Being under the weather for a month on top of a full schedule of work, Hebrew classes and life it’s hard to find the time, let alone the energy, to write a post. Finally, with a two hour bus ride ahead of me, I possess both requirements to formulate a few coherent thoughts for an update on life in Israel.
Where to start? I’ll start with my general routine. General because this routine really serves as nothing more than a suggestion for how my week will play out. My internship at The Jewish Federations of North America is Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 9am to 4:30 in the city center. I work inside a beautiful building that actually has historic significance since Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, sat here while in office. There are numerous philanthropic organizations that also occupy the building. I work alongside a mix of Israelis and American-Israelis. Everyone speaks flawless Hebrew and English. It’s great to have the comfort of English but I’ve recently realized I haven’t been taking advantage of my bilingual colleagues. I set up an agreement with my office-mate that once a day we will speak in Hebrew during a 15 minute coffee break. Should help me “break my teeth.” An expression I’ve heard 3 times this week while expressing my frustration with learning the language. Here goes nothing. It’s not going to sound pretty but it’ll be worth it. Everyone at the office has been very welcoming and warm, offering themselves as resources. My position at JFNA currently is with Planning and Programming where I’m assisting with the development of a report about the field of Jewish Identity in Israel. It’s fascinating and I’m learning so much everyday reading articles and research and sitting in on interviews with experts within the field. Considering my degree from Cal Poly is Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting this internship is obviously outside my comfort zone. I’m learning a lot everyday and enjoying the change with an understanding that I’m developing a skill set I wouldn’t have an opportunity to explore if I were in the States right now. It’s hard to find an internship outside of college not even considering it’s outside my field of study. Grateful for the opportunity and constructive, encouraging feedback I get regularly.
Following internship hours as well as the Tuesdays I’m not in the office I’m busy with WUJS programming. Judaism class on Sunday. Hebrew class on Monday. “Tiyulim” (field trips) all over the country on Tuesday followed by an Israeli Cinema class in the evening. Wednesday and Thursday usually vary. Some things are optional. Don’t forget I have to find time to eat, shower, study and practice Hebrew, and, oh yeah, breathe.
So here’s a glimpse into my life in between scheduled hours…
A few weekends ago, I visited Tzfat with a few of the girls I met on JEWEL over the summer. There are four holy cities in Israel, each representing a different element. Jerusalem, fire, in reference to the fire that was kept burning in the Holy Temple, and also for its significance as the spiritual epicenter of Judaism. Tiberias, water, for its location along the Sea of Galile and its establishment as a learning center for Jewish scholars. Hebron, earth, for serving as the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. Tzfat, air, for its associations with the mystical aspects of Judaism known as Kabbalah. I’ve been fortunate to visit three of the four. As part of my weekend in Tzfat I decided to stop through Herzilya to visit with my cousin Rachel before heading north. Insert bus route fumble here. I end up in a town called Kfar Saba completely off course of my plan and panic strikes. I’m at such a loss over my failure that I don’t even know how to ask for help let alone accept any when offered my two different spectators. Somehow a successful rescue mission was coordinated by my friends Liora, Sarah and Ellie with internet and moral support phoned in by Shay. An hour and a half later the three girls show up like a knight in shining armor, complete with arms and screams of joy flailing out rental car windows. I’ll be forever grateful for that moment. Course correction and we’re on our way with a suggested stop for lunch off the beaten path for wine and cheese…
Our time in the city of Tzfat was short and sweet. 25 hours of peaceful existence at a hostel called Ascent. As part of their “shabbat experience” you are placed with different families in the community for Friday night dinner. I went with Elyse and Sarah to the Koby’s. A lovely couple with two adorable and rambuncious little girls. Excellent food and interesting conversation filled the evening before a long walk back to our hostel where we turned in for the night. Saturday was spent sleeping. Well at least for me. We left Tzfat around 5:00pm and zig-zagged our way back to Jerusalem after a nice relaxing weekend. While the rest was wonderful it was a precursor to the failure of my health later in the week. Turns out I needed a round of anti-biotics and I’m finally, seriously, finally feeling 100%.
Growing up, there’s always a few favorite meals. At my house there’s more than a few since my mom is an amazing cook. But within the top 3 is Italian style chick cutlets. Simple to make with tons of flavor. You cant go wrong with these, and I was happy to be able to recreate them here in Israel. I’d share the recipe but I’m hoping to copyright it and feature it in my restaurant someday.