Sunday, March 15, 2009

Looking Ahead

Lately I've been thinking a great deal about the future. Its a fairly obvious topic for this time of year at HUC Jerusalem. We're in the home streatch here as purim has passed us by. In a little bit it will be Passover and before you know it its May and finals will hit us all like a ton of bricks. My classmates are all working on securing their summer jobs, finding new places to live, buying cars, and picking up their lives again from where they left off.

In a few short weeks people in my class will start their packing to head back to the United States and Canada. My reflection group will be having a discussion about 'What we will be packing with us' when we head home. I jokingly said to them: a very small backpack.

My last blog post was about the counter I have counting up on my facebook page. Well today I added a new counter: My Countdown to עליה! It say that from today I have 141 days until I make Ayliah. Writing that sent shivers down my spine. 141 days from now I will be here in Israel as a citizen.

Now I'm sure that most of my readers (all 5 or so of you) have talked to me about my plans, but I haven't really talked about exactly why I'm doing this. I've compilied a small list...

100 years ago Minneapolis Minnesota was a fairly large flour milling town on the Missisipi river. Milwaukee Wisconsin was a small little town on Lake Michigan. Tel Aviv didn't even exist! Haifa was a tiny port city that wasn't worth mentioning on most maps. Be'er Sheva wasn't a city at all! 100 years later and Tel Aviv is the cultural capital of a modern state. Haifa is a booming and diverse city and Be'er Sheva is the metropolis of the desert. I look at everything that's been built here and say to myself 'I want to be a part of this!'

Walk down the streets of Israel on Friday night and there is one thing you'll hear. 'Shabbat Shalom!' Saturday night its 'Shavuah Tov!' On Holidays its 'Chag Sameach!' Its hard not to live the Jewish calendar here. Life just marches to the beat of Judiasm's drum. I want to live here and feel that every year.

I'm looking ahead...not to packing for the United States, but to packing for my return trip...packing for my life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


About 501 days ago...I was getting on a plane in New York bound for Israel. Life seemed very uncertain at the time. Where was I going to live in Israel? How was I going to like living in a land so foreign to my own? What would my life be like for the next 18 months?

Here I am exactly 500 days abroad. In all of that time I've seen and done incredible things. On this the 500th day of my adventure I'll recap a few of the great things I've done.

I have...
Swam in the Mediterranian, and I did it within 2 hours of being here!
Lived in the Jezreel Valley, Israel's bread basket and home to many Kibbutzim.
Worked in a Screw Factory, where no one spoke English! (Oh So Many Jokes about the Factory)
Lived in a Desert climate...very different from where I've ever lived.
Learned to speak a language both ancient and modern all at once.
Drank tea with Beduins (real Beduins not the tourist ones who take you on camel rides)
Smoked Nargila on the side of a Jordainan Highway with my cab driver
Stood next to the giant temples of Petra
Ice Skated in Metulla at the Canada Center
Wandered the streets of Tel Aviv (The first Modern Hebrew City, celebrating its 100th birthday this year.)
Picked Olives
Eaten Hummus fresh (Yes it does taste better warm)
Watched the sun set over the Golden Dome and the Kotel
Strolled down the Cardo like my ancestors did thousands of years ago
Watched Military Ceremonies and watched my best friend become a soldier (albiet a lazy one)
I've visited the capitals of Europe (well France, England, Germany, Holland, Spain, and Belgium)
Slept in airports (on purpose)
Eaten French Cheeses so exclusive, its against the law to export them
Ridden the bus from London to Paris...yeah I took a ferry to Dunkirk
Seen the Mona Lisa...pretty over hyped
Watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
Ate real fish and chips...with malt vinegar and everything!
Wandered the grounds of Versalles (and yes the tour guide was angry at me for reminding him the German Kaiser was crowned there)
Stood under the Brandenburg Gate
Eaten Bratwurst at the Reichstag
Cried at Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam
Saw more Van Gogh paintings than I ever thought exsisted
Walked the red-light district also in Amsterdam
Ate Stroopwaffels (Dutch is an awesome language by the way)
Sipped German beer and found it to be not nearly as good as Dutch beer
Walked in the Placio Real in Madrid
Learned that wine brings all people together
Found that just a smile and a hello can make strangers into friends
Grown up a whole lot...

Its been a crazy ride so far. By my estimate I have about 75ish more days before I return to the United States, but it won't be for long. See there's one thing I've found these past 500 days that trumps all of these exprience. I feel at home here in Israel and I've decided to make the dream a reality. So I guess that in August when I return there won't be any need for a countdown or a count up...