Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Pesach Chofesh

The Sunday chofesh started began with a morning of classes. A 'Big Burning Issues' Hadracha elective followed by Sunday Selection which for me involved a tour around Emek Refaim from the perspective of a person with disabilities. In the afternoon we packed up and people headed off in all directions, many in fact staying somewhere in Jerusalem for Seder, but others to destinations far and wide (as much as is possible in Israel anyway) across the country. I headed to Ben Yehuda street with Romy (one of my crazy and amazing Aussie friends from Machon) to do some last minute Pesach gift shopping, bagel eating and smoothie drinking after which we parted ways and I headed to the Etgar flat where I planned to spend the first few days of Chofesh.

After a chilled Sunday evening and Monday morning, Aaron and I headed over to Jeremy's for Seder. Although in many ways very unlike our Seder, the welcoming and buzzing atmosphere made us both feel completely at home and comfortable. The many bizarre and fabulous new traditions we experienced involved a sea complete with plastic bugs in the middle of the table, whacking each other with spring onions, eating jelly, playing 'just a minute', costumes, and VEGGIE soup! All in all it was a wonderful night that we both thoroughly enjoyed and it was fantastic to finally have a 'this year in Jerusalem'

After Seder in Jerusalem we headed to Herzliya for one night just to dump out stuff before packing up and heading off to the Golan for our Pesach tiyul camping trip. I won't disgust you all with the details but lets just say it was a rather unpleasant bus ride up North. We arrived at Kiryat Sh'mona and jumped in a taxi to our camp site, only they took us to the restaurant not the camp site, so some dude who worked there gave us a lift to the actual camp site. The camp site was beautiful so we chilled, munched, rafted and hiked (a tad) and met some lovely people. We had dessert, true Israeli style, with a couple we met, the guy was Israeli and the girl was a South African volunteer who had made Aliyah a few years ago. It was really sweet actually, we bumped into them and then later they came over and invited us to join them for their dessert which involved some really interesting conversations, mainly with him, about his claim that Israel didn't need volunteers and how he didn't like it that people went home with the impression that Israel needed help or was vulnerable. We had an extremely eventful couple of days and went rafting just the two of us down a precariously treacherous course on the Jordan River. The gas station, which was the only place to buy food, was a tantalising 10 metres on the opposite side of the river which involved a forty minute walk around...each way...to get any food.

After our adventurous experience we shlepped ourselves back to Herzliya to chill and shluf for the rest of Chofesh. This involved much sleep, munch and a lovely day with Gavi and Mike when they came to stay. The boys cooked us Spanish omelette while we 'supervised''. Chofesh was concluded with a lovely dinner out to celebrate mine and Aaron's six month anniversary.

This afternoon I headed back to pack and sort myself out in preparation to head home at three thirty in the morning to meet the gorgeous Dylan Joseph Grabiner!!!

Lots of love

S x

P.s. photos to come

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The last week before Pesach Chofesh

Friday 1st April: After a lovely long nights sleep in mama's room we woke early-ish to enjoy the hotel breakfast and set off for our day together. First stop was the 'museum on the seam' the co-existence museum on what used to be the border of east and west Jerusalem. The cutter theme was 'the right to protest' and though slightly 'trippy' the exhibition was fantastic.

After this (and a rather unpleasant taxi driver) we found ourselves (obviously totally by accident) at the American Colony Hotel for drinks which turned into lunch. We went home pretty much just to shluf and shower before returning there for dinner with papa later that evening.

On saturday morning we, being mum,
אבא, Aaron and I, headed up north a bit to visit Ardin and Osnat in Pardes Hanna. We had a what can only be described as scrumptious breakfast and really nice morning with them after which we continued on to Caesaria for a walk on the beach and lunch. The story of how we found somewhere to eat dinner is rather amusing to say the least. Pops decided he knew of a perfect restaurant only he didn't know what it was called, exactly where it was or what kind of food they served. Miraculously somehow the hotel found the resteraunt he was talking about and off we went for dinner in a lovely French resteraunt just off King George street.

On Sunday morning I had lessons as usual, hadracha specialisation followed by ivrit and chavura before off I went to spend an afternoon with mamma on Ben Yehuda, pottering around and eating the best veggie meal ever at T'mol shilshom. At about five o'clock pingu and yonni met us there for a coffee. Our dinner restaurant was a magnificent reservation and a place called machanyuda near the shook where they served  amazing food in a very loud and buzzing atmosphere.

Monday I decided to take off as a chofesh day to spend with benny. For some bizarre reason it was decided that  a museum was the nest place to spend the morning. Lets just say it wasn't all too successful and leave it at that.

Tuesday was a morning of five hours of Jeremy class. First holocaust elective and then story of the Jewish people. In the afternoon we had as usual yom t'nua which though slightly better than usual was still pretty boring. The evening was the spurs match, I had beer spilt over me right at the beginning at let's just say that was the best bit of the night.

Wednesday morning is Zionism, Zionism and a little bit of in-depth Zionism. Followed by social action where we had somewhat of a controversy and lost one of our members.

Thursday morning saw my very first and hopefully last ivrit test on machon. Not such a pleasant experience. I felt like I was back at school when I had tests in subjects I was just truly abysmal at. It was especially frustrating because I know I know more than will come across through a test. After that joyful experience we had chavura followed by yom israel which was themed Israeli culture and encompassed (for my group anyway) a visit to house and then a group trip to the cinematheque where machon had rented out a screen to show us clips from movies throughout israel's history. From here I took three buses and a short walk and 30shek later met Ben and yoni for dinner at 'Orna and Ella' in TA. We had a really lovely meal and then met Arieh for a drink at a chilled bar on the beach. That night I had the long missed experience of going to sleep with absolute silence around me.

I awoke early on Friday morning to get to Alozoroff station to meet the B'nei Akiva bus that I was hitching a ride with to Keshet Seminar. Unfortunately the bus was late and we were subjected to a brief evacuation of the station whilst there was a contained explosion to presumably deal with a bomb threat.
After that we met with the B'nei lot who had just run 10k of the marathon and were very proud of themselves and all headed off to the Beit Yehuda Hostel for the Keshet Seminar which is a seminar organised by Masa for all the British Youth Movements and this particular one was themed on University Life.

The seminar involved a ridiculous group bonding experience including herding sheep, a couple of contorversial services, lots of shabbaty esque things, a couple of sessions on 'Anti-semitism in the UK' and 'Student Politics' (my particular choices) and a fantastic key-note speech by Josh. We were split into university groups so myself, steph, debs and two other netzer girls, the Cambridge contingent were in the 'Smaller J-Socs' group which meant there wasn’t actually anyone from cambridge for us to speak to unfortunately.

The week followed a extremerly normal week of classes with the distinct end-of-term-it's-nearly-holiday feeling going around and lots of people sleeping a lot of the time. I spent most of the evenings with Aaron and his family as both his parents and younger twin brothers were out here for the week.

This weekend was Shabbat B'YAchad, a closed weekend on machon. It was actually really lovely and it massively feels like we have finally bonded as a machzor and everyone is getting on so much better and closer. The weather was beautiful so we spent a lot of time chilling on the grass, signing songs and reading. It's really nice to feel like the amazingness of the education and the building of friendships and a community has finally come together to start to create what machon is actually all about.

Speaking of chilling, after being berated by my darling brother for my lack of inspiration and artistic creativity this year, I finally made myself pick up the not so proverbial pen once again and here it is, not my best but a start.

Chag Sameach all x 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Southern Tiyul

I used my ipod touch to take notes on tiyul as I didn't have access to a computer. This has resulted in a slightly different format for the blog of this particular week.

Sunday 27th March

Music blasting and 17 year old boys running round yelling at the top of their voices. Not a pretty sight? Indeed not. To my utter dismay this was in fact the scene in the machon dormitorys at six o'clock on Sunday morning. We stumbled onto buses with bags packed for the week and fell asleep almost immediately only to be awoken two hours later for breakfast in a field somewhere. After breakfast we were given a brief explanation of the disengagement to prepare us for later in the day. After that we headed to Nitzan which is a temporary town for the settlers who were expelled from גוש כתיף. Five years later these people are still in temporary housing without proper bomb shelters and having had to completely rebuild their lives. It seems so bizarre that all this was given up without the compromise that went with the Sinai land agreements and the peace that was (albeit temporarily) constructed with Egypt. Unsurprisingly many of the teenagers who were due to enter the army at the time of the disengagement from these settlements refused to.

Many of the settlers wanted their homes to be left in tact, largely due to their dream of one day returning to their homes however almost everything was distorted by either the government or the Palestinians. The government argued that if no agreement was to be formed including a purchasing of the previously developed buildings, there was a limit on the amount they were willing to give up for free so they demolished all the houses, only leaving the synagogues (as it's against halachah to destroy them), they even moved the cemeteries and reburied people so families had to sit shiva for a previously unheard of second time.

What does Palestine actually mean. Many Israelis today will happily say that they lived in Palestine when it was part of the british mandate. So what it means today is something completely different. But does that even matter? Surely it's what a word stands for today that's important, rendering what it meant previously irrelevant.

כפר דרום settlement in gush katif
Gush katif was previously only sand dunes which the settlers cultivated and built on. They developed land people previously thought it would be impossible to do.

After being spoken to by one of the displaced settlers we went on a tour around the 'temporary' village. We were then taken into a room to be shown three rather propaganda esque movies about the settlement and how wonderful It had been, about the whole process through the eyes of one of the youth and about the way the settlement looked after the disengagement. The first two were fairly interesting and full of information I didn't know but at the same time I was constantly aware of the context and purpose behind us and other people watching them. They were clearly very one sided. From all the different people we are taken to speak to, it seems as if they've all been screwed over, most oftenly by the israeli government but then I find myself thinking about the necessity of certain actions and the convoluted decision making process behind everything that happens. It is just yet another dimension of the confusion in my mind surrounding many issues linked to Israel, Judaism and zionism.

I feel like in Israel there is a constant conflict between the people and the future, as there has indeed also been in other countries throughout history. For whatever reason it is just more present and aggressive when demonstrated by Israel.

We then (somewhat controversially in many of our opinions) moved on to Sderot. We were met by a guy called אלירן. He began his talk with of course a safety warning and telling us what to do in the event of a red siren. Interestingly he decided to tell us that there weren't at the moment actually rockets being fired into Sderot, only the surrounding area. Having said that he then told us that more than 12 000 rockets have hit Sderot and surrounding areas, sometimes more than 50 in one day. Every single bus stop is a bomb shelter, every house including every single individual apartment has it's own bomb shelter. People in Sderot have as little as 15 seconds of warning when a rocket is heading their way. We saw only a small percentage of the exploded rocket shells gathered outside the police station and one of the leaders explained about how most of the damage was actually done by the shrapnel that dispersed when the rocket exploded. We were taken to see a playground with a caterpillar style bomb shelter and also a fully protected and armoured school. Then we were taken to a viewpoint that allowed you to see Sderot on one side and the ghaza strip on the other.

I guess the thing people found most difficult about today was the stark contrast with the challenging and mind boggling events of last week. The combination of first the close proximity of the bomb and then the discussions with the Arab Israelis left a lot of people questioning things they'd previously been so sure of and taken for granted. Many people struggled with what they believed to be the treatment of the Arabs in Israel. In feedback in chavurot at the end of Thursday I tried to explain how important I thought it was to definitely question what you have been taught and believe in whilst at the same time remembering we see a very specific group of people on the program and it's very easy to arrive here from whatever country you come from having been fed 'Zionist drivel' all your life and so immediately deciding to jump ship and defend what you suddenly feel morally obligated to. I think the way I responded to the discussion with the Arab Israelis was vastly different to how it would have been six months ago. I feel like now i am much more able to sit back and absorb the information presented to me, in however a controversial style, and retain it to later compare and contrast with other narratives and make an informed decision based on my understanding as opposed to being always ruled by how I emotionally feel in a situation.

After an interesting but tiring day (six o'clock wake up remember!) we heading to Dimona to dump our stuff, eat some munch and shluf for a bit before the evening kef peula at eight thirty. The peula which in fact turned out to be a colour war themed around working together as a community on tiyul.

Monday 28th March

Monday morning began, once again with people who definitely shouldn't have been in my room, blasting music at seven in the morning. We packed up all our  stuff, headed to breakfast and climbed on the buses, one headed to Masada and one to נכל פרז. I was on the masada bus and on the way they explained to us a slightly convoluted version of mafia called southern tribes. As per usual I am a standard nomad which is one of the people who basically just sits by and gets to do nothing. I always get the crappy part!

When we arrived at masada and got the cable car to the top, I couldn't help but wonder what exactly we would be doing up there. Little did I know that despite having previously climbed Masada I clearly was so unaware and payed so little attention that I totally missed the whole really interesting Storting the history that took place there. We were explained King Herod's purpose and destruction of the initial palace there. We also had described to us the story of the sagicees and their final revolt. The educator Jamie (a Zionism teacher from machon) told the story from the perspective of one of the leaders and the different decisions that were made. At the end we discussed the legitimacy of what was effectively mass suicide to prove a point and weather or not this is what we thought they should have done.  We also discussed that although there is some archeological evidence of what happened and the story basically fits this evidence, we are not one hundred percent sure what happened. most people in our group agreed that it would have been more noble if they had died fighting rather than giving up to prove a point. We also talked about the Judaism implication of suicide and what was technically murder. Jamie then brought up the point that what we know and believe about suicide was from the Babylonian Talmud which was written only later as part of the creation of the diaspora. it really was fascinating for me but also exceedingly frustrating seeing as I'd clearly been taught all about it before but simply hadn't absorbed or really been interested in any if it.

After Masada we once again returned to the buses and were driven onwards and, well in this case, downwards, to the lowest point on the earth, Ein Bokek and the dead sea. After my tour experience, something I had little desire to repeat, I spent that hour munching lunch and sunbathing.

After a few hours shluffing on the bus we arrived at the very same Bedouin tent we stayed at on the Carmiel Chanukah tiyul. We then went for a casual camel ride followed by the 'Bedouin experience' all inclusive stories and dinner. For our evening activity we went to a slightly bizarre interpretive dance workshop followed by a performance and jam. During the workshop I had the pleasant experience of not being caught during the trust game and falling flat on the ground. Fun times. That evening was yet another fantastic nights sleep of sharing a tent with 50 other people.

Tuesday 29th March

Not only did I freeze practically all of the previous night, I also woke up mid way through, desperate to go to the loo but there was noway I was getting out of my warm sleeping bag and going all the way to the toilets all by myself in the middle of he night. We had a pretty good breakfast at seven fifteen in the morning (the same place we looked at in awe last time we were here and had to cook our own breakfast) before once again loading all of our stuff onto the bus and heading someplace new.

This someplace new was unfortunately not so new and turned out to be Sde Boker and Ben Gurions tomb once again.

After Ben Gurion's tomb was a small hike, lunch and then a bike ride through the desert mountains. The ride was difficult at points but beautiful scenery and great fun, I really enjoyed it. Afterwards we all headed to the campsite for epic soup followed by dinner, a really cute peula and a bonfire. part of the peula was sitting in a circle in our chavura groups with our eyes closed and different statements read out. Every few statements there were twompeople with their eyes open, taping the people they thought they most applied to. For the 'most likely to succeed in the movement' I got tapped twice in a row which was funny and quite sweet. We then got a semi early night in our oh so luxurious tents... The door of ours didn't close so we had the pleasure of waking up to a gale in our tent in the middle of the night.

Wednesday 30th March

On wednesday we woke at six. For those of us who didn't hike we sunbathed in the desert till about lunchtime at which point we met up with those on the short hike and headed to Eilat and the underwater sea oberbatory. Surprisingly I had a fantastic time and it made me desperate to dive again.

At about four o'clock we headed back to central Eilat and checked into our genuinely luxurious hotel to shower and shluf before dinner and a boat ride of terrible music and some even more terrible dancing on our part.

Thursday 31st March

On Thursday we had a much needed lie in till about 9 before heading down for a luxuriously relaxed breakfast of lots of yummy things. We went straight to the beach for watersports (repeated goes on the banana boat and pedalo on my part) and then pizzur and chill time in Eilat before waving goodbye to southern tiyul and embarking on the five hour coach return journey.

My return home was short lived as I quickly unpacked and repacked for my weekend with mamma and pops

Just a thought

At Tnua time on Tuesday (22nd March) I had a bizarre revelation, no doubt not entirely unexpected xonsiderin the type of classes I'm attending on machon. I decided that if I don't believe that the Torah came directly from G-d then why on earth do I believe in any of it. I'm in a incredibly confusing place of being pulled between wanting to be more religious/observant than I was pre shnat and not being sure I should follow any of it.

Herzliya Weekend-to be added 24th-26th March