Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hospital Haikus by Tracy and Nicole

Nicole and I had an amazing adventure today at the E.R. of Hadassah Ein Kerem, one of the hospitals in Jerusalem. Nicole has had some health issues as of late, and thank goodness, after 12 hours, many stab wounds (AKA blood tests), cute male nurses and several vending machine trips, Nicole was pronounced okay. To pass the time, Nicole and I composed the story of our day in the form of an extended haiku. I hope you enjoy this style of storytelling as it tells you about our wonderful day in the Israeli E.R.

Nicole can not breathe
Gets dizzy sometimes also
Went to hospital

Nahag hamoneet (the taxi driver)
Told us how to live good lives
As we exited

Needle in her arm
Nicole is getting restless
Take the needle out!

Cute male nurse in scrubs
Talking to us in "Heb-lish"
Helps us to stay sane

Cord says "Pull for help"
On the chilly bathroom door
What if I pull it?

City of David
Outside the hospital walls
Looks pretty from here

Things take a long time
Waiting for Dr Mazal
Come tell us the news!

Vending machines here
Sell Dubonim and drinks (Dubonim=little bear shaped potato-chip like things)
Pay with credit cards (you can actually buy a coke from the machine with a credit card!)

Waiting room is cold
AC blowing all the time
We need our sweatshirts

Tired and hungry
Kids in waiting room are NUTS
Somebody save us!

Nancy is the best
The woman in charge of us
Checked in all day long.

School to reimburse
All the crap we ate today
This is quite the life

No homework was done
Hebrew, Bible or Grammar
Yossi will be mad (Yossi=both Nicole's and my Biblical Grammar teacher, who will not be mad in the slightest)

Perambulation!
A taste of the world to come
No so dizzy now

Dr Mazal rocks!
She treated Nicole with care
Tov! Ezeh Mazal! (Good! What luck!)

See how much good you can accomplish in 12 hours? :-D

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Purim in Jerusalem!

Purim has always been my favorite Jewish holiday. Purim is the holiday that celebrates the Jewish victory over Haman in Persia, as recorded in the Book of Esther. For those of you who don't know, Purim is typically celebrated by reading the entire Book of Esther (in a special chant, which I now know!) in a fun, celebratory service with lots of noise, songs, and skits, followed by the eating of hamantashen (triangle-shaped cookies with fruit or chocolate filling) and, usually, some sort of drunken debauchery. It's not a very spiritual holiday, as the Megillah does not mention Gd's name even once, and it really doesn't force you to look deep into your soul for any reason; it's all about fun, drinking, and celebrating, especially here in Jerusalem. Never in my life have I seen Purim like I did in the J'lem--everyone gets into the spirit, with costumes and costume stores EVERYWHERE, decorations in shops and restaurants, hamantashen in every bakery and grocery store window, and sales on liquor in every makolet and liquor store in town. For the entire weekend, there we saw dozens of little kids in typical Halloween costumes; brides, Superman/Batman, animals, almost anything you can imagine.

This past Thursday night, HUC had it's annual Purim Schpiel. Acting in the spirit of the kids throughout Jerusalem, everyone at HUC--students AND faculty--dressed for the occasion. After much deliberation in 2 crowded costume shops downtown, I finally decided that I would be a clown. I had an amazing blue wig, a face full of clown make-up that Steph artfully applied for me, a bright yellow fake tie, and a red nose that squeaked whenever you squeezed it (which I used during the Megillah reading, whenever Haman's name was mentioned.) Steph dressed up as Chen, our Hebrew teacher, who dresses like a punk even though she's in her 30's and the mother of 2 children. We had all kinds of costumes at the Megillah reading; a bunch of HUC faculty members, 2 clowns, a few Queen Esthers and Vashtis, some Ultra-Orthodox Jews, etc. It was pretty great to see the lengths some of our classmates went to to find creative and unique costumes.
Chen and I, right before we left for the Purim Schpiel.


The HUC community and our guests, enjoying a funny moments during the Schpiel.

The Schpiel itself was actually very fun. I expected it to be long and kind of boring, because we read much more of the Megillah than I am normally used to, so I was very happy that it was fun and very festive. It started off with a fun Motown-style Ma'ariv (evening) service, with prayers based on tunes of the Temptations, Tina Turner, and other Motown faves, followed by the reading of the Megillah. All of the Cantorial students were involved with the reading, as well as some rabbinical students, Eli and Tamar, and we all did a really great job (if I do say so myself.) The class was very rowdy with their cheers and boos (it's customary to cheer for the heroes of the story, and to boo for Haman, the villain) and cheered for each of us when we were done with our readings.

The organizers of the Purim Schpiel: Paul (AKA Al Sharpton), Elana, Aimee, Greg, and PJ (AKA Diana Ross)

Reading the Megillah, with PJ, Eli, and Tamar by my side. It was actually very, very fun, even though I was incredibly nervous (thank goodness you can't see my hands shaking in the picture, because they sure were!)

After the Schpiel, we had a bagel dinner and our 2nd beit cafe of the year. We had a lot of hysterical acts, many making fun of the faculty, our classmates, the HUC administration at large, and other things. It was a lot of fun and a great way to relieve some of the stresses of the week--I can't tell you how nice it was to relax, drink some wine, laugh, and enjoy my classmates after one of the longest weeks of school so far!


5 very relieved cantorial students enjoying the Beit Cafe after the Megillah Reading. According to Michelle, this we are "Cute 5000!" From left to right: Julia, me, Vicky, Elana, and Michelle.

I left HUC a bit early to meet my friend Greg at a nearby bar. Greg and I met in January 2004 on our Birthright Israel trip and it was so great to reunite in Jerusalem, not even a mile from the hotel where we stayed. In this program, especially this year, it is so rare to see or hang out with anyone NOT in the HUC community, so it was awesome to get out of the bubble and enjoy some time without the company of HUC'ers.

Greg and I at Capricorn, the karaoke bar where we hung out. Yep--I wore my costume to the bar, cause that's people do in this crazy city do.

Since we had a long weekend, I decided to take a day off on Saturday and go to Tel Aviv for the day (normally my Saturday is full of homework.) Instead of worrying about Biblical Grammar or the service I had to sing on Monday, I spent 7 hours eating lunch at Mike's Place and laying on the beach working on my new summertime tan with some good friends. I took a morning sheirut with Julia and Michelle, and we met up with Ariel and our Tel Aviv friends. It was the PERFECT day--so relaxing after a crazy week, and very well-deserved.

So that was my Purim--fun, relaxing, and memorable. I am looking forward to many more fun Purim celebrations during the next 4 years, and many more to follow when I'm a real cantor! Hope your Purim/Easter celebration was as fun as mine!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lots to Say About the Desert!

A few weeks ago, our class took it's 3rd and final tiyul to the Negev, the desert region in the Southern part of Israel. As we were gearing up to leave Jerusalem, I was becoming more and more worried about this tiyul; we were told it would be 4 days of hiking, sweating, schlepping through the desert, and constantly being around our classmates. For the most part, what we were told was correct; we hiked, we schvitzed, we schlepped, and we were around our classmates ALL THE TIME. However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by much of the trip. The scenery was beautiful, the sites were amazing, the ice cream was delicious (we stopped twice at a store located on Kibbutz Yotvata, which is known for making the best dairy products in Israel), and the weather was a wonderful change from the cold Jerusalem air. There is such peace in the desert air; you literally hear nothing except the sounds of the few animals who live there. Overall, it was a great tiyul, and I'm glad that I didn't punk out like I was tempted to.

Our first stop was in Sde Boker, where David Ben Gurion spent the last years of his life. He is buried there, so we were able to pay our respects and learn a little about the last few years of his life. Sde Boker also overlooks Maktesh Ramon, a huge natural crater that we later hiked across. It was a beautiful site and a great way to spend our first few hours outside of J'lem.

Soldiers raising the flag near Ben Gurion's grave


The grave of David Ben Gurion. His wife, Paula, is buried to the left of him. One of the interesting things about headstones in Israel is that there are up to 3 dates on a headstone: the date you were born, the date you died, and the date you made Aliyah (moved to Israel.) Ben Gurion immigrated to Israel from Poland in 1906.


Julia, Steph and I waiting for the bus to lunch. All 3 of us were a litttle doped up on Israeli Dramamine (which is MUCH stronger than it's American counterpart), but nonetheless we still enjoyed ourselves.

After Sde Boker, we went further into Maktesh Ramon to have lunch and Mincha services. We were all pleasantly surprised by 3 drummers who were playing by our lunch spot; while they weren't there specifically for us, they kindly played an encore just for us, and allowed us to take pictures and videos of them. The views of the crater were incredible and with the added element of the drumming, we had a great time eating and praying there. Dana, one of our guides, told us the story and history of the crater before we made our way down to schlep across it.

Maktesh Ramon, the huge crater that we hiked through, from the site where we stopped to have lunch and Mincha (afternoon) services.


The drummers who surprised us at our lunchspot. This is SO Israeli; you never know what you'll see or who you'll find in any given place. Nancy, the dean of students who accompanied us on the trip, assured us that she knew nothing about the drummers being at the site.

One of the most interesting things about hiking in Israel, in my opinion, is how they rate the difficulty of the hike. An "easy" or "family" hike in Israel is probably the equivalent to a "moderate" or "hard" hike in America (granted I never hike in America, so it's possible that I pulled that out of nowhere.) Basically, I've learned never to believe anyone who says a hike is easy, because it never is. The crater that we hiked across had cliffs, lots of rocks, uneven ground, lots of climbing, etc. It was not a fun experience, and as always, I finished the hike sweaty, grunting, swearing, and questioning (out loud, to myself and whoever else could hear me,) "People hike for fun? What the hell are they thinking???" But, as Nancy kept telling me, the sites were pretty and hiking is really the only way to truly experience life in the desert. Whatever.

One of the prettiest sites on our hike; a mountain made of layers of sandstone and limestone.

After our hike, some water and some snackage, we drove to Kibbutz Yahel, the first Reform Kibbutz in Israel. Yahel is beautiful, very green (despite being in the desert) and open, with spacious guest cabins. I shared a cabin with friends Nicole, Elana, and Lea, and we had our own hammock (heaven!), cable TV with better channels than what we pay for in J'lem, and a shower with plenty of hot water. Kibbutz Yahel is also know for it's "Pomelos for Peace" program, where it shares it's pomelo (a citrus fruit that is similar to a grapefruit, with a thicker rind and sweeter taste) crop with it's Jordanian neighbors who border them. In it's own way, Yahel has been a part of the peace process with Jordan, which it is very proud to have done. Ron Goldstein, known as "The Pomelo Man" of Kibbutz Yahel, gave us a short talk about the program and demonstrated the correct way to cut and eat a pomelo. He also gave us samples and whole pomelos to take back to our rooms, which was clearly the best part of the demonstration. After settling in our rooms a bit and a group dinner, we retreated to the lounge area where we spent the rest of the night drinking wine and singing kareoke. It was a very fun way to wrap up a crazy long day.


The Pomelo Man holding his pomelo while talking to us about his favorite fruit in the world

The next day we woke up early to go on our choice of hiking adventures. There were harder options, which many of my classmates chose, but I happily chose the "non-hiking" adventure and went to Timna Park with Nancy and about a dozen of my classmates. The park was incredible; there were so many beautiful rock formations! While we were told there would be no hiking, most of us chose to do a little to get up close and personal with the formations we looked at from afar. I was climbing up and down natural "ladders", shimmying through holes smaller than me, and climbing up millions of steps--and I kind of liked it! It was worthwhile to get to see and experience the desert in this way, and our group was so patient and supportive and fun that it made it an experience to remember.


The "Sphynx" or the "Lion", depending on which way you look at it.


One of the rock formations we climbed through--if you look closely in the middle, you can see the ladder we had to climb to get to the other side of the hole, where there were more ladders awaiting us to get back to this spot in the park.


Our group, which we lovingly named "The Good Times Gang" after deciding that our original name, "The Lazy Man's Group" was too negative.

After our tour, we had a quick falafel lunch before PJ and I decided we needed to ride camels before we left Israel. My Birthright trip in 2004 did not include a camel ride, so I was excited to try it. It was perhaps the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. My camel, Brownie, did not like me so much. She kept bucking and reaching her head back to bite me. In spite of all this, I am glad to say that I have ridden a camel in Israel, and have the pictures (albeit very unflattering) to prove it!

Peej and I on our camels. Brownie was less than thrilled to be schlepping me around, but I've forgiven her.


Once we left Timna, we made our first stop at Kibbutz Yotvata to take part in some of their delicious, fresh dairy products. For the first time in a LONG time, I ate 2 huge scoops of ice cream, one dark chocolate and one marscapone cheese (which IS as good as you can imagine!) It was more calories than I've consumed in one sitting in a very long time, but completely and utterly worth it.

After engorging ourselves with ice cream, we left for Shacharut, the Bedouin tent (or Shmedouin tent, as it was more of a tourist attraction than a real Bedouin tent) that hosted us for the evening. The tent was literally in the middle of nowhere, and the views were amazing (though the desert all starts to look the same after awhile.) We waited for the rest of our classmates to arrive back from their hikes before partaking in a fun Bedouin storytelling/music session and delicious chicken dinner. We then had a ma'ariv (evening) service and song session, and then it was bedtime. Before I went to sleep, I spent some time outside, looking up at the stars. The stars were INCREDIBLE; they were literally everywhere. I've never seen so many in the sky at once--it was like the sky had thrown all the stars ever created into that one piece of the world. It was the most magical and special part of the trip for me, by far.

If only the rest of the night had been so magical. We slept in a tent. On the ground. On thin matresses and rented sleeping bags and no pillows. I slept in the same room as all 52 of my classmates and some faculty. It was FREEZING. Someone stepped on my glasses and bent them out of shape, which meant that I couldn't wear them. I might have had a hissy fit underneath the blanket that I brought (thank Gd I packed it!) after trying unsuccessfully to sleep. Thank goodness I never have to relive that experience. I was not a happy camper the next morning.

Our tent at Shacharut

The view of the desert from our tent; it was beautiful and peaceful, until I had to try to fall asleep. Then the beauty of the place really didn't seem to matter so much.


Sunset from outside the tent. So beautiful!

The next morning, after a lot of complaining, I got on the bus with my classmates to go to Kibbutz Lotan, an ecological-centered Kibbutz not far from Kibbutz Yahel, where we stayed a couple nights before. The ideology of Kibbutz Lotan is all about recycling and reusing EVERYTHING (and I mean everything!) to build up their grounds and save the planet. We toured the Kibbutz, drank tea from water heated on a solar heater, and helped the Kibbutz to make some mud bricks to build it's next house or building. We made the bricks from scratch, using mud, straw and water; we mixed with our hands and molded the bricks on our own. It was actually very, very fun and helped me to get rid of my horrible mood.


Captain Compost, the mascot of Kibbutz Lotan, who reminds the residents to recycle everyday.


Lauren, Alina and I mushing our mud brick stuff together. It was gross and fun at the same time!


Alina, Sam, Lauren and I showing off our muddy hands.


HUC's contribution to Kibbutz Lotan; a load of freshly made mud bricks.

After Kibbutz Lotan, my classmates went to the beach in Eilat, one of the southernmost cities in Israel. However, because my glasses were stepped on the night before, Steph and Nicole and I were dropped off at the Eilat Mall so I could get them fixed. It turned out to be an easy and free fix (though the woman told me she might break them by doing what she did...it was a risk I was willing to take, since I had no other glasses with me.) Because they were fixed quickly and we didn't feel like spending a lot of time at the beach, we decided to get lunch and hang around at the mall for awhile. I bought a salad and a 20-shekel pashmina and then we went to the beach. We only stayed for about 15 minutes, but we had a great time taking pictures, enjoying the sunshine, and hanging out with our classmates.

The Red Sea on the coast of Eilat. The water is so beautiful and so clear, and there are lots of fish to look at if you choose to snorkel (or, in hebrew, shnorkehl.) Since we went snorkeling in the Red Sea when we were in Sinai, I didn't feel too bad about missing the chance to do it again on this trip.


The men of HUC showing off their human-pyramid building skills. If only 90% of them weren't already taken...

After the beach, we headed back to Kibbutz Yahel, our original stopping grounds, for a beautiful Shabbat. We had a lovely service in their synagogue, followed by a festive dinner and singing. After dinner, a lot of people were socializing outside of their cabins. After a nice walk with PJ, a glass of wine, and a little bit of socializing, I was ready to call it a night. Luckily, Nicole, my cabin mate, felt the same way, and we went back to our room to watch TV, where Will and Grace was on! I can't tell you how much I miss that show, as it's never on in J'lem. It was such a treat to get to watch it again. Anyways, after a beautiful Shacharit service in the desert the next morning, we had the day to just relax, which I did. I spent about 45 minutes rocking out in the hammock before going inside to take a shabbat menucha (a shabbat nap.) It was amazing. By that time, it was time to pack up and get ready to head back to Jerusalem. After we packed, we had a quick Q&A session with some members of the Kibbutz, a light dinner, and we were on the bus. 4 hours later, we were back in cold, dreary Jerusalem, dreaming of the hammocks of Kibbutz Yahel and dreading our Biblical Grammar classes that were awaiting us the next morning.

We had a wonderful trip, and while I am happy to be back in J'lem, where my daily hiking routine is a bit easier, I do miss the desert and the beauty that comes with it. I posted about 20 pictures on this blog (a new record for me!), but I do have more if you want to see them--let me know.

Friday, March 21, 2008

FINALLY!!

Guess what everyone?!? After almost a month, I FINALLY have my laptop back, and it WORKS! It's truly a miracle. And, iTunes was nice enough to allow me to re-download all of the music that I've bought for FREE, so I can have some music on my computer besides the Jewish music CD's I've collected in the last 9 months. I was also able to finally add the pictures that had been piling up on my camera for the last few weeks, including some random pics and the pictures from our amazing to the Negev. In honor of this glorious event, I've decided to post a blog featuring some of my favorite pics from the last few weeks. Since I'll be posting a lot in the next few days (there's a lot to catch up on!), I won't write a lot on this post...just enjoy the pictures!


Our Shabbas Table, including the candle sticks that Steph's friend Molly gave her, the kiddish cup that I painted, and a freshly baked challah from the shuk.

The note I wrote to Steph the night before the service we did together in February. It reads, "Dear Stacy (Steph's nickname),
Our service is TOMORROW- :) :) :)
Let's create some amazing t'fillah together, and remember the most special and important reasons why we're here. We'll be WONDERFUL!
B'hatzlacha v'yashair kochech (Good luck and may you have strength),
<3 onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Iwa17dSyOrM/R-PHThtSXWI/AAAAAAAAAR0/OrbQQT0dOJo/s1600-h/winter+2008+149.JPG"> A gate from the synagogue of Narbata, the ancient Jewish village that is now Kibbutz Ma'anit.

View of Uhm al Fachum, the small, beautiful Arab village we visited.

The dome of the biggest masque in Uhm Al Fachum

Tel Aviv Steph, Jerusalem Steph, me, and Dina, toasting in St Patrick's Day in Tel Aviv. The girls threw a party for St Patty's Day, and they also surprised their friend Adam, who had a birthday a few days before.

Shari (Steph and Dina's roommate) and I. I was very happy to be at this party, can't you tell? :)

The newest member of the HUC community, Dov Daniel Zanardo, on the day of his bris. He is so beautiful, and so tiny, and so sweet...it took a lot of energy to not bundle him up and run away with him, but I managed not to. The night before, his parents Sara and Andrea held a Mishmara ceremony, which is a Sephardi custom the day before the bris. It was a really special and lovely way to welcome Dov (or, as I like to call him, Doobi) into our community.

Jonah (the Sandek, the person who holds the baby as the deed is being done,) Andrea, Sara, baby Dov, and the moyel (the guy who does the deed...) right after the bris.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Be Happy, it's Adar!

Hi guys. Life is, as per usual, crazy and busy and stressful and (sometimes) a lot of fun. There are a lot of simchas (happy occasions) going on this week which are keeping us more than occupied, and we're gearing up for Purim (Thursday night, woo hoo!) and getting more and more excited for Pesach (for me, in Belarus!) With every day that passes more and more is piled onto my plate, and while I struggle to find balance, I am also really happy and excited to be doing most of this work.

The HUC community is thrilled to be able to welcome the newest member of the "Italian-Jewish-Reform-Sephardi" community into our midst as we celebrate the bris and baby naming of our friends' Andrea and Sara's new baby boy. "Mister" Zanardo (the baby will be officially named to the public at the bris tomorrow) made his debut about a month early, on March 1, and while he was born healthy, we're all happy that he's gained enough weight to officially be welcomed into the Jewish community. Steph is in charge of putting it all together, which is a daunting task, but she's doing a great job; I'm going to be singing a couple of songs (a schecheyanu and siman tov...any other ideas? What does one sing for a bris?) and doing whatever I can to make sure the event runs smoothly.

Then on Wednesday, our Israeli Seminar class is preparing us for a mock election/political rally to learn about Israeli politics. Because I could care less about how Israeli politics work (I barely understand American politics, and trust me when I say that Israeli politics are FAR more complicated to understand) I'm not really excited for this. It's a lot of work that I don't have time to be doing, but I am hoping that I will gain some sort of insight into the Israeli political process. I also hope I don't screw up whatever my section is due to my obscene lack of knowledge on the subject. Blech.

Thursday is the day everyone is excited for: the beginning of Purim. Traditionally, Purim is the holiday in which we read the Book of Esther, which celebrates Haman's failed attempt to destroy the Jews in ancient Persia. It's the most festive Jewish holiday, where people dress up in costume (I'm going to try to dress up as one of my hebrew teachers) and eat and drink themselves into oblivion to celebrate the feasts and "drinking parties" mentioned in the Book of Es'. However, before any of us can partake of the drunken debauchery that will surely ensew, we're required to go to the Megillah reading/Purim Shpiel. As fun as I know it will be, this Megillah reading has been the bane of our existence for the C-Squad and the few brave rabbinical students who have volunteered to read the Megillah. We learned the trope a few weeks ago in class, and I am responsible for chanting about 10 lines at the end of chapter 3. It's been a major headache and stressor for the past 2 weeks, and at this point I'm a little unsure of myself in terms of reading it perfectly from the actual scroll without the help of vowels or trope signs. Should be interesting, at the very least.

At least I have Purim festivites (Megillah reading excluded), a Beit Cafe, and a possible trip to Tel Aviv/the North/Ein Gedi during my LONG WEEKEND--no classes on Sunday--to look forward to.

Anyways, that's all from my end right now. Still no computer, still no pictures, still aggrivated. Looking forward to returning to the land of Circuit City, Target, and real American chinese food in the next couple of months, while trying to enjoy the last bit of my time in J'lem. Hope all is well with you--keep checking in for updates and pictures as soon as I get my computer back. I'm excited to write about my trip to the Negev a few weeks ago and to post my gorgeous pictures. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later!

Love you and miss you!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

We're Okay

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/06/mideast/index.html

Just in case you heard about and you were worried, I wanted to let you know that we're okay. The neighborhood where this school is located is about a mile away from us, so it's hitting a little too close to home, but we're going to pray and try to stay as safe as we can.

Please keep this Yeshiva and this city in your hearts.

Oh Heavenly One, Protector and Redeemer of Israel,
bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace.
Shield it beneath the wings of Your love; spread over it the canopy of Your peace;
send Your light and trut to all who lead and advise,
guiding them with Your good counsel.
Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell (t)here.
Amen.

Monday, March 3, 2008

FSU Pesach Project

Hi again, everyone. A few months ago, I posted a blog about my opportunity to go to the Former Soviet Union with my classmates to participate in the 6th annual FSU Pesach Project. I will be going to Baranovichi-Brest, Belarus to lead Passover sederim, lead educational programming about Progressive Judaism and Judaism in general, and give concerts of Jewish and secular music to the residents there. As many of you know, we've been fundraising for the last few months, and now that we're getting closer and closer to the trip, we still need a lot of money to reach our goal. So many of you have generously given towards the project, and your kindness is very much appreciated by me and all of my classmates. However, if you haven't donated yet, and are willing and able, every little bit helps get us towards our goal. Donating is fast and simple; go to www.pesachproject.com and click on the red 'Donate Now!' button on the top right-hand side of the page, which will lead you on the way. Make sure to put my name under the 'Comments' section so the money goes directly towards my contribution and not into the general fund.

Again, to those of you who've already donated, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity to experience, teach, and share Judaism and Jewish music with people who are so hungry to learn yet have no one to teach them.

Beginning of the End

OK, so I know it's been a long time again, and I know there are no pictures to entertain you with--sorry about that guys. I'm still having computer issues; the guy who fixed it came by last night to deliver my repaired computer, and it was my computer (the shell, case, etc.) with someone else's C-drive (memory of the computer.) So basically, I have some other guy's programs, music pics, etc., and someone else has all of my stuff. He took an hour of my time searching for songs, files, etc. that might have been on my C-drive (though I told him from the get-go that it was NOT my machine) and then told me himself that it probably wasn't my C-drive afterall. He took the laptop back, so after 3 weeks, I am STILL without my laptop and STILL at the mercy of Steph and HUC's computers. And I'm pretty pissed off about it.

Welcome to the balagan that is Israel. I promise my complaining will end here.

Anyways, in general, life has been pretty good in the last 2 weeks. I've been busy with school, homework, learning repertoire, planning services, practicing my Megillah trope, schlepping through the Negev (expect a blog about our trip as soon as I can upload the pics--they're incredible), getting ready for Belarus, and more and more and more. They call the 2nd semester of the Year in Israel the "3-P's": Purim, Pesach, and Packing, and I'm beginning to realize how true this is. Time is flying because we're so busy, and before I know it, the semester and year in Israel will be over. On one hand, it's exciting to say that I will have accomplished a year of cantorial school and that I survived living in Israel. On the other, I'm sad to leave here. Not only have I fallen in love with many aspects of this country (computer repairmen aside) and built a relationship with this beautiful place, but I'm realizing that I might never again have an opportunity to live and study in Israel. I want to concentrate on studying ISRAEL this semester; her land, her secrets, her adventures. I need to take advantage of what I can before my time here is over and I begin my new adventure in NYC. I've already talked to people about planning weekend trips to various spots to visit new places and revisit some new favorite spots, so hopefully that will happen and I'll have lots to write about (and plenty of pictures, Whitney, I promise!)

I booked my flight home for the end of the year. As of May 24, I'll be back in the STL for the summer. I'm excited to go home, though I don't have any definite plans for the summer as of yet. I turned down a great opportunity to be the music leader for the JCC Camps, which probably wasn't the wisest financial or networking decision, but for vocal and personal reasons, I knew that it just wasn't the right job for me. I was able to see 2 of the rabbis from Temple Israel a couple of weeks ago, and Rabbi Feder and I discussed the possibility of maybe doing more at TI than just singing Friday nights in July. I'm hoping we can put something together that will give me some sort of income and, more importantly (in my opinion) some valuable job experience. I would love to try out some other leadership opportunities this summer, like delivering a D'var Torah or teaching some B'nai Mitzvah students. I'll keep you posted as to what turns up.

Oh! I was also asked by my former professor/advisor from Mizzou if I would lead her daughter's Bat Mitzvah service in July. I excitedly said 'yes' and will be leading my first-ever lifecycle event and solo service in Columbia this summer. I'm nervous about it, but so very excited and ready to take on the challenge. Dr Sims and I had a great relationship, and her daughter Rayna was one of my favorite Sunday School students, so I'm hoping this will be a beautiful and memorable experience for all involved.

Anyways, I am off to eat lunch and do some work. Keep your emails coming, and know that I am thinking of you, and that I will post pictures and other fun things the moment I get my computer back. Much love!