Thursday, July 19, 2007

Filling in the Gaps

This week has been the first real week of my grad/cantorial school career. Besides starting ulpan on Sunday, we've had our first High Holy Day choir rehearsal on Monday and our first day of music theory on Tuesday. We also took our first tiyul (trip) as a class today.

Many of you have been asking me about how the ulpan situation worked out. I went to the aleph class yesterday, which was mostly review. However, it was review of verb conjugation in forms other than pa'al (the simplest form), which is exactly what I need to be reviewing. I think I'm going to stay in the Aleph class until I feel comfy with my verbs, and then switch back to Bet. It's still far too early to tell for sure, but I do feel better about the whole situation. We also spent half of the class time at an old cafe/bookstore near Ben Yehuda, reading the menu and ordering in hebrew and then discussing the homework over coffee and sandwiches. It was just a fun and different way to have class.

The High Holy Day choir is going to be a lot of fun. It's directed by a great professor who is very dramatic and funny. He's quite the character, but he seems to know a lot about what the composers wanted the music to sound like, and he's excellent with helping us connect to the text. As of now, the choir consists of the 5 cantorial students (all women), one tenor and one baritone. Because all 5 of us are sopranos we needed to divide up, and I was asked to sing the alto part. I was a little opposed to the idea at first, but I have to say that I really enjoyed singing the part. I've been active in TI's HHD choir for the past 4 years and always sang the soprano part (which I love), but this is a refreshing change and challenge for me. I also think it will help me if I ever need to direct a HHD a choir director, knowing the parts is always beneficial to both you and your singers. We also learned that all of the cantorial students get the solos in the music, and though I don't know which pieces I'll be singing, I'm excited and honored to have the opportunity.

Our tiyul today was very beautiful and interesting. We started at the Hass Promenade, known to locals as the Tayelet. The Tayelet is a beautiful promenade that overlooks all of Jerusalem, including the Old City. We had morning t'fillah and some text study about King David at a park-like area before hiking around the promenade. Now, I've clearly never been one for hiking or outdoorsy-type things, but I have to say I really enjoy this mostly downhill walk with the beautiful views of Jerusalem and Professor/Rabbi Moshe Silbershein. He put together a booklet of texts from Torah and Mishnah that we'll use on all of our tiyulim (the plural form of tiyul, or trip), so I'm really excited to be studying with him.

After the Tayelet we ventured by bus to Ir David (the city of David), where King David is said to have built his original kingdom. We were a little rushed for time, but we did enjoy a very cheesy 3D movie of the history of Ir David before schlepping down a lot of steps to visit Hezekiah's Tunnel. Hezekiah built the tunnel before the destruction of the 1st temple around 586BC to make sure he and his troops had enough water to last them through the war. The tunnel still has water in it, so as you go through you're basically wading through waist-high water. Being the claustrophobic that I am I chose not to go into the tunnels, which I do not regret a bit. Thank goodness Steph is also claustrophobic, so I wasn't alone! Steph and I decided to go home after schlepping back up the steps to the entrance. I was slightly disappointed to miss walking home through the Old City, but we were both exhausted, sweaty, and grouchy from schlepping up all those steps (I'm not kidding, there were hundreds of steps at this place!)

I think the biggest benefit of this trip to me was figuring out exactly where everything in the Torah actually happened. Moshe was great about stopping and pointing out things like Mount Moriah (where the Old City is, the Golden Dome specifically) and the Mount of Olives. I feel like after today I have a much better sense of the Biblical significance of Jerusalem and why it's important to history and especially to the Jewish people. Here's some pictures of the amazing views and scenery.

The view from the mid-way point on the Promenade

The view of Jerusalem from the Tayelet. This was our view from where we prayed our morning t'fillah. Cool, huh?

The white stone houses of Jerusalem

That's pretty much been my week this week. It's been a little stressful and frustrating at times, but I think everything is working out for the best. My goal for next week is to find a voice teacher---I need to start working on those solos and fixing my vocal technique that has been ignored the last year or so. I'm excited to be studying voice and to be singing on a regular basis's been too long since I've done that and I've missed it tremendously.

BTW, if you ever come to J'lem and want some delicious kosher Chinese food, we found an amazing place tonight. Probably the best Chinese food I've had in a very long time, with really good service (getting good food AND good service is very rare in this country--it's usually one or the other.) Just another delight to lure you to Jerusalem to visit me :)


Anonymous said...

I forgot about how everything in Jerusalem is white! I still want to come that you're there when you get some time will you email me if there's any good dates? Love you and miss you!


Claire said...

oh the tunnels of hezekiah...I don't consider myself claustrophobic...but I did get a little creeped out when I went through there...

That and I was wearing jeans cause no one told us how deep it is, and ended up in drenched denim practically up to my waste...WHOOPPEEE!