So its been quite a long time since my last blog and so much has happened....here we go.
Mom and Phyllis (אמה ואחות שלי באו לארץ)
If you asked my friends from the Kibbutz before I left they would tell you one thing: Harrison is focused solely on his Mom and Sister coming to Israel. I was so incredibly excited to see them and it was really the topic of every conversation I had two weeks prior to my trip. I was excited for two reasons. First and foremost I was super excited to see family. (Duh!) Second I was excited to get off the Kibbutz for an extended period of time and see some of the country with a trip. We'll talk more about that later though.
My trip started off amazing with a few days around the HUC-JIR campus in Jerusalem. I met up with Rabbi Kanter and discussed my future at HUC. He was an amazing host and he explained to me all about his experiences traveling abroad. He even let me stay in the HUC President's apartment on the campus. It was a pretty cool experience to see HUC as a non-student. I met a lot of my future colleagues at a fundraiser they held my first night there. I made some new friends and met up with some old ones. I even got invited to a Shabbaton at Kibbutz Yahel in mid-March. There was one disappointing thing about HUC. Like any large group of Americans living in Israel, the predominant language spoken was English. In fact when the students saw me studying in the library, they were surprised to see my notebook only in Hebrew. I'm not sure how I feel about the "HUC Bubble" which everyone mentioned to me. Having lived outside, I'm not sure how easy it will be to go in....we'll see.
Seeing Mom and Phyllis began in a not so ideal way. I walked from HUC to the Dan Panorama hotel in Jerusalem. It was raining and I had my huge frame backpack with a weeks worth of clothing inside. Needless to say after 5 blocks of walking I was wet. I sat in the hotel lobby for about 3 hours before finally calling Dad to find out where exactly they were. Turns out they forgot to notify me that they would be in not at 3pm but 1am due to weather in London. I had an interesting exchange with Dad about it:
Dad: Oh, no one told you they were going to be late? Didn't someone call you?
Me: Dad, you're supposed to be the someone. You Dad you have to call me.
Dad: Oh right, I guess I though...well its ok.
Me: I love you Dad
Anyway the ladies arrived and were unfortunately without their luggage. Also Phyllis came with an Israeli cell phone, that was unfortunately dead. Without my cellphone, the whole trip would have been out of contact with Phyllis until she rented one. While I'd love to recount every detail of the trip, that's just not possible. You should check out my sister's blogs: here and here. She's been recounting parts of the trip there. I had an amazing time with Mom and Phyllis. Seeing Jerusalem with family was an amazing experience. Not my favorite city in Israel, but I respect the importance of it both politically and spiritually.
Phyllis and I did come into a little sibling rivalry over how we view Israel. Her perspective is not wrong in any way, but we don't see eye to eye on everything. I love Haifah, Tel-Aviv, and the Negev, and she loves Jerusalem. Its just a difference of opinion. My Israel experience its much different from hers and I respect that we aren't going to like the same things.
After a few days with the trip, they headed north to the Golan (One of my favorite parts of Israel) and I headed back south to Revivim to catch up with classes for a few days.
Arriving back on the Kibbutz was a strange experience. I was for some reason very excited to eat in the dining hall and sleep in my own bed. I felt at home when I got back and it was a strange feeling.
Tel-Aviv Trip with the Ulpan
I returned to the Kibbutz on Tuesday and went to class and work, but Thursday we headed to Tel-Aviv as a group to visit the Diaspora Museam. While I'm sure the people who made the Museum had the best of intentions, I feel that it fell short of its intended goal. First of all, the concept of a Diaspora museum in the heart of Israel seems strange. Second, the seminar which we attened was about Jewish Identity. Diaspora and Jewish Identity are not the same things and the whole seminar seemed quite strange and a littel contrived to me. All in all the trip seemed to me to be a waste of a day in Tel-Aviv. However, it was a free trip to Tel-Aviv and I stayed the rest of the night to see Mom and Phyllis on their last night in Israel. We had dinner and I said my goodbyes. I'm glad they had fun and saw the country...now more than ever Israel needs support especially from the Jews of America. While, I was a little disappointed that Mom wasn't able to come see my Kibbutz, I understand why she didn't want to. I was also disappointed that I didn't get to see dad, but it was an all women's trip...
A Trip to Brett's Kibbutz
I left Tel-Aviv on Thursday night and headed north. I spent the night a Kibbutz Ein Hashofet with my current roommate Jared. He's thinking of continuing his Ulpan there when we finish here so I offered to introduce him to his future classmates. We had a great night hanging out with all my old friends and meeting the new volunteers which have cycled into the program. It was fun, but at 7am I was on a Monet Sherut to the bus station in Haifa to catch the Egged #500 toward Kyriat Shmone and Brett's Kibbutz. Its 45 minutes to Haifa and another 3 hours to Tzomet Koach, the Junction near Brett's Kibbutz. I should clarify, the reason I went to see Brett this weekend was because on the 28th of February Brett turned 23. Since the Israeli Army doesn't exactly give you days off when you want, we took the weekend before and ran with it.
Arriving at Kibbutz Yifatch Brett pomptly went to sleep leaving me some time to hang out and skype Dad to make sure Mom got home ok. Boring, but I'm used to Kibbutz boredom. After Brett woke up we had dinner with his adopted family on the Kibbutz. Brett's adopted Mom is an amazing cook and it was great to eat some non-Kibbutz food. After dinner we headed to Brett's room to catch up and watch some American TV shows we used to watch together in college. We discussed the dismal season our Golden Gophers are having in hockey and our respective NHL franchises. (Bye the way the Red Wings are in a slump and the Wild are doing pretty well right now.) After the TV we headed to the Kibbutz's dance club, but were disappointed as usual. The club was mostly kids from Kiryat Shmone and very much not our crowd.
Saturday morning we woke up late and headed to Kryiat Shmone. Our actual destination was Metula and Mirkaz Canada! Its probably my new favorite building in Israel. The Canadian Jewish Federations built it as a cultural center for Canadian Immigrants. It has an amazing gym facility, Basketball, a school, and most importantly a hockey rink with the first ice I've seen since I got here. It was gorgeous. We skated for about an hour and a half and I have to say it was probably the best time I've ever had skating in my life. I've never been on an ice sheet with that many people and been one of the best skaters.
After our awsome skate, we headed to Brett's favorite restaurant in Israel...a steak place called Tachana. They grow their own beef and man was it delicious. A big thank you to Brett's dad for picking up the tab for Brett's birthday dinner. After Metula, there was little left to do in the north. I spent the night on Brett's Kibbutz and woke up early on Sunday morning to head back down south. The trip down south is not an easy one in any way. I left at 7am from Brett's Kibbutz and made it back to Revivim at 3pm. First I caught a ride down the mountain back to the Junction. From there I caught a bus to Tel-Aviv. From Tel-Aviv a second bus took me to Be'er Sheva, and finally after a wait of 2 hours in the bus terminal in Be'er Sheva I caught one final bus to Revivm. What a weekend!
Well that about catches everbody up on what's been going on. Soon I'll have a few (not many) pictures of Mirkaz Canada and even a video of Brett skating!
Bye for now loyal readers.