אני רוצה תה, בבקשה

Ani rotzah teh, bevakesha.

I want tea, please.

Hot water. Nana (mint leaves). Sugar. Combine. Drink. Repeat. 99 cups later and you may be sleeping through the night finally. It’s been 3 days since my first night of uninterrupted sleep since getting a cough 3 weeks ago. I missed 2 days of my internship (which I realize I haven’t mentioned on here yet), a field trip to the Ultra-Orthodox alternative universe in Jerusalem, and countless hours of precious vitamin D rich sunlight. Between coughing fits I made it to my second Israeli wedding, a day trip to the North of Israel, and a photography workshop.

2 introductory beginner photography courses in my life and I can say photography is certainly a developing hobby of mine. It’s one thing to learn in the classroom but without constant work and practice its impossible to know your point of view. If I leave my camera behind too often it begins to feel uncomfortable in my hands and I think that translates into the photos I end up taking. One of my goals right now is to pick up my camera at least once a day. So with my best intentions, and revived by a photography workshop last week, I took my Nikon D3000 with me on a day trip to the north. As always, the program organizers crammed way too much good stuff in too little of time. Perhaps intentionally to be a teaser into sticking around long enough for a return visit. The north of Israel is absolutely beautiful and wholeheartedly reminds me of California. Complete with a laid back pace, cool breezes and wineries on every corner like Starbucks in the States. We visited Tishbi Winery, the 6th largest in Israel, producing 1 million bottles a year. Carmel Winery established in 1896 produces 30 million bottles a year. In addition to an elegant and rustic tasting room, the winery has an artisan bakery, extensive cheese case and brandy distillery. The tease was enough, I’ll be back through the area for some more tastings.

Multicolored vegetation. Almost the exact color scheme of the bedding at my apartment.

So many dates, so little time.

Date chandelier.

Bread making is a mystery to me. I think there is voodoo magic involved.

Tishbi winery harvests, presses and bottles its own wine. They don’t use these bad boys though.

The photographer becomes the photographed.

Butterfly-like leaves.

Mishmash of things on someone’s home in Zichron.

A Jewish wedding is something special. Layer Israeli on top of that and, well, that’s something else. So when I was invited to attend my second one I couldn’t say no. In fact, I was really excited for the dancing, food and all around balagan (fun Hebrew word for wild, chaos, craziness). Despite my lingering cough, I put on makeup for the first time in a week, borrowed a dress from a friend and slipped on my dancing shoes. You don’t want to miss an Israeli wedding. More like a party than anything else. Short ceremony under a beautiful chuppah and it’s time to take your seats for the first course of the meal. 10 minutes of dancing. Second course. 15 minutes of dancing. Third course, dessert, no traditional wedding cake to be seen. Hasn’t been trendy for the last couple of years. I should also let you know that when we walked into the event there were about 5 stations serving various types of appetizers: Iraqi kubbeh and humus, Mexican style fajitas, Southwestern style barbecue, Sushi, and focaccia style pizzas. Amen for all the dancing to offset the food overload. Dancing is an interesting cultural difference between Israel and the States. First of all, everyone dances. Men included. And they are good dancers! Depending on the song there’s also cute/nonsensical dance moves that apparently are standard among Israelis. Oh, there are no gifts given to the bride and groom–well at least not actual items. They get straight to the point. Near the entrance is a podium style table with pre-labeled envelopes and pens ready for cash or checks to be signed and slipped inside. To top it off, there’s a special safe close at hand designed with a convenient slot at the top for those precious envelopes. No registry here, everyone wants the same thing.

With Shay at his friend’s wedding. Befriending an Israeli has its perks.

I’m on the left. My own mother couldn’t pick me out.