Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Chanukah!

Wow. What a week!

Last Shabbos we had a Shabbaton (a community Shabbat) with Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya. My roommate Rebecca gave a beautiful d'var Torah and there were a lot of students speaking about the Torah portion. It was really great. Unfortunately I was pretty sick but it was nice to have all my meals just down the street with people I knew. We had a bunch of girls sleeping in our apartment because one of the school's apartments is too far to walk. It was cool to have everyone together. It was also my last time seeing a few of the girls who went home this week. Weird to see another changing of the guards here at school. The dynamic changes so much.

Chanukah began on Sunday night. I was a little nervous, because last time we had a holiday in Jerusalem I found it to be totally stressful and overwhelming. (That was really because I was in charge of placing the girls for all their holiday meals, but I associated it with the holiday.) Chanukah is such a beautiful holiday... all about acknowledging the miracles around us and being grateful for them. We commemorate the military victory over the Greeks... but the miracle we remember is the oil that burned for 8 nights. The Greeks were defeated militarily, but more importantly they were defeated spiritually. They wanted to wipe Judaism out, but on Chanukah they failed.

There were a lot of Jews that wanted to be like Greeks. They gave up their Jewish names, clothing, and traditions to fit into Greek culture. Had all Jews done that, there might not be be Judaism today. Last night Omri and I went to a hotel to visit with some college students on the same trip he did last summer. After living in Israel for six months and being surrounded by people who made their decisions based on Torah, it was so interesting to see people who made their decisions based largely on Western culture and Hollywood. They were amazing... it's so cool to see people who are just starting to ask the big questions and to hear what they are confused about, what they like, what they don't like...

Omri and I also saw our Rabbi (Rabbi Lawrence) who was here on a trip with the JEC. We skipped class and went up to the seminary where his students were in class and sat with him for hours going over all the things on our mind. He helped us by showing us what is not worth worrying about because it's out of our control. It was great to see him.

Other than that, Omri and I have spent a lot of time together going downtown, seeing Jerusalem during Chanukah. It's really beautiful. I got to do my holiday shopping and we went from the most secular area with bars and teenagers and fancy stores to the most religious areas. They're a ten minute walk from one another, and worlds apart.

I'm all packed and can't wait to be home! I leave right after Shabbat so it will be interesting over Shabbat trying to focus on being in the present and not packing or planning for the trip.

All my love,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jewish arts and artists...

My Rabbi at NYU recently responded to my request and sent me copies of some lectures he gave and articles he used to a Jewish artist fellowship. Writing out my email in response to his articles gave me some clarity about the issues on my mind in the arena of Judaism and art, so I thought I'd share them here...

While I am interested in all aspects of the art world, the bulk of my experience is with acting and the issues with Jewish arts are distinct in this case. So while my personal questions relate also to directing and writing, I'm mainly focused here on the issues that present the Jewish actor.

Rav Feinstein's tshuva was the hardest to read of all the articles I received. (Rav Feinstein writes that it's a problem to be in a play as they often portray illicit relationships or take acts like murder lightly.) While it seems pretty far-fetched to say that if I play a murderer I'm going to think that that's okay and go out and murder, what he says has a foundation in (of course) Judaism and (perhaps more surprisingly) acting theory.

In our Mussar class we are studying Rambam's writings on Mussar (I need to find out exactly where this comes from). Recently we read his idea that to change our bad middos (character traits) we need to practice the other extreme, many times, over a long period of time. The example given is that a miserly person should give a bit too much until they have balanced out and are generous, but neither miserly nor a spendthrift.

In my training I heard over and over that action begets feeling and feeling begets personality. Be on time. Always be on time. Even for things that really don't matter--because it will help you to become--to change into--a punctual person. On stage, we see the same idea. Isn't the classic director's line, "again"? There's good reason for that. Repetition of a phrase and gesture internalize the feeling until the feeling comes freely with the action (hopefully in time for performance). Very Pavlovian. So my biggest issue with the concept of a Jewish actor playing in a show that defies Torah values is that I've seen no logical argument that can "disprove" this concept that the repetition of this part won't have a bad impact on the character of the actor.

My second question is the issue of priorities. Am I a Jewish actor or a Jew who acts? (Or directs, writes...) Do I take what I have learned from Judaism and bring this fresh perspective back to my stage, or do I re-learn to view the stage from this new perspective of a religious Jew? Priorities state the latter, but I'm unsure if that's the best use of me. Perhaps, as a religious Jew, I find a religious obligation to engage in "secular" theater (I don't really think such a thing exists... artists are avidly religious in their own way). This needs more thinking.

My final problem is the position of theater artist within a community. Community is very important in Judaism. As an artist, my learning always showed me that the artist/storyteller/clown was the position of the outsider or "other." The artist is in the classic position of just beyond the walls of the home, looking in on the family. Or in our case, just outside the eruv, looking in at the community :) Does this unique position afford the artist the "luxury" of maintaining absolute purity, avoiding the stage and it's inherent grime? If our position is to reflect back truth to others, then when it's not a nice truth we maintain our obligation to reflect. This makes us a vehicle of something base... and if actions beget feelings and feelings personality... it follows that we then become base. I have met some very unhealthy actors who always chose to play unhealthy characters. There's no coincidence there. It seems to me that Hashem chooses His artists carefully. (While everyone is artistic to some degree, not everyone is the Artist/the outsider/the Enneagram Type 4... whichever label works.) He knows that this makes us somehow different, impatient with the status quo. Again, if we are designed differently, where does this leave us in terms of the community?

In response to the NYU Rabbi's ideas about the need for Jewish organizations to provide a substantial link between Judaism and art... for sure there is something much richer in Judaism than Jewish a-capella will ever provide, as nice as it is. Jewish art has more potential than an event of a group of Jews who happen to be doing art together. And I think the students must know that. I recently told my Rosh Midrasha in a meeting that I had trouble thinking of leaving theater because, before I got to Israel, actors were the most spiritual, searching people I'd ever met. The issue arises, I think, when you find one truth conflicting so drastically to another. I see "truth" in Shakespeare. And I think it conflicts with the truth I see in Torah (this needs more thought, also).

Probably good to go to bed now. Just a few thoughts that need to be muddled through. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hello again!

This week was another doosy. I am slowly slowly getting over a killer cold/flu bug that I caught just a few days after getting over last week's sickness. The germs here are Powerful. It's like they know they're in the Middle East and have to be fighters.

But that negative news leads me into good news!! I will be going home for TWO WEEKS! My gorgeous, wise, and endlessly charismatic mother and amazing and generous stepfather are coming to the rescue over my poor mental and physical health and bringing me back to the Florida sunshine to recuperate for a few weeks. It is badly needed and will be so great in terms of catching up and sharing all this AMAZING knowledge I've been getting here.

This week we talked about one of my favourite Jewish concepts. In Judaism, time is not really considered linear. It is considered cyclical and progressive... imagine a coil or slinky. Every year we pass through the same "areas" of time--around the New Year is a time for renewal and repentance, Tisha B'Av is a time of destruction and mourning, and Pesach/Passover is a time of freedom. The beautiful thing about this is not moving forward, but moving backwards. The rabbis say, Pesach isn't when it is because that's when we escaped from Egypt. We escaped from Egypt because it was Pesach--the time of freedom. I don't know if I made this sound so cool but it's really cool when the right person explains it!

What else..

The music is playing over the loudspeakers to let the Jerusalemites know that Shabbat is coming in soon.

I also wanted to say a really amazing thing about our rabbis. It seems simple, but whenever someone drops something in class, the Rabbi stops his class and gets it for them so that they can take notes. To contrast this to a university class... I could never imagine a University professor stopping class to pick up a dropped book for a student. They would usually see that as beneath them or demeaning. These Rabbis never hesitate to take the opportunity to help a student learn better... they love to do the good deed. It's a really beautiful thing and, since we have a few pretty clumsy girls in school, one that I get to see quite a lot :)

Finally, this $50 scam on Wall St (apparently about 49 billion of that was Jewish money) has really been hard on the Jewish community. Yeshivas, universities, and seminaries like where I am are all feeling the hurt. We are trying to be extra careful with our use of heating and electricity to make sure we don't spend any money we don't really need to. It's crazy that these things happened one on top of another. I hope that one day I have lots of money and can donate it to my school because they work so hard on such a shoestring budget and they really turn peoples lives around in such an amazing way... its so admirable.

We have a Shabbaton this weekend... the whole school is staying at the two apartments in our neighborhood and we are having speakers and activities and big group meals. I'm really excited to hear my roommate of 5 months, Rebecca, give her D'var Torah (speech on the Torah portion). She's going to be amazing! And she gets extra points for her adorable Australian accent :)

Shabbat Shalom everyone! I hope you get some rest and reflection time and are all prepared to begin the next week refreshed and reinvigorated! I have more "r" words if you want them...

Oh, last thing!
I finished editing a book for a rabbi in the neighborhood. It's all about recognizing G-d's hand in our lives, especially when we are faced with difficulties. It's been a great read and a lot of fun. And after 260+ pages, I'm pretty excited that I actually finished!!!

Lots of love,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three random tests... two career suggestions in common... probably doesn't mean anything anyway...
You are a Guide, possible professions include - career counselor, psychologist, educational consultant, special education teacher, librarian, artist, playwright, novelist/poet, editor/art director, information-graphics, designer, HRM manager, merchandise planner, environmental lawyer, marketer, job analyst, mental health counselor, dietitian/nutritionist, research, educational consultant, architects, interpreter/translator.
Possible Career Paths for the INFJ:
* Clergy / Religious Work
* Teachers
* Medical Doctors / Dentists
* Alternative Health Care Practitioners, i.e. Chiropractor, Reflexologist
* Psychologists
* Psychiatrists
* Counselors and Social Workers
* Musicians and Artists
* Photographers
* Child Care / Early Childhood Development (this is just about every job ever...)
Computer programmer
Computer software designer
Data base manager
New market or product conceptualizer
Research and development specialist
Strategic planner
Systems analyst
Biomedical engineer
Business analyst
Financial analyst
Investment analyst
Management consultant
News analyst
News writer
Academic curriculum designer
College faculty administrator
College professor
Editorial writer

Friday, December 12, 2008


Hello everybody!

So I don't know if this will last beyond this week but who knows. I thought it might be nice to try to write a weekly email before Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) to update my friends and family about life here in Jerusalem. I was trying to blog but blogging is weird because if you don't know who you're talking to how do you know what to write?

So, this week wasn't quite the average week at my school. It was actually pretty stressful! During the week we have (by my last count) 22 classes a week-a few of which repeat two or three times a week and are only counted once. So we are in class steadily from 9 AM to anywhere from 5:45 to 9 PM depending on the day. On Thursday we are out early for our required chessed project (chessed means kindness--we choose a sort of community service project. Some girls do things like working in soup kitchens or tutoring kids with special needs.) I help out with the daughter of my Rabbi who had her first two children right away when she got married. She manages fine but going over is definitely helpful. She is just as helpful to me as I may be for her. I hang out with the babies or do dishes and she answers all sorts of questions for me about Judaism, motherhood, etc.

Anyway, this week one of my teachers was alone at home with her youngest because her husband and another son were in America to help move a family member into a nursing home. Her youngest is an eight year old with autism and it's hard for her to be there alone. So a friend of mine and I traded off nights staying over and keeping her company and helping with her son. This is theoretically a really easy one but somehow I found this chessed very stressful. I had also just moved rooms and aquired a new roommate so I was really longing to sleep in my own (new) bed! Anyway, I think we managed to be helpful so that's the important part.

This week one of the things we're learning about is anger and bearing a grudge (both of which are against Jewish law). It's really interesting to see how people react to being told that they need to give up their grudges. It reminds me of being in middle school when me and my friends all felt that what made us strong was that once we were crossed we never forgave. Now I realize that that was weakness. The lowest level is to let yourself be walked all over. The next level is to hold a grudge and defend yourself. The highest level is to realize that you can't stand in that person's shoes and that you must ultimately find a way to forgive them.

On Wednesday we had an extra fun day. We went on a tiyul (field trip) to the Neot Kedumim Biblical Nature Reserve and we saw what the land would have looked like during the days of the earlier Jewish settlers--during the time of the Maccabees and the Chanukah story. This was about the 2nd Century BCE which is actually quite far into the story of the Jews in Israel. It's amazing how long we've been here and what a miracle it was that we could come back--and within 5 years of the Holocaust. Imagine what a difference it would have been if Israel had become a state just a few years earlier. 6 Million Jews and their legacies would never have perished.

After that we had a party for two girls who finished studying one of the books of the Prophets (all in Hebrew! They also studied the commentaries in Hebrew!). One of the girls just lost her mother so it was done in her honor and we had a big meal to commemorate the end of shloshim (the first 30 days of mourning, which have the strictest restrictions).

I've also been working on proofreading/editing a book by a Rabbi in Har Nof which is GREAT but I had forgotten that I had another week to proofread and got very stressed, thinking I only had a few days. I wound up catching the MRC virus by Thursday and stayed home all day.

This morning I got to go help out around my friend Malka's house to help her prepare for Shabbos--and this is the first Shabbos that Omri and I will be going to her! We're stoked to get to spend Friday night with them. And Saturday we have a really cool Shabbat lunch that Omri lined up.

Final note: halfway through this email we got a knock on the door. The woman next door apparently just had a baby and this is her first Shabbat with the new baby. Although the entire community came to bring her food, nobody had time to help her with dishes and tidying, which she's too exhausted to do. Her friend came and knocked on our door to see if anybody was available to help. Luckily, I had time so I got to go over and meet some of her family and see the baby and do some more dishes. She felt awful for accepting help, which is too bad, because it's fun to help and she deserves it. Anyway, I love this community when I see how much people care about everyone else. Her friend was so sweet for coming over and asking for one of us to go help--she would have herself but she has her own family to cook for. Oh, and they invited me to their shalom zachor (welcome party for a new baby boy) tonight. So sweet.

Ok, time to change and do hair and makeup.

Shabbat Shalom!


Now that I see how long this email is I feel kinda bad sending it out to some of the friends I was going to. I'll post it to the blog and just send to immediate family :)

Pictures from our field trip are on facebook!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Decisons... part 2

Ok so daddy dearest recommended that I think about my priorities in a job and see if that helps me make a decision. Actually he said it in a much fancier way... I need to "rank my decision criteria." Woah.

The only problem with this is that, just like my career preference, my priorities in a job also change constantly. Sheesh.

Maybe I'll just write out a few possibilities to see where it gets me...

Opportunity to further my education, helping others, having my own say to a large degree, flexible options for mothers, a job that leaves me feeling good at the end of the day, creative opportunity, working with people I respect and can learn from, working with people with good values, time off, good pay, time off in the summers, not too much more schooling, an "organized" day, ability to take off time and/or change careers without having invested so much that I'm stuck...

Ok I'll organize it later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Work work work...

So I know I shouldn't be worrying about it right now. I have the rest of my year here in Israel to continue to explore who I am, what I care about, what I stand for, what strengths I want to employ, and what kind of environment I want to spend my days in. This is no time to be worrying about where I'll be next Fall.

So you tell that to my subconscious.

So just to get it out of my head and onto "paper" and make Julia Cameron proud...
Here, in no particular order, is the nonsensical, unconnected, and ill-researched list of careers battling it out in my mind whenever a teacher takes a pregnant pause:

1. Go back to the world of my last job: Jewish non-profits.

Pros: kosher food, easy access to Rabbis and learning, generally a supportive environment, no issues with Shabbat or holidays, clearly a subject that holds interest with me, more likely to be on the laid-back side and definitely a cause I can get behind. G-d willing I'll be getting married in the not-incredibly-distant future and this job is likely to give me enough peace of mind to focus on building a home and accepting stray socks on the floor.

Cons: I have trouble being excited about any job that requires no specific education from me. Unless I'm using my year in Israel (which is very doubtful) then I have no specific training in Jewish non-profits other than my half-year spent there. I'd rather do something that either uses my degree (Drama) or requires additional training from me, partly because then I'm not as likely to be working with other people who just walked in off the street. Also, the non-profit world can be the biggest headache and has no advantages when it comes to compensation. Little opportunity to create any programming or give much input. Lots of mind-numbing tasks.

2. Teach for America

Pros: Giving back to NYC, teaching, generally getting off earlier in the day, summers off, decent pay, challenging, no commitment to "becoming a teacher," another cause I can get behind. Personally in control of lesson plans, projects, etc. Plus I'm a geek for school, so I'd probably like that. A chance to explore a field that would be VERY good for my lifestyle. Amazing benefits in the long term.

Cons: Headaches and heartbreaks. Horror stories from the teachers and horror stories on behalf of the students, stuck with a largely undertrained teacher. Stress and frustration during what might be the first year of my marriage which is not something I want to bring into my home.

2a. Get a masters in teaching

Pros: All the good stuff about teaching, but bypassing the inner-city potential nightmare.

Cons: Making a commitment to a field I don't know. Slightly less noble than doing TFA.

3. The Theater World

Pros: Amazing people. Using my degree. A field I love. Literature, lighting, acting... love it. Wouldn't get that nervous feeling of regret I'd get going into any other field. Constant change of scenery (no pun intended). Working with people who are asking questions. Authentic people. Different jobs. Constant learning. Working project-to-project means I can take time off when I want and have kids when I want.

Cons: I have no idea what this really means... the Theater World? I don't want to act anymore. I'd love to direct. I'd love to be involved with a company. Maybe write. I don't want to do anything that requires me being in on Shabbat (lights, stage management). No pay, no consistency, much less experience backstage than onstage. Lots of people who are twisted and value-less.

4. Go back to school and pursue a Psych PhD or a PsyD.

Pros: Becoming an expert in a field that is interesting to me. Furthering my education. The opportunity to counsel and teach at a uni level. Having an impact on the field of mental health. A job that wouldn't specifically make it difficult to make aliyah should I ever go crazy enough. Counseling can be good money. Helping people.

Cons: A LOT more school. Very competitive. Lots of horror stories about being a woman/becoming a mother in such a competitive field. Would have to invest in a post-bacc, only after which would I have a really clear idea if this is the field for me.

4a. Go back to school and pursue a Masters in Counseling or a MSW.

Pros: helping people, interesting field, get to go back to school.

Cons: again, making a commitment to a field before I know for sure how I feel about it. Might still need to get a post bacc. Only working one-on-one when I enjoy teamwork.

...and this is where I almost always come to the point of, "Thank G-d I have several months to learn and grow and change before I need to make this decision!" Which I guess was the point from the beginning.

But any ideas, advice, or good jokes would be appreciated.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


So I was really supposed to write about our anniversary dinner two and a half months ago... so here's just an update.


Omri took me out for the nicest 2 year anniversary dinner. It was so nice because he really thought everything out in advance and planned it so carefully and made sure to make me comfortable and happy the whole time. The restaurant was sort of a Spanish theme with like eight different courses. Everything was huge portions. Oh, and O
mri bought us a bottle of red wine because he knows that that's a really nice treat for me. Here's our toast! (I'm showing off the yummy meat... not so ladylike I guess.)

Sukkot in Jerusalem

Amazing Shabbat
We went to Shabbat at one of Omri's Rabbi's houses and it was so lovely! I walked in and the place felt very homey right away. Within five minutes the Rabbi and I realized we'd been born in the same hospital in the Berkshires! That's when I placed the familiar feeling: the decoration reminded me of the way our house had been when I was teeny tiny. He was a third or fourth generation Berkshires man, it was incredible. We had a funny moment when he responded to my comment that he was real American stock and he said, "yep, a real Yankee." I got all nervous thinking that the Berkshires had somehow bred a Yankees fan. But, thank goodness, he just meant "American."

Another great connection was that he and his wife were very involved in the lives of Rabbi Deyo (one of the Rabbis that Omri and I are close to in NYC) and his wife and it was such a nice connection. He told me stories about them. I love people who are interested in people, like Rabbi Kaufman and his wife. It reminded me about being at the Shabbos table with Rabbi Sarna. They really want to know everybody's story and have so much respect and admiration for where people come from. It makes everyone feel so special. And, really, everyone's story really is incredible and inspirational and it almost becomes the Dvar Torah of the meal when a story is told with the right amount of appreciation and respect.

In other news, my friend Malka had a baby boy! He is absolutely beautiful. She's two for two now, because her older, Tehila, is the sweetest toddler ever. Here's her playing with Omri:

Today I was at Lynn's cooking for five and a half hours (!) in preparation for the night of learning
Chessed: be the change you want to make; becoming the person I want to be and how it's going

Sunday, October 5, 2008

another bt...

Nikki has been my friend since high school when we both competed in interp. (Sorry for outing you, Nik.) We lived a four hour drive away from one another but saw eachother constantly at competitions and shared many of the same friends.

One thing that made Nikki special is that she was one of my few friends from Miami that wasn't Cuban. Or Catholic. Despite our best intentions, going to college in the same city didn't make it as easy for us to see each other all the time like we'd thought. Moving to NYC for college requires lots of baby steps. At first, your entire existence takes place within a 10 block radius of your apartment (at best) with perhaps the occasional trip to Times Square. Each year the radius gets bigger to include the rest of Manhattan, the other boroughs... so it took us a while before the trip between Columbia and NYU was any better than Orlando to Miami. But we manage to have a low maintenance friendship. (Come to think of it, most of my friendships are low maintenance. Probably because I'm lazy.)

I don't remember the first time we talked about Judaism, but I do remember a consistant loving tug coming at me from Miami: you're mom is Jewish, Kate, and that makes you Jewish. You need to find out what that means. Happy Chanukkah, Kate, are you celebrating? Kate, the High Holy Days are coming up, why don't you come down to Miami and come to synagogue with me? You're Jewish. It's time to find out what this means.

And I always had an excuse. My parents wouldn't want me to go to Miami. How would I get there? I was too busy in school. Nobody else in my family cared that we were Jewish, why should I?

By freshman year of college it was harder to come up with excuses. I made myself busy and avoided her calls during the holidays. I called her afterwords with apologies and promises to meet up for drinks. Having not yet yet mastered upper Manhattan, I didn't make good on those promise, either.

My mother's sister came from Toronto and we went to visit her friend, a songwriter, a Holocaust survivor who wrote haunting music that didn't suit the Bronx. I went with my aunt to see her on Shabbat. Stella knew Yiddish and was involved with the Jewish community in Toronto, but knowing we'd both be basically ignorant together, I was bolder. We went with Beyle to her shul, a tiny building with a mechitza that was more wall than anything. She and I flipped through a siddur, enjoying the look of the Hebrew and the sound of the prayers. We whispered and giggled and got several amused and curious glances from the regulars. After the services, we made our way with Beyle to the kiddush. The Rabbi, grinning, told us where to hide our purses (which we had no idea we shouldn't have been carying). It seemed like it had been ages since anyone at this shul had had a new person come daven. Stella was her charismatic self all though kiddush and everyone laughed and joked and watched her with delight.

Sophmore year, Nikki called again before High Holy Days. Again, I didn't go. But this time I wasn't going to be able to get away with it. A month later I was fed up with feeling like a coward and signed up for a 3 day Jewish learning weekend with NYU.

Three years later, I'm in Har Nof, talking to Nikki just as rarely as ever. But when we do talk, she hears about my classes at sem and I hear about her fabulous NYC life.

She doesn't ask me anymore to come to services but wishes me an automatic Shana Tova. We've come a long way, love. So come to Jerusalem and I'll buy you that drink. :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last day before school's back aaaand... anniversary!!

The air is starting to take on that back-to-school feel!

Ok, it's not the air, for sure because this is the desert and I've never gone back to school in the desert, but I'm definitely getting that feeling. And that feeling makes you take deep breaths and go, "ah, it feels like fall" even when it doesn't.

Today is the last day before the Elul Zman (next semester) starts up. We have an AMAZING schedule and I'm really excited to be back in learning and filling my days up with thinking and growing and learning and fresh new notebooks :) Ok yeah I'm a huge dork.

Here are my favorite hilights (let's see if they end up being my favorite classes): Maharal (with our Dean), Chassidut, Ulpan (spoken Hebrew class), Hilchot Shabbat (the laws of Shabbat), Intro to Mussar (character development) with Rabbi Shurin (our Rosh Midrasha), Issues in Jewish Contemporary Society, and our Chessed project! I'm definitely excited about this schedule.

So, a few days ago I sent a message to my friend Maayan, an Israeli, who recently moved to Jersusalem. Maayan is a brilliantly artistic kinda gal who I was fortunate enough to room with last summer. I told her I desperately wanted to do something artistic.

Be careful what you ask for.

The festival was at the Jerusalem Theater. It was open-air, with a stage and screen. On stage was a clown (who was not really a clown) doing something like clowning... or interpretive dance? In this picture he is at the lefthand side of the stage, rowing in a large hat. The audio is a littleish girl reading nonsensical Israeli children's poems. The screen (this was really cool) is the projected board of a woman off-stage who is "painting" the images of the story with what seemed to be sand. You can see her hand, along with the boat and dolphin she drew. After a scene, she'd just smear it all away and start again.

After the sand-clown-poetry show, we had a band which everyone seemed to like, although I was very quickly losing altitude since I was midway through a cold I picked up on Leadership. The last act was sortof like a marching band... but awesome. An exuberant drummer, lots of brass, and a big ol' tuba. You can't be sad when someone's playing the tuba. Afterwords, Maayan, Shay, Omri and I went out to have cake and drinks (apple cider and rum is amazing when you're sick!).

Yesterday was Shabbat. It was really lovely. Omri gave all the details in his blog so I'll just add my favorite details. After lunch, Rebecca, Omri and I went to the park and went through a book I bought recently called Awareness which is about the Enneagram, but tailoring it to the Jewish reader. We went through and found out what our types were (Omri's a Seven, Rebecca's a Nine, and I'm a Four) and then read to eachother what that meant. It was really fun and took up a whole afternoon anybody needing a shluff! During our third meal picnic in the park, Rebecca brought Rays of the Sun and gave a lovely D'var Torah about the importance of giving tzadakah (charity) by speaking kindly in addition to the literal giving. Kudos Rebecca!

I actually got up without hitting the snooze button ONCE today! I'm really excited about that. I went out and did a whole session on Yoga Today. Now if I can just maintain this during the school year...

Shavuah tov!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One reason to love Israel...

Today I discovered a good reason to enjoy living in Israel... which is not to say that I find living here easy--or even consistently enjoyable. But I gotta say, I had a great experience at the hospital today.

What's that? The hospital?

Ok, well, to be less dramatic, the Terem. It's an ER that only deals with small injuries that are not immediate. This is an incredible system as it allows immediate care for people who can't wait to see a doctor or who need X-Rays but keeps them out of the ERs that deal with major life-or-death traumas. The ER ran really nicely, everyone spoke English (which I'm embarrassed to rely so heavily on, but thank G-d I didn't need any Hebrew today!).

So, in our attempt to find cheap entertainment, Omri and I went to the OU Israel Center last night and caught their free Hitchcock double feature (The Cheney Vase and The Man Who Knew Too Much) with about 20 octogenarians. Other than the loud commentary from all angles, the sometimes-skipping DVD, and the disproportionately large number of people eating sandwiches out of plastic bags, it was an enjoyable experience. I really liked The Cheney Vase. But (take away my Tisch diploma if you must) I'd rather watch The Man Who Knew Too Little.

On the way back from the theater, my ankle, which has been bothering me on and off for about a month, started to seriously hurt. To the point where I couldn't really put any weight on it by the end of the evening. The small area that had been bothering me a month earlier was now gaining ground and causing searing pain from just below my knee to the bottom of my heel.

I hate going to the doctor.

Last night, Omri made me promise to go.

So, ok, today I went to the nice doctor in Har Nof and he referred me to Terem. They took X-Rays, checked me out, and sent me on my way with a bandaged foot and advice of how to make it heal faster (namely, stop walking on it). Here's a cool memento: I got to take my X-Rays home in a DVD! Never had that happen before.

Now we have to figure out ways to enjoy Israel on the cheap, when we're not allowed in each other's apartments, and now... WITHOUT HAVING TO WALK. This won't be easy. Any advice is appreciated.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back up again...

Ok I'm not going to do that again. Bli neder. This time the blog stays.

So the first couple months in Jerusalem have been... have been what? Have been
Among other things. Omri and I moved to Jerusalem (into our respective schools) then a few weeks later I was off on one trip, back to school, then off to staff another trip. The second trip just ended and I have a brief vacation before I'm back to school September 1st (which is also my 2 year anniversary with Omri!).

Here is a picture of Har Nof to give a small idea of the beauty of this neighborhood. The buildings are built up the side of a mountain, all in Jerusalem stone. The community is speckled with several playgrounds. The top of the hill is where Neve Yerushalayim and the super-frummies live, and as you go down the hill you start to see, progressively, more and more color choices in the residents' wardrobe, the velvet kippot start to mix with knit, and if you go far enough down you even can see... a few women in pants *gasp!*

Perhaps one of the few things more beautiful than Har Nof is the view from Har Nof. We face directly West and get to see the sun setting over the Jerusalem forest every night. It's breathtaking.

The Leadership Trip. The trip was phenominal. We were so lucky to get to meet, in person, Rabbi Grossman of Migdal Or. I can't imagine how anyone could be holier than this man. His humility, in the face of his outrageous degree of accomplishment, was astounding. This man began with an 18 child orphanage and now runs an entire TOWN with hundreds of thousands of kids whose parents couldn't afford to give them a good upbringing. The meeting left everybody speechless. He spoke of the miracles ("uncanny experiences" for the secular of heart) that allowed him to accomplish all he has and it really drove the point home that when you're doing the right thing, everything falls into place. You get help. But his ability to step up whenever he heard of a need was perhaps the most remarkable thing. And this theme was repeated over and over... I loved (and needed the experience of) meeting with people who were driven. They saw a need, a job, a calling, and up they got and went and got it done. No assessing the situation, no crunching numbers... they just did it. And it works out. If only we could apply this to every area of our life. Can you imagine? What kind of world this would be?

We had some more... unusual Leadership experiences. Camping out at the Shlomi Guest House. Learning to shoot handguns and Uzis at a gun range... my mother the pacifist didn't like the picture of me with the gun so here's a tamer one: me hitting the marks. But I do have to say, the pink Tshirt and headband and 12-year-old-looking-face were hilarious next to a big scary gun. But it was big and scary... my hands were trembling.

There's so much catch-up I should do, writing about Jerusalem so far, Legacy and Leadership... but instead I'm going to just try to commit to keeping this more up to date from here on. It's not really interesting anymore, what happened up to this point.

It's so difficult and fascinating to try and figure out what art means to the Torah and what Torah means to art. I said I came here to get some questions and figure out who I was and I can definitely see that happening. So. Many. Questions. I just wish I could get my hands on some artistic outlets here so that all these questions, issues, and beautiful concepts could materialize somehow.

It's great to be back in Jerusalem, in my bed, in my apartment. Omri and I had a great little date today. We went to the mall, talked ourselves silly, wandered, ate, and saw Mama Mia. Which was adorable and so much fun. Movies are such a form of therapy to me here. I never felt the need for them like I do now. I don't know if that's because I miss the States or because I'm not making any work of my own for the first time in my life. But either way, I'm finding new ways to love film which, in my eyes, is a bonus. And thank G-d for


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