Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Weekend...In my favorite place...ירושלים

So on Thursday night I got a random phone call from my friend Suzy. "HARRY! (Suzy has no inside voice.) YOU MUST COME SEE ME IN JERUSALEM!" Well after a few hours of frantic searching for a place to sleep in Jerusalem I came up empty handed. It was sad...but I decided not to let that deter me in any way. I then received another phone call from Suzy. "HARRY! (She still hasn't developed an inside voice.) BRETT IS COMING TO JERUSALEM! STAY WITH HIM!" That is exactly what I did.

The bus ride from Be'er Sheva to Israel is actually quiet interesting. You get to watch the country side gradually turn from desert scrub into lush green and from flat hills and sand dunes into the Judean Hills. Its quite incredible. Unfortunately my camera was out of batteries so there were no pictures taken this weekend. Never fear...this will not be my last trip to Jerusalem.

Upon arriving at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem I heard the Shofar sound telling me it was Shabbat. It also told me that the whole city (minus the non-kosher restaurants) was closed. So I called Brett and we met up to hop a cab to his friend Eugene's apartment. We hung out and discussed what was going on in our lives. For me that is basically class and not much else. For Brett and his friend Zach that was the Army. There's really nothing else to talk about. We ordered dinner (hamburgers) and went off to hangout at the bars in Jerusalem. We ended up at Egon and finally got to hang out with Suzy! Good times were had and a chill evening followed.

Brett and I crashed at his friend Zach's apartment and didn't wake up until around noon. We got up and made delicious pasta for lunch and watched the movie "Shooter." The movie is actually a pretty good one...very accurate and also very scary. Conspiracy movies always scare me more than most other people.

I ended up catching a 7:00pm bus back to Be'er Sheva which got me in 5 minutes before the last bus to Revivim. All in all a good weekend. Very relaxing and very nice to see some friends and be in Jerusalem.

Till next time...

P.S. No pictures from Jerusalem, but finally the last of my Ein Hashofet Pictures and some other new ones. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Living on a Kibbutz in Israel we tend to forget there is an outside world. However, today is the day in which Jews all across America will be eating Chinese food and watching movies. Here it is just another day on the Kibbutz. I wouldn't quite call it a culture shock for me but it is strange. Today is just another day. Even the Volunteers who aren't Jewish are working today.

Last night we had a small Christmas celebration organized by the Korean girls. The celebration came complete with a tree, cards, and even Christmas carols. The pictures from this even will be posted up tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sorry for the lateness...

Sorry that this post has taken so long to get off to all of you. Over the last week the internet connection here has been iffy at best. Here goes...

Here I am...Starting the next phase of my Adventure/Journey. As I write this post I'm sitting in the Ulpan/Volunteer Moadon (מועדון) of Kibbutz Revivm (קיבוץ רביבים). This is a completely different and new place. It is nothing like Ein Hashofet and I'll be explaining why over the next few posts.

To begin with this Kibbutz seems to be less organized that Ein Hashofet was. A prime example of this is the laundry. At Ein Hashofet the laundry went out Tuesday morning and came back Tuesday afternoon. Here the laundry goes in whenever you feel like and comes back whenever they feel like doing that particular type of laundry. Another example of the organization here is the work schedule. Every day we must check the office door to find out where we will be working tomorrow.

I now have two different types of days to cope with as far as scheduling is concerned.

Class Days begin at 8am. I don't eat breakfast on class days to get a few extra minutes of sleep. Class goes until about 11am when we get a break for a half an hour. Then we finish up class at 12:45 or 1pm. That's the whole day. It seems short, but the class works non-stop. I'm in the advanced class or כיתה ב. We've been spending a lot of time on verbs. Its mostly review for me, but its nice to have the review. I'm not the most advanced in the class right now, but the guy who is (Uri) and I are always grouped together for difficult exercises. I've been attempting to read the Ulpanist newspaper and a few books written for ulpan students. Its difficult, but also rewarding.

On my work days I begin at 7:30am with a light breakfast. Then its off to whatever my work is for the day. That can vary with each passing day. The past few days I've been working in the kitchen, preparing the food for the dining hall. However, I've also worked in the olive groves and will probably have other work later. The lunch break is determined by what your work is and so is the ending time. The kitchen generally lets me go around 2:30 or 3pm.

As for other things to do on the kibbutz, this place is nothing like Ein Hashofet. There is no order to when and where we are allowed to be. The sports fields are always open. There are two pubs here and one is always open. There's even a bus station on the kibbutz which takes us to Beer Sheva for 10 NIS (New Israeli Shekel.) All in all this is a pretty nice place to spend a handful of months.

Post again soon....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

להיתרות עין השופת (Goodbye Ein Hasofet)

Well its time to say goodbye to Ein Hashofet (עין השופת). Its been a wonderful place to get acclimated to this country, but its time for me to be moving on.

For those of you on Facebook, and I apologize to the rest of you, my counter is nearing the zero mark as my Ulpan starts on Sunday December 16th. I have mixed emotions about leaving this place. First I love the people here. Not necessarily the Kibbutznikim, but the Ulpanists and other volunteers are great people. However, I do not like the way the Kibbutz has been treating us. Why have a volunteer program if you're going to constantly look down on us. I guess that its just the way it is.

The last few days at Ein Hashofet were basically a blur. The last two days of work were both half days. Thursday because of a Druze/Muslim holiday called Chag haChorban. It is essentially a holiday commemorating the Akkada or binding of Issac in the Torah. However, their celebration was a gigantic barbecue. Almost 70% of Mivrag's employees are Druze which meant the factory shut down early. It was amazing food, good music, and an interesting cultural experience. My last day of work was a Friday. Normally a half day, this day was my last of work and also the last day of two Mexican girls: Karina and Nicole. We didn't have a party because there was too much work to be done. However, they did give us all presents...a coaster set and a beautiful key chain. Both were labeled with the Mivrag logo. Nice people working in the factory, but I'm quite glad that portion of my life is over now.

The last night I spent at Ein Hashofet was another Barbecue. This one was put on by the Ulpanists in honor of the Volunteers who were leaving. It was a great party and there will be pictures soon on my Google Web Albums. Basically what I can tell you is that Brazilians know how to make a barbecue. After the party wound down there were more festivities. The Mexican girls and I stayed up until 7:30 AM when we all caught a cab to Yoknam and a bus to Tel Aviv. From there we parted ways...they went to Istanbul for 5 days and I hopped the train to Be'er Sheva. Time for Ulpan.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Zionism, Hannukah, and much more Randomness

Sorry to all that I haven't been posting a lot recently. Life's just pretty boring around here right now. Anyway....

So tonight is the last night of Hannukah and its been a fairly eventful Hannukah around here, and by that I mean not really at all. The Kibbutz commemorates Hannukah by dishing out a few jelly doughnuts and there was a Latke dinner on Monday night. Otherwise we've pretty much been fending for ourselves. I've made it a point to light the candles every night with my friends.

It occurred to me a few days ago that my summer vacation is coming to a close. School let out for me in June and its now December. This period of time represents the longest period of my life without school to date. Kinda weird to think that in a few days I'll be back at it. Yet I'm very excited to be starting my Ulpan. I know that my Hebrew has already improved, but I'm sure that in 5 months I'll be pretty close to fluent. That's the goal anyway. The first phase of my journey is nearing a close and the second leg is up ahead.

I've been pondering a lot of things while staring at screws falling into boxes all day. Can I be a better Zionist living in the diaspora than living in Israel? Its a strange notion to think about since I have always been taught that Aliyah is the highest form of Zionism. However, I think that I can do more productive for the state of Israel by working for the Jewish community in America and teaching Zionism to the community. Yet on the other hand...who knows. Life is complex and I've only been here for about 50 days. These are thoughts and I'm not planing on doing anything drastic. Just some things I'd like to share with my loyal readership.

Till next time...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Golan and Hannukah (or is it Channukah)

So its been a few days and I'll update you all on the happenings in my life here in Eretz Yisroel.

This past weekend Ofri and I decided to take a little trip to the Golan Heights for some camping and hiking. To say it was fun would be an understatement. We camped, we ate, we drank beer at the Golan Brewery, and we hiked a gorgeous trail. The pictures say what my words cannot. We held close to the maxim of camping in the States: "Pack in, Pack out. Take only pictures, leave only footprints." Overall it was a great way to spend a weekend.

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah and it has made me realize a few things about this Kibbutz. First, while they claim to be 100% secular, they still celebrate Jewish holidays. Their level of observance is not what anyone would call high, but there is acknowledgment of all the major holidays. (Hannukah being the most recent I have observed.) The dining hall has a Giant Hanukiah and I'm told we will be lighting a candle every night.

Tomorrow night is the second night of Channukah and thus my Hebrew birthday! I'm kind of excited to spend my first holiday here in Israel. Hopefully this weekend I will go to Jerusalem to see some of the HUC kids and maybe the Klein-Katzes.

On a more personal note...I arrived at a few decisions regarding my life recently. I've decided to keep a kosher style diet from now on. I'm wholly unconcerned as to whether a rabbi tells me that meat is or isn't kosher. However, I'll attempt to buy only kosher cuts of meat and stay away from those animals that cannot be kosher. I'm also no longer mixing milk and meat. While I'll probably miss cheeseburgers, making each moment Jewish seems more important. To continue with that theme...I've also decided to again wear a Yarmulke all the time. I'm sure this will make Dad happy as he sent me off with a large number of them. I'm convinced that these personal decisions will be good for me in the long run.

Hope you all have a wonderful Hannukah!