Sunday, October 20, 2013


Hello Readers! Though days sometimes seem to crawl by, weeks are starting to go by quickly, which is why I haven't written for a while! Here are a few updates about us!

Adam: He is doing VERY well! School is hard, and takes a lot of effort, but he is doing well in his classes and keeping up with all of the extra work. Each rabbinical student leads at least two services during the year, along with a cantorial student (There are less of them so they have to do five!).  Adam led Shacharit (the morning service) 2 weeks ago, and it was incredible! He was nervous, but it didn't show at all. He and Jacob, his cantorial student partner each got to sing one of their own songs, and they were beautiful. In February they are leading a whole Saturday morning service, and Im sure they will be amazing.

Each student also does a T'rumah project, a volunteer project that helps the community. He is songleading with a fellow student  once a month at a school near Jerusalem. When he came back from his first time this week, he was in a great mood, having missed songleading for kids! He is also the unofficial "intern" songleader for another Rabbi in town. We have loved spending time with her and her family as I am also their babysitter!

Adam has been keeping busy with other extra things as well, including taking part in a student-led a capella group. They have only had one rehearsal but there is no way they won't be amazing.  He is also teaching a little guitar group for fellow students on Saturdays. They bring food and play guitar...Its really cute. (Does this sound like a cheesy Christmas letter?)

We are both lucky enough to be teaching classes with Shalom Learning, a new program that brings Hebrew and Religious school to a whole new level. The program can be done in conjunction with a Temple, holding a few classes online and a few in person each month, but since we are here, we are teaching only online. Adam worked with them last year through Am Shalom, and they loved his idea of having an only online class. They did a lot of marketing to military families who don't necessarily have a synagogue to go to each week, but still want their kids to have a quality Jewish education. Our students are all over the world, and we meet once a week in an online meeting to learn about Jewish values and concepts, and even teach a bit of Hebrew. Its a very impressive company, and we are both so happy to be a part of it. I am especially happy to add something to my weekly routine...

Me: I've been trying my hardest to keep busy and find things to do, but its not always easy. Its hard not to have a set schedule, and have so much down time, but I'm doing my best to fill my time and enjoy being here. There is only so much "exploring" and hanging around in coffee shops that can be done, but I'm working on it!

In addition to the Shalom Learning class, I am teaching an English "Chug" (activity) once a week to a group of first graders at their school. Their parents are American, and they want them to supplement the English they get at school. Its a perfect thing for me to be doing, and I am creating curriculum and lesson plans to fit their needs.

I have also been doing some volunteering/subbing and a preschool, and babysitting as much as I can. Its a strange life to be living, but I just keep in mind that it is only temporary, and next year I will, God willing, be busy and working hard!

Thats it for now. Though we are having a once in a lifetime experience, really miss home and all of you!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

I like it Eilat!

Sorry, couldn't resist on the title....

We just got back from such an amazing trip, I want to write it all down before I forget!

We woke up bright and early to pack and get ready to go! We grabbed our suitcases, took the bus to the Budget Rental place, and picked up our car. Adam was super nervous to drive in this city of crazy drivers. (It wasn't even a question whether or not I would drive in this city), so we took our time navigating the streets. He did great, and finally we were out of town on our way down to the very bottom of Israel. As we first got out of Jerusalem, it felt a bit like driving through the midwest, as it was very flat. As we got further south, the landscape started to remind me of being on Mars. We passed a few cities, but other than that there was no civilization, and mountains and desert for miles. We drove through windy mountain passes, and it was breathtaking at every turn. At one point we stopped at an overlook to take pictures and say Shehekiyanu, thanking God for taking us to this moment. It was a beautiful moment to remember.

After about 5 hours of driving (We took a long route to avoid the West Bank. Its perfectly safe to drive through on the highway, but it still feels a little scary to go through checkpoints), we arrived in Eilat. After driving through the desert, it is truly a sight to see! It almost feels like arriving in Las Vegas, with all of the hotels and attractions. We arrived at our hotel, which was not really a hotel. Though I booked it on a hotel website, it turns out it is an apartment complex for workers at the many hotels in the area. It had a really nice pool, bar, and it was clean, so it worked for us! We immediately went to the pool to cool off, as it was very hot there! After, we went to a nice dinner on the tayelet, a boardwalk along the beach. Since we were so tired from driving and swimming, we called it an early night for our adventure in the morning!

 Eilat is situated on the Red Sea, which is absolutely gorgeous. The water is clear, so its perfect for snorkeling and swimming on the beach. We decided that it was very important to see some beautiful marine life, so we chose to go to Dolphin Reef, a private beach that is has its very own dolphins! For 7 years, the beach was "open" meaning that the dolphins were free to swim out to sea, but chose to stay near the beach to be fed and interact with people. Eventually, the situation proved to be dangerous for the humans and the dolphin population, so the beach became closed, though it is a very large area. If any of the dolphins are unhappy or have trouble integrating, they are sent to the Black Sea through a special program. The dolphins here are treated with respect, and the rule of the place is to let the dolphins choose if they want to interact with humans. You can pay to go snorkeling or SCUBA diving alongside them, but they are never forced to "swim" with humans. The result is really beautiful because they end up happily swimming around among the humans. We decided to swim in the beach area away from the dolphins, and snorkel with the fish. We then went over to the other side to the dolphin observatory, where we sat on a dock and they swam and played under out feet. It was such a serene place and a surreal experience. Highly recommended if you go to Eilat!

That afternoon, we went back to the tayelet for a delicious sushi lunch (cringe...I know) on the beach. Our friends Megan and Ashley had arrived in the area, so we invited them to come back to our hotel and swim. It was fun hanging out by the pool and soaking up the sun! After a siesta, we met up with them again for dinner at a place on the water called Pago Pago. Quite delicious! Afterward, we went for a walk along the marina to see the yachts parked there. We each picked out which boat we would want some day. We happened to walk into a crazy busy fair, with shops selling phone cases, purses, clothes, and jewelry. there was a big group of Lubavitchers dancing and singing as well! It was a very fun night!

Adam ended up finding a super cheap deal to a spa in a hotel along the water, and with lots of twisting of my arm, we decided to go there to hang in their pools and jacuzzis and to get a massage. I thought that it wouldn't be very nice because it was so cheap, but it was incredible! they had waterfall pools and whirlpools and the most relaxing swing ever, where I ended up falling asleep. Im the states, spas seem to be a place where couples or groups girlfriends go to spend a relaxing day. In Israel, we saw several groups of friends together, being loud and having a great time. It was still an amazing experience!

After another good lunch on the tayelet, we decided to see some more marine life. We went to the Underwater Observatory and Marine Park, where they have an observatory completely underwater, so you get to see the coral and fish in their natural habitat! You go down the windy stairs, under the water, and it is one of the coolest things I've ever seen! In an aquarium, you know that the water stops after a few feet, but here you could see that the water goes on forever. At the top of the building, there is a beautiful view of the water, and you can see that you are right next to Jordan on one side and Egypt on the other!

We ended up eating a small dinner at our hotel bar before bed. A GREAT day!

We packed up and said goodbye to our cute "hotel" and headed back up north! We knew we wanted to go to Yotvata, a very special town  a kibbutz where they make delicious milk products and "shoko" (chocolate milk), so we went to their big store on the side of the road. We wanted to take a tour of the kibbutz, and then meet up with Adam's childhood friend, Noa, who lives with her family on the Kibbutz. Lucky for us, there was no tour in the morning, so after some delicious Yotvata hot shoko, we had to find something to do for a few hours. We ended up down the road in Chai Bar, an animal reserve. We toured around the "predator cages" and saw snakes, rodents, foxes, and jaguars sleeping in the sun. We even saw some turtles mating and fighting. It was very exciting! the coolest part, is that they have a "safari experience", where you can drive into the reserve and see the animals in the wild. We followed behind the feeding truck, so we knew the animals would come close. It was so cool to see  donkeys, gazelles, oryx, and addax hagning out in their natural habitat, not behind a fence in the zoo. They even gave us a CD to play in the car that talked about the different animals, and how they go to the reserve. Many of them were endagered species that were brought there to breed! My favorite part were the ostriches. They are HUGE and so funny to watch with their giant legs and worm-like necks. At one point they got very close to our car, and we kept screaming, "Don't do it! It's a rental!" We laughed so hard and were only a tiny but scared of being eaten by ostriches.

After our safari, we went back to Yotvata to meet Noa and her husband for lunch on the Kibbutz. We ate in the dining hall, and they told us about life on the Kibbutz. They are both doctors, and are not kibbutz members, so they told us they pay a fee to live there and receive all of the amenities of the kibbutz. Members work on the kibbutz, so they don't receive a salary. Everything is communal, including food and amenities. This Kibbutz does very well, and the quality of life is very high. The milk products they make are very famous in Israel, and we enjoyed drinking shoko and banana flavored milk on the way home! Noa gave us a little tour, and we saw all of the cows, and the milking room. They put all of the cows on a rotating circle, kind of like an industrial merry-go-round. The workers attach the milking machines to the udders, and they go around in a circle until they are done. We also got to see cute little baby calves who were just born. One still had an umbilical cord attached!

We spent the rest of the day driving home, appreciating the mountainous desert. However, we were very happy to see the green hills of Jerusalem as we came home. It was truly an incredible trip, and I will never forget all of the amazing things we did!


Here are our pictures!

Eilat Sukkot Roadtrip!

High Holidays

Well, I guess I'm not very good at this--I can't believe its been 2 weeks since I last posted! There is so much to talk about, but I will start with the biggest thing that has happened this month--millions of holidays!

The first big Chag (holiday) we experienced in Jerusalem was Rosh Hashana. For those that don't know, Rosh Hashanah is the New Year for the Jewish lunar calendar. Because the calendar is different from our secular calendar, the secular date moves each year. This year it is very "early", meaning Rosh Hashanah was in early September. Because of this, Adam and his classmates only had about a week and a half of their semester before having several days off for all of the holidays! It makes for a crazy and confusing beginning to the year.

Erev Rosh Hashanah (the first night, because Jewish days go from sunset to sunset), we went to the HUC synagogue. It was a very beautiful service because the HUC student choir sang! Any of the students or SOs could join, and they were incredible! Many of the students in this year's class are passionate about music, and of course the cantorial students were extraordinary. They had solos throughout, and it was nice to see the future of the Reform Movement's musical talent!  After services we had a lovely dinner with many of the cantorial students, and it was fun to hear them rehash their performances and talk about the power of praying in front of a congregation. It was also extra special to be having Rosh Hashana dinner next to a giant window overlooking Jerusalem.

The next day students were free to go to any synagogue in the area. Unlike the States, you don't need to pay hundreds of dollars to attend a service! Lucky for us, Adam was songleading for the congregation in Tsur Hadassah, where we previously spent Shabbat. There were about 70 people there, which we are told was a big number. The service was pretty traditional, and lasted about 3 hours--much longer than the family services I have grown accustomed to! The service was completely in Hebrew (obviously) so it was little tough to follow along, but because everything was done differently than I am used to, it went by pretty quickly. Adam did a fabulous job, and the congregation all thanked him afterward for making the service extra special. After services, we were invited for lunch at a family's home that I had met before through my ulpan. It was such a nice, relaxing meal, and I learned all about One Direction from their children!

The one thing thats hard about all of these holidays, is that everything is totally closed, except for a few restaurants and coffee shops if you know where to find them. That means that you must plan ahead and buy all of the food and supplies you need for the chag. Rosh Hashanah ran into Shabbat this year, which means three days of everything being closed. I must admit, it takes a toll over three days, but its also a nice reminder of the importance of peace and quiet.

A week later, the next holiday is Yom Kippur, (Day of Atonement). The whole idea behind this one, is to spend the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur atoning for any sins you have committed in the past year, and ask for forgiveness from those you have wronged. Yom Kippur is a more solemn occasion, where people fast and don't bathe. Most people do not drive on Shabbat in Jeruslaem, but there are still many cars and taxis in the street. On Yom Kippur there are absolutely no cars. In fact, most people walk in the middle of the street. After services on Erev Yom Kippur, we walked home in the middle of he streets with hundreds of other people. There were also kids riding their bikes up and down the streets all day-it was truly magical to see a city collectively become car-less.

For Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur, we went to the beautiful services at HUC. They had hundreds of attendees, and held the service in a beautiful room overlooking the old city. The student choir was amazing, and it was fun to be a part of a big congregation of progressive Jews. For the Break the Fast, we all brought food and ate together in the student lounge area.

A week after Yom Kippur, just when you think you are done with holidays, a new holiday starts. Sukkot is a week-long Harvest festival. People build sukkot, a tent like structure, where many religious Jews eat all of their meals and sometimes sleep. It was fun to see all of the restaurants around us building their Sukkot, and trying to fit them on the sidewalk or on their patios. Because the first and last day of this holiday are special, we again find everything closed for two holidays and the Shabbats in between. This brings the grand total to 9 days of closed stores, restaurants, and public transportation in the month of Spetember. Its amazing that some of these businesses can stay open!

Sukkot is one of the longest breaks throughout the year, so HUC had a super long vacation. Many of the students took this time to travel or go home to see loved ones. We decided to go to Eilat. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken. Stay tuned for the story of our trip!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A list of things we miss...

I will most definitely write a post in the next couple days about our High Holiday experience, but for now I will just say that there are many things we miss about the good old US of A. And I would like to list them for you now:

Our families and friends, of course..and being in the same time zone...
Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
Driving our own cars, and the freedom that comes with that.
Understanding people when they talk to you on the street.
Change of weather (Not that we are complaining about the never ending sunshine...but a little variety might be nice).
Not converting shekels to dollars in my head all the time.
Having a real job (Seriously!!).
Non-Jews (Again, variety is the spice of life).
Bath tubs.
Taco Diablo..and good Mexican food in general. And Chinese.
Walking to the lake in Evanston.
Walking around the lakes in Minneapolis.

There are many more I'm sure. Don't get me wrong, there are no complaints about this adventure were are on....but sometimes its nice to remember the comforts of home!

Tiyul to the North

Last week, I was lucky enough to join the HUC students on an overnight tiyul (trip), to the North of Israel. Now if you've ever seen a map of the Middle East, you might think that was not the best place in the world to be in these tumultuous times, but rest assured we were and are safe, and lucky to be in a peaceful place compared to what the people of Syria have to deal with. That being said, there are always plans in place in case something does happen here, and we have a whole network of people to make sure we can get out of harm's way if need be.

We left early Wednesday morning to get to our destination, the banks of the Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee, a large lake in the northeast corner of Israel. The purpose of the trip was to get a big picture experience of the first Jewish settlers of Palestine (later Israel), and their connection to the land. We saw several different important sites including Tel Hai, the site of the first Arab-Jewish conflict in the area now known as Israel in the 1920s. We went to the site of a Kvutzat Kinneret, an agricultural school for girls, and then to the Kinneret cemetery where the poet Rachel is buried, along with many other important pioneers and early Zionists. We met with modern pioneers as well including members of a group of social activists fighting for social justice and community involvement.

The one part of the trip that made me nervous, was our visit to a moshav (settlement) on the border of Lebanon. As we learned about the history of the area, our trip leader pointed out a few easily visible buildings on the other side of a small fence a few miles away--an active Hezbollah settlement. Needless to say, I was very happy to leave.

Overall, it was a great way to see the beginnings of Israel firsthand, and understand the connection to the physical land of Israel. Now Adam and his classmates will continue to build on their knowledge of modern Israel history in their Israel Seminar class. Though this trip was an educational experience for me, it was a good reminder that I am most certainly not in Rabbinical School, and would not choose to be. These students are so passionate and full of opinions and enthusiasm about Israel and Judaism, I can't keep up with the conversations...nor do I want to. But as I have said before, the future of Reform Judaism seems to be in capable hands.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I have been told  that I need to blog more. Sorry guys! Its crazy to think its already September and its been almost a month since the last post. I will try my best to update you on what has happened since then.

Adam finished his first term at HUC a few weeks ago (Hooray!!) and did very well in both of his classes. I am so proud of him! Today he started the Fall term, and many students are saying its the first time they feel like real Rabbinic students. His schedule is jam packed, but luckily I will be volunteering at the Gan 3 days a week, so we can have lunch together!

During HUCs short break in August, we decided to travel up north to Haifa and Sfat. Haifa is a port city on the Western Coast, and Sfat (Tzfat, Safed, Safad....Whatever you want to call it in English) is about an hour and a half inward. We took a bus up to Haifa on Friday, and really learned how travel without a car is all about going with the flow. We took a bus to the bus station, and bought tickets to Haifa. We were expecting a nice peaceful ride, but of course, we had some trouble. The bus stopped several times along the way, as the bus driver was dealing with some sort of technical issue. Of course he never told us what was going on, but eventually told us that we would wait for a new bus on the side of the highway...After an hour of waiting we finally got to head out again toward Haifa!
Since we were there on a Friday night, the cuiy was pretty mellow, but we ended up meeting some friends from HUC for dinner in a cute strip called the German Colony! (For those that remember, our apartment is in the Jerusalem German Colony!) We had AMAZING Morrocan food at a restaurant called "Fatoush"...I love that I'm getting to try a lot of types of food here, and it is always very authentic.

As we walked to dinner, we say the beautiful Bahai Botanical Gardens, where one of the only Bahai Temples in the world is located. The only one in North America is in Wilmette, IL! II've driven by the Temple in Wilmette before, and it looks pretty similar from the outside. The one in Haifa is quite a sight, as its built on the side of one of the many mountains that make up Haifa. There are 700 steps to the top, and the whole way up is a beautifully manicured garden. In the middle, there is a holy Bahai Temple. At night it is all lit up!

After a breakfast the next day, we were going to meet out friends at the entrance to the garden to take a tour down to the bottom. When we asked at the hotel how to get there, we were told, very emphatically, that we should take a taxi, because there was no public transportation on Saturday. For some reason, we thought it was a better idea to walk. Google maps told us it would be a nice 30 minute walk of a little over a mile. I don't know what we were thinking, seeing as though we were on a mountain, but we didn't take into account that the little walk would be straight uphill. Every time I thought we were close, there were 200 more stairs...And then 200 more...and a huge hill...and 200 more stairs. It was one of the most challenging walks I've ever done, but we were good cheerleaders for one another, and when we finally made it to the top, it was an incredible view! We took a tour down the garden, and it was fascinating to learn the history of the Bahai religion.

Once we got to the bottom, we met our friends (who were done with the tour because they were smart and took a taxi) for some more delicious food. After lunch, we all crammed into a taxi to go to the beach. The beaches were very nice, and the water was perfect. I am still getting used to swimming in salt water, but I love standing in the waves of the Mediterranean. We enjoyed laying in the sun, drinking a pina coloda. and reading and snoozing. That night, Adam and I were exhausted, so we decided to make some turkey sandwiches at our hotel and sit in the courtyard by our room. It was the perfect ending to a long day!

The next morning we headed to the bus to get to Sfat as soon as possible. This was another interesting bus ride! We got to stay on the same bus the whole time, but there were 30 (!) stops on the way there! Because it was Sunday morning, there were tons of soldiers on the bus returning to their bases after the weekend. The bus was so packed many people had to stand that whole way. Luckily we had great seats!  Once we got to Sfat, we went to the old city. This area is famous for the creation of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. There are many artists located there, and they all sell beautiful paintings and works of art in the old city. We loved walking through the windy, narrow streets looking in artists galleries and shops. We bought a few small paintings, and of course went to the Safed candle store. This is where everyone gets their Hannukah candles, and they had some beautiful candles and wax sculptures on display. We also went to a tiny sandwich shop where they made Yemenite sandwiches. It sort of looked like grilled cheese on a thick, grilled round piece of bread. It was very tasty!

Adam was really excited to go to the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) in Sfat. Around the cemetery where several famous Kabbalists are buried, there is a famous Mikveh. I had to wait around the corner, but Adam tells me it was quite an experience...Maybe soon he will write a blog post about it!

After our long, hot, day in the old city we took another windy bus ride to the Safed Inn, a gem of a Bed and Breakfast about 20 minutes out of town. Its owned by a family, and it was a perfect place to relax and eat! We decided to hang out there for the night, and had Thai food delivered! We hung out in the hot tub and hammocks, and drank beer and played games.

In the morning we had a delicious homemade Israeli breakfast--complete with homemade cheese, jam, and bread! There was even real drip coffee, which is pretty much unheard of in Israel. Yum!

We took several buses back home, and it was nice to have the feeling we were home when we got back to Jerusalem.

My fingers are tired for now...But stay tuned for my next blog about our trip to the North with HUC!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A recap of the past few weeks!

Apologies for taking so long to update! There are is so much to say that whenever I fee like writing it feels a little overwhelming! Lets start with an update about what we have been doing individually, and then some cool things that have happened since I last wrote!

Adam: Adam has completed four weeks of school already! This summer, the classes consist of Ulpan (Hebrew Study) and Biblical Archaeology. He is doing very well in both classes, and even passed out of Cantillation (reading Torah), the other class offered this summer, so its been nice to have a little extra time! In Biblical Archaeology, the students go on a weekly trip to see ruins and old cities, which is cool because they are getting to experience all of the history they learn about. He always comes home super sweaty and dusty from these trips! I will brag a little bit and say he is doing very well in his classes, and works very hard every day. He even has his own study spot picked out on the third floor of the HUC library. Sometimes I come and crash it--its very quiet and peaceful up there!

Rest assured, the future of Reform Judaism in America seems to be in capable hands. This is a group of doers. They organize, plan, and execute countless activities on top of all of their studies, and they are all enthusiastic and kind.

Me: I finished my first Ulpan, a three week intensive course at the Conservative Yeshiva. It was very helpful, and I will start another one after the Jewish Holidays. My Hebrew is getting better everyday, and it helps to practice with Adam who is incredible! I can tell he is getting good because whenever we go to a restaurant they give us menus in Hebrew! I have been babysitting almost every day, and I now have three different families I work for. I am currently researching programs that I can do online to get endorsed in ELL when we get back to the states.

Ok So I will try to catch you up on things we have been up to!

Since we have been here, we have been lucky enough to attend two beautiful weddings. The first was our friend Jackie and her now husband Sagiv, who is Israeli. Last week we went to Ross and Dorit's wedding, some friends from Minnesota who now live in Tel Aviv. Both weddings were very absolutely beautiful with serious dancing, delicious and plentiful food, and very loving couples. There are a lot of similarities between Israeli and American weddings, but a few noticeable differences. Before the ceremony is a Kabbalat Panim. In the States, it seems that this ceremony is more private and ceremonial, where the women dance with the bride, the men drink with the groom, and then the two get together, sign the Ketubah, and put the veil on the bride. In Israel, it is more of a cocktail hour before the ceremony, and the Bride and Groom are present. There is a lot to eat and drink, and then everyone gathers for the ceremony. People cheer when the bride and groom come down the aisle, which I love! People cheer and clap during the ceremony, and its a very uplifting thing to experience, as it should be. During the reception, every dance is a Hora and you don't have to wait for Hava Nagila to dance in a circle!

Jerusalem Pride:
Last week, I went with a large group of HUC students to march in the Jerusalem Pride Parade.  We met in Independence park, where there were huge group of supporters dressed in rainbows and holding balloons and signs, and from there we marched to Knesset (the Parliament building). I was surprised that there were really no visible protestors, and it was such a peaceful and serene walk. At one point, there were stink bombs catapulted from someone's roof, but the smell only lasted for a few minutes on the route. I wondered why there was so little hubub about something that is so divisive at home, but someone told me its because to the Ultra-Orthodox, the LGBT community doesn't exist. It's not a threat to them because they don't see it or acknowledge it. They have more important things to worry about, which brings me to another highlight...

Women of the Wall
We went with the Women of the Wall to pray at the Kotel for the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul. There were waaaay less protestors than last time, but there were still hundreds of Haredi men and women there to scream, blow whistles, and drown out our prayer. Like last time, we did not get to make it to the actual wall, which is ridiculous, but we had a beautiful service. At the end we listened to the sound of the Shofar to mark the beginning of the last month of the year, in preparation for Rosh Hashana.

Cincinnati Dinner:
We had an amazing dinner with the cohort of students and their families that will be coming to Cincinnati next year. There are two married couples with kids, us, and about 8 other students, and its a wonderful group of future Rabbis and families! We ate vegetarian "Skyline" chili, lots of other delicious food, and played Cincinnati trivia! I learned many important things, the most important of which is how to spell Cincinnati! I think its really cool that we will all be together for the next five years and we will hopefully grow and expand with more children and significant others on time progresses!

Tzur Hadassah
This Shabbat, we had the pleasure of going to services at a Reform congregation in the village of Tzur Hadassah, about 20 minutes outside of Jerusalem. Its a community of about 7,000 people, and the Reform congregation has about 40 families as members, which we were told was a very high number in this type of community. The Rabbi there is the mother of some of the kids I babysit for, and a faculty member at HUC. She hired Adam to songlead for Rosh Hashana services there, so he came to songlead for them this Shabbat as well! There were only about 14 people there, but it was a beautiful Shabbat experience. The building is very tiny, but it is clear that the people who belong to this congregation are very passionate about Reform Judaism in a country where its just beginning to be accepted and recognized. Afterwards, we had a really nice home-cooked meal at the Rabbi's house in Jerusalem. One interesting part of the trip there, was that we passed through Palestinian territories on our way there. It was nothing like I expected. We were in a cab, so we were just waved through the checkpoints, and it really felt like we were just going through a toll. In America there is a vision that there is a battleground at each border, but we didn't feel that as we passed through. That being said, its not the same for the Palestinians.

Shabbat Experiences
It takes some getting used to that the weekend is Friday and Saturday and that the week starts again on Sunday. The word for Sunday literally means First Day! On Friday, we have been going the market (shuk) to buy produce and other goodies for the week. Some people think we are crazy for going on Friday, which is like going to Trader Joes on Sunday but ten million times crazier. I really like it because its the only time Adam and I get to go together, and its fun to see all of the craziness before Shabbat! Friday nights the students always go to services around the city to experience different types of Jewish tradition, and Saturday morning there is a service at HUC. So far, we have been trying to relax as much as possible on Saturdays, and go on Shabbat dates! Today we even went to a movie. There is a tiny movie theater down our block, and today we saw our first movie there. We saw "Unfinished Song" (the Hebrew translation was "A Song for Marion"). It was in English, so we decided to see it! It was a very emotional movie and we both cried A LOT! The weirdest part was that there was an intermission, or smoke break. I knew it was going to happen, but it still took me by surprise when the lights came on in the middle of the movie!

Wow, sorry that went on for so long! Hopefully I will be more prompt with my next update, but who am I kidding? : ) Shavua Tov, have a wonderful week!