Friday, April 25, 2008

Where Have I Been? Vacation, Yam l'Yam, Passover, City of David

ok so heres the deal. I have been sufficiently negligent in my updating to warrant a post that is made up of pictures. You know pictures=1000 words and I am for sure a few thousand behind soo without further ado here is : Pesach Vacation, My טיול ים לים trip aka Sea to Sea Hike, Passover, City of David trip, and trip to Ramle and Rehovot to meet the Ethiopian Jewish community.... Next Update will be on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), and Yom HaAtzma'ut (Independence Day)

Pictures from the Yam l'Yam hike (Sea to Sea [Med. Sea to the Kinneret/Galilee])
Katyusha rockets
2 rocket strike sites (roof with tarp, hole in front of building), and bus station/rocket shelters
Visiting Sderot, looks outs on gaza, sderot, food distribution,
Pictures from my hike in the Yehudiya Nature Reserve
My trip to the City of David with my archeology class: the Arab neighborhood Silwan
A traditional Ethiopian food - yes, thats actually popcorn.
Taking part in a Buna, traditional coffee ceremony.
Being shown an Ethiopian musical instrument at the community center in Ramle.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

After a fun Shabbat in Herzliya with a friend from school in the states, now attending the IDC, I came home, found a few emails, facebook messages, and voice-mails from my parents, thought it could wait, and went to bed. In the morning I went about my business: class, lunch with my roommate, and then called my parents on skype. I made a few jokes about my having gotten on a bus from Bnei Brak full of ultra-orthodox Jews after Shabbat in my shorts, tshirt, and ipod and the hilarity/lack thereof that ensued. My mom laughed and my dad stayed a bit quiet. A moment of silence. "We have some bad news..." I knew what was coming. " Yesterday Papou [Greek: grandpa] passed away" With that they broke into tears and I sat there stunned despite it not being a total surprise. After a few minutes of shock I too broke down. Not that I have so much experience, thank Gd, but it was some of the most awkward crying I've done. I can see and hear my parents right in front of me but no one can reach out to anyone else for a hug. Anyway, after a few minutes we got off the phone so I could have a few minutes to myself. I davened a tough mincha then spoke again with my father on the phone.
My grandfather had been hospitalized a while ago and had been back and forth between better and worse. My father went to Greece for about a week and a half and my grandfather had been doing better at that point. Whatever, it wasn't such a good day. Thank Gd, he was pretty healthy for a man in his mid-80s who lived through things that really help you put things in perspective. I was also lucky to have a pretty good relationship with him given that my Greek isn't what it could be. Two summers ago we sat down with my grandfather and videotaped him telling his life's story. That was amazing and I hope to add subtitles to the cd my father made of it. My grandfather was born when Greece had a king, lived through a Greek dictator, Greek civil war, Nazi occupation, and a split between fascist and communist parties (not necessarily in that order). He grew up on an island in southern Greece, didnt finish high school (and im not sure if he went at all), left home at 17 to do physical work in Athens, came back to the island a few years later,married my grandmother, moved back to Athens, bought land, built a house, and raised a family. I do wish I'd been able to communicate a bit better though I am really happy that I got to know him in the way I did, and was fortunate to be able to visit him so often. I hope that his memory will be a blessing and inspiration to our family to model our lives after the many good and respectable things that were part of his life. I hope I'll be able to learn from how he worked through challenges and, at the end of the day, sit with my grandchildren and tell them the things I learned from him, and maybe even a little bit I'll put together on my own. Here's to the man who sat at lunch and hit his (once) big belly for me, for the man who taught me to swat flies and then helped me graduate to wasps, to a man who rocked old aviators, walked with his hands behind his back, gave up smoking, enjoyed a good cucumber, tomato, or melon at the end of the day, talked to me with his teeth in or out, often communicated wordlessly with faces and shrugs, and never let us leave the island at the end of the summer without tears in our eyes or his. Love you and miss you Papou!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Skipping the Turkey, Winter Break, and Yeshiva

So I am going to go ahead and skip weeks and weeks of the end of my last semester recall it now would be wasting time with things I don’t remember and using space I could use for more recent developments. Forgive my skipping two or three Shabbats, Thanksgiving, finals, Chanukka, leaving for the US, my Hasidic plane buddy on the way back, and my month there including new year’s, my cousin’s wedding, Dallas, and more. since toBasically I spent a month at home. It was really nice to spend so much time with my family and a but of time with my friends many of whom I haven’t seen in over five months. Long story short I’m back.

Leaving to come back here was a bit hard. I really enjoyed how much time I spent with my family, especially my parents (and I would have also like to spend more time with my sister). That said I became very excited to come back a few days before I left. I also hit a day or two when I was sad about it and the airport was harאd but that’s how things are.

So guess what? My ‘uncle’ here made my flight arrangements and wasn’t thinking about my Shabbat plans (i.e. wanting to be at my Shabbat location before Shabbat) and so my flight left Thursday at 9:30 (was supposed to leave at 9:10) and though it was supposed to get in at 2:10 got in closer to 2:30. I got out of the airport around 3:10. Candle lighting was 4:30. No problem right? It would’ve been no problem but my sherut (communal taxi) driver was a real character. I find this guy whos going to Jerusalem, and get in the sherut. We’re sitting there waiting for it to fill up with seven people. Finally its full and I go to tell the driver who is waiting and smoking a cigarette. He tells me its not full despite my just having been in the sherut. I go back in. He comes with two people and realizes I was right. He then runs around for a few minutes, when I go after him to see if we can leave he says something about waiting for a receipt. OK, we get on the road. What can I do to make it faster? Nothing, certainly not worry. So I call a few people to announce my return, including B – my friend in the army, haven’t mentioned him for a while, well he finally was inducted and is about 9 weeks into basic training of about 13 and doing well. I take in the scenery and remember how awesome this place is. Green fields, brown hills, red-roofed towns, a blue sky (at least the day I came in), and sun. Well the driver proceeds to drop off all the people who don’t care one way or another about making it for Shabbat first despite there being three people in the sherut who are clearly religious. When I ask him when he’ll be dropping me off he responds only by asking me “ata ortodoxi or reformi?” - are you Orthordox or Reform – “What? I’m religious” I respond. “So am I” he says, though – without getting into an argument of what it is to be religious- ill tell you he was at the very least not concerned about getting anywhere for Shabbat. As I debated whether to get out and hail a cab I got free advice from other passengers about my chances of getting in on time, how one measures the time that Shabbat comes in, offers that my ‘sins’ will be on someone else’s head, and comments from the driver on how he had several good passengers that day and some bad ones though he promised not to name names. How nice of him.

Well I got dropped off at five to five which was possibly cutting it close. However just to make sure things went well I got to run up and down the street I needed to be on trying to understand how the house I was looking for, #16, could exist when the houses stopped at #14. I took out my phone – which I maybe shouldn’t have been using at that point with a kipa on my head – and called my cousin – no answer, of course. I take out the piece of paper with the address on it, Oh, its actually #14. I ‘run’ to it dragging two suitcases, a backpack, and a laptop, and sweating in my too-warm-for-Israel winter coat. I pound on the door and after another minute of sweating am let in. Blah blah blah Shabbat was ok though I could have gone without waking up at 4:30 and then getting up 6:30 because of my jetlag. On the other hand reading People magazine, a family favorite, for a few hours before shul was good. The rest of the day was nice and right after shabbat I drove back with family friends to Efrat, went to bed, and the next day got up at 6:30 to start my month at Yeshivat Hamivtar...

Next Enrty - My Big Fat First-Week-in-Yeshiva...stay tuned for what happens when I decide to live in a small place with little else to do but read Jewish stuff...