Monday, September 26, 2011

Peer teaching

Part of the Educators Program is to do sessions of peer teaching. This means that each person has a session/lesson that they teach to the other educators.

Today was my first experience in being in a session. (We actually had two today because the teacher was sick last week, so she also did her lesson this week.) And wow! I learned so much from the sessions. First, as a student, I really learned the material. The first lesson was about Rosh HaShana, blowing the shofar, and when and why we do it. The teacher had us go to four different stations and listen to different audio bytes that represented the four different times/meanings of blowing the shofar. His pedagogy was really outstanding and he had a great presence in the classroom.

The second lesson was about Daniel and comparing the first two chapters of the book to Joseph's story when he tells Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams. She had a good graphic organizer and really taught me about Daniel, a character that I only knew existed because a lot of people are named "Daniel."

Both teachers were so different and yet so good. They both had such a strong teacher voice. They were patient and intuitive. I loved it! I am excited to get back into the classroom!   

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ready for Shabbat!!

Tonight I'm hosting my first Shabbat dinner all by myself!! And the table is ready!! I must say, I think it looks so beautiful! And I have to say that I am really proud of myself! A few of my closest friends from school are coming over after Shabbat services. I have chicken with potato and sweet potato, and everyone else is bringing a salad, side dish, or dessert! 
I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful Shabbat! Shabbat shalom!! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

3rd educators field trip

Yesterday we had our second PEP field trip. This one focused on the First Temple Period. The tour guide was great! I was really paying attention the whole time. We first stopped at The City of David and he gave of a lot of wonderful information. We ate lunch in the Jewish Quarter (everyone enjoyed the Reese's peanut butter cookies I had made) and then we went to see a map/movie of the period. It was a great visual because I really finally understood the difference between the walls that are standing now and the walls that were from the First Temple Period.  All the other times I have been on tours things were smashed into the same tour and all the info was jumbled into my head. So I really appreciated a tour of just this time period. 
We also went to the "traditional" stop were David is buried. This is the statue outside the tomb of David playing the harp. (He was definitely not buried there.) 

This is our WONDERFUL educators group!!! Future Jewish educators!!! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A different view of fasting

As most Jews know, the High Holidays are quickly approaching, and with that is Yom Kippur, a 24 hour fast day with no food or water (or coffee). And for me, with it comes dread. I just don't like it, I get a headache, it's uncomfortable, etc. Technically we're not suppose to wear make up or deodorant or perfume either (although I have never taken part in that part before. Also, no brushing your teeth, no sex, and no medicines (unless it'll jeopardize your health, of course.)

But after my Halakha class (Jewish law), I really have a different perspective.  It is something that unites the Jewish people, and I was shocked to learn that it is a POSITIVE commandment, not a restrictive law. We should want to fast because we want to be afflicted to repent correctly to G-d.

I found all the rules for fasting to be really over the top. Like if someone is sick and trying to fast, they can drink one cheek full of liquid. Or eat one date-sized bite every 6-9 minutes so they may sustain their health, but still fast. There are many laws to fasting.  But then I realized that people WANT to fast, and these laws are actually in place to help people fast. (Help people fast?? Really?? If my doctor said I couldn't fast, I would be thrilled!) But observant Jews see it as a mitzvah to afflict oneself for G-d.  So although I am still not looking forward to Yom Kippur and my lack of food (although I think I will still be using deodorant) I am going to try to see it was a positive act and mitzvah instead of an act of deep dread.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunset sing-a-long

On Thursday at the Shabbaton we took a walk to see a great view and the sunset. As we were waiting the sun some of my classmates starting singing this beautiful can see and listening to it here...

The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Over the past weekend, my school had a "Shabbaton" which means a rest. The actual explanation is like a weekend retreat.  The whole weekend was very beautiful with a lot of bonding and relaxing. I got to play some basketball on Shabbat with some of my classmates too!

One of the highlights was during free time on Friday before Shabbat, my two friends and I went to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.  The zoo was terrific! It wasn't that they had animals that I hadn't seen before, but all the animals were so active! The bears were swimming and eating branches, the giraffes and zebras were walking around their pond and having a drink, the deer were making many attempts at being fruitful, and the elephant was helping the worker move his heavy bucket around. We were there close to closing time, so maybe they get fed right after the zoo closes. I really don't know, but this was by far one of the best zoo experiences of my life!! As you can tell, I am highly recommending Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo as a spot on your next Israel adventure!

Kalie and Jordan enjoying the zoo!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I know that eating should be a simple thing, but it's hard to eat well when someone is so busy. I don't feel like I had time to cook this week because I was on a weekend retreat with my school.  Today my lunch was carrots, a lox and cheese sandwich and an orange. Actually is doesn't sound as weird now, but I had to really give creative yesterday to figure out what food I could take to school today. For dinner I ate cheerios. So I really knew I had to cook tonight!

Anyway, I ended up making a lot of PASTA and I made my own sauce! It's really delicious!!

In the process....

Now I will have lunch for the month! I just hope I don't get sick of it before I finish it all! =) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Erev Seder

Erev seders are not what some one might think a seder would be, and erev means night. So at first I thought it meant that we would be having seders once a week at night to learn how to set up and lead our own seders. Well, I was sadly surprised to learn that this is not the case. It is an extra two hours a week, on Monday nights from 7-9 that we're suppose to come to school and study even more. Yes, I'm sure you would be thrilled about this too, but in all seriousness, considering how many nerds and people who love what they're studying, it's not a bad idea. Except, for the time. I despise being out of my house at night on a school night. I want to be at home, showers, relaxed, and in bed at 10. I know I sound crazy that I want to go to bed at 10, but I get up every morning at 6 so I can go to the gym before my full day of classes starts at 8:30.  It's the one time of the day that is really just for me, and I really like to prioritize it.

Anyway, being the good student and law-abiding citizen I am, I went. I had two great partners to study with, our teacher gave a great speech about how there should be no excuses in the way of studying Torah, (it was a great speech) I was ready to study!!! But really, I wasn't. I was exhausted, my partners and I weren't very efficient, we couldn't think of references that we wanted to talk about. We were distracted.  We all had tea or coffee to try to stay focused, and my friend had an open cup which was making me so nervous and I kept telling him to move it away from my brand new books...(I told him about 15 times, I'm not exaggerating. Then.......a teacher came over and asked us how we were doing...and DISASTER!!! He knocked over his tea all over my brand new Tanakh! I was really upset. Not really because of the tea, although it was sad. But because I really didn't listen to myself. I knew I shouldn't have gone, even if it was "required" I was so tired, I had a lot of other homework I needed to get done, I didn't have any food at home to eat (I needed to go to the store), my apartment really needs to be cleaned, I have to do laundry, etc. The amount of anxiety that those two hours caused me was not worth what I was going to learn in those two hours, (which proved to be not too much) except that I have to take care of myself. No one was going to tell me not to go, so now, my tea stain on my Tanakh is going to remind me that I have to be my own advocate. As much as I love studying what I am studying and love doing what I'm doing, I have to put myself first and I have to be physically and mentally healthy. So if that means no more night seder, then no more night seder... 

PEP Tiyul

Today we had our first Educators Program tiyul.  The good thing was that I had never been to any of the places where we went before. The bad news was, I was tired, and the guide was very informative and nice, but not so funny and I had a hard time paying attention.

We first went to Mizpe Jericho, which is a look out point to see Jericho. We talked about the first few chapters of Joshua and his conquest into the land of Israel. That part was interesting because I had just read the chapters we were talking about. 

This is a Jordanian soldier just across the tiny stream that is the Jordan River. Many Christians come here because they thing this is where Jesus was baptized, but we were there to see the Jordan River and how Joshua and his troops may have crossed! 

This is a sad story. The Jordanians were using these monasteries next to the Jordan River as a fort to enter into Israel and commit acts of war, so the Israelis blew up the churches so they couldn't hide in them. I'm sure at one time these were beautiful places, now this is all that is left. =( 

This a mosaic from the floor of a synagogue in Gaza.   

So is this. It's King David, and it's really awesome because now a days Jews wouldn't have a picture or image of anyone, so it's really interesting to note that it was a later interpretation because 2000 years ago, it seemed okay. =) 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Personalizing Prayer

Today I had my first Personalizing Prayer class. Although the name might make it seem obvious to some, the class is suppose to help the students become more familiar with the Siddur, Hebrew prayer book, the language, and to really understand the words and meaning of the prayer. Some people would prefer a different class because it is too "touchy feely" but I think that is exactly what prayer is about. It is personal.

We start every class with a breathing/focusing exercise to clear our heads from the previous class. I really liked this part, because our classes run back to back and so often my head is still thinking about the discussion that I was having 5 minutes earlier.

Our discussion today was about the obstacles we face when praying. Some of the obstacles were focusing, language, embarrassment (in Judaism it is kind of a choreography at times in the service and it's not nice to do it wrong), a lack of connection to the meaning, a lack of place and time. All of these were issues that we had with prayer.  I also said that I didn't feel like I always have justification in asking things from God. Like, I am not asking for something vital, like I am not asking for God to cure cancer, I am asking for helping on a test or something, and sometimes I feel like it is too insignificant.

Then we switched directions and talked about getting up in the morning and our routines and the Modeh Ani מודה אני. I really like the morning prayer. It is technically suppose to be the first things from our lips in the morning, sometimes even before we open our eyes.

מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה, רבה אמונתך.

It translates:
Grateful am I before You,
King Who is living and eternal,
for you have returned my soul to me with compassion -
Abundant is Your faith.    

I really like that the first thing we are suppose to say in the morning is that we are grateful.  Also, I think the last line is interesting because it says Abundant is Your faith (in me). Really, God has faith in me?!?! That's great, it's like a early morning pep talk. I want to do good things all day. =)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Today my program had a trip to the Israel Museum. It is part of a history seminar in which we will be participating. It was much more interesting than I had expected. Mostly because we were looking at rocks, but because my teacher/professor was so knowledgeable, he really made these rocks come to life.  I would have run through this museum and the ancient history, but he did an incredible job of explaining the significance and relation to the Tanakh (Bible). 

When I was at the museum, my friend spotted a famous Israeli (Russian born) politician. Of course, we all my chutzpah, I went and requested a picture together. He really stirs up a lot of controversy in Israel, so it was funny to meet him. 

 There is a really cool "rainbow" in the entrance hall of the museum. So there was a great backdrop for pictures. This is my new friend Avi who is in my program.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Shemot, which means names in Hebrew, is Exodus in English. I am reading Shemot in two classes, so I hope I will be an expert soon! The greatest thing is that I can actually understand a lot of the text in Hebrew. It's a really incredible feeling. I like to read it in English first, and then read it in the Hebrew. It may sound like cheating, but it's not. Since I haven't actually taken a biblical grammar class yet, I think it's a good way for me to start.

Today I had a doctor's appointment to get a physical for the gym. It was at 6:45, but I didn't see the doctor until after 7:30. Which meant I didn't get home until 9 after the bus ride. So I'm really exhausted, and I want to go to the gym in the morning. So I will have to be in bed soon if I want to make it there! Also, my blood pressure was 100/70. I think? They said that's good. But I have never really known what that meant.

Hopefully tomorrow will calm down a little. It's been run run run!! 

Blog identity

So, if you have been reading the blog lately, I was going through a small identity crises with the colors, but I think I like this now, although, I want borders around the pictures, so if someone knows how to do that, let me know!

Also, my new school linked their blog to mine, so their site is It is really interesting to read what the different students are writing about, so if you like Judaism, or are just interested, it's a great blog! 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Day two!

I made it through another day!! And today I had three classes, although, I don't know why I wrote my schedule on here, because it seems to change every day.

I thought I was suppose to be in Mishna Bet. (Mishna is one of the two books that makes up the Talmud.) And I went to the class, and I was LOVING it!!! Then, 45 minutes into class, an adviser knocked on the door and pulled me out! I was really upset, only because I was so into the class. We learned about the history of the Mishna that it was codified around 220 CE for Yehuda Hanasi. The Mishna is the first codification of the oral laws. It was important because this is shortly after the destruction of the 2nd temple and the Jews were worried about preserving their way of life in exile. And, of course, they is the growing of Christianity, which is also viewed as a threat to their way of life.  The Gemara, the second book that makes up the Talmud was written between 220-600 CE. There are also two kinds of Gemara, Babylonia and Palestinian, named for the places they were written.

I could go, Mishna means repetition, because before this, the rabbis would learn, and repeat to the masses. Nothing was written down and this is how it was passed from generation to generation. At the time, a rabbi was called Tanya, also meaning, one who repeats.

I also learned that a lot of Hebrew words end in Hey, ה.  and a lot of Aramaic words end in alef, א. So it's a fast way to know where the word came from, or what time it was written.

There are six sections of the Mishna, agriculture, holidays, women, damages (or civil issues), holiness, and impurities.  We were going to study the upcoming holidays until I had to leave class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I won't get to study anymore Talmud until next year!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Israel's million man march

This is a short clip from the protest, and this was very early in the night just after 9pm in Jerusalem on King George Street. The loud speaker from the car is actually saying, "The people want a just society."

"העם דורש צדק חברת" The people demand social justice, or the people demand a just society. Which ever way you translate the sentence, these Israelis really meant it. Last night, after Shabbat at 9pm, the people of Israel flooded the streets, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv alone there were 300,000 people. If the same ratio of Americans would have marched in the US, it would have been 16 million people. But Israel is smaller. But you get the idea, it was huge! 

Most of the people want better housing prices, social reforms, and of course, Gilad Shalit. The protesters were smart in combining a lot of different groups into one huge rally. One sign said, "They can only read numbers." So maybe 1 million is enough. The government has promised social reform, but we'll see if that happens. 

First day of class!

I was a little disappointed after I saw Alex's first day of kindergarten picture with the sign that his Aunt Katie had made him. I couldn't understand why she didn't make me a sign that said, "First day of your second Masters degree." But oh well, I survived. And I took my own first day of school picture!!!  (and I'm just teasing. My sister is by far the most thoughtful person I know!)

Today was my first class, just one in the afternoon. I was going to take Creating Holiness, but I changed in into to Halakha. The teacher's name is Zvi and he is SO funny!! I really like it. We went over a lot of texts today about the month of Elul and getting ready for the High Holidays and repentance, before and during, the holidays. It was so fascinating, especially the differences between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions. I can't wait for more classes tomorrow!! 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Pardes Orientation

I landed on the 29th, and started orientation on the 30th. Jet lagged and all...I made it there. We have had three mornings of orientation, and three afternoons of intensive ulpan (Hebrew class). My classmates seem really wonderful and I am excited to really get started next week.

My classes are:
Humash/the Five Books of Moses
Intro. to Mishna and Talmud
Personalizing Prayer
Creating Holiness
Bekiut Nach (which I don't actually know what they means.)
and probably Torah Trope

So, it's a lot, but I'm ready, I think! ;-)