Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Room

I am now completely moved in and unpacked. You are somewhere on my wall...

Bonus Befuddlement

When you're searching for the best room, no one ever checks to see if the toilet seat stays up on its own.

Six Shuls in Two Days

I just returned from dropping off some laundry. That’s right! As I mentioned in my first real post (“Here We GO...” – 8/27/09), the kibbutz does our laundry. While this seems like quite a luxury…which it is…there’s no guarantee on how long it takes or if it ever returns. I’m A04. I keep a meticulous spreadsheet of what goes out and when it comes back. The trick is, instead of waiting to do laundry every two weeks, to have a consistent flow of laundry all the time. So far, I have not lost any items, but I have been waiting over a week for certain things to come back….

Weekly Recap

  • Eilat day trip

  • Eilat Beer Festival (I had a great cider!)

  • Overnight hike

  • J-town for Hoshana Rabba (Happy B-Day, again!) and Shabbat/Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah

  • Midnight bus back to Ketura

  • Mud building fun

  • Preparing for the arrival of the Israelis and Arabs

My Journey to Jerusalem

You have to do this to understand it.

Getting the Bus:

  • I preordered my ticket for the Eilat-JLM bus to ensure that I would have a seat, especially during the busy holiday week. (It also saves a good amount of money to buy roundtrip.)

  • The bus was about 15-20 minutes late. I was getting worried…
    Picture this:
    • I’m standing out on this two lane highway (90) in the middle of the desert, where people drive crazier than a raging bull.
    • It is MY responsibility (not the driver’s!) to stop the bus.
    • So, I keep looking and every other line besides 444, the one I need, passes.
    • I thought I had missed the bus, because I glanced down at my phone for second, taking my eyes off the road.
    • Eventually it came.

The Ride North:

  • I get on and it’s packed with many people standing. Luckily I have a ticket!

  • The bus driver tells me that my seat is the middle one in the last row, with the fat women sitting in it. I thought, GREAT… a bad seat and now I have to tell this lady to move!

  • But…no problem. She got out of the seat and sat on the floor in front of me. AND, this seat actually has the most leg room on the entire bus!

  • A few rows in front of me there were two children fighting the whole time. Next to me, the old man was shouting at these kids to behave. And, directly in front, to my right, this guy had a ringtone that sounded like birds chirping, which didn’t stop the entire ride.

  • We made it safely to Jerusalem…ONE HOUR behind schedule.

J-Town, Baby!

The not so holy city...

Night 1:

  • As soon as I got to town, I jumped on Bus 21 to meet my friend, Mike Schwartz, in Baqua, where he is staffing Young Judea Year Course.

    Mike, TODA RABA for hosting me; I had a great time!

  • I called my bro Hillel to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. He’s getting so old J

  • We went to hang out with some Israeli friends in Ein Karem, far away from all the Americans and tourists.


  • Early wake up to get to the Kotel

  • Birthday davening at the wall (where I was once again frustrated just by being there). I got to beat my willow (that’s a Jewish reference for those who did not understand…learn more here) and I was honored with hagba.

  • Walked around, bought some books, and went to the shuk.

V’Samachta V’Hageha:

  • I stayed with Adam and Maital Baldachin in Katamon, where they are living for the year.

    Thank you so much for having me last minute. I really enjoyed my time with you!

  • Throughout both days I went to six different shuls and was able to get the full service!
    • Minyan Shivyoni – basically Conservative with a mehitza…they’ll get there one day. Pretty good though. I liked it here.
    • The French Shul – Orthodox, but the members don’t appear to be “orthodox” in their daily lives or even at shul. But that’s how they do it!
    • Shira Chadasha – Orthodox, but lets women lead non-essential services and read Torah. Too sing-songy for me.
    • Kedem – Like Hadar in NYC. I surprisingly liked this one, but it was VERY American and took a long time.
    • Bet Knesset Nitzanim – Orthodox, stam.
    • Kehilat Yedidya – Modern Orthodox, Carlbach-ish. Also, a very nice service. I think many of these people would actually go to traditional Conservative shuls in America.

  • I ate dinner with Nativ (Thanks, Shosh!) and ran into the SSDS-EU 9th Grade Trip. Of course, Yemima Besner made me give a speech as soon as I walked in!

  • Since Israel does not have a second day yom tov, for Simchat Torah they have these crazy parties afterwards called Hakafot Sheniyot. Check out the pictures and videos HERE. However, after being at BJ in the City for hakafot, this lames in comparison.

  • The best part …on Ben Yehuda, right up the block from the Nachman party, was this Chrisitan Korean choir performing for everyone:

  • Finally…I had to catch a midnight bus back to Ketura.
    Try making an express bus from Jerusalem to Eilat stop somewhere in the middle of the desert at THREE IN THE MORNING!

That’s all for now. The rest of the students arrive tomorrow. So, in good Israeli fashion, I am being evicted (or relocated) so an Arab can live in my room!

(DISCLAIMER: That was just a joke and does not truly reflect my political views.)



  • Only in Israel will you find two unattended/unsupervised children on a bus traveling the entire length of the country.

  • Moreover, only here will you see a total stranger yell at them as if he were their father (although he had every right to).

  • I am still perplexed by the economic structure / functionality of a shuk. I am not a business major, but to me it does not make sense strategically to have 50 stores lined up next to each other…ALL SELLING THE SAME THING.

  • I’ve come to the conclusion that it is both sad and amazing that, coming from Teaneck and NYC, the religious wonders of Jerusalem do not faze me.
    It’s phenomenal that we have created such a rich Jewish culture in the Diaspora, but it is also upsetting that the JEIWSH STATE cannot outdo that.

Shoutout #31: Ross Family - Carol, it is pretty cool that we went from you being our babysitter to good family friends. And now, we’ve watched each other’s families grow up. I look forward to seeing all of you when I return to Teaneck…unless you’re coming on a business trip here sometime soon.

Carol, I hope you can figure out how to get to this website to read it. If not, Juliana, please show Nana what to do. Thanks!

P.S. Did Obama really win the Nobel Peace Prize?! I love the man, but REALLY? Just because you’re not Bush, doesn’t mean you deserve the prize. Well, there have been a lot of columns out there, some cute and some serious. I happen to agree with Tom on this one: The Peace (Keepers) Prize

P.P.S . If you didn’t like that one, you’ll most definitely agree with him on this: Where Did ‘We’ Go?

P.P.P.S. I know most of the posts have been doused with Judaism up until now. The reasons are probably twofold: 1) I’m in Israel, and 2) It’s been the haggim. Now that they’re all over, I hope to bring you some alternative content in the near future.