take (it was hard because everyone only spoke Greek and we spoke none), we arrived at the remnants of this temple.  This temple was nothing real special because we had seen so many but the surrounding view was amazing. After we got back to the main town we stopped to get some hot chocolate because it was so cold outside as well as some pistachios which this island is famous for.  After we went to the local archeological museum and also saw the acropolis of Aegina and part of the ancient town of Aegina. One of the coolest things we saw though was a mosaic floor from the local synagogue, so it was nice to see that there once was an active Jewish community here. Due to us having some to time to kill before we caught the next ferry back, Ari and I decided to be kids again and play in the local playground which was a blast.  After the ferry ride back and arriving back at the hotel, we decided to save money and have a picnic dinner of the food that we had left.

Wednesday was our last day in Athens and Greece, so we took it easy. After we woke up, we took a double decker bus sightseeing tour of Athens. The bus was a nice ending to our time here and it was great to sit back and learn some more information about the sites we saw and to see them one last time. Afterwards we headed to the Plaka to do souvenir shopping and Ari and I both got some great stuff for ourselves and our family and friends back home. We then went back to the hotel to pack and relax before dinner. Tonight for dinner we went back to one of the places that we went to last week because it was so good; tonight I got a Caesar salad with salmon which was amazing. We then went back to finish packing and get to bed early because we were leaving early for Israel Thursday.

Thursday we flew back to Israel mid-morning. The flight was uneventful but most of the flight contained a Greek Orthodox pilgrimage group, so I sat next to this nice Greek couple. When we got back to Israel and Beit Nativ, we got out rooms back, unpacked and settled down. It was great to see all my friends that I had missed.

Greece as you can tell was an amazing trip! I saw so much s well as learning a lot. Food wise I survived but I don't know if I want to eat another Greek salad for a while!

Until February 10th when we arrive on Kibbutz, we will spent Sunday-Tuesday experiencing Israel through a various lenses during Israel Today Seminar. Wednesday will be spent packing, saying goodbye to Jerusalem and having orientation for the 2nd semester. Thursday we leave for Negev Tiyul where we will be hiking, spending time in Eilat and more. I can't believe though that it's almost February which means Nativ is half over but I will be taking every opportunity that I have to enjoy the time that I have left.

Here are the pictures from the first week, enjoy!

Until next time,

με αγάπη, (with love in Greek)


A Bug Flew Into My Mouth-Week 1 in Ελλάδα (Greece)

From January 14th-28th we had off to do what we wanted to; some went home, some stayed in Israel, while others traveled to Italy and Greece. I headed to Greece with two of my friends, Ari and Ethan. We did not leave until the Sunday though because I was spending the weekend with my Abba. Thursday evening I finally got to see Abba which was very exciting. Friday we went on a bit of a shopping spree for various gifts before getting ready for Shabbat. Shabbat was really great because I was spending it with Abba, as well as eating meals at various friends' houses. Motzei Shabbat well finishing packing Abba took a couple of my friends and me for dinner at Café Hillel which was a great way to end my time in Jerusalem. It was then time to say goodbye to Abba because in a few hours I was heading to Greece.

Sunday very early in the morning (2:45 AM), we headed to the airport to catch our flight. Due to being there early we had enough time to go to the Kosher McDonalds and I got a hamburger.  After a short but early flight we landed in Athens and we then took a taxi by a very nice and helpful taxi driver to our hotel which is quite nice. Due to our lack of sleep we spent much of the day sleeping but we did walk around the Plaka which is the main square. We checked out many of the cool stores and had an early dinner (Greek salad and tzatziki) before heading back to the hotel.

Monday after a restful night's sleep we headed out to start seeing the sights that Athens has to offer. We started off at the Kerameikos of Ancient Athens. Here was one of the largest districts in Ancient Athens but this area is most known as being a very important cemetery with tombs dating back to the Bronze Age. Next we headed to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike, The Beulé Gate and The Propyalea.  We found out that for a lot of the sites we are able to get in for free because we are under 19 and don't have to pay 12€. It was really amazing to see these sites which are so old and also very rich in history. As well because I have learned about Ancient Greece a lot in school it was cool to see what I've learned about in person. Next we went to the Ancient Agora (market place) and saw a temple and a stoa. The agora was both a place of business as well as a place of assembly. We then headed back to the Plaka to grab a quick bite to eat (Greek salad) and then it was back to the hotel to rest because most of the sites and museums close at 3. In the evening we headed back to the Plaka for dinner (spaghetti with tomatoes, basil and cheese) and after exploring the area a bit more we went to Haagen Dazs for fondue which was amazing. The fondue consisted of little balls of ice cream of different flavors, fruit, cookies, brownies and nuts and we dipped this all in chocolate...so good. It was then an early night to bed because we were waking up at 5:45 to go to Delphi.

Tuesday was our first day trip out of Athens which was to Delphi. Delphi is most well known for its oracle. After a 3 hour bus ride through the beautiful mountains and the surrounding area, we arrived and walked to see the sites. We started off at the archeological museum seeing lots of the artifacts from the excavation of the area. Next we saw the Sanctuary of Athena, the Tholos and gymnasium. Then we went to the main area of Ancient Delphi and saw such sites as the Treasury of the Athenians and the Temple of Apollo. It was really cool to see all these sites and to think what it would have been like to see it active. It then started hailing and raining so we caught the next bus back to Athens. When we got back we grabbed dinner to eat at the hotel (spaghetti again) before heading to bed early.

Wednesday we toured some of the local museums. We started at the War Museum which was pretty neat. I was a bit lost though because some of the information was only in Greek and I also did not fully know Greece's history. Despite this I enjoyed looking at the weapons, outfits and more.  The best part was probably when one of the soldiers gave each of us 4 postcards of various soldiers for free. We then went to the Jewish Museum of Athens which was an amazing museum and it felt great supporting a community that is not as strong as others in the world. In the museum we saw artifacts and costumes for holidays and other events that were a bit different then what we are used to. Afterwards we tried to find a vegetarian restaurant but it did not exist so we got lunch at this small family run restaurant and I got guess what, a Greek salad! We then went to the Greek Popular Musical Instruments museum which was not that great. It was very small and just not that interesting or captivating. It was then back to the area around the Plaka for some more shopping and just strolling in this beautiful country. After heading to the hotel for a bit of a rest we went to the Hard Rock Café for dinner. It was so good and I had salmon with broccoli and mashed potatoes so it was great to have some variety. It was then back to the hotel because we realized that most of the shops close around 6 so unless you want to eat or stay up until 11ish when the bars and clubs open there is not much to do.

Thursday was our 2nd out of Athens trip which was to Cape Sounion. The ride both ways was beautiful because the route was along the coast so seeing the clear, blue sea against the mountains and tiny villages was stunning. In Cape Sounion we saw the Temple of Poseidon which is perched atop a cliff so besides for seeing the temple there are breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Due to the time of the year there was nothing else to do so we caught the next bus to Athens. When we got back, due to it being 5 we went to the hotel to put down our stuff before heading for dinner. Tonight due to the rain we went to a restaurant right down the street from the hotel which was really good and I got cheese ravioli with pesto and parmesan. For desert I had chocolate mousse with strawberries and they gave us free appletinis.

Friday we slept in and then got ready for Shabbat. Before we left Israel I had organized with the Chabad here in Athens to have Shabbat dinner and lunch with them. Friday after resting for the day we got ready for Shabbat and walked over to the main Shul in Athens. It was a quick walk and once we got there Ari and I were ushered upstairs onto the balcony for tiffilot. Friday night tiffilot were quite short because there was no minyan and they also did everything out load. While we were up there we were able to look around and admire how beautiful the synagogue is as well as admire the dress of the rabbis (black kitels with gold stripes and a black hat). After tiffilot we walked back to Rabbi Hendel's house for dinner where we met his lovely wife and his 3 adorable children, as well as a very nice family from New York who were visiting Athens on their way to Israel. While talking to Rabbi Hendel and his wife, Nehama were told that they have been in Athens for 9 years and while there are around 3000 Jews in Athens they are spread out all over the city so it is very hard to bring everyone together which is why it is hard at times to get a minyan.  Dinner was very delicious and it was great to have a home cooked meal as well as some meat. After dinner we walked back to the hotel to relax.

Shabbat morning we got up and headed back to shul. Once again it was a quick service with parts that we did not understand because it is a Sephardic shul. We also were able to realize that the average age was around 80 and the shul seemed like a tourist attraction because there lots of people in pants and there were some cell phone ringing. As well we saw that despite being a Sephardic shul they had Ashkenazi torahs and Rabbi Hendel told us he torahs were ones that where rescued from the war. After shul we went back to Rabbi Hendel's house for lunch which was once again delicious and then it was back to the hotel to rest. After Shabbat we headed out for dinner (Greek salad and we shared tzatziki and fried cheese) and then walked around a bit.

Here are the pictures from the first week, enjoy!

Until next time,

με αγάπη, (with love in Greek)