Monthly Archives: May 2011

First Day Back in Jerusalem

Everything changes and everything stays the same. My first day in Jerusalem has proved that. The city looks the same, only different. Where there once were holes in the ground, there are now tall buildings. And in some places where there was the beginning of a construction project, it still looks like the beginning of a construction project (Waldorf- Astoria, I’m looking at you). The big change is the light rail. Yafo is just a pedestrian walkway with tracks running down the middle. Empty trains run by every few minutes doing their test runs. I’m wondering if they are testing how the tracks and cars work, or how well Israelis respond to the repeated horns to get out of the way. We shall see.

The Seminar started today as well. It was great to get back together as a group, to hear what everyone has been up to since January, and to start thinking about our topic for the month:עמיות, Jewish Peoplehood.

To welcome us, Lisa played a great song by Arik Einstein, כמה טוב שבאת הביתה, “How Good that You Came Home.” All of us are returning to Israel after having spend a year here together four years ago. For some of us it was our first time back, for others (like me) we had been back. And yet, every time you come it’s like coming home; everything is the same and everything is different.

I’m sitting at Cafe Hillel on Yafo in Jerusalem, at the center of the city. It is utter madness. Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, started at sundown. Today, we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. There are about eight bajillion Israeli teens around the city (that’s what I get for coming downtown tonight), but the bustle is electrifying. The energy is keeping me up at this late hour (9:30 pm), fighting through my jetlag that I hope will be gone by tomorrow. A good night’s sleep tonight should do the trick. Our plan tomorrow is to walk and drive around the city to take in a variety of Yom Yerushalayim activities.

For those who are keeping score at home, I have not yet been in Lina for hummus, Istanbuli for shwarma, or Aroma. All need to be done in the very near future. Having said that, I do also love Cafe Hillel.

Finally, but most importantly, I have to wish a Happy Anniversary to Tami. We are celebrating our second wedding anniversary today. Obviously neither one of us wanted to be apart today, but the Seminar’s and her work’s schedules prevented us from being together. We had a great time in San Diego last week celebrating, and got in a quick video chat today before she went to work. It helps, but it isn’t like being together. I love you baby, Happy Anniversary.

Off to bed, hopefully through the night, and another great day tomorrow.


Arrived in Israel

I’m sitting in the Nesher Sheirut (shared taxi) from the airport in Tel Aviv to my hotel in Jerusalem. The weather here is absolutely gorgeous. Sunny and 79 in the middle of the afternoon. Let’s hope and pray for a month of this weather.

I got my BlackBerry up and running; gotta love BBM for staying in touch. I didn’t sleep much on the plane, and so I’ve started a countdown to 9:30 tonight when I can go to bed. Ill hit the hotel, get unpacked and cleaned up, a bite to eat with friends, and then it’s off to bed before tomorrow’s first day.

Here we go again…

As I start this, my second attempt at blogging, I also know that I am doing something else again…heading off to Israel. Four years ago, right around this time, I was packing up my life, moving it from Jackson, MS back to Chicago, putting it in storage (thanks Dad), and getting onto an Israir flight. Now, I am leaving most of my life where it is (including Tami), and just heading off for four weeks. But, since we are planning to move when I get back, I know that we are packing up our lives in a very short period of time.

Why am I going to Israel (and why isn’t Tami coming with)? For a month-long seminar with my rabbinic/education classmates. Thanks to the Mandel Foundation, who have given all of us a fellowship this year, we have had the change to learn with and from each other in Malibu in September, in Boston in January, and now will be going to Israel for a month. I leave on Sunday, and we get started on Tuesday. So now, I’m off to pack.