Friday, October 26, 2007

The Last Three Weeks

Since we last posted on the blog our vacation ended and we started school again. During the last week of our break we decided to spend a day in Jerusalem doing some things that we've been meaning to do but haven't yet.

Our first stop was the Jerusalem Zoo, much like any other zoo in the world this place has a lot of exotic animals, but unlike all of those other zoos this one one has a Biblical animal section. All those animals that you read about, the ibex, etc. they're all here. That night we finally were able to spend some time with Eudice Ben-Or which has been a long time coming.

Here's a slide show from the zoo:

Yes, Mom, the Flamingos are for you.

Naomi went back to school that week and I had a few more days off being a House Husband which was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be.

We spent the past few weeks back in school, I'm still in the same level that I started out in, but it looks like I'll move up in December at Channukah break. Now that I have a time frame it's much easier to bide my time.

I'm taking bunch of interesting classes, most of them are continuations from the previous semester, but I have two in Rav Kook (I posted about him before) and a class in this book written by the Piasencza Rebbe (don't worry I can't pronounce it either). He was a pedagogue which is interesting to me on an education level since I'm interested in pedagogy, but more importantly he was the main Rabbi in the Warsaw Ghetto and continued to do his thing despite the terrible conditions there. His writings are so beautiful even without keeping his history in mind. We're reading his book B'nai Machshava Tova which is about a group of people that get together to learn together to perfect their ability to get close to God.

This coming weekend we're going back to Hebron to spend Shabbat with Naomi's school. This week's Torah portion is Chayei Sara - which is the portion that describes Abraham's purchasing of the cave in which he buried her, and eventually his entire family is buried in. It's supposed to be one crazy experience.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Peaceful Shabbat

This past Shabbat we spent with the Derovan family in Ramat Beit Shemesh. This was just what the doctor had ordered. It was so restful, so family oriented, and so full of beautiful singing and enjoyments of Shabbat. We have been very much enjoying hosting guests, but for the past 5 weekends in a row Nate and I have had at least 2 people staying in our home. As enjoyable as that is, and as much as we hope to see many more guests in the near future, it has been very exhausting. Further, since we arrived to Israel we have not had the opportunity to go away for a single Shabbat or Chag. Basically we were very much in need of this little get-away.

We have to say Ramat Beit Shemesh is a very beautiful place. It has landscapes you could never imagine to see anywhere but in a National Geographic's magazine (unfortunately because it was Shabbat and when it was not it was dark we could not take pictures) and a community that seems so pleasant. The community appeared to be primarily anglo- we did not hear as much Hebrew speaking as we are used to, but you do not necessarily feel like you are back in America (except the part were I saw many boys who just graduated from the Hebrew Academy that were in my brothers class). We davened at Lev Hatorah- a yeshiva for boys after high school, and I have to say the ruach (spirit/ excitement) in the room for both the evening services and the morning were beyond amazing. It was actually shocking how much excitement there was because most of the boys were finishing up their third three day holiday (Rosh Hashana, first days of Sukkot, and now last days which all ran into Shabbat) and most would assume by then they were "Yom Toved out." But this was definitely not the case, these boys sang with full voices and danced as if it was still Simchat Torah. Further from sitting with the Derovan daughters- Orit and Nechama, and their Cousin Chava one could feel the holiness of the women's section as well. Following services we attended two very large meals, one of 10 people and another of 18 people, where Nate, for the first time since we arrived in Israel was displayed with home made brisket. We were both in heaven because the food was amazing, but I think Nate may have been on cloud nine (or whatever the phrase is).

The Derovan family is a very close family, two of their married sons live near by with the grandchildren and you can tell the daughters do not stay far from home that often (we did not meet their middle son). Despite the closeness of their family Nate and I felt so comfortable, and felt like we were right at home in one of our families homes. Listening to the conversations about Torah that take place in their home was also a very exciting point of the weekend, especially when trying to get one of the Derovan grandsons (who is 6 I believe) to give a bit of a Dvar Torah on Parshat Lech-Lecha (he had skipped Breishit and Noach in school so that was the first one he knew). And then there was the singing. The beauty of the words and the harmony of the voices just absolutely amazed us.

Basically we really had an amazing weekend, and we are so thankful to the Derovan family for that. We hope to spend many more Shabbatot and times with them. Thank you so much!

I go back to school Tuesday (Nate goes back on the 14th), and do not have a break until Chanukkah (in two months) so now it will be time to really get a real feel for what it is to sit and learn day in and day out. I am very excited! Further I am now in the process of applying to grad school. I am definitely applying to the Pardes Institute educators program and most likely applying to Wurzweiler's School of Social Work's block program and to Hebrew University. We will see what happens. I am trying to figure out what is the best path for me, since I know I want to work in schools, but I want to work in guidance counseling/ administration. Anyway, until next time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More Sukkot Activities

[Blog Maintenance: We will try to make it obvious in the text if there are pictures to be seen or not, either way when you receive your e-mail click on the blue title and you'll be linked to the web page and then you can see all of the pictures.]

As Sukkot comes to a very quick end tonight, we are getting geared up for another holiday Shmini Atzeret. It is the last in the long line of holidays that we've been celebrating for the past month. Here in Israel it's only one day long which makes it packed full of activities.

Anywho, we had guests for the first few days of Sukkot, which was really nice. On Friday the local synagogue that we go to decided to do a musical service the way Shlomo Carlebach (see below) used to. It was a really really special time.

Our friends Doni and Anna stayed until Friday afternoon (festival started Wednesday night) and Shmuel (Naomi's brother Ari's best friend) stayed with us until Saturday night. Doni is seven months into his Army service where he volunteered to do 1.5 years and has just finished learning how to drive a Tank. Anna is in an International medical school program in Be'er Sheva which seems to be very intense.

Since Sukkot is a national holiday here in Israel most people have the week off, so there are lost of activities everywhere. On Sunday we went up to Moshav Mevo Modi'in near Modi'in - famous for being the village that Shlomo Carlebach founded back in 1978. Every year they put on a music and arts and crafts festival. This year they decided to scale it down so it felt very much like the June Fete from home. Really nice music and arts and crafts. Some of our friends from the Yeshiva were there selling their goods.

We really wanted to do hit some more festivals but we both managed to find a 24-hour stomach bug that wiped us out. Now we're feeling much better but it kind of ruined our plans for the week. Oh well there's always next year.

Here are a few pictures from our recent adventures: