Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Busy Week!

It's been a crazy week around here! In addition to Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazaikaron, and Yom Ha'atzmaut (and all of the appropriate observances and celebration included within the holidays,) we also had our Women's Project concert with the JTS 'Cantorials' and we took a Kitah Bet field trip to Hadassah Ein Kerem and the village of Ein Kerem to see the Chagall Windows and learn about Argentinian Jewry. It's been busy, but so fun and memorable for all of us.

Monday night we had our presentations of the music we've been studying with the JTS cantorial students. We divided up into 5 groups, with 1 HUC student and 1 or 2 JTS students per group, to study various rites of Israeli Jewish music. Shoshana and I studied Yemenite music together with our teacher Elisheva. Working with Elisheva was an interesting and frustrating experience; a true Yemenite Israeli, she was loud, pushy, impatient, and demanding. She taught us beautiful music, but spoke virtually no English, so we didn't learn much about the music or text we were singing. Nevertheless, working with Shoshana and the other JTS girls was a wonderful experience, and we now have friends and colleagues for the rest of our lives.

The concert itself was wonderful. We sang in a hidden outside courtyard to a small but gracious audience, including our professors, Ruben Seroussi (a famous music historian and professor at JTS,) and some students from both schools. It was amazing to see and hear our peers sing and dance to the beautiful music they learned. Shoshana and I sang a medley of pieces in both Arabic and Hebrew (songs in Arabic are traditionally for women, where songs in Hebrew are traditionally for men.)

Shoshana and I talking about our Yemenite music

Shoshana and I during our medley--I probably had just screwed up the Arabic I worked so hard to learn!

The next day, Kitah Bet (the best kitah at HUC, clearly!) took a class tiyul to visit the beautiful and famous Chagall Windows. I am happy to have been a part of the reason this trip came into being; a couple of weeks ago, Steph, Julia and I tried to go to see the windows, but they were closed. The next day in hebrew, we told Chen, our teacher, about our experience, and suggested we take a class tiyul to visit them. Chen agreed to this on the condition that Steph gave her presentation on the windows, and so on Tuesday morning, Kitah bet stood under these gorgeous windows as we learned about their history and the artistry of Marc Chagall. There are 12 windows in total, each representing one of the 12 Tribes of Jacob.

The Chagall Windows--the pictures don't really do them justice, but they really are incredibly beautiful.

After our visit at the Chagall windows, we made our way to the small Arab village of Ein Kerem. We walked around a bit before having aruchat boker (Israeli breakfast--which, by the way, I have no idea how I will survive without when I come home...) in a lovely outdoor cafe. There, Lyle and Hannah gave their presentation on Argentinian Jewry (they have both been to Argentina on trips with Jewish organizations, and Chen was born in Argentina before moving to Israel.) Their presentation was very interesting, and having laid back time with my Kitah bet friends was really, really wonderful.
A Russian church hidden in the hills of Ein Kerem

Scott, Lea and I, enjoying our Aruchat Boker and the beautiful spring day spent NOT in Hebrew class :)

Kitah Bet enjoying our Aruchat Boker, with our teacher, Chen.
From left to right: Lauren, Scott, Lea, me, Hannah, Lyle, Steph, Julia, Paul, and Chen

It has been a crazy week, though one which I have enjoyed and will remember for a very long time. I am so torn right now between classes and work, packing and getting ready to leave, and experiencing Israel while I still can, that I am always glad when I can accomplish 2 of these things at the same time! I am also glad that Kitah Bet was able to have a wonderful day together before we are divided up between the 3 campuses next year--these guys are some of my favorite people at HUC, and I will miss our class tremendously next year.

I am sure I will have many more fun blogs in the next couple of weeks, as I continue to keep up the craziness that is my life right now. Can't wait to see you in less than 2 weeks!

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