Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yom HaRishon - The First Day: Thoughts on Israel travel, Israir, and being back in Ha'aretz

Wow, there is something about the communal kvetching, multiple minyanim and ease with which i get into a conversation about Israel's political future with the person next to me. Chassidic families, secular couples, children, the elderly, yiddish, english, hebrew, black and white Eastern Europe, and trendy aviators above sleeveless shirts is a partial cross section of Israeli society that you can find just on the plane.
The only unfortunate thing about noticing all the people around was the absence of the unaffiliated and largely uninterested Jew. Talking to a friend at my going-away-gathering last night I was really having a hard time understanding the disinterest. I mean you can have a free 10 day trip to Israel. FREE. I would go to Syria for free. What's to lose?

In other news my flight was two hours late in leaving. This was made somewhat less annoying by the free orange slippers I received. Also my fat carry-on had to be unpacked and repacked several times while I was told that I'd have to check it but hamdu lillah I made it onto the plane. As usual I enjoyed the mini interrogation provided to me by a young accented Israeli security guard.

Got out of the airport met my cousin, took a sherut (communal taxi) back to Jerusalem. Dropped the bags off at the apartment where my cousin is staying. Had BURGERS BAR dinner followed by some sorbet. As much as I wanted to make it to campus today to leave my stuff it didnt work out. So tomorrow first thing Im there to register, sign in, move in, shop, etc. As usual I've got the feelings of oh my Gd i bet everyone is meeting and having a blast without me, might my year be ruined?. normal. My enormous popularity has resulted in three different groups signing me up for their dorms (truth: two groups and one that I was assigned to by the school). Either way it seems I'll get my wish of staying in the Kfar HaStudentim (Student Village - the new dorm complex with individual bedrooms, 5 to an apartment.) everyone has been assigned there.

I've noticed something, at least so far, that seems different about this trip. On previous trips I've had this feeling of being really awash in excitement from the moment I land and for the first time I'm driving through the country and coming into Jerusalem. This time it was somewhat absent. It feels like I haven't left. Like this is an extension of my last visit. In someways thats dissapointing - who doesn't want to feel tingling and hyper. On the other hand, it means I've come to know Israel that much differently. Like its beginning to normalize and become real to me. Like you have to get over puppy love to build a real relationship (which is ultimately more fulfilling that constant butterflies in your stomach) so I need to get over the first feelings to know Israel on a different level. What a nuts year this is going to be.

That's all for tonight.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pre-Departure Introduction

Test Post. ya heard? this is not even my real first post.

Had some of my friends over last night for the send-off BBQ. I must say I'm sorry I wasn't able to spend more quality time with a few people.

As for my upcoming travels...I'm beyond excited. As I've mentioned to a some of you. I think the excitement comes from the opportunities that are coming that encompass nearly every aspect of my life. I have a year coming up that is going to offer incredible experiences for personal growth and exploration socially, academically, religiously, professionally, and so on.

I'm lucky enough to know a few people on the program from school as well as a collection of other contacts from a variety of places including people I met at ulpan, volunteering trips, people living here, working here for the year, and serving in the army. That said I have no doubt that the hardest part of this year will be being away from my family with whom I am so close. I'll appreciate all the love, comments, and emails that you might be able to spare me.

The blog will be an interesting balance. In addition to having to make time for it I'm going to have to keep in mind my audience. I'm writing for family, friends, teachers, classmates, rabbis, guys, girls, the possible unknown googler, and occasional extremist. As such I'm going to keep the content rated PG-13 or so and edit myself and others to limit certain information.

I can't tell you how excited I am for this year and I hope I can transfer some of that to you.

Johnny Kosher