Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year from Tel Aviv Everyone!

I just wrapped up my first Kesher Birthright Fellowship, as Shabbat has ended here. The group was great, even though I only got to work with them for 25hours. My role was to represent HUC, speak with whomever was interested in learning more about our school, give the dvar Torah (commentary and interpretation) on Friday, and to help with a program on Saturday. I really enjoyed being able to be a part of the group, watching the talent show, and helping with the naming ceremony, where those who haven’t already gotten a Hebrew name choose one for themselves. A great experience all the way around

I plan to celebrate New Years with family friends here in Tel Aviv, then head back to Jerusalem on Sunday.

Speaking of celebrations, I’m enjoying the break after finals ended.  They went pretty well – I’ll find out my grades upon my return on Jan. 8th.  Looking forward to this next semester, many of the classes will continue: Modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew Grammar, Liturgy (the words of the prayers), Khazal (the commentary of the Rabbis), and Israel Seminar.  There will be a couple more semester or half-semester classes added on, but those above are the main courses.

Over break I saw “Rogue One,” which I really enjoyed – however, the joy from this movie is lessened by the death of Carrie Fisher (who played Princess Leia, in movies IV, V, VI, and VII).

We also lost George Michael, singer of “Careless Whisper,” during his time in the group Wham. That song was the first one that ever grabbed me off the radio, and inspired me to buy my first cassette tape. They were both influential figures, who remain with me. May their memories be a blessing.

2016 was a hard and tough year in a lot of ways, but during it, I prepared for starting HUC, officiated my friends Leigh Anne and Willis’s wedding, finished up working at UPenn after many years, celebrated, packed up, stored a bunch of stuff (thanks to all my family currently holding onto boxes for me), and moved to Israel. Summer and Fall semesters both proved memorable and enjoyable. I really value getting to know my new colleagues and professors, and look forward to working with them during the upcoming years of learning and beyond.

Best wishes to you for a happy, healthy New Year, and for all the best for you and your families during 2017.



Friday, December 2, 2016

I’m reading Torah tomorrow, and since I’ve got to practice, this post proves too short, however, I write at least.

It rains here in Jerusalem, the first heavy rains of the season, so people feel relieved. It’s windy and cold and wet, but that’s winter in Jerusalem.

The Torah portion I’m reading tomorrow, from Toldot, Genesis 27:41-45, is the same one from my Bar Mitzvah, so it’s great to be reading an anniversary of that milestone. I actually just turned 39, so it’s a triple Bar Mitzvah, and a year after the 25th anniversary. Strange – it doesn’t feel like so much time passed.

Final exams and papers approach, so this proves a busy time of year.

I hope all is well with all of you.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hi All,

I’ve been here for almost 2 months now. Things are going well. I’ve been busy with the summer term, which is now over, and classes for the fall semester just started. I’ll be moving from 2 classes to about 8, and even though some of those are only half semester credits, it feels like a large increase in assignments and responsibility.

In addition to classes there are also programs, tiyuls (trips), and seminars geared towards increasing our knowledge, appreciation, and awareness of Israeli history, society, and politics. I look forward to all of these different kinds of courses, and to learning on different levels. We’re split up depending upon the class by Hebrew level or historical knowledge, but all of the faculty are great, so wherever one ends up, the semester promises to be engaging.

My classmates are good people, and I get along with all of them. Studying for this last semester’s Biblical History final exam, we really came together. I attended multiple study groups where everyone contributed information and people took turns explaining material to each other until we all felt comfortable with it. We’ve also bonded over orientation, built community guidelines, and enjoyed a spectacular talent show that included singing, a duo of green grape toss-to-mouth-catching, and juggling knives.

The fun doesn’t stop there: there’s also a constant chance of finding new and/or deeper connections to others within the Jewish community. One of the Rabbis that I worked with at University of Michigan Hillel from 2001-2 now leads the NFTY in Israel program, with offices in HUC (my school) here in Jerusalem.  Also, a classmate and I figured out that I know one of her cousins from summer camp and college. He married the sister of a friend of mine from high school youth group. Lastly, a visitor from Geiger, the German Rabbinical school, and I became friends when he visited HUC earlier this month, and now I have a place to stay in Berlin, where I hope to travel after this academic year is over.

            Hope this post finds all of you well.

            Best wishes,