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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SNOW IN JERUSALEM!!!

Really? I didn't expect to see snow this year. We have now seen snow twice in the past week, first in Athens (for about 15 minutes) and today in Jerusalem. Actually, it started snowing late last night, and is expected to continue through tonight. Everything shuts down...schools, restaurants, businesses, etc. It's a bit like Yom Kippur, but with some cars on the road, and REALLY COLD!!!

I'll post some pictures of this, it's pretty fantastic. Except for our apartment being freezing, it's pretty cool. I know we'll have to get used to this because it will be like this in Cinci next year, but next year we'll have working heat and we'll be living in a place that doesn't leak. We have several leaks in our laundry room and one in our kitchen. So, just like when we first moved in, we have been using towels to keep the floors dry, and we just hope we don't run out of towels!

Anyway, school starts next week, and we are looking forward to a great semester. I did pretty well first semester: 5 B's and 3 A's. It seems I am cut out for this, and I am glad to know that I've kept my good study habits from college which sometimes seems like many years ago. Anyway, the NY Football Giants are in the Super Bowl, so Sunday night/Monday morning will be a LONG night, and then Batya's Mom heads out Monday. It will be a long few days, but we'll get back to our normal lives next week, and then just a few short months before we are home.

I'll write some more next week!
Stay warm!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Two More Things

I need to tell you about our dinner last night and tonight. Last night, when we returned from our day cruise, Susan had made dinner. It was seasoned chicken with pasta pomodoro. IT WAS AMAZING!!! If you have any question as to the cooking abilities in my family, then you need to eat some of Susan's cooking!

Tonight, we went to a great steak restaurant called Argentina. The steak was outstanding. It wasn't as good as Susan's cooking, but it was pretty darn good.

I'll write more next week....and I'll post pictures from Greece on my webshots page soon.

L'hitraot!

Vacation in Greece with Susan, Scott and Kaylin

Well, we've been in Athens, Greece for about 3 days now. I always have loved Athens, Georgia(GO DAWGS!!!), but Athens, Greece is pretty awesome too! We arrived on Wednesday night. Carlie was really great on the plane...she bounced back and forth from my lap to Batya's lap to Mom's lap! We arrived a bit late, but it was really great to see Susan waiting for us when we arrived.

After a good night's sleep, we headed to the mall in Athens with Susan and Kaylin to do some shopping for Carlie. We bought her a few pairs of shoes, and had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays!!! It was our first American meal in 6 months...and boy do we enjoy it. Susan, Scott and Kaylin's house is VERY pretty and they have helped to make us feel very welcome. It's so nice to be with family as we miss home soooooo much! And, it's nice to shower in a clean shower!

Yesterday, we left the house at 6:30 am to catch a bus to a day cruise. We sailed to two islands, Poros and Aegina. We were able to take some time to walk around the islands and take some great pictures. The only bad thing was that Carlie got sick and threw up on the bus on the second island. We have learned that Carlie very easily gets carsick and really can't sit anywhere but the front of buses!

Every single person on the boat loved Carlie...and I should have started to charge people because everyone wanted pictures with Carlie. We could have made a fortune...maybe next time. We have two and a half more days in Athens. We are really having a great time, and I am now getting excited about 2nd semester and the new classes I will take. Next semester I will be continuing with Hebrew, modern and biblical, taking a history course on the Arab/Israeli conflict, continuing with Liturgy, and taking a Rabbinics class. In this class, we'll be looking at the Talmud and Midrash....from the Rabbinic period. I am very excited for it.

One more note...it's official! Carlie, Batya and I will be at Capital Camps in Pennsylvania this summer. I will be working as a village director for 13 and 14 year olds while Batya will be working in either the office or the infirmary. Carlie will be with a babysitter all day getting to experience all of camp life! It will be a lot of fun!

Only 4 months to go....this semester should pass really quickly. I'll post again next week during the first week of 2nd semester! Oh, btw, our HUC football team is the 4th seed in the playoffs with our first playoff game the first Tuesday in February. Wish us luck!!!

L'hitraot for now!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dad's Visit to Israel

You don't know how excited I was to finally see Dad on Saturday at the airport! Although it had only been 6 months since I had seen him, it felt like years. But, there he was, sitting in the airport waiting for me to come and get him. After we sat in the Sherut Cab for what seemed like an hour, we were on our way to Jerusalem. We walked in the front door of our apartment, and Dad was greeted with, "Pop Pop!!" from Carlie. Needless to say, Dad was excited to receive such a warm greeting. The reunion of Dad and Carlie was very cute!

This week, we've done quite a bit. We went to the Old City and saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, and walked through the Arab Market. We also took Dad to our bi weekly shopping location, Super Deal! This store has a lot of American products, and it's pretty reasonably priced. We've also gone to the top of the YMCA tower for quite a view! I think Dad enjoyed taking a tour of HUC...and I know I was pretty proud to show him around. After spending so much time there, it was a relief to just be walking around without having to stress about any homework or tests!

I took Dad to Yad Vashem. He was there last summer, but I wanted to give him the chance to see it again. At night, on Tuesday night, we went to the Israel Museum. We saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the model of Herod's 2nd temple Jerusalem. It was cold outside, but it was an enjoyable visit. Yesterday, we went to Kumran, to see the history of the group that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ein Gedi, a beautiful nature reserve with a lot of waterfalls!

When you visit Ein Gedi, there are some pretty interesting hikes. There is also a pretty difficult hike that is intended for pretty fit hikers. Dad and I made that hike, and I was very proud of him. It was tough, and Dad was very scared, but he did it. It took us about two and a half hours, but when we reached the top, the views were amazing and well worth the hike. Dad joked several times that I had almost killed him, but in reality although it was very hard, neither of us were ever in real danger.

Today, we went to Bethlehem. I took Dad to see the "Fence, Wall, Barrier," or whatever else it is called. I also wanted Dad to meet my friend Tamer, a very educated and nice man who works for peace from the Palestinian side. We went to the Church of the Nativity and had a great lunch at an awesome restaurant "The Tent Restaurant." Tomorrow, we are going to Shabbat morning services at HUC, and then off to the airport for Dad's return trip to the States. It will be sad to see him go, but Batya's Mom comes to visit, so we're looking forward to that!

We've posted some more pictures from Dad's visit, and we'll post some more from Greece and Mom's visit...and also from Carlie's 2nd Birthday party!

Shabbat Shalom!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

2nd Semester Rabbinical Student!!!

Yep, that's right! I finished my exams on Wednesday, and it's now really beginning to hit me that I finished my first semester as a Rabbinical student! I have to admit that while many of my classmates were very stressed about Finals, I was never really stressed about it. With so many other things going on in my life, I haven't had time! Besides, I went to classes and did the homework. In reality, the exams tested us on what we studied, so I thought they were very fair!

The past 2 days have just been about relaxing and getting the apartment clean and ready for Dad to come (TODAY!!!) and Batya's Mom next week. We're excited to get a taste of the States by seeing our family. We probably would have enjoyed going to the States, but seeing our family here in Israel will be great. And, if we had gone back to the States, we wouldn't have been able to go to Greece!

So, today it's me and Carlie! Batya is babysitting most of the day. Just a good "Aba/Carlie day!" We have fun during these days! I promise to take lots of pictures while Dad and Mom are in town, and I'll get them up to Webshots by the beginning of February. We'll have some great shots in Greece, I am sure.

What's amazing to me, and this occurred to me while I was taking my exams, is how much information and knowledge I have gained this semester. HUC tells us all the time to "Test the Process." It's really true. I never would have guessed how much I could have learned this year, and I am really looking forward to next semester when I begin studying about the Rabbinic Period and the Talmud. As I've said before, each day, each class brings me something new, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

I'll post next week while Dad is here...until then, L'Hitraot!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Broken finger on Christmas???

That's right, I did it again, and this time on Christmas! In the first 31 years of my life, the only broken bone I had was my left femur. In 6 months in Israel, I have severely dislocated one finger (the pinkie on my left hand) and broken another (the index finger on my right hand). You see, I play on the HUC football team in the American Football in Israel league(AFI--http://www.israelfootball.net/, click on the TNFL link). We are the HUCstables, and I am Grandpa Russell! Well, we were playing our second game against Pardes, the only other religious institution that supplies a team in our league. It was the last play of the 1st half...it should have been a touchdown pass. Instead, it was an incomplete pass (a great defensive play by the Pardes player) and a broken finger for me! It could have been worse as it was a small fracture in the finger. The good news is that I get to take the "cast" off on Monday just before my first final.

That's right, finals...the first set of finals at the end of my first semester in Rabbinical school! It's awesome that I've made it to this point. It was a long, very demanding semester, but I made it. And, as for my finals, I definitely feel I am prepared. I attended class 99% of the time, and completed all assignments. All that is left is for me to study...and then take the exams. I am excited and nervous at the same time!

I want to say something about New Years in Israel. It was a pretty quiet night. After putting Carlie to sleep, Batya and I settled down to watch some TV and enjoy a bottle of wine. There were a couple of parties hosted by my HUC classmates, but I just enjoyed a quiet night with Batya watching some football. We are enjoying our time here, but we are getting quite homesick. My Dad is coming to visit next weekend and then Batya's Mom is coming to visit after that. It will be a great needed rest, and we are excited. Of course, going to Athens, Greece to visit Susan, Scott and Kaylin at the end of January will also be awesome!

I'll try and write some more after exams...what a great relief it will be to have those finished!

Until then...