Thursday, October 11, 2007

School Is Hard...

Independence Hall, in which the Israeli Declaration of Independence was signed in 1948.

Hi everybody. It's been a long week. Tracy is tired. Very, very tired.

It's been my first week of all of my classes. We've actually experienced what our "real" schedule is like this week, and while I'm learning a ton of interesting and important things, I'm also completely exhausted and ready for a relaxing Shabbat. I think the biggest thing I've learned this week is that time management and prioritizing are the biggest keys to a successful year (or 5) here. Those of you who know me well know that I suffer from the nasty little virus called procrastination, and I'm realizing that it is NOT going to work here at HUC. I've been working hard all week, trying to fill in the little gaps of time in my schedule with reading or singing, but I still feel as though the mountains of things on my to-do list just keep growing and growing. If anyone has any tips on time management, please let me know...I'll need them this year.

One of the highlights of my week was our trip on Wednesday to Tel Aviv. We went to Independence Hall, where David Ben Gurion officially declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. I'd been to Independence Hall before when I was here on Birthright, and I was happy to once again hear the tape of the actual event at the end of our program. When you listen to the tape, you can hear the voices of Ben Gurion and other Zionist leaders actually declaring Israel a state, followed by an orchestra playing Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem. Every time I hear this tape I get chills, just thinking about the various struggles of the various people/groups involved with making Israel a state. Listening to Hatikvah in the very room where the declaration was signed almost 60 years ago reminds me of just how lucky we are as Jews to have the State of Israel in our lives.

David Ben Gurion's seat at Independence Hall, right next to a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

After a great lunch stop on Shenkin Street (the 'it' street in Tel Aviv, with the best sushi restaurant EVER) we headed off to the Palmach Museum. The Palmach were one of the forces of the Haganah, a pre-state Israeli underground military organization. The museum is a very cool place; it consists of 12 rooms that you follow in a certain pattern in order to trace the stories of 8 (I think) Palmach fighters. There are cool audio/visual presentations that allow you to see the soldiers along the way and hear them telling their stories. It was definitely different, and though their story does not end well, it was an interesting way to learn about an important part of Israeli Military culture. We then hopped back on the bus to sit in Tel Aviv's traffic before returning to Jerusalem. Overall an interesting, albeit slightly (I'm not a history buff...) boring day.

In other exciting news, I've officially turned in my contract to participate in HUC's annual Pesach Project in the Former Solviet Union. In April, a bunch of my classmates and I will be going to the FSU (most likely Russia or the Ukraine) to lead Passover Seders and teach the small Jewish communities about Pesach. Though I'm nervous about leading my first-ever Passover Seder, I'm so excited to have this opportunity to travel in the FSU and to work with the Jewish communities there, however small they may be.

Anyways, I am off to Shabbat dinner hosted by my friends PJ, David and Tami. Hope everyone is well and I am missing and loving all of you! Shabbat shalom!

Cool picture of the Old City at night, courtesy of my fellow classmate Josh.

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