Monday, March 8, 2010

Catching Up

So here’s the deal: I’m WAY behind on my blogging, and it’s no one’s fault but my own. Here’s what I’m gonna do – I’m gonna write a summary of Yerucham so far, and then a breakdown of Leadership Week to get you all up to speed so that I can start my regular blogging again.

Southern Tiyul

The Southern Tiyul was lots of fun, but at this point it was over a month ago – crazy.

Tiyul Darom – Nativ 29

Thursday – 02/04/2010


Breakfast & check out

9:00 Depart from Beit Nativ

11:30 Box Lunch

12:00 Hike

· hard option – Har Yishai + Nahal David

The hikes were cancelled due to flooding, so we got a choice between hiking Masada and going to the Dead Sea Spa. I picked Masada, but on our way there we got stopped for 45 minutes at a flash flood! It was incredible! For 100 feet in front of us there was water coursing over the road - crazy! When we finally drove through the flood we went to the museum at Masada which was cool, and then took a cable car to the top. It was SUPER windy though, so Adina and I hiked right down the Snake Path.

Dinner at Roded

While we were at the Bedouin Tent at Kfar Nokdim not only was it incredibly cold, but it was raining the entire time! Sometimes it was just a drizzle, but sometimes it was actually pouring – good thing we were safe and sound in our camelhair tent. The dinner was delicious as Bedouin dinner always is, and afterwards we had a bonfire and Gabe and I got some people to come with us to stargaze. Unfortunately, there were no stars, but we had fun anyway

I'm the T.

Sleeping in a Bedouin Tent

Friday – 02/05/10

7:00 Shaharit

7:30 Breakfast at Roded

Breakfast was really good!

8:30 Hike

· Hard option – Nahal Tzafit

Again with the raining and the cold. At the beginning of the hike, our medic looked up at the mountain and said in Hebrew "This frightens me." Also, her gun broke into two pieces. Every time we reached a plateau we needed to wait for her to catch up. By the end of the hike, Elkana was carrying her gun and her medic bag - useless. The hike was really fun, except for this part where we had to pass through a man-made concrete tunnel under a mountain. I had to bend at my waist and walk through jackknifed to make it - pretty painful. Laura and I talked about the various techniques we employ when jumping off boulders on a hike - she's a proponent of the grunt and I'm and firm believer in the arm swing. When we combined the two it was pretty awesome.

2:00 Check into rooms in Ktura

At Ketura I stayed with Joe, Tyler and Momo, and our room connected to Gabe, Jonny, Max and Aaron.

4:50 Candle lighting (in lobby)

5:00 Short tour of kibbutz

On my tour of the Kibbutz, we saw an hours old calf which was really cool.

6:30 Shabbat evening services

Services were fine - I really like the new Masorti Siddur (except for it's inclusion of the Matriarchs of course), and it was nice davening from it. They are calling it an "Israeli Siddur" with the basic idea being that Masorti Jews and anyone to the left of them will feel comfortable using it. The Matriarchs (even inserted as they are as an option) precludes it being used by anyone to the right. It is dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Al Lewis, which I thought was a nice touch. I recently heard that it is the only prayer book to be a best seller here in Israel.

7:30 Festive Shabbat dinner

9:00 Nativ TISCH!

The Tisch was good but not spectacular

Shabat 02/06/10 Parashat Hashavua Beshalach

Breakfast in rooms

9:30 Shabbat T’fillot

11:30 Kiddush and choice of three peulot:

· Walk to experimental orchards

The walk through the Kibbutz was great. David, our guide, was hysterical and I was predisposed to like him because he wore a Yankees hat. He told us about Astaxanthin, the red algae that is making a fortune for the Kibbutz, and showed us the date orchards.

1:00 Lunch, sports, rest

4:30 Mincha and Seudah Shlishit

5:50 Arvit, Havdalah

7:00 dinner

8:00 Activities by choice:

· Kibbutz Lotan Holistic Evening

The holistic evening at Lotan was great. We learned Shiatsu massages and other Asian stuff. On the busride there and during the sessions, I really solidified my friendship with Sarah with is good.

Sunday – 02/07/10

7:00 Shaharit

7:30 Breakfast

8:00 Choice of:

· Hike

My mom had told me that she had a former USYer on Ketura whose name used to be Steve Roth and now he went by "Shimon Something." She told me she'd love for me to find him. With all that information I knew it wouldn't be hard. The guide on our hike, in unaccented English, introduced himself as Shimon Ben-Yosef, and I figured, why not? At my first opportunity I approached him and asked "Shimon, was your name always Shimon?"

"Was my name always Shimon? Actually, no," he responded, "I used to be Ste-"

"Steve Roth," I finished.

"Yes..." He affirmed, a question in his voice.

"And you were President of Connecticut USY?" I asked.

"Yes..." He said again.

"Then my mom Linda Ripps asked me to give you her regards," I said with a smile.

(Forgive the dialogue style, I was getting bored)

He was delighted to hear that things were well with Eemah and was glad to meet me (who wouldn't be?). The hike itself was lots of fun and we saw a dead hyena.

12:30 Lunch

3:00 The sand dunes at Kasui

The Kasui dunes are sand dunes without any quartz in the sand - this makes the sand incredibly fine and fun to run around in, dig under, push people over, and generally engage in horseplay in the first degree. It was great fun.

7:00 BBQ Dinner

When have the words BBQ Dinner ever been followed by anything negative? Here is no exception.

After dinner, I called my mom and put Shimon on the phone - they both enjoyed that.

I went to bed early to wake up in a few hours for...

01:00 SuperBall

Obviously that's supposed to say Super Bowl, but what do you expect, Israelis wrote the schedule. Great game, great food (The Ketura cafe opened for us - I had apple pie a la mode - delicious), great friends - terrible commercials. We watched on the Lebanese Middle East TV, which showed METV ads for their shows such as Bonanza and Lassie, in place of the usual Super Bowl ads.

Monday – 02/08/10

7:00 Shaharit

8:00 Breakfast, check out of rooms
9:00 Hike: hard Har Amir

The hike was fun.


Boating in the Red Sea - cancelled

Instead I went to King's City - an Israeli "Amusement Park" Yossi paid a boatload for the tickets for those who wanted to go. The place has four attractions - A log flume ride which spends twenty minutes as a leisurely cruise through dioramas about King Solomon before one drop, a 4-D movie, a haunted house/optical illusions room, and a hallway with Biblical scenes depicted in niches in the walls. HUGE waste of time and money.

Free evening in Eilat

I got Hashamen shawarma and then walked around the mall with Gabe before we went back to our room and watched a Jackie Chan movie that was on TV.

Tuesday – 02/09/10

07:30 easy option shaharit+Breakfast

· easy option – Red Canyon

Yossi told me that because of my hand I should do the easy option for this hike so that's what I did. It was still a legit hike. Adina and I spent time hanging out with Cori.

12:30 Lunch at Haleluyah restaurant

We ate here on Pilgrimage - it's still delicious.

1:30 Water Sports - cancelled, I napped

6:30 Dinner at the Adi Hotel

Free evening in Eilat

Gabe and I walked to the movie theater to buy tickets for Up in the Air. While there, Nadiv and Noah showed up. They wanted to see Avatar, which was starting in a few minutes but they would never make it through the line in time. We let Nadiv come up to buy the tickets with us - they thanked us and went in to the movie. We had about an hour to kill before the movie, so we walked to the tayellet (boardwalk), and I had my first ever French Crepe, which in Hebrew is spelled French Crap - it was delicious.

Up in the Air was incredible - an absolutely spectacular movie that deals with family loyalty and achieving goals. Possibly my favorite movie I've seen so far this year.

Wednesday 02/10/10


Breakfast + Check Out

Depart for Yerucham/ Ein Tzurim

Our staff told us that we would be meeting up with Kibbutz again for lunch at 3 pm. At 2, they told us that it would not actually be lunch. In reality, we were going to the Ministry of Health in Beer Sheva because a girl on Nativ had been diagnosed with the mumps and we all needed vaccinations. I called Eemah right away (even though it was 7am, I woke her up because it was a snow day, like all days on the East Coast this winter - sorry Eemah!), and asked her to find out whether her immunosuppressed son should be getting this shot. The answer was no, and Yossi very easily let me out of this obligation. No harm, no foul, but sorry Nativ, sending an email to our parents in the middle of the night in America does not allow you to tell us you've "notified everyone's parents."


Week 1

We settled into our apartments, did our first big shop, kashered any dishes that needed kashering, and generally made our homes livable. My staff totally misunderstood me when I told them that I was working on setting up a volunteer job with JNF and wrote down that that was my job, and didn’t assign me anything different. For the first few days, I didn’t work, because I had no place to be, but I eventually had LeeAnn ask the teacher at her gan if I could join her in working there. She told me the Gannenet was fine with it; I wouldn’t be starting work for a few days though.

Every Tuesday we have Yom Nativ. On the first one, the staff and Yossi explained to us what that meant. There would be several Yemei Nativ during the duration of Nativ, but not as many as we would expect because of Tuesdays when we would be away from Yerucham (Leadership week, Northern Tiyul, Pesach, Israel Advocacy Week, etc.) We were then asked to all suggest ideas for possible Yemei Nativ. After we had a very sizeable list of ideas, we began weeding them out and combining similar ones. We ended up with a list of about 12 and we needed to vote that down to 6. My fellow Nativers, over the course of the voting process, managed to remove every suggested Yom Nativ with inherent educational value, leaving only the ones that sounded fun, but would undoubtedly be diluted with forced, unnatural learning. We then wrote our top three choices for which of the days we’d want to plan, and the staff divided us into groups.

Four days a week, from 8:30-3:30, LeeAnn and I work at Gan Alon with 3-year-old cuties. We get lunch for free in the middle of the day. I enjoy what I’m doing, but the days feel very long and I come home exhausted.

Eemah and Tani Come to Visit!

Eemah and Matan met me in the 'ruch on Tuesday afternoon. We walked over to my host family's house so they could meet my host father and I gave them a tour of my apartment. Then my mom took 9 friends of my friends out to dinner. The proprietor of Al HaGrill was so excited to get to play restaurant with tables and chairs and everything. Eemah loved meeting my friends, and dinner was nice, even though it was a little rushed and the power went out and the restaurant wasn't great. After dinner, we took a bus to Beer Sheva and then a train to TLV. We got to the Sheraton in Tel Aviv around 11 pm and it was great to have an awesome bed and a good shower in the morning. We woke up late and then went to a Yotvata cafe for a huge brunch. After that, we went to see cousin Ronit and we all hung out at the port which has been made into a trendy shops and cafes place. After spending two hours with her, we took a cab downtown to see my cousins Yigal and Dorit and we had dinner at the Cafe Joe below Yigal's office. From there we took a bus to Jlem and went to the apartment that my mom was renting for the week. On Thursday we went to Beit Nativ to try and figure out Shabbat dinner and to say hi to Yitz and whoever else might be in the office. After that we got Matan shawarma and us falafel at Maoz and then we went to the zoo with my cousin Tsafi and her twin daughters Zohar and Nogah. After the zoo, we went back to Tsafis for more hanging out and dinner with the fam (all the fam - Ron, Aviad, Inbar, Tal and the father Meir were all there for all or part of the visis) then we went back to the apartment. On Friday we went downtown and arranged to have Shabbat dinner with Jules and Yehudis Gutin and then we went to visit with my cousins Benyamin and Mazal who are awesome. After that we went back to the apartment to get ready for Shabbat and take a cab to Shira Hadasha before Shabbat started. We davened there and loved it and then had dinner at Fuchsberg with Jules and Yehudis and were joined by David and Seth. Dinner was lovely, and afterwards we walked home with Jim Lebeau and his wife who are friends of my father. On Shabbat we went to Moreshet Avraham in Talpiot and then spent the day with Alexis and Charlie and their family. We went back to the apartment to hang out for a while and then Eemah and Matan got in a nesher to the airport and I got in a cab to get to the bus to get back to Yerucham. I rode the packed bus with Joshy and Seth.

We did lots of things in preparation for Purim in my gan, and not so many things as Nativers. I did, however, go over to the girls' apartment one night to teach them how to make hamantashen. We all had fun, even though I got frustrated with Rachel's (and everyone else's) "eat the dough" baking style. The hamantashen turned out great and they were a delicious snack, but they didn't last very long.

This brings us to Leadership Week, which I'll do in a separate post so I can get this online. I'm almost caught up!

Talk to you soon,