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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HUC Tiyul up North

I have said this already, and I will continue to say it...the program at HUC is invaluable. I learn something new every day and I am always looking forward to what I will learn next. These past 3 days, we have been places I have already been to in my life. However, I learned so much more. From the Biblical perspective of the Kingdom of Israel in the North at Tel Dan to the animal bones found in the 300 communities found from the Iron Age in the West Bank...I learned so much.

Being so close to Lebanon and Syria, you would have expected to be terrified. In actuality, I felt safer up in the North than I have felt since we've been here. The air was clean and pure. The views were breathtaking and everything was so clean! Our hostel on the Kinneret was beautiful and we really enjoyed being together in the evenings just relaxing and living!

At Tel Dan, we learned about the tension between the Kingdom of Judah in the South and the Kingdom of Israel in the North. We also learned that the Bible we read today was written from the point of view of the Southern Kingdom. Many, many differences including the idea of golden calves, which in the Northern Kingdom were just places for God to sit, God's throne. But, according to the Kingdom in the South, the Golden Calves were worshipped, and were bad news. Who knows what we would have learned if the Torah was written in the perspective of the North?

I really enjoyed our trip to the North. I can't wait to take Batya and Carlie there to show them the beauty of the North. A trip to Israel without seeing the North is not complete. And, besides, the Chalutzim (Pioneers) did so much to ensure we would be able to see the North; it would be a shame to not visit and pay respect to the work that was done to make the area beautiful! Check out my webshots page for some pretty great pictures!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur in Jerusalem

Yom Kippur has always been about renewal for me. Renewing my soul, renewing everything about myself and complete Teshuvah (repentance). I knew it would be hard to fast this year, as the weather in Jerusalem isn't the most conducive to fasting. However, this was something I needed to do. I had been told my many people that there was nothing like Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. Sitting in services all day, listening to Cantor Eli Schleifer and our beautiful HUC choir made things completely bearable and very spiritual. But that wasn't it. Looking through the windows in the Chapel and seeing the walls of the Old City was very spiritual, but that wasn't it either. Sitting next to Batya during the Yizkor (Memorial) service was difficult, but that wasn't it either.

It was Jerusalem. The city that seems to never be void of cars honking, people talking loud, music always booming...this city which I have grown a complete love for and sometimes a strong distaste for, was quiet! There were no cars on the road (except a few ambulances). All of the traffic lights were out. All that was on the road were walkers and bike riders. It was amazing. And, most everyone was wearing white. It was as if for one day, everyone forgot about all of our differences and baayot (problems) and just remembered. Remembered that it was time to forget, forgive and ask forgiveness. This is what I will take away from Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. The serenity, peace, and quiet!

We are going on a 3 day Tiyul this morning to the North. I promise to take a bunch of pictures and I will post them on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. For now, I wish for everyone a peaceful and healthy new year filled with spirituality, happiness, and love!

Gamar Hatima Tovah!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

First Israeli Seminar Day

Today was quite a day! I know I have said something similar to that with most of my posts, but there are so many "wow" moments in this program. One of the great opportunities and privileges about being a Rabbinical student at HUC is a program called the Israeli Seminar Days. Each of these days will have their own identity, and today was an introduction to the program. After a few minutes going over the syllabus, we went on a short walk to the back of the King David Hotel. The King David Hotel is the site of a bombing by one of the first underground armies in Israel. This bombing was an attempt to show the British how serious the Jews in Israel were about having their own sovereignty.

After we arrived at our spot, we were asked to think about kodak moments in our lives that really spoke about our experiences or feelings about Israel. It was pretty easy for me to speak about my moments, but what I really was shocked to hear were my classmates' experiences. They opened their hearts and these memories just poured out. Each memory of my classmates brought up new memories of my own. This moment with my classmates really opened my mind, and now this is one of the kodak snapshot moments which define my experiences and relationship with Israel.

I am looking forward to Yom Kippur in Israel. It will truly be a hard day, but will be one I really appreciate when I look back on it. Then we take a 3 day tiyul next week. We are going to the North, and I will take lots of pictures!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

YMCA, Makhtesh Ramon, and Shlichot

Wow, lots to write about.

First and foremost, we finally were able to get Carlie into a Gan (Preschool/kindergarten). The YMCA had an opening, and it is less than $400 a month. I take her to school in the morning, around 8 am, and Batya picks her up at 1 pm. It's great...they even feed her breakfast! This is going to allow Batya to take an Ulpan that is Sunday - Thursday from 9 am - 12 pm. Then, she can join me for lunch! We are extremely happy about this!

Some friends and I went with one of the voice teachers at HUC on a 23 kilometer - 15 mile - hike on Friday and Saturday. We went to the Makhtesh Ramon, a giant crater south of Jerusalem. It really is beautiful, and it was awesome to camp out on Friday night. The night sky was gorgeous...I believe we were able to see 10000000 stars at least! The hiking was pretty intense, and my body is a bit sore right now, but it was a lot of fun and well worth it! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I didn't get any pictures, but trust me it was beautiful. We saw some wildlife as well, including a ton of birds. I am very sorry I won't be able to go back to the Makhtesh when others do the overnight hike next month!

Last night at 10 pm, we went to a Conservative Ashkenazic Synagogue. We went to experience Shlichot in an Ashkenazic Synagogue. It was short and very spiritual. I enjoyed it, but my body was so sore, that I really had a very hard time concentrating. I still thought it was spiritual, and nice to share that experience with a bunch of my HUC classmates.

Classes began last week, and I finally feel like a Rabbinical student. I will admit that I am going to spend A LOT of time studying, and it is going to be hard. But, it will be worth it as I have dreamed about this for a long time. I am just very fortunate to have Batya and Carlie here to share these experiences with me.

We are now getting ready for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, and starting to really think about Teshuvah, repentance, as we prepare for the Jewish day of atonement, Yom Kippur. I will write and share my experiences of Jerusalem during this time a little later in this week and next!