Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alef bet I learned the alef bet! Although I should have learned it a long long time ago, and despite that I "speak" Hebrew...I had never learned the order of the letters. Today, I thought, enough, it's time. And Roi helped me learn the letters in order. It's awesome! Have you ever felt like there is something that you really should know, but you should have learned it when you were so young, that you just never learned it on your own...that's how I felt about the alef bet. Today is a big day! I am very proud of myself =)

Also, for a class, I have to learn gematria which is assigning numeric value to Hebrew letters, and it's very difficult to learn if I don't know the alef bet. I will also have to learn the Hebrew months soon, something else I have never learned!   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Israeli Driving License!

Although I passed the driving test in June, I just received my license in the mail yesterday!! I feel like this is a great achievement in becoming "Israeli" and I feel like I had to work harder for this than just becoming an Israeli citizen!! It was worth the wait!! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Expedition America

I was recently told that an educational program that I hold very near my heart has been canceled. Expedition America (or EA) was a program at Highland High School in Indiana, that took high school students on a summer trip to hike in the mountains (somewhere in the US) for 3 and then spent the next 5 or 6 days visiting historical sites.  I was a chaperon with the founder, Robert Blumenthal, for two years. I had also participated in the same program, but of a different name, Trail Bound, when I was a student at Chesterton High School.

I had originally signed up because I loved history, but I quickly came to love the challenge of backpacking as well.  I also loved the camaraderie of being with my classmates or later, the students. It was/is an incredible form of learning and bounds that the trail/hiking can create between people is like no other. I would not be the person I am today without these experiences in my life.

Rob sent out a letter to EA alumni announce the cancellation and in the letter he beautifully wrote, "I want you to remember always the challenges you overcame and trials you endured along the trail. Always remember that the very best things in life are earned and are never handed to you or are easy. You earned a place on EA by being the very best among your class at HHS; you endured the trail because you fought for every footstep and succeeded there because each of you possesses the tenacity to keep pushing when so many of your peers never would have had the temerity to lace up their boots. I know that you will face hardships in the years to come, but I have also seen every one of you struggle and overcome very surmounting odds. Do not forget this early success. The best is still to come."

EA 2009 - Vermont - The Green Mountains 

Me, of course, in the Green Mountains

Rob and me!! Whale watching off the coast of Boston

I definitely could not have said it better. Rob is truly a role model to me and I know he will only go on to do even bigger and better things, although it is hard to imagine something better than EA.  Thanks Rob, it was a blast. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shabbat Halakha

Today in Halakha (Jewish law) class, we started learning the laws of keeping Shabbat.  There are "honor" כבוד laws, about preparing oneself for Shabbat and there are "pleasure" עונג laws about preparing your surroundings. I never knew there were actual laws written that you should have a nice meal, and wash yourself, clean the house, and wear nice clothes.  I just thought it was traditions, but the rabbis actually wrote that we are suppose to do that. All in preparation for Shabbat.  I think last year I would have thought these things were silly, but now that I am semi-keeping Shabbat, I think these things are really important. After I clean the whole house, to shopping, prepare a beautiful meal, set the table with the "nice" dishes, get really pretty, and wear a cute dress...I really want the time to be special. I really do feel like it's a spiritual time that I'm not worrying, that I'm not thinking about homework, I'm not worried about politics. It's a time for friends and family, a time to pray, and a time to be grateful.

Also, I liked that the rabbis really do acknowledge that it takes effort to prepare for Shabbat, it really is a task to get ready for something so special, but because we invest that time and make it nice and even "holy"...the time of Shabbat is that much more meaningful. So come Thursday and Friday when I'm cleaning and getting ready, I will be that much more appreciative when Shabbat actually arrives. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome Home Gilad

Today is an amazing day for Israel and Israelis. Gilad Shalit who was was imprisoned in Gaza by Hamas for over five years, 1,941 days, was freed this morning after long negotiations in a prisoner exchange. 1,027 prisoners were released from Israel for Gilad's return.

These posters were hung all over Jerusalem says "How good is your coming home." 

Gilad hugging his father. 

Ynet article about Gilad

Many people are upset about the exchange, saying how could Israel release these murders for one life. But as a sister, daughter, and hopefully one day a mother, I believe Israel did the right thing. I am really proud to be an Israeli today. A good friend and rabbi said this, "Israel is like no another country. People may say that because we value life so much and care about each other so much -it is our greatest weakness, but it is actually our greatest strength." I am happy to live in a country and be a citizen of a country that so greatly values life and sticks to its word. I really understand people's concerns with releasing so many terrorists, but we don't know what the future will bring. And so today we must rejoice that Israel saved a life and reunited a family. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sukkot vacation!

We have quite a few days off for Sukkot and many students are traveling. I went to Roi's home to celebrate our two year anniversary together. We went to Rehovot to a really great Asian restaurant. Yum yum!!

Also, the day before sukkot MATT maybe aliyah from the US! Which also means SHOKO made aliyah! So now our apartment is full and Matt and Shoko are finally home! It's been great having them. The only problem is that we don't have grass in our backyard yet and so Shoko is rolling in dead grass and dirt and then bringing it into the house. But we're going to have the grass installed next week, so I think that will help a lot with keeping the apartment clean. So I'm looking forward to that. =)

As for my vacation, at the end of the week, Roi, me and our two friends are going to the north to hike and camp for two days! We are also going to ride horses =)  I am really excited!! It's going to be an awesome time! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ready for Sukkot!

Our succah is up and I have my four species!! I'm all ready for Sukkot!! 

PEP Tiyul - Rabbinic Period

The Pardes Educators Program had their final tiyul to the north of Israel as part of their History Seminar. We went to Gamla, Katzrin, Capernaum and Zippori. This was by far the most interesting trip (to me). Besides the education part of the trip, we also had a lot of time to bond with our colleagues and have some fun. 
We are in Capernaum in the synagogue that once stood there. It was so interesting to hear about the influence of Christianity on Judaism and how Judaism responded to these outside pressures. 

This is at Zippori. I am with Artzi, the Israeli National Parks mascot! I love him!! =) 

This is at the theater in Zippori. Zippori was a Jewish city in a Roman dominated time period. There are mosaics in Zippori that are clearly "idolatry," so it's interesting to think about how the Mishna came from Zippori (books and lists of rules about Jewish law and keeping Jewish law) when it is clear that people weren't keeping the law how we would expect today. 

Me and Hannah and Ilan! Great view!! 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

PEP Tiyul - Second Temple Period

Today we had a tour of the Second Temple Period in Jerusalem. It was really great, but SO much info in a short amount of time! We went to the South Wall Excavations, The Israel Museum, and the underground mansions where the Kohenim (priests) probably lived. Ian Stern was our guide, and he is absolutely fabulous! 
This bus has nothing to do with our trip, it's just a cool thing that people will only ever see in Israel! The bus is wishing you a good inscription into the Book of Life חתימה טובה! Thank you, bus!! 

This is one of my favorite places in Israel!! I love this "LOVE" statue! This is our PEP cohort at the end of the tiyul!! We are a terrific group!!!!