Shalom again. Since my last post not too much has been happening in my life. Unfortunately, I have come down with what I think is equivalent to the plague. This put quite the damper on my weekend and the few days I reserved for knocking out my three take home midterms. No worries though, after hours of complaining to my parents and requesting that mother fly out to Israel to take care of me, I somehow managed to get myself together to attend services on Friday led by one of my friends from Indiana who is at Cantorial school here in Jerusalem. I have heard her lead services and sing in IU Hillel’s a cappella group, but there is no way to describe how GORGEOUS her voice was and how beautifully she led the service. She still has a few more years of school- but all of her future congregants are going to be some lucky, lucky people. If only I could have grown up with a cantor that had a beautiful voice and heart like the one and only Julie Womack.
About an hour before Shabbat ended this week, I once again magically got myself together to walk to the Kotel for Havdallah. Mother didn’t recommend it and requested I continue to rest (even though she is miles away she still thinks she knows best and is probably right), but honestly, how could I pass up Havdallah at the Kotel?? It is becoming one of my favorite things to do in Jerusalem. This time there was a larger crowd and they were davening maariv when we arrived (men and women were arranged side by side separated by the mechitza, but the women were silently praying..what’s new there..nothing). Minutes later the men started putting besamim (spices) in the mechitza and it was time for Havdallah. I guess the reason I enjoy this so much is because time and time again I am surprised at how comfortable I feel joining a community of strangers to say the prayer that people all around the world say at the conclusion of Shabbat.
The rest of my weekend was made up of a lot of sleeping and a lot of homework. I have had very minimal work this past semester (and that is probably an exaggeration since all I have had are a few readings and some Hebrew homework) so being assigned three take home midterms and one in class midterm in one week just didn’t seem like real life. Sadly I had to face reality and knock out the assignments. Good news is I only have one more left and it is due after Passover break.
Yep, that’s right, my spring break is quickly approaching (3 DAYS UNTIL STARBUCKS!!!). It hasn’t really hit me yet because I’m not in much need of a break. I’m basically living a five- month vacation here, so my upcoming travels are like a vacation in a vacation. In a few short days I will be on my way to Paris, Amsterdam, and Italy. When I get back to Israel, Passover starts the next day. This country is already starting to get in the mood for the holiday and it is great. My friends went to go buy dried kiwi at the Shuk and our favorite nut and fruit stand that ALWAYS has kiwi did not have any. When my friend asked where it was, the man told us that it isn’t kosher for Passover so they don’t have it. As we continued to walk around the Shuk we saw endless “Kosher for Passover” signs on so many of the stands. A few of the other stands have tons of macaroons and other goods out that are ready to be purchased.
Even the Coke bottles say “Chag Sameach” and “Kosher for Passover”. I discovered this last week when the IU students were asked to meet with the VP of International Affairs in Bloomington who was in Israel for a little lunch. We had a very short lunch with him and I had to leave early to attend class. Before I left I asked why he was here visiting Israel. None of my other friends have had people like this visit from their schools, so I was curious as to why Indiana University located in the middle of nowhere Bloomington was paying all this money to send the guy (and his wife) out here. His response was that he came to meet with Hebrew U and other Israeli universities to basically network and build relationships that can be used for research, teaching, and of course study abroad. He was a very cool and knowledgeable man who was willing to learn and wanted to hear about our experiences. I could not be any prouder to attend a school that continues to support Israel, and not only provide, but also encourage opportunities for students, teachers, and researchers to partner and benefit from this remarkable country. Go Hoosiers!!!!!
I am really struggling to accept that it is April and I go back to Florida “next month”. I am far from accepting it and really need to know the next time I am coming back here before I leave. Of course I am unbelievably excited to go explore Europe, but I think I am going to miss the comforts of Israel. This country has really become my second home (or just home if you want to look at it that way) and it is going to be a whole different experience traveling to a new country. I really hope I don’t slip in an extra “Todah” (or as mother says “toto”) when making a purchase.
Here are some “It’s Israel” moments before I close out this post:
I got a pedicure today (must travel with pretty toes) and the person in the chair next to me was an Orthodox man. Really is a first time for everything.
Last week I stopped at a McDonalds. I realized they are one of the few places in the country that has fountain soda and I reallllyyyyy wanted a Diet Coke from the fountain. It was just as delicious as I envisioned and even had super chopped ice! Ice in this country is also a luxury…Best part of the adventure? My friend was eating ice cream outside and respecting the kashrut issues; I ordered her drink and mine. The cashier literally bagged the drinks for me in a plastic bag. It was hilarious.
Well, that’s it for now. Hope everyone is enjoying whatever Spring weather has come your way. Miss you all! Until next time (after all my travels)…xoxo