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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