Israel Lovin’

Well, here I am again. I just discovered the silent floor of the library (always my favorite floor). To be clear, I am not in the International school library but in the main Hebrew U library (just have to mention how cool this place is- there is an exhibit of different menorahs and other Jewish traditional items in the entrance to the building… I love it). Having to do work while studying abroad is just silly, although I can’t really complain because I get to read articles like “Camp Works: The Long Term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp” and “The Philosophy of Jewish Education”. If you’ve been out of the loop, I finished my first week of class on Thursday. It is really nice because I have no Sunday, Tuesday, or Friday classes, and end class at 2pm on Thursday. It is slightly unfortunate that I’m trapped in the Rothberg bubble all day on Monday and Wednesday, but whatever, I’ll get over it and at least I’m enjoying my classes.   

I keep forgetting to write about the program I participate in every Monday. After class, I go to “Hillel” to get free dinner, listen to a speaker, and then meet one on one with a partner to discuss different Jewish topics. Last week I heard Dr. Dan Tirze, the former Central Commander of the IDF who was in charge of planning the Israeli Security Fence. It was super interesting (and that says something since it was after I was in class for 9 hours prior to hearing him speak). After the lecture, we studied Judaism’s view on free will (bechira). Sadly, I’m not providing a d’var in this post to tell you all my thoughts on the matter.

Anyways, in between the endless hours spent in class, I had the chance to meet up with one of my USY on Wheels friends from 2009. I haven’t seen her in five years and it was so great to catch up. For those of you that read my friends post from a few years ago, this is a prime example of how my friends from years past will always be part of my life even if time goes by and we lose touch. After class on Thursday, it was a BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL day. My best friend and I decided to go to the shuk to visit our favorite smoothie man. We picked up a challah from one of the most delicious bakeries, and then went on a four- hour walk (#not joking #legit4hours #beproudofmedad). We walked from the Shuk through a few small neighborhoods that eventually led to the German Colony and then to a new area in Israel: The First Train Station. It is no longer a working train station and serves as a place for “food and culture”. There are shops and restaurants. It was late at night, so after roaming around, we decided to walk back to the center of the city and eat dinner at one of our famous Hummus restaurants.

 On Friday friends from IU who recently got married and made alyiah picked up me and two other friends and took us to their apartment for Shabbat. We ended up returning to the train station for brunch and walked around a weekly art fair and then proceeded to walk around the German Colony where I ran into one of my old co counselors from Ramah. He recognized me from a block away and I was too busy engaging in some Judaica store window shopping (overly obsessed with them) that I didn’t even hear him call my name (really was too engaged in appreciating the awesome besamim holders). After my mini reunion, we returned to our friends’ apartment to get ready for Shabbat. We attended a beautiful service at a synagogue called Yakar. It was an incredible service. My friend said she strategically picked her apartment in a neighborhood close by because she loved that service. This Shabbat was so relaxing and it was much needed after a long week at school.

Last week was called “shopping week”. Just to my disappointment there were no stores set up on campus (although there is some fair currently in the main forum of the University), instead it was more of a week to shop around for classes. I have mastered a strategic way of planning my schedules each semester and did not need to take classes just to take them last week, so I didn’t really do much “shopping”. I think I did a pretty good job this semester with the options I was given. If you know my taste in Jewish studies classes, the list below should not be a surprise.

Feel free to read about my “academic” life below:

Hebrew: I’m still taking Hebrew. Instead of 20 hours a week, I take 7 hours, and well it is Hebrew. Not much more to say about that except my teacher assigns too much work. Guess even Israeli professors don’t realize I am indeed taking other classes.

 Marriage and Sexuality in Ancient Judaism: This course is a study of marriage and sexuality in the classical sources of rabbinic Judaism. We will focus on the development of these concepts in the Judaism of antiquity and compare them to similar ideas of sexuality in the surrounding Greco-Roman and Christian cultures. 

 So, I did actually switch into this class today and it was awesome. Originally I was taking a Kabbalah course, but the professor was too much of a space cadet and was just going to cause me unnecessary stress and work. So today instead I learned the origin of the Ketubbah. The professor is very young and very relaxed. I also know a lot of people in the class, so I guess that is always fun.

Jewish Experiential Education: This course will introduce participants to key issues in the emerging field of Jewish experiential education, with a particular focus on camping, youth movements, Israel travel, and rites of passage. In attempting to grapple with some of the underlying questions facing the field, attention will be paid to fundamental sociological, philosophical, psychological, and religious questions that are emerging and generating debate and controversy. The program of study will include case studies, field trips, as well as a host of experiential activities. A weekly half-day internship in Jewish experiential education will be an integral course component and will allow participants to acquire tools and knowledge to become reflective practitioners and enable them to attain a more rigorous and nuanced understanding of the field.

This class is remarkable. It is actually a graduate level course so there are people of all ages and all backgrounds in the class (really struggling to get along with the “know-it-all tour guide” who really just shouldn’t be in the class, although she does provide some good responses). Some other students are in the one year MA program I am looking into doing once I graduate IU, some are full time Hebrew U Israeli students, and the rest of the class is in my undergraduate program. The reason I was eligible to take this course is because I am participating in a program through BJE (read more here Along with the class, I am interning at the USY office in Israel for a few hours each week.

My professor is involved in numerous areas of the Jewish education world but he is also bringing in guest speakers to several of the classes. Last week we went on a tour of the campus with a skilled Jewish educator. This was unlike any campus tour I have ever been on as instead of pointing out buildings, we analyzed and formed relationships with Hebrew U, Jerusalem, and the founders of the university. It made me appreciate Hebrew U even more and feel so lucky to have the opportunity to study here this semester. Overall, I really can’t express how much I love this class. My professor is so engaging and is so knowledgeable in the field. The hour and a half goes by so quickly which is a great thing since it is my last class of the day.

An Introduction to the Cultural History of Jerusalem: The course objective is to follow the history of Jerusalem chronologically, a city which for thousands of years was, and still is, a meeting place between cultures and creeds. Through a series of lectures and field trips, using a multi-disciplinary approach, the students will explore political, cultural and geographical topics related to one of the holiest cities on earth, in order to better understand the complex processes which shaped both its history and its present situation.   

This class takes me on field trips and is one day a week, so that is basically why I am taking it. While the class is four hours long, half of the classes allow for active and visual learning. We go visit the locations of the places we learn about the class after the lecture. What better educational technique could I ask for?

Before I close off this post, I’ll attempt to entertain you all with some “It’s Israel” moments:

  1. Accidently went to the express lane with about 20 groceries. The man behind us was not pleased. Just think about what you would do at Publix if someone with over 15 items was in the express lane…(it was hard to tell this was an express lane, the conveyer belt was the same length as the rest of the lanes).
  2. I have Hebrew three days a week. It is in a different room each day as are all of my classes. Why? I need to make flash cards or something to memorize the classroom number for each class on each day of the week.  
  3. While I was in a coffee shop, I was listening to music and a man came up and started speaking Hebrew to me. I couldn’t hear so I took out my headphones and instead of saying “mah (what)” responded in English asking him to repeat himself. He felt so bad for assuming I spoke Hebrew, even though it is the national language and then he proceeded to speak in English. What did this man want? A pen. Normally I would not want to lend out one of my three Pilot G-2 0.38 pens (Israel doesn’t sell them) because chances of receiving it back would be slim, but in Israel, trust is a big thing. Needless to say, I got my pen back
  4. Our internet died one night this week. My friend called the help center. The man told her to play a board game that night instead of spending time online.

Well folks, that’s about it for now. Time is FLYING. I only have 3 free weekends available. Everything is getting booked and the bucket list is being accomplished. It is a semi- large adjustment having homework and managing time exploring/enjoying everything Israel has to offer, but I’ll be fine. I need to start working on my next trip back to this glorious country.

Dad, want to get on that? I’m thinking quick trip in August or maybe 22nd Birthday? Hellooo Rosh Hashanah in Israel. If all else fails, I won’t attend graduation and we can just fly to Israel. We can discuss it in three weeks. Yes, everyone, the two greatest parents in the entire world are landing in Israel in less than three weeks!!!!!!!!  

 Oh ps- if you need to text message me, please imessage …couple technical difficulties over here…

 Have a wonderful week, everyone! Much love. Until next time…xoxo

 PPS. This happened today: ….we were told to ignore it and resume with our regular schedule. But good to know the rest of the country prepares accordingly. 


3 thoughts on “Israel Lovin’

  1. Pooh,
    I can’t wait to see you. It is going to be so much fun to experience Israel for my first time with you and daddy (Kelly, Wiebe and Sam too).
    PS I am going to your IU graduation, so you need to be there. XO

  2. Comments to your “It’s Israel” Section.
    1. This is why people hate American tourists. I am surprised the man didn’t start screaming at you.
    2. If you have hebrew three times a week why can’t you read “Express Lane” or “נתיב אקספרס”. Also, I think you should use your flashcards for studying hebrew not for writing down room numbers. Get a map maybe?
    3. The poor guy was so embarrassed. Again three days of hebrew. You should try speaking the language.
    4. HA Israelis rock.

  3. Yom Ha Atzmaut is April 24- you have be dome with college by then and it’s off to the Eretz we go!!!!!!

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