Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in Jlem, Jazz and Sacrifices

Monday was a long day as always. I spent my breaks watching The Lord of the Rings, to catch up to a few other Nativers so that we can all watch the third one together. That night was a girls football game. They lost by a lot, but not because their fans weren't supportive. We were cheering our heads off, confusing the other team's offense and supporting our girls as much as we could. On the way home I had a nice chat with Jordana (who had a spectacular catch during the game), about what I can't remember, but our conversations tend to be quite good and engaging.

On Tuesday I had Hebrew in the morning followed by lunch at Frank Sinatra. In the early evening Gabe, Jonny and I headed over to a place downtown for haircuts. We were all terrified. The place is a haircutting academy. It was the first time I'd had my hair cut by a sixteen year old Arab boy, and let me tell you, he was no Maryanne. My hair doesn't look bad, its just not what I'm used to. I may go to Adam for my next haircut and have him just give me a buzz on a seven or eight. Tuesday evening was Erev Nativ. We started all together in -3 before breaking out by track. Noah and Cori led a discussion about the Hadag Nahash song Shirat HaSticker (The Sticker Song). The lyrics to this song were written by Israeli novelist David Grossman. I have done similar programs many times, but I still found them interesting and Noah and Cori put a different spin on it by printing out images of the bumper stickers mentioned in the song.

On Wednesday we had Kol Nativ rehearsal after a long day at school (I got back my PSchinds midterm - I was pretty happy with the result) and then I went out to dinner with Brian, Ilana, Asaf, Lainie and Jesse at HaShamen - a great shwarma place that gives you a choice among turkey (the most commonly used at every other shwarma joint), chicken and a mix of beef and lamb. The reason to go to HaShamen is for the lamb one which is just so delicious (though I could see chicken tasting really good). Afterwards we met up with other Nativers for a really fun night, culminating in a trip to McDonald's with Joey, Nadav and others. Though this McDonald's isn't Kosher, their ice cream, of course, is. And it costs 3 shekels ($0.79) for a big cone. It's probably emblematic of how cheap we all are that we refer to places by the cost of their products. Three good examples would be Seven Shekel Beer, 25 Shekel Pizza and now Three Shekel Ice Cream - obviously they're not the best ice cream or pizza in town (Aldo's and Big Apple, respectively), but hey, they're cheap.

Today was my last Freshman Writing class. Our final papers are due in a week, hopefully that won't stress me out too much. We got back the first five pages that we'd written and she liked mine and gave very constructive criticism. I then had a mid-semester academic advising session with Reina (the Freshman academic advisor who also handles Nativ - she's a past Nativer). She asked about my classes, and I'm glad to say that I was generally able to give positive reports. When I got home I took a nap for a few hours and woke up just before 5 for our final Kol Nativ rehearsal before the performance. When we finally did perform we were good, but not great. Whatever, room to grow. As we headed into dinner we were directed to a table outside the dining room with envelopes on it. Everyone took the envelope with their name on it and headed to the tables to open them. Inside were emails solicited and printed out by our staff from our family members. So cute and sweet! Thanks to all of you who wrote and to Shosh for organizing this great surprise!

Dinner was good. The turkey was good, as was the stuffing, but there were several things missing (in order of importance):
1. Family
1a. Pigs in Blankets
2. More Spanish spoken than English
3. Grandma's turkey and gravy
4. My apple pie
5. Navah's meatballs
6. Football
7. The Macy's parade
It was clear that Nativ was doing its best to make us feel at home and the efforts were very much appreciated!

Ilana, me, Shara and Gabe - 201 pride!

After dinner we went to -3 to watch the Thanksgiving video that two Nativers had put together using footage that they'd filmed of us and pop culture video clips. After the presentation, a bunch of us, including Brian, Asaf, Joey, Joshy, Meir, Jesse, Jordana, Judah and me went to the Davidson Center (next to the Southern Wall) for a jazz concert. It wasn't truly jazz - more funk and jazz-inspired stuff than real Bill Clinton at the Apollo jazz - but it still sounded good. After the concert, Brian, Jordana, Joshy, Jesse and I walked the walls of the Old City a little and then headed home. We actually went home three different ways, Jesse and I were the only ones who went my usual way. As we were skirting the edge of the Armenian Quarter, walking on the edge of a parking lot, we spotted a group of Muslim boys pushing a goat, standing up inside of a shopping cart. The sight was only inexplicable for a moment before we realized that tomorrow is Eid al-Adha of the Feast of the Sacrifice. Once we realized that, the scene became simply ridiculous. This was no small goat either; it probably weighed at least 90.718474 kg (200 lbs). Tomorrow, they will sacrifice it to commemorate Ibrahim almost sacrificing Ishmael (you'll recall that our story is slightly different) and donate the meat to poor Muslims. A little weird if you ask me, but that's religion for you.

I thought about putting in a things for which I am thankful piece here, but I decided that that would be far too cheesy. Instead I'll just say that I'm thankful for those of you who choose to read my blog. If any of you want to post lists of thanks in the comments, feel free!

Finally, here's an article I found really cool: Israel's top ten must-have gadgets
Hope you like it!

Happy Thanksgiving and I'll talk to you soon,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another Week Gone By

Again, it's been a while. In order for me to write I need a combination of time and will to write, so sometimes I'll write every other day, sometimes it'll take a week.

Monday was the usual long day. When I got home I had a lot of work to do, specifically Hebrew that night.

Tuesday after Hebrew I put in time on my Freshman Writing work, and then it was Erev Nativ. For Erev Nativ we met by track and had a program. The Kehillah program was Share or Dare. We sat in a circle and tossed a ball of yarn around. When the yarn reached you, you grabbed hold and either shared an experience from Nativ so far or vocalized a dare for yourself for the weeks and months to come. It was a fun program, and at the end we all walked away with a yarn bracelet, so it was nice.

On Wednesday after school I had Mark Lazar's JET course again. We really are learning a lot about education, formal and informal. This week we focused on Teachable Moments and how to harness them and use them as they pop up. Everything we learn is so interesting and Mark teaches it in such a fun way. After Mark Lazar, I was up late finishing my Freshman Writing assignment for the next day.

Thursday we had Freshman Writing and it was great to hand in what I'd been working on. There's still more to come though, one more class for that six-class course and then I need to wrap up my paper and then I'm done.

Thursday night a lot of my friends were at the B'yachad program for returning staff members to Ramah and other camps. I wish I could participate, but I didn't staff Ramah last summer and even if I had, Wheels is my first choice this summer and you need to commit to Ramah to be in the program. Joshy, Jacob and I went out to Fruit Bar (a Pinkberry-type frozen yogurt place) and then came home and watched The Illusionist.

There were (was? Anyone know the grammatical rule here? Feel free to help me out in the comment section...or comment there - that's what it's there for.) probably about 4/5 of Nativ home this past Shabbat. Joshy's family is here so he was staying at David's Citadel with them. Friday night I walked to Shira Hadasha with Brian and his parents and then had dinner at Beit Nativ. We went to the tisch for a little and then played Risk. I went to bed pretty early. On Shabbat morning I went to Shira Hadasha again, and after davening Gabe, Gabe, Meir, Nadav, Lainie, Ilana, Seth, Adam, Jesse, Shira, Tyler, and I walked over to our friend Josh Goldberg's house. Josh was on Nativ 26 with Gabe's brother Simeon and the two of them have been friends for a while. He is in Hebrew and Isaacs with me, plus we have similar USY backgrounds and he knows Navah - we get along really well. He is a genuinely hospitable guy who loves Nativers. He and his roommate have a beautiful apartment and are wonderful cooks and hosts. After lunch we sang zmirot (Josh taught us some new ones) and played a board game called Settlers that I'd never seen before but really enjoyed. As Shabbat was winding down, a number of people went home, but Gabe, Gabe, Meir, Tyler, Josh, Nadav and I went to a small vacant lot by Josh's apartment and played 9 innings of wiffleball. I can still throw a wiffleball pretty well because it's lighter than a baseball, and the bat is light enough that my hand isn't an issue so I'm pretty good. My team lost though, on a walk-off homerun by Josh. We all had a great time. Once we got home, I had a little time to get ready and then it was time for dinner with Joshy's family. Josh's parents took Jesse, Joey, Tyler, Seth, Jordana and me out to dinner along with their family of five to a beautiful and delicious steakhouse called La Guta on Derech Beit Lechem. They are all very generous and the food and dinner conversation stimulating and engaging. In particular, Josh's father and I had several great discussions about Conservative Judaism, Israeli politics and business, and I look forward to talking with him more over the rest of their trip.

On the way back to Beit Nativ, we took the Sacks' past the Gilad Shalit tent, and then we took Steven (Joshy's 9th grade brother) to Ben Yehuda street because he wanted to go. I came back pretty quickly (Joshy and Steven headed back to the Citadel) and then I hung out with Adina and Rachel for a while before bed.

Today was Silicon Wadi (aka the most recent installment of the Spectacular Adventures of the Silicon Seven) so the seven of us had our Frank lunches and four hours of class. We just got home so I have some time for work before Beit Midrash.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Feel Like It's Been Forever

So I haven't blogged since that little half post about last week's Erev Nativ, which was almost a week ago. I probably could be spending this time more wisely, but I'm going to write this instead, because the truth is I enjoy it. Look at that Eemah and Abba, the little kid at Schechter who had to be forced to write sentences longer than three words now enjoys writing - go figure.

Wednesday is one of my long days. Wake up at 6:30 for davening at 7:00, Nativ provides a bus to school at 8:00, Hebrew from 8:30-12:00, lunch at the Frank from 12:00-12:30. Isaacs from 12:30-2:00, break from 2:00-4:30 and finish up with Talmud from 4:30-6:00. We got home at about 6:30 and I had Jewish Educator Training with Mark Lazar again. I continue to enjoy learning from this enigmatic man. To take a moment to describe this talented teacher - he is from California, probably about my parent's age, with chest-length frizzy gray hair and a beard. He really knows teaching, and it is a pleasure to learn techniques from him. Going into the course I was unsure what to expect, but we spend our time playing games with an eye towards how we can successfully employ them as teachers. After JET, I saved Gabe from the evils of his Freshman Writing paper and we went to get falafel from Maoz. Brian Cook

On Thursday, I had Freshman Writing at 12:30 until 2:00 (with lunch at the Frank before, of course). We then had to hang around Hebrew U for a make-up Hebrew class, because they run out of class time at the end of the semester. We watched Blues LaChofesh HaGadol a poignant Israeli movie based in 1970 about recent high school graduates experiencing their last summer vacation before the army. I enjoyed it, but it was annoying having to stay after school for it. Thursday night was actually a pretty quiet one and most of us ended getting back to base early.

Friday was also a quiet day. I went to Shira Hadasha on Friday night and Alick davened. Friday night Gabe Ci., Adam, Joey and I played Risk. I slept through shul on Saturday. After lunch, Gabe Ci., Joey, Brian and I played another game of Risk. Once Brian and I were both out, we went outside and played catch. I'm working on learning to throw with my left hand (in some ways this is more important to me than being able to write lefty, probably in part because it feels more attainable, I'm actually a pretty good southpaw).

Today was Silicon Wadi so the Silicon Seven (the seven Nativ guys who take the class) had lunch together at the Frank and then went to class. Class was good but long as always. When we got home we had a meeting about hammering out our winter break plans. I'm going to Italy with Joshy, Joey, Gabe Ci., Adam, Seth and possibly Nadav. Planning is so exciting, and I can't wait for break, though I also like my other idea (which is totally unfeasible). I would have loved to fly somewhere cheap in Europe and then board a train. We would travel all over Europe, sleeping on trains, hitting as many countries and cities as we could, and then flying home after two weeks. It would be exhausting, but awesome, and we could sleep once we're back in Israel. I'm sure that it would be too expensive, but it still sounds cool to me. Joshy and I decided that when we are co-directors of AIPAC we would do it on the organization's money and claim that we were raising pro-Israel sentiments in Europe.

Tonight was Beit Midrash (free pizza and text study on free will) and guy's night movie night. We watched Gran Turino and it was wonderful. The movie is essentially Clint Eastwood growling instead of speaking, spitting racial epithets left and right, and tying up the movie with a beautifully poetic plot. Not for the faint of heart, but a great movie.

Now I'm writing this and about to go to sleep but I'm glad I got it all down. Davening at 6:45 tomorrow.

Talk to you soon,

P.S. It's sufganiot season!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not Disney World

My mom, sister and brother were all in Disney World for a couple days this week so I'm understandably jealous. Still, I'm here in Israel, which is pretty good too.

Monday I had Hebrew, lunch at the Frank, Medieval Jewry, and Talmud. Everything was fairly standard. The day is pretty long, especially since the sun sets so early now. By the time we get out of Talmud at 6:00 it is dark out and that makes it feel so late. When I got home I did a little work and then went out to dinner at Thailandi with Gabe. The food was pretty good and not too expensive - plus the company was wonderful, and we discussed all manner of fun things.

Today I had Hebrew at 10:30, but I woke up not feeling well around 8:00 (instead of the 9:00 that our alarm was set for). Hebrew was the same as usual, then we had lunch (guess where) and we were home by 2:00. I got right to work because I have a lot of stuff due over the next two days. I finished the Isaacs essay I had as well as the Hebrew project and half of my freshman writing assignment due Thursday.

Tonight we had Erev Nativ, which I found very interesting. Rabbi Tovia Singer, the director of Outreach Judaism (an organization similar to Jews for Judaism) came to speak with us in an unusual way. Yossi introduced his session by saying that he'd brought in a Jew for Jesus to give us a talk similar to what we might expect to hear on a college campus. Rabbi Singer then came in (using an alias) to the room in a suit with a Jews for Jesus tshirt under his jacket. I realized during Yossi's intro what was happening (having heard of Jews for Judaism) and I resolved to sit back and watch and not become an active participant in the discussion. My fellow Nativers were drawn in to what he said, staying alert and interested. At one point, about half of Nativ had their hands in the air, waiting to ask questions. They were skillfully and smoothly confronted and many of them revealed a lack of knowledge about Judaism (that's not at all to say that they are unintelligent - I may have found myself in the same situation had I engaged with him, though I like to consider myself knowledgeable) and some acquitted themselves quite well. After he finished, he left the room and Yossi said that a rabbi would now be coming in to present the opposite side. Rabbi Singer walked back in (this time in a shirt and tie instead of the Jews for Jesus shirt) and blew the minds of most of Nativ. Once everyone calmed down, and this took some time, he began to talk to us about what techniques he had used earlier and why they were effective, about the tactics of Jews for Jesus and about the fact that the vast majority of Christendom bears no malice for the Jews and doesn't attempt to convert us. It was a very interesting program and I really enjoyed sitting back and observing (though apparently my absence from the discussion was felt - Gabe asked me after if I knew what was going on, citing the fact that I would have gotten heavily involved in the discussion had I not known...he knows me too well). I had always wanted to see one of these presentations and I was not disappointed.

That's all for tonight.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Conservative Judaism, Rabin, and Insomnia

I'm still awake, even though I need to wake up at 6:15 for davening tomorrow, so I figured I would take advantage of this time. On Thursday I ended up not going to V for Vendetta, and instead watched 3 episodes of Lost. On Friday, We had to get up for a morning session with Jules Gutin, Director of USY (and I had to get my package of 4 SIs, Sudafed and gloves). I enjoyed it, as I do all of Jules' sessions, but I felt that the group was hoping for a more in depth look at the Movement. After the session It was time for lunch, and then Debbie, Jordana, Joshy and I headed off towards the shuk to buy rugelach from marzipan for Shabbat. As we were walking there though, I got sidetracked by a crafts fair and we all went exploring. According to the artists I spoke to, they will be there every Friday. A lot of the stuff I saw was beautiful, and I can't wait to bring Eemah there. We bought our marzipan and headed home.

When we got home I found Joey and Adam (our resident barber) and we (along with spectators) shaved Joey's head according to the terms of the bet.

I think it came out rather well.

Friday night services were at Moreshet (The shul that is part of our compound - stepping through it's doors transports you via wormhole to an American Conservative shul). Judah led kab shab and it was fun because his voice is beautiful. The girls had a "sleep-over" (minus the actual sleeping over), and the boys felt the need to crash and assert ourselves - it was pretty fun/obnoxious of us.

Saturday morning I went to Shira Hadasha with Meir. Alick led Shacharit - beautiful as always. I walked home with Shosh and we had fun talking - she is the best big sister ever! After lunch we had another session with Jules. He taught us about the role of the Torah in modern Judaism and about the authority of Rabbinic Judaism - all stuff that I knew already, but a necessary primer for some of my fellow Nativers. I spent what little free time we had over Shabbat with the most wonderful people ever - Joshy, Debbie, Rachel and Adina.

After Mincha, Maariv, and Havdallah, a busload of us headed off to Tel Aviv. Saturday night was the rain check of the Yitzhak Rabin memorial - 14 years since his assassination (I actually do have vague memories of seeing the news about his death). The ceremony was moving. I understood a lot of the speeches (from people such as Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni, Dalia Rabin and others) and enjoyed the music (Hadag Nachash and also some performing group at the end singing Shir L'Shalom). Unfortunately, the evening was marred for me when I got back on the bus. One of my staff members, who I already knew aligns himself with the political right, felt the need to take the bus microphone and give his take on the proceedings. He called the evening a hate-filled event that spread mistrust and hatred of the right and the religious in Israel. What he did was disgusting (I can think of no way to soften my words here - I felt quite physically sick), and upset me and some of my fellow Nativers. Ariella and I had a discussion about whether we could possibly have missed these undertones that our staff member had perceived, considering that we aren't native speakers, but we decided that they could not possibly have been there. To paraphrase Tzipi - 14 years ago there was a huge rift between the right and the left, a rift that led to an unspeakable act of hatred. Now, we must continue coming together, continue working together, for peace. Unfortunately, Nativers who don't have as much Hebrew as I do only saw the evening through the lens of hatred presented by our staff member.

One cool part of the evening was seeing the recorded message from Obama. Israelis don't like him too much, but I thought that the message was very good, saying things that needed to be said. Except when he used the term Palestine in the present tense; that was either a major gaffe (obviously unlikely) or a calculated move in Obama's push towards peace.

Today was business as usual. I woke up earlier than I often do on Sundays so I had plenty of time to relax before school which was nice. Silicon Wadi (after lunch at the Frank, of course) was very interesting today. We heard from a deputy director within the Ministry of Finance, who also happens to be our professor's father.

When we got home I watched a little tv with Joshy and then I went out to dinner with Gabe, Ilana and Becky. After dinner it was time for our final session with Jules, this one about Halachic decisions of the Conservative Movement - focusing specifically on the Eemahot (adding the Matriarchs to the Amidah). I found this the most interesting of the sessions, though I wonder if maybe we could have eliminated one of the other sessions and split this one into two, to allow more time for questions and to make the sessions shorter. All in all out weekend with Jules was very pleasant (especially considering that it is supposed to be the first of our Conservative Judaism sessions, and we already had sessions with Joel Roth and Bradley Artsen).

Now I'm going to try to go to sleep again, I have a busy day ahead of me.

Talk to you soon,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankees Win!

So, in case you haven't heard, the Yankees won the World Series! Joey isn't talking today, but once he recovers a little, we'll be cutting into his hair.

So, back to Monday. Monday, if you'll recall, was the day Jerusalem was behaving like flood-era Mesopotamia. A little rain doesn't stop the Jerusalem girls flag football league though. I headed over to Kraft Stadium with our team and the coaches because I wanted to cheer on my friends. The guy at the gate stopped me (like he did last time) and told me that I couldn't go in because the religious girls didn't want any men in the stadium. After I explained to him that I was my staff member Shosh's brother, and argued a little, I was admitted to the stadium with the warning that "If anything happens, I'm coming for you." I'm not really sure what he thought would happen - an orthodox girl melts into a puddle of goo upon being seen in long athletic shorts by a man? I suppose anything is possible. Anyway, our girls lost but we had fun. On the way home, Debbie, Rachel, Jordana, Arielle, Adina and I decided to order pizza for when we got home. We called Joshy and had him order and then all seven of us had a pizza party back in the room.

On Tuesday, Josh and I headed to school for Hebrew. Hebrew was fine, and then we had the real reason to go to Hebrew U - the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria. I'm not sure that I've communicated just how good this food is in my blog. Even though we've been at Hebrew U for 3 months already, we still spend much of our lunchtime discussing just how good the food is. Right now, I'm really loving the grilled chicken with a side of couscous, but everything is so good.

Tuesday night was Erev Nativ. Our staff had planned a program to be held outside, but as it was still Atlantis out there, they canceled the program and instead showed us the movie Someone to Run With (משהו לרץ אתו) based on the book by David Grossman (a famous Israeli author who I best knew before this for his son's death during the Second Lebanon War). I had seen about 45 minutes in the middle of this movie on Pilgrimage during our groups free time when Raffi and I snuck into another group's program. I hated it then so I didn't expect too much. The movie still doesn't make my top 10 (or 30...or 50) list, but it was interesting, and not as bad as I remembered.

Yesterday I had class from 8:30-6:00, with lunch in the middle (at the Frank, of course). During a break between classes I read about the taking of a ship loaded with Iranian weapons on its (presumably) to Hizballah and Hamas by way or Syria. The mission was carried out by the Israeli special forces unit Shayetet 13, considered to be the most intense of Israel's special forces units. Having not really read much about the Israeli special forces, I spent about an hour diving into Wikipedia learning about them - very interesting stuff. When I got home, I had Mark Lazar (Jewish Educator Training course), which was fun again, and again, very informative. After that, we watched one episode of Lost, and then it was time for bed.

I woke up at 3 am and watched the first two innings of the game on my computer. The Yankees taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom (that's the second half, Nav) of the inning acted like a security blanket, and I drifted off to sleep happy. In the morning I awoke to the (expected) news that the Yankees are once again atop the baseball world. Finally, I've missed gloating.

Today was only Freshman Writing which is still useless. My teacher doesn't accept newspaper or magazine articles as credible sources - that will make writing my paper harder, but it is what it is, and I'll just have to tough this one out. After Freshman Writing was lunch at the Frank which made FW much easier to swallow. Lunch was a lot of fun. I sat and talked with Gabe and Rachel about their summer at Ramah this past summer and how I would love to work there if my plans to staff Wheels fall through.

When I got home, I almost went to Museum on the Seam with Ariella, Jesse and Joshy, but in the end we realized we didn't have time. Tonight is the 5th of November, so Gabe planned a screening of the movie V for Vendetta (if you've seen it, then you'll get why the date matters). I plan on going to that and then turning in for an early (for a Thursday) night. We need to be up early tomorrow for our first session of a closed weekend full of sessions with Jules Gutin, Director of USY. Should be fun, especially since he is bringing me issues of SI.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jerusalem is Very Confused

For some reason, this city seems to think that it is Fair Lawn from the summer of 2009. As I type this, there is a strong wind whistling outside my window and spitting rain blowing into the faces of passersby. I don't really mind the weather, but it just seems very out of place - I know Jlem has a rainy season, but this is a lot of water (it's a good thing in this country - even though my Silicon Wadi professor explained to our class that Israel has the capability to use desalinization techniques to purify seawater to perfectly potable quality for less than 1/1000 of the GDP [considered to be a very reasonable sum] but the agricultural lobby in Israel fights hard against this for some reason and so the drought continues). Everything is good with the Yankees, they currently lead 3-1 in the Series, my hair seems to be safe, and I can't wait for them to finish off the Phillies.

Adina's birthday on Thursday was a blast. I went out for waffles with Adina, Rachel, Debbie, Jordana and Ariella. The waffles were delicious and I had great company so that made it even better.

Debbie, Me and Rachel enjoying waffles on Ben Yehuda.

After waffles we went exploring Jerusalem a little bit until we found a place to hang out, and many more Nativers joined us there to celebrate. This was the first occurrence of the rain, and we all had to scramble for cover. After a while, Joey and Debbie and I headed back to Beit Nativ. Debbie went to bed and Joey and I spent a little while getting ready for the game. We met up at 2 am in a little alcove on his floor. Watching the game was great, but we got very tired by the end and headed back to our rooms to follow the box score online and fall asleep if we got too tired. I watched like that until around 6am when the Yankees won! Evening out the Series was very important, and I went to bed happy.

I woke up on Friday at 11 or so, just in time to say goodbye to my roommatey. After a little while, I decided it was time to head down to lunch. I left my room and went to the door of my building - at which point I immediately turned around. Jerusalem was currently in the middle of a torrential downpour. The courtyard in between the two buildings was partly underwater! I waited a bit for the deluge to stop, and then went to lunch. Jordana and I decided to go shopping for snacks and stuff for Shabbat, so we headed across the street to Supersol. When we got back, the water had mostly drained away and I spent the last few hours before Shabbat in bed on my computer. As Shabbat came nearer (Shabbat starts very early here - 4:11 this past week and we'll get as early as 3:55 on December 4th before it starts to get later again) and my friday morning lethargy failed to break, I decided that the only way I was going to shul was if someone came into my room and said "What the hell Seffi? Get off your butt and get dressed for shul!" Just as I thought that, in came Adina, dressed and ready to go. She gave me a look and I jumped right up and started getting dressed. Adina, Brian (and Brian's mom - a very nice lady who was in Jlem for shabbat after taking Brian to Jordan during the week), Gabe, Haley and I headed to Shira Hadasha (which Brian and I agreed was lacking some of its usual energy, though even a diminished Shira Hadasha is better than most davening experiences we've ever had in the States). We made it back to Beit Nativ just in time for dinner, which was very pleasant, and afterwards I played Risk with Adam, Gabe Ci, Gabe Co and Meir. Gabe and I agreed that we had missed Risk a lot from our days in USY. Saturday morning I woke up in time for lunch and then we played Risk again. After Risk, I went to the Parshat Hashavuah study session and then led Mincha. We did Maariv and Havdallah soon after that, and then (once stores opened a few hours later) I went our for sushi with Adina, Gabe, Lainie and LeeAnn (Nativ doesn't give us stipend for Saturday nights, which is absolutely ridiculous, because nothing even remotely approximating dinner is served at Beit Nativ). After that, Adina and I walked over to Ben Yehuda Street to pick up a bagel for Debbie, and then we headed back to Beit Nativ. I watched Coraline with Gabe, Lainie and Adam - it was a lot of fun and a surprisingly good movie.

On Sunday Joshy and I woke up and headed to school. Class was interesting, but also a little confusing. Silicon Wadi is unique in that the professor isn't an educator, but an entrepreneur. He brings expertise about his topic that no teacher could, but he also isn't as skilled in the areas of pacing his teaching and explaining concepts. The class is still worth taking though, and next time we are taking a field trip to Intel in Israel.

On Sunday evening a lot of people were ordering food for dinner, but the Beit Midrash program was beginning that night and they were going to have free pizza. I ended up going with LeeAnn, Debbie and Jordana and the three of us benefited from the free pizza and then studied about Jewish views on ethical treatment of animals (Tzar Baalei Hayyim) with Yonina Creditor (many of my readers know that name, if you don't, don't worry). The whole program is designed to bring JTS Rabbinical School students, studying in Israel, together with Nativers in study. It was interesting, and definitely worth going back a second time.

Today was back to classes as usual. This morning though, students in Rabbi Schindler's classes got an email telling them that Talmud was canceled today so my classes ended at 2:00 (The free time was wonderful, I just hope that everything is alright with the Rabbi). I took that time to head to the library and begin my research on Conservative Judaism for my Freshman Writing paper. I took out six books, and hopefully they will prove useful - at the very least they give me sources to cite, and since a list of sources is all that's due for next class, they'll serve that purpose (I hate writing essays piecemeal like this, but this time it's helpful). That's about all for now. Hope all is well!

Talk to you soon,