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,