Friday, May 27, 2011

it's been 2 weeks...

ok, 17 days technically since I updated. Sorry.

So-- Yom Ha'atzmaut. Oh, and Lag Ba'omer. And fairly soon, Yom Yerushalayim and Shavuot.

So-- Yom Ha'atzmaut. Started the night off by doing an avtacha at a street party that ended up getting closed early by the police because there were too many people there (why they didn't just not let anybody else in when it got full is asking too much from Israelis). So I went home at 2 am instead of at 4 am, which was fine with me. The avtacha was supposed to start at 11, so I figured that I would have to be there at 10. No, the volunteer office called me and said I had to be at the station at 9. We left the station at 9:45. Next year I'm going to a BBQ instead. During the day I went home (oh, I made flag cookies. Yummy flag cookies) and Rita and Dov had a party in the afternoon, then I went back into Jerusalem for a BBQ-- kind of a winding down because everyone already BBQ'd during the rest of the day.

Lag Ba'omer was, as usual, a pyromaniac's dream. I went to the NBN bonfire, and next year I will be going to the MDA Chul one. Josh made one, which would have been awesome to go to, but I didn't know where it was and he didn't answer his phone. And I forgot that I had Gavy's number, who I also could have called. But on the upside, at least I didn't try to find it because as Gavy put it-- "it was on top of a hill where you would think you would be raped and dumped." Right. Next time I'll call Josh in advance, or someone else. I definitely have bonfire pictures somewhere.

What else, what else? Getting ready to wrap up the school year. I'm going to be in only two schools next year (thank goodness). I'm going on some Fridays to sort of get acquainted with the new school for next year so that I don't come in with a total surprise and actually start working well. Like I said, it will be interesting because it's a population that I haven't really worked with, and it's also a high school, so there's a very big element of getting ready for life in the community, which should be kind of cool.

And Vered made aliyah! Yay! Mazal tov and welcome! Joint pancake birthday party to happen in the near future.

I think that's about it. I really wish I had more to say.

Oh! I can talk about dating here. Over the past couple of weeks I've gone out on a few dates. Nothing came out of them, but at least I went. And some of them were with Israelis...yay for me! That being said, still looking...and I'm open to suggestions (within reason; don't think about setting me up with a 35 year old, or someone who isn't religious, or doesn't speak a word of English/Hebrew-- yes, they've all been done...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mmmmm, bbq...

I smell like the classic Israeli smell on Yom Ha'atzmaut-- a BBQ. More on this later, but Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrating the 63rd birthday of Israel has come and gone, with all the fanfare and fun it deserved.

Bedtime, as I go back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yom Hazikaron

Last year I didn't post about my experiences; I later posted a poem, which I've linked to here.

American Memorial Day didn't mean much to me beyond sales and a day for BBQs. Now that I think about it, I'm sure it meant much more to my Grandpa and Zaidy (and maybe also my grandmothers) who knew people who fought and died in the wars of America. I'm sure that if I went to Arlington, or any other military cemetery, I would feel it more; I would recognize the day for what it was intended to be. But I never did. I didn't feel it in America; I don't know if I would if I went back.

When I was growing up, Israeli Memorial Day was always observed in school, but I never really made the connection of Memorial Day being right before Independence Day, really impressing the significance. People DIED-- DIED-- so that there could be an Israel. Somehow...I never really felt the "people DIED so that there could be an America." Here...everyone who was killed was a friend or relative of a friend or a friend of a friend. I would be surprised if there was more than 2 degrees of separation between someone who was killed and anyone walking around Israel's so close for everyone.

Last year I and another ulpan student were invited to carry a wreath for Natan Sharansky as he placed a wreath at the memorial ceremony for victims of terror. It was surreal, as I was walking to the ceremony and during, listening, and after, walking around Har felt like a memorial day, a day to remember. The night before I went to a ceremony with Elinor and Aryeh and on the way there was the tzfira, the 1-minute siren that marks the start of Memorial Day in Israel. Aryeh stopped the car, we got out, and stood. Remembering, reflecting, thinking, and paying respect to those who died for Israel.

There's also this...interesting (?) thing-- I don't know the right word for it. It's...kind of like a large-scale kumsitz. It's called "shira b'tzibur"-- "singing in a congregation" where there are songs put up on a screen, like in karaoke, and everyone sings together. They are old songs, traditional Israeli, war songs, hopeful songs, sad songs...and they are songs that are part of the culture here. And this shira b'tzibur is very...customary (?) on Yom Hazikaron and random other times. Everyone is sitting together, usually on mats on the floor or chairs in front of the screen and everyone sings together. Sometimes there are instruments, sometimes not. But it's amazing; it's just everyone sitting together and singing, being a group.

You feel a heaviness in the atmosphere here-- the country is in mourning, and you feel it. It's like when somebody you know dies and the world should stop and you're walking around in a haze because everything feels so thick. Except in this case, the whole country does stop, because everybody is thinking about somebody.