First off sorry for not updating the blog sooner, my life has been a little crazier than usual this week. Why? Well there was a fire in my apartment (no not apartment building, my actual apartment, in the kitchen) and that kind of disrupted everything. Thankfully the fire was isolated to the kitchen/stove area and the damage is not super serious, but yeah it was a crazy/scary experience. I don't really want to talk about it any more than that, but I will say that all my neighbors were super nice and helpful (Israelis ARE nice dammit!) and it was much appreciated.
Goodness, where to start...Well last week was simchat torah. I went to navah tehillah, which I have mentioned before, it is a renewal jewish congregation that meets about once a month. I will actually be going there tomorrow night for services also. So that was fun, it's a nice environment, very chill/hippy-ish. I can dig.
One of the things they did which I thought was cool was they did Torah "horoscopes" or fortune telling. So on simchat torah some congregations will unroll the entire Torah in celebration of completing the Torah and then starting again from the beginning (it never ends ahhhh). So anyways we did that and everyone helped to hold the parchment (but with scarves so you didn't contaminate or just dirty up the scroll). So yeah some people came around and you would randomly point to a place in the text and they would give you advice/tell you a fortune based on what you picked. Mine was eerily applicable to my life, ahhh.
Shabbat was also nice, I had a relaxing one. It seems like forever ago (before the fire!). Oh I was also dog sitting which was fun. I really need a pet in my life...someday.
Coming back to school after break was a little rough. I still don't feel settled into my classes yet which is understandable but frustrating. Here are a few highlights of the week:
1. Tuesday afternoons during lunch Rabbi Yoshi teaches an elective course on sefer ha'agadah. This book is basically a compilation of many of the stories found in rabbinic literature from the Talmud but also midrash aggadah, etc. So basically it is a book of stories. It's pretty sweet. ANYWAYS Yoshi had to go to a meeting during the time of the class, so he asked me if I would lead it. It was really fun! I really enjoyed preparing in advance with my dictionary and thinking about things to talk about in the class. This is what I am passionate about, and I really want to teach rabbinic texts in the future, so it was great to get the opportunity to do that. I also got positive feedback from my classmates in the class, so that really meant a lot to me.
2. Wednesday is Israel seminar day every week which means we have the day to do something to help us experience Israel/learn about Israel/take advantage of the fact we are in Israel. SO this week we went to Tel Aviv for the day. We went to various historical sites/important sites in the history and development of Israel. One cool thing that struck me was that we were going to the same places that groups of Israeli soldiers were going to. Israeli soldiers get taken on certain educational tours (I don't know any details about this) I would imagine to give them more appreciation for the country and its history. We talked a lot on Weds about the past vs. the future and how they interact/ play a role in Israel, and it was interesting to see this discussion played out with the soldiers who are the future of Israel coming and learning about the shared history of the Israeli people, and even in some cases Jewish people. I don't know if that made sense, but it was cool for me.
3. Although a bunch of students stayed behind in tel aviv after we got out of our "seminar" thing I had to go back to J'lem because I signed up (through Kedem, shout out!) to learn how to lead shacharit for shabbat (the morning service). I can lead reform services no problem, but this is to learn how to lead more traditional davening. One classmate asked me why I wanted to learn how to do this since it won't really be useful after this year...Well:
So I want to learn how to lead because this is the type of davening I prefer so I think it is important that I know how to lead it so I have the option of incorporating parts of it into services I lead. Also even though I am going to be a Reform rabbi I think it is important for us to know what is out there and be able to daven anywhere, because we aren't just reform jews we are JEWS. Along the same lines if in the future I am at some conference or trip or something with other denominations of Jews to be able to lead services with them (well except the ones who don't acknowledge women rabbis). But yeah I'm all about having some flow between movements, because even if we don't approach Judaism from the same angle we can still pray together (or at least reform and conservative Jews should be able to and maybe some liberal orthodox). Also it would be cool to contribute to the community that I like to pray in at Kedem, which is entirely lay-lead, so why not right?!
But yeah the class thing was really nice. It is embarrassing how little I know about traditional liturgy, especially the morning service because I am not a morning person so I def am not as familiar with it as I am with kabbalat shabbat and ma'ariv and all that. The idea of being a prayer leader aka shaliach tzibur is an interesting one and this is relevant for any congregation you lead...What are you supposed to do? Where are you helping the congregation along and when are you reciting by yourself? etc etc. There is also this idea of being in touch with the congregation, especially in services where people will chant stuff individually you have to be in touch with the pulse and make sure you are not going too fast, but also no dragging people down. More to come on all this in the next few weeks :-)
I guess those are some of the highlights. Tomorrow/tonight is rosh chodesh which celebrates the new month and which also means Women of the Wall. Women of the wall did not happen last month because of Rosh Hashana, but it is happening bright and early tomorrow. I will most likely go. After my experiences 2 months ago (read about it here)I am very nervous to go back, but I think it is important that I do. More on my feelings/reactions to that coming soon, but yeah it's hard to come into contact with such an ugly hateful side of Israel/Judaism, so I'm not looking forward to that.
I am excited/nervous (wow I have been using a lot of / things in this post, hmmmm) for next week because on Tuesday I am going to be trying out taking a talmud class with the Israeli rabbinical students. I feel pretty confident in my level of Talmud, but I am nervous about the level of Hebrew. I can understand everything that happens in my other classes in Hebrew, but they are geared more towards non-fluent speakers. So yeah this should be interesting. I hope it works out though, because I think it would be an awesome experience.
On a totally different note, does anyone watch sister wives? Is it weird that it seems super fun to have a family like that because not only do you marry the person you love but you are also kind of bound to your best friends...I dunno. I am NOT trying to make a statement on polygamy here this is just an observation about a tv show, but I am super not down for polygamy in my life just for the record :-)
Ok and I'm done, happy Thursday wooo