Thursday, March 19, 2009


Taken from the Mamilla Mall, a stone's throw from HUC-Jerusalem

Monday morning, as I was walking to the subway, this song came onto my iPod. It was a song featured on the end-of-the-year slideshow/movie that my friend and rabbinic colleague David made last year, that we watched on our final Shabbat together in Israel. Ever since I heard it on Monday, I've been having insane flashbacks to last year, leading me into a state of "God-I-wish-I-was-still-in-Israel." So many things have occurred throughout this week to make me long for the Holy Land, for the year and the place and the people that I feel so far removed from. Here's a list of those things:

First of all, as I was heating up the corned beef and cabbage I made for dinner on Tuesday, I was hit with an insane craving for non other than last year's meal of choice: Aruchat Boker. This breakfast of deliciousness consists of 2 eggs, homemade bread with cheeses and jam, a huge cucumber and tomato salad, a tiny bowl of tuna, avocado, or yogurt with fruit, fresh juice and a coffee of your choosing. I ate this meal at least 5 times a week, for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Yes, there were many days when I ate it two times a day. And it was delish every time. I'm salavating just thinking about the deliciousness...and still craving it. Anyone want to run to J'lem to devour one with me?

A not-so-tasty-looking but complete version of Aruchat Boker from my favorite place in J'lem--Cup O'Joe, located 5 minutes from my apartment. God I miss this food.

Then, in Hebrew class, I was asking my friend Hannah a question (in Hebrew, as part of the class) and I accidentally called her "Chani." Chani was the wonderful woman who waxed our eyebrows in Israel, in the cutest little salon called Shampoo. She was adorable; every time we went, we'd have conversations in Hebrew, and she'd talk to us like she'd talk to any other Israeli, and when we didn't understand something (which was pretty often) she'd say it in another way so we could understand. She'd tell us all about her family, her life in Israel, her service in the army, etc., and she was excited about the fact that we were aspiring cantors/rabbis for the Reform movement. I miss her even now, and the Vietnamese lady down the street who waxes my eyebrows can never compare to her.

Yesterday was Founder's Day at HUC, so we had a special morning service to commemorate those people who've helped to keep the school up and running for all these years. Julia was the cantor for the service, and requested that the 5 of us sing something together. We ended up singing the Jack Gottlieb "Eytz Chayim" that we learned together last year, and as we stood around the ark, I couldn't help but think back to our final service of the year in Israel. We sang the same piece, in nearly the same formation then, and to sing it again in New York was a strange kind of deja vu (it was also lovely to sing together again as the 5 of us, since we rarely get the opportunity to do so here.)

The last morning service of the year in Israel, as the 5 of us sang the Gottlieb "Eytz Chayim" surrounded by our classmates and friends.

For shabbat tonight, even though I had no special plans with anyone (which was just fine by me) I decided to go all out and purchase a mini loaf of challah and a bottle of wine. I covered the challah with the beautiful purple challah cover I bought in Baca (a neighborhood of J'lem) on a beautiful spring day. As I stared at the candles, sipped the sweet wine, and nibbled a little too much of the challah, I couldn't help but get sentimental about the amazing year I had last year. I missed Steph (esp because we talked on the phone as I ate my dinner) and thought about Judi and Nancy and Eli and Tamar and all of the wonderful people I left behind. I tasted the Marzipan rugelah that I grew so tired of last year. I thought about the table I'd be sitting around if I were there, a table of laughter and amazing food and "The Bean Skit" and z'mirot. I remembered the faces of the students at the other campuses, who I thought I'd keep in good touch with thanks to the internet.

I think part of what bugs me about being here rather than in J'lem is the lack of amazing things that happen everyday as a natural part of life. Instead of seeing the walls of the Old City on my way to class, I see graffiti and subway signs. It's a little depressing when I let myself think about it. I also miss the huge amount of personal growth that occured last year; I haven't lost any of what I learned about myself and Judaism since being here, but things have definitely slowed down.

Bottom line? I can't wait to go back. I have a Keep the Change account with my bank, and I think I'm going to call it the "Tracy-needs-some-aruchat-boker-and-amazing-scenery-and-the-feeling-of-Israel--so-I-should-save-this-money-for-my-plane-ticket" account. At this rate, it'll only take me 10 years to save up enough for a ticket!

In other very exciting news, I just found out that I am going to have a new cousin! A huge mazal tov to Whitney and Adam! I am so excited for you both (as long as you don't have the baby on one of the High Holy Days so I can sing at the bris, we'll be cool :))

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