Today I overslept...again. I was supposed to be meeting my intern, Dan, for coffee/breakfast this morning at a nearby coffee shop, and he called me 10 minutes after we were supposed to meet, waking me from my slumbers and wondering where I was. The other day, I was supposed to wake up for Shabbat morning services and once again, overslept. I don't understand this...very rarely did I ever oversleep at home. I'm just going to blame it on jetlag.
Anyways, when I'm not oversleeping I am having an amazing time here. The city opens itself up to me a little more everyday as I become braver about exploring new things. Sunday night I discovered Ben Yehuda street, the 'it' street in Jerusalem. It's very fun, with lots of cafes, bars, dance clubs, and cute shops selling everything from Dead Sea products to fresh flowers. It's also crowded all the time, which makes it the perfect place for people watching. Yesterday, I explored Ben Yehuda and the surrounding areas on my own, and had a great afternoon munching on falafel and watching the many kinds of people that occupy this city. I've also had a chance to tour HUC, which is bigger and much more beautiful than I expected it to be. Last night we went to a concert at the Old Train Station, which is a defunct train station turned concert venue. By venturing out a little more, I'm beginning to see how everything connects here, how things aren't really as far away as I thought they were. It's a nice thing to realize after the initial period of complete overwhelm.
The thing about Israelis that continuously strikes me is their sense of true ruach v'chayim (spirit and life.) Israelis are known to some Americans as being pushy, rude, loud, etc etc etc, and many times they can be. However, when you think about it differently, you realize just how spirited they are. They live in the moment, with no time to wait or dawdle, and they realize just how short and precious life is. It's really a very beautiful thing. My favorite example of this comes from seeing 2 performances by Israeli musicians. The first was David Broza, an incredible singer/songwriter and guitar player, and the second was Hadag Nachash, an Israeli rap group. Not only did the performers sing/play with an incredible amount of gusto, but the audiences were so alive. At the Broza concert, people were singing along, loud and proud, without any regard to who might be around them. At Hadag Nachash, the audience clamored and pushed to get up to the front of the stage, and once they did they danced and cheered like no audience I've seen before. It did get a little obnoxious to me, both times, but every time I opened my mouth to complain, I realized just how obnoxious it really wasn't. Israelis live their lives in fear, knowing that any day something could happen that could change their lives forever. When they do have a chance to let loose, they take full advantage of it. Is there a more beautiful way to relax and celebrate life than by singing out loud at a sunrise David Broza concert on Masada? I think not.
This ruach is prevalent throughout this country, in all different aspects of life. One of my goals for myself this year is to soak up as much of it as I possibly can. It does definitely change my perception of many of the little things that can bother people who visit here (rude cab drivers, cars on the road that don't stop for you when you want to cross the street, people that butt in line at the falafel stand, etc.) Israeli's just do their thing--they don't try to purposefully make our lives more difficult.
I am now stepping off the soapbox. Thank you for your attention.