Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pictures of the Apartment!

Here's my apartment on Lincoln (pronounced leen-co-leen) Street, very close to HUC and not far at all from Ben Yehuda Street (the 'it' street in town.) I really like it here-the rooms are all a nice size (except the toilet, which is tricky at times for a clausterphobic like me.) I'm finally all unpacked and settled, and after Shabbat I am going to a sunrise concert on Masada, featuring David Broza (an Israeli pop-singer), Shawn Colvin and Jackson Browne, which I am incredibly excited about. I'm sure I'll have pics of that at some point down the line. I'll write soon about our first Shabbat here, which was definitely an event to remember. Hope everyone is well and enjoy the pictures!

BTW, my Skype number is up and running, so please feel free to call anytime. The number: 314-266-1882. It's free for both of us if you call me!

Our tiny little toilet-room (is that what you call a bathroom with no place to bathe?)

Our shower and sink. Here, as in many places in Europe, the shower and sink are in a different room from the toilet.

The view of Jerusalem from my kitchen window.

My bedroom. The bed is skinnier and longer than an American twin bed, and I'm pretty convinced that one of these nights I am going to roll over and fall off. It's a pretty comfy bed, though.

Our kitchen, which is small and runs on gas appliances, which I've never worked with. When we lit the stove for the first time yesterday, I told Steph that it was nice knowing her, just in case we should blow up our own apartment.

Our living room. We are going to get new slipcovers for the couches, as these are incredibly ugly and not actually slipcovers at all.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm here!!

I arrived in J'salem safe and sound around 12:00 this afternoon. The flight wasn't bad, and I was actually able to sleep through most of it, which is a rare occurance for me. I got my luggage, passed through customs with no problems, and caught the sheirut (a shuttle into Jerusalem...for those of you who don't know, the airport is closer to Tel Aviv.)

OK, so the biggest piece of advice I can give thus far to anyone traveling alone for an extended period of time is this: make sure you can handle your own luggage by yourself. I flew Air Canada, which allowed me to check 3 pieces of luggage. At the time we ordered my plane ticket, this seemed like a fabulous idea. However, when the sheirut dropped me off today, across the street from HUC, I was hardly able to get my stinkin' luggage across the street. It literally took about 30 minutes to cross a street, and I have dirt and grime covering all of my suitcases! Pathetic.

Luckily, when I did finally cross the street, I bumped into David, a first year rabbinical student from St Louis who I've met with a few times prior to coming here. He was leaving HUC with his roomate, and they were nice enough to help me schlep my bags into the school so I could get my apartment keys. After finding out that both Helen and Nancy (2 of the women who deal with administrative stuff) were both gone, I called Stephanie, my roomate. Lo and behold, she and her mom and friend were just walking into HUC to take care of some other things. So Steph and I met and she and her family helped me schlep my stinkin' bags up to our apartment.

Now, when I say UP to our apartment, I mean UP. I guess I didn't realize how hilly this city is when I was here 3 years ago. This is a city of hills, and to get to my apartment is straight up a big one. I was a pretty sight-I had just gotten off an airplane after a 17-total-hour trip, spent an hour on an unairconditioned mini-bus with 10 other people, struggled to schelp my luggage to HUC and to my apartment, and did all of this in 90-degree temperatures. I was incredibly ugly, with sweat dripping and dirt from the roads all over me. What a way to meet your roomate and her family for the first time, not to mention important people from HUC. Oh well, I think they all liked me anyways, or at the very least did a good job pretending to like me!

The rest of the day was much, much better. I went to lunch w/ Steph and her family at a cute outdoor cafe, and then we came home to get ready to go to a birthday party for my cantorial colleague's 1-year-old daughter. I was able to meet some people from the programs, and everyone is so very nice, including my roomate and the one other cantorial student I've met so far. I didn't really know what to expect of the people; I was a little afraid they'd be pretensious or arrogant, and so far no one seems to be. I met a particularly nice couple, Brad and Claire, who Steph and I later went to dinner with at a great restaurant close to Ben Yehuda street. Some people were going to a bar afterwards, and though I was invited I was incredibly exhausted and ready to settle in a bit. Thus, here I am.

I am so excited to be here, even though it all still seems so surreal. The thought of staying here a year is both exhilarating and overwhelming-I don't know the streets or the people yet, and I'm beginning to see that life here is going to be more of a challenge than I expected. I'm ready for that challenge, however, and I know that once I get used to things I am going to absolutely love it here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Todah Rabah! (Thank you!)

Well, we’ve almost reached the 1 week mark. In a little over 1 week, I'll be leaving for Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, to begin my cantorial school career. This year has been a roller coaster of emotions and events, from the cramming of 2 years of hebrew into 5 months, to the audition at HUC, to the incredible amount of self-doubt and worry after my audition, to the pure joy and exhilaration upon opening THE letter and seeing Mazel tov! as the first sentence. Believe me when I tell you that it didn't end there, that there was the continuous worry as I waited to find out about passing my hebrew test (which I did) and also making sure I was financially able to go to Israel (which I now am.) Oh, and the packing and buying books and saying goodbye and doing everything necessary to be ready for what I'm sure will be an amazing year. There's been a lot to do and a lot to feel, but overall I am incredibly ready and excited for this journey. The dream I've had since high school is coming true, and it couldn't be happening at a better time in my life.

Though I have put in an incredible amount of work into getting ready for this next stage, there are so many other people who have worked right alongside me, making sure I'd be prepared and comfortable. I've been waiting for the right opportunity to say a public thank you, and I figure this is as good a chance as any. You all have no idea how much it means to have your love and support, and I honestly mean it when I say that I couldn't have done this without you. So, in no particular order...

~Miryam R.: Thank you for helping me cram all that Hebrew into 5 months! You believed in me from day one and I literally could not be going to HUC without your help. It was a pleasure working with you and I hope to see you soon in Haifa!
~Dave S.: I have had such an amazing time working with you for the last 1 1/2 years. Thanks for allowing me to help you with songs for Zeda's Beat Box and for making me feel like such a valuable part of your business. Keep up the good work...wherever I am cantoring in 5 years, I expect ZBB to perform for us!
~Daniel B.: In one year, you turned from "some guy I went to high school with" into my friend, mentor, confidant, and HUC guardian angel. I COULD NOT have gotten through this process without your help. Thank you for letting me ask you a million questions, always putting in a good word for me, giving your unending advice, and introducing me to your amazing family. We will have to have the PNH Pulpit one day for sure :)
~Aunt Diane: It is because of you that I got the ball rolling on my application process. Thank you for taking 2 trips to NYC with me, and for all of your help and support. You've been wonderful, and I know that Maw Maw is proud of you for carrying on her legacy so well.
~Whitney: Thank you so much for the Starbucks gift cards, the clothes from the LB outlet, and all of your support. I’d love to see you and Adam in Israel, or at least in NYC when I get there.

~The amazing clergy, staff, and congregants of Congregation Temple Israel: I am so lucky and blessed to belong to such a wonderful synagogue. Thank you for allowing me to be your cantorial soloist, Sunday School teacher, substitute teacher, camp counselor, student, choir member, etc etc etc! You've allowed me to learn and grow and make mistakes, and I am incredibly grateful to you all. I know that no matter where the road to the cantorate takes me, T.I. will always be my home and my family. I love you all very much.
~Rachel, Jane and Leah: You girls have helped me in countless ways to get to where I am, from coming to voice recitals at MU to proofreading application essays and allowing me to vent away my stresses and anxieties about this process. I am so lucky to have you all as best friends, and I expect to see all of you in Israel at some point this year!
~Dad: Thanks for always believing in me, even when I didn't believe in myself. You have no idea how much it helps. I love you.
~Adam: Thanks for putting up with me, even when my "divatude" became too much to bear. I will miss you so much, and I hope you have a chance to come and visit sometime this year. Thanks also for getting me technologically ready for this year; I am glad we'll be able to make our silly faces to each other via webcam. Take good care of mom and keep up the great work at Mizzou.
~Mom: You are my #1 fan and the best PR rep I could ask for. Thanks for the encouragement, faith, and love through the years. I love you and I know you’ll be okay this year.

OK, I promise that from here on out my posts will not be this sappy, but I wanted to get thanks out to everyone who deserves them. Thanks for reading, and please keep in touch with me this year!