Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Well Hello World,

So it's weird that a week ago I was writing about the bombing, because it almost seems like it was even longer ago. Everything has returned to normal, maybe except for everyone being more alert, but yeah there is so much going on around me even one week seems like forever...

Speaking of, I know it's been over 2 weeks since Purim and I am seriously slacking, so today I will present to you PURIM, wooooooooooooo.

Purim here in Israel was EPIC. In Israel you have the opportunity to celebrate for 2 days instead of just 1 because there are different days of Purim for walled cities like Jerusalem(called Shushan Purim) and for non-walled cities. Purim started on a Saturday night, so in order to celebrate for both days I left Jerusalem, and went to Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv was insane!!!! Purim is like halloween except better and everyone gets really into it. It was awesome to walk around Tel Aviv with everyone in costume and celebrating. We went to this part of Tel Aviv called Florentine, and there was a HUGE street party going on. Think kind of like the village on Halloween. It was nuts, there were thousands of people in all sorts of costumes and there were different places around the area to stop and dance. It was also just really cool that this huge celebration was happening for a Jewish holiday, something that I don't get to experience in America (well yes the holiday, but not the fact that everyone is also celebrating). There was this sense of community and joint celebration throughout the two days, which I loved.

So the next day (the Jewish day starts at sunset so we are still on day one of Purim, aka regular Purim) I went to Holon to see the parade they have there. Appartently it is a huge attraction because it was super crowded. The parade was clearly aimed at younger kids, but again it was fun to be in the crowd celebrating together. There were lots of cute little kids in costumes. I also think I got sunburnt.

Then after that I went back to Jerusalem with my classmates. I was home for about an hour and then there was a Purim shpiel (funny play for Purim) at school. It was fun to laugh with my classmates and see everyone in their fun costumes. My costume was basically this ridiculous red's a pic (I've been told it suits me and I should cut my hair like that but I don't think I'm going to).

After the Purim Shpiel, we all trekked out to a bar in the center of town for a Megillah reading (megillah or more specifically megillat esther is the scroll that the story of Purim is written on and a big part of Purim is hearing it read). Yep in Israel you can do a Megillah reading at a bar. HUC had arranged it, so a bunch of my classmates along with some Israelis read megillah there. Next year I would really like to read megillah and learn the trope ,it sounded really nice.

After being at the bar for a bit I met up with some friends at the shuk. Yes the shuk that I am obsessed with with all the fruits and vegetables. BUT it has been turned into this dance party. There were a few djs and a bunch of people dancing. It was cool to see the shuk at night and in such a different light. Almost none of the actual stands were open and yet it was filled with people.

Then afterwards (yes this was a looongggg day/night) I went with a bunch of friends to the Hebrew U purim party. I feel like I have been saying that everything is cool/awesome, and it's true and so was the Hebrew U party. There were sooo many students crammed into this space. Hebrew U/the planners of this party had rented out a parking garage and turned it into a really large dance club. There was great music and lots of people. I even ran into my bro there (he is abroad studying at Hebrew U for the semester). Then at some really late hour I went home.

The next morning I got myself up to head to another Megillah reading (if you want to fully observe the mitzvah of hearing the megillah read you need to hear it twice during the holiday once at night and once during the day, technically if you are celebrating 2 days that means you need to hear it 4 times...). Anyways, I went to the women of the Wall's megillah reading because a friend was chanting there. There are actually a bunch of women's readings where women chant instead of men. In more traditional circles when women chant only other women can hear them because it is considered immodest and also problematic for other reasons for a man to hear a woman singing. But despite this there are many women who do chant because Purim is also seen as a woman's holiday because one of the major heroes of the story is Esther (a woman what what!!!). While there are many mitzvot that more traditional/orthodox Jews argue are only commanded for men, hearing the megillah read is one that is for both women and men, which enables women to be able to chant megillah in a way that is fully in accordance with Jewish law. While a woman leading a service can be more "controversial" a woman reading megillah isn't.

Then I met up with some friends and we explored the downtown area (by ben Yehuda). There were a few street fairs which we went to. There were costume contests for the little kids (ADORABLE) and face painting and people performing. Here are some pictures:

OMG it's spider man!!!!

(band playing on Shushan St on Shushan Purim! Shushan is also where the purim story took place)

Sooo after that I went with some friends and we wandered to nachlaot. Nachlaot is a part of Jerusalem, and I am obsessed. It is THE BEST. If/when I live here again I will definitely get an apartment in Nachlaot. It is right by the shuk and it is a beautiful/funky neighborhood and a lot of cool young people live there. There are some great bars there and just a lot of fun/chill stuff seems to be going on there...

In nachlaot we stumbled on this big dance party in this courtyard type area. People were just jamming out, there were a lot of cool artsy costumes. I think I saw the best/most creative costumes at this party. There was also a drum circle happening right there. The day was gorgeous and it was just perfect. Well minus the fact that I was exhausted from all of this celebrating.

So to sum up. Purim was amazing. 2 days of Purim is hard, it's like a marathon of partying, but it was great. I LOVE celebrating the Jewish holidays in Israel and this was one of my favorites. Purim is one of the less "religious" hoidays because it isn't a yom tov so you can (even if you observe yom tov) still spend money and cook and use your cell phone and all of that. So in Israel that means that everyone celebrates. It's a great excuse to get dressed up and party. It is Celebrating the survival of the Jews even when people were trying to destroy us. Fun times.

My parting (student) rabbinic advice is, COME CELEBRATE PURIM in ISRAEL. Do itttttt. It's the best. Seriously. I don't think we have enough fun with this holiday as a whole in America. Let's change that. There is no reason why Reform Jews (or any Jews) can't get into this holiday. It's fun, theologically it's not so difficult, and all you have to do is hear the megillah and eat and be merry. woooooooooooooooooooo

Happy almost daylight savings time in Israel (it starts tomorrow night)...


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Hey World,

It has been a while since I have updated. I owe you an entry about Purim (which was amazing), but right now I am not in the mood to talk about it.

Today there was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. A bomb exploded near the central bus station injuring over 30 people and killing one. I was in class when it happened, and we all found out basically through people who were using their computers in class seeing the news. We were listening to this really interesting speaker who is a leader of the social workers strike that is taking place in Israel, but after people found out no one was fully paying attention. Everyone was getting and sending phone calls and texts to make sure people we know are ok/ to tell people who were worried about us that we were ok. Everyone in my HUC class is ok, thankfully.

This was not something I expected to happen while I am here in Jerusalem. There has been relative quiet for the past few years, so I was convinced that this would continue. To be honest I think it might be scarier for Israelis than for me because this reminds them of what happened during the second antifada (where there were bombs in crowded areas quite frequently), which I was not here for.

The violence two weeks ago now in Itamar where a family was brutally slain by an arab-palestinian was tragic to me, but it didn't hit me in the same way. Settlers are more removed from my day to day life and their actions (I think) are much more controversial than people living in Jerusalem. That is not to say that I don't think what was done to the family in Itamar was absolutely horrible, but just that it was more distant for me. Violence in the settlements is awful (both the violence towards the Jews and towards the Arabs), but it is farther away from my reality.

Jerusalem...I live here. It's not that I feel particularly scared, more just shaken up. The uncertainty is also what is getting to me. I want to know who the bomber was, what organization he comes from, and if I now need to expect further violence. I hope not, but I don't know. I really hope this in an isolated incident, but it is impossible to know that now.

Most of all this bombing just makes me extremely sad. I am sad for the people who were killed and seriously injured and even those not so seriously injured. I am sad for an end to the period of silence in Jerusalem. I am sad over the anger that I have seen and heard coming from Jews, not that they shouldn't be angry (heck I'm angry), but that the anger is being generalized to all Palestinians. People are saying, and THESE are the people we want to make peace with?? We don't even know who the people behind this are, the Palestinian Authority has condemned the bombing so I'm going to assume they are not behind this. The blind rage that is resulting from this makes me sad (this is not to say that everyone is reacting this way at all, but there are people). I am sad for the people who are now too scared to take a bus. I am sad for everyone affected negatively by this happening.

Maybe this disruption of the silence will cause more people to think about the situation. When it is quiet it can be easy to forget what is going on, but maybe this will help bring some more urgency to the peace talks. I think that this was a horrible horrible thing that happened today, but if we can get some good out of it somehow at least we could give the huge black storm cloud a small silver lining...

I dunno. It's strange how life goes on.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by today's events. I am hoping for the best.


ps thanks to everyone who called/texted/emailed/facebooked to make sure I was ok.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Hey World,

So this past Sunday was my birthday. I know it's rude to ask how old someone is, but since no one asked, and since we are in Israel so people ask "rude/blunt" questions, I will tell you: I turned 23, woo.

Actually 23 seems like a pretty anti-climactic age. 22 was scary because it represented being a "real adult" because I was going to graduate college, and I was no longer the party age of 21. Nothing really scary comes with turning 23 for me. I feel 23, but at the same time I don't. Age is strange.

What else...I taught again on Sunday. It was good times. We did Honi the circle drawer through skits. One story about Honi that is popular is the one about how he sees some dude planting a carob tree, and Honi asks him why he bothers because he is not going to live to see it bare fruit (because that takes 70 years). The man replies that he is planting for his childrens children who will be able to enjoy the fruit. Then Honi falls asleep for 70 years (but he doesn't know it), wakes up and sees the tree with fruit and everyone is happy and yay. Nice story right? You can talk about philanthropy and environmentalism...BUT while most people end the story there that is not the end.

Then end is that Honi goes to his house and tries to convince people it is him, THE Honi. No one believes him because it has been 70 years. So he goes to the house of study where he was and still is a big deal. He even hears them referencing him, but when he reveals his identity no one believes him, and they don't show him the proper respect. Honi gets depressed and prays for mercy, and God takes his life....Kind of a downer. Imagine if they included the end of the story in all those times we read it to the little kids in religious school. Yikes.

There are other stories like that, that have similar dark endings that we conveniently chop off. I do think that you can learn from the story not as a whole, but it is interesting when you get the whole picture. Things become more nuanced. Just like the tanur achnai (the oven of Achnai story). People die at the end of it...

Anyways enough about Talmud. I was craving shakshuka all day today, so I made some for dinner. Soooo good. It's tomatoes and spices and stuff and then you cook eggs in it. It's an Israeli thing. Come to Israel and I'll take you out for some good shakshuka.

I don't know what is good. Tuesday talmud class is good. The gym is good. I'm just so exciting right now haha.

Oh also as un-pc or whatever as people say this song is, I CANT STOP LISTENING TO IT. IT'S SO CATCHY. It's the new lady gaga song...

and I'm off.