Hi everyone! Sorry to leave you hanging this week--it's been a crazy busy week and there's a lot to talk about. I think for the sake of your eyeballs and interest I will divide this post into 2, one post written here and another written tomorrow.
This past Saturday, I was supposed to wake up early and go to services at HUC. Well, after being out late on Friday night, celebrating a fun shabbat with friends, I accidentally overslept and missed services. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I later found out that Rabbi Shook was attending services there, and because I overslept, I missed seeing him. I was bummed, but what can you do? Anyways, I had a lazy Saturday and then went to a lovely Havdalah in Independence Park, followed by my first ever night at the movies in Israel. I went with a few people to see Hairspray, and it was SO CUTE. Going to the movies here is only slightly different than in the states; there are assigned seats, which is strange to get used to but not terrible, and there is a hafsaka, an intermission/smoke break in the middle of the movie. That's the strangest thing of all, especially when you're seeing a musical and they stop the movie mid-song. But, as I said, I loved the movie and it was fabulous to sit in the air-conditioned theatre and just relax in preparation for the busy week ahead.
Sunday started out as usual, with ulpan. After ulpan, we had our weekly "My Israel" lecture series, where a native Israeli (usually a student in HUC's Israeli Rabbinic program) speaks about his/her life in Israel. This week we had a speaker who was not only a student in the IRP, but is also a colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF.) He gave a very passionate presentation about why the Army is so important to him and many of the Israeli citizens, and showed us a movie about the Holocaust. Apparently, the leaders of several countries in the world knew EXACTLY what was happening to the Jews, and no one, including the US government, did anything to help. The movie was obviously a little biased, but infuriating to many of us. I won't go into my personal opinions now, mostly because I'm still processing my reaction and determining whether I think some of the information is really true, but it definitely made me appreciate the IDF for protecting Israel for all the Jews throughout Israel and the Diaspora.
Monday was another busy day, with ulpan and HHD choir. I finally bit the bullet in choir and sang for all of the cantorial students. We were working on Janowski's Avinu Malkenu and I volunteered to sing the solo. It's one of everyone's favorite pieces of Jewish music, and a solo I've known for a long time (though it's by no means easy to pull off well.) I was incredibly nervous to sing for everyone, as I've had some vocal issues as of late, but I needed to just go ahead and do it already. It wasn't perfect, but at least I did it and the terror of singing for everyone for the first time is over. After choir I met some friends to study for our hebrew test that was this past Wednesday, and then went to dinner and then finally came home for the night. It was a good, but exhausting, day.
Tuesday was the longest day I've had since I've been here. We started with ulpan, which was fine, but instead of having our full 3 sessions, we took the last 2 hours to watch an amazing Israeli movie, Casablan. It was the first musical ever written in Israel, and the quality of the music/acting/costumes/scenery/content was TERRIBLE, but that's what made it so good. It was basically a combination of every musical I've ever seen, with bad dance moves and hairstyles. I loved it! After the movie we had our first real music theory class. The professor spent half the class giving us ear-training exercises to help us find the fixed do more easily and to force our ears to memorize where middle C is. We then did some written theory work, which at the time was mostly review for me. After theory I came home for awhile, and then met up with some people for a program at the Israel Museum.
As part of our weekly Jerusalem Days program (the "field trips" we take every Thursday), we usually have text study the night before to prepare us for the day. This week, they decided we would meet at the museum rather than have an actual text study. The Israel Museum is a neat place, where you can see a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls (one of the latest and greatest discoveries in Jewish history--Google it) and a very large and detailed model of Jerusalem in the 2nd Temple Period. I wish our tour wasn't after a long day; by this point all I could think about was partaking in the Israel Wine Festival that was happening in a garden at the museum, only a few yards away from where we were doing text study. After the study, I did indeed partake in the Wine Festival, which was very fun. I sampled quite a few wines and was in quite a happy state of mind when I accidentally stole a piece of delicious handmade chocolate (I thought it was a sample---it wasn't.) We laughed about it a lot and I did buy a few pieces from the girl who was selling it, so I don't feel too bad. The Wine Festival was great; we had the opportunity to relax and unwind after a crazy day and a long tour/text study, though I really should have spent the time studying for Wednesday's hebrew test. Big mistake, though well worth it.
Stay tuned for This Week in Review Part Two, which will hopefully be written tomorrow afternoon. It's very late (about 2:30am), so I am going to close here. Lilah tov and love to all!