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,