It’s been a whirlwind of work and excitement since Eli arrived to Jerusalem. Eli is settling in very quickly, so much so that it feels like he has always been here! It’s been so fun showing him around Jerusalem and introducing him to everyone at school. He spends his days, while I’m at school, sightseeing on his own and with other S.O.s (significant others) that are here in Jerusalem with my fellow students. He also has spent a lot of time learning Hebrew and is still searching for Capoeira and K’rav Maga classes that will fit his schedule and style. When I’m not in school we have had the chance to see a lot together, like the Old City, the Shuk, different neighborhoods and shopping areas.
It’s been so fun to see his reaction to everything about living in Israel. One of my favorite reactions had to have been his comment about the fact that Israeli drivers are constantly honking. His comment, “Well, you were right. This really is a vocal automobile culture.” Ha ha. It’s been fun for me to see him practicing the Hebrew phrases he is learning with Israelis and he does so very comfortably and confidently. He’s learning SO fast!
For his first Shabbat in Israel we had many exciting plans. He got to come to Tzur Hadassah where I songlead once a month. This adorable Bat Mitzvah age, Israeli girl sat next to him and showed him where we were in the Israeli, all Hebrew, prayer book. The next morning, he had the honor of saying the blessings before and after I read from Torah at HUC. I felt like that was a really special way to honor our first Shabbat together in Israel. Other adventures? We went to Women of the Wall together for Rosh Chodesh, we have visited with a lot of friends and shared some great food as well. Oh and btw- He is currently addicted to hummus and schwarma.
The Anniversary Trip
Last weekend was Eli and my anniversary, so we took Thursday-Saturday, rented a car and drove down to the south desert of Israel, the Negev. We left a rainy, windy, COLD day in Jerusalem and drove down to Mahktesh Ramon, an area that Israelis call “The Grand Canyon of Israel.” However, it isn’t actually a canyon. It looks like a huge bowl cut out in the ground, and is a unique phenomenon here in Israel. We hiked everyday within this mahktesh. The first night we stayed at a very unique, vineyard near the mahktesh. We stayed at a small cabin there that had a hammock outside and hot tub too. The floor of the cabin was made out of rocks! We drove into a little town nearby and found a farmer’s market to buy food at to make dinner in our little kitchen. It was such a beautiful evening. The cutest part was that they deliver a cooler of breakfast food and leave it at your front door in the morning. SUCH yummy breakfast (pictures on facebook!) After breakfast, we got a free wine tasting with a sweet Israeli girl that works there named Halleli (which is now my new favorite Israeli name meaning “I will praise G-d.”) We bought a bottle as a yummy souvenir of our trip.
On Friday of our trip, we hiked more and made our way to Kibbutz Lotan, the Eco-Kibbutz that I visited with my school a few months ago. Ever since I visited Kibbutz Lotan with my school I knew Eli would LOVE it and I couldn’t wait to bring him there. We had Erev Shabbat Services with the Kibbutz and ran into a Rabbi friend of mine, Rabbi Fred Wenger. We ate dinner with the Kibbutzniks in the dining hall and met people from all over that are volunteering with different projects on this environmentally friendly Kibbutz. We saw a girl making cookies in their solar oven, visited the garden again, said hi to the goats and just tried to soak it all up.
Saturday, we hiked more in the beautiful mahktesh with a small stop at a Bedouin tent to drink their mint tea. On our way home, we took one small wrong turn and 30 minutes later, when we realized we were on the other side of the country (cause that’s how small Israel is) we decided to go with the flow and return to Jerusalem via the coastal view of the Dead Sea- just in time for sunset. It worked out perfectly!
Student Cantor in Port Washington, New York
Less than a week after Eli arrived, my pulpit placement (serving as student Cantor at a synagogue) interviews began on skype. I had 6 skype interviews from Sunday to Wednesday with synagogues in CT, IN, TX, NJ and NY. I felt bad that Eli had just arrived and I had to spend my evenings interviewing, but he was so supportive and wonderful and made me dinner in between skype interviews. I just found out the results this week! Next year, a little more than once a month, I will be taking the train to work in Port Washington, New York at Port Jewish Center synagogue! I’m completely thrilled to be working at this small, intimate, congregation that reminds me a lot of my home congregation in Anchorage, AK.
Now, tonight Purim begins and I’m ready to see Israelis party! Eli is dressing up like a king, and me? I’m going as Cookie Monster- “Oogifletzet” in Hebrew.
Can’t wait to give you the whole report on Purim in Israel!