Thursday, March 29, 2007

Heading West

My Sherut (shuttle service) come in about 45 minutes to take me to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. I am VERY excited to be coming back west, even if just for a few weeks. I hit the shuk (open air market) this morning at about 7am-the earliest I have ever been there. It is getting warm and most of the vendors were out with their produce, baked goods, and everything else on display. I look forward to even warmer weather and Israeli 'summer time' when I return.

For those of you who are going to be in the D.C./Maryland area be in touch! it would be great to see you in the next couple of weeks:

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Over the Green Line

Ten years ago I held a dream of making Aliyah (moving to Israel) and living in an area called Gush Etzion (an area over the green line just outside of Jerusalem first founded in 1946 but since highly developed). Thursday I spent the night in the home of a Palestinian in Beit Sahour, a town adjacent to Bethlehem.

I travelled with a group called Encounters. The program promotes that it provides a slice of Palestinian life to future Jewish educators, Rabbis and community leaders. I am not going to pretend that I understand the political situation any more now that I participated on Encounters, but I do feel that I was shown a 'slice' which is more exposure then I have ever had before.

Since I am still processing all of my thoughts and emotions from the experience I can't fully share what I am feeling. It is not my place to impose judgement on either side nor try to convince you of any political opinions. But I hope that through sharing some of my thoughts I am able to open you up to some questions as I am challenging myself.

We were exposed to a number of voices and opinions during our time in Bethlehem. We visited mostly with people and organizations that promote a non-violent approach to ending occupation. Encounters works very closely with a Palestinian organization called the Holyland Trust which does just that. It was very interesting to hear about the conflict from their end. I have chatted before with Palestinians on college campuses but never before in a constructive matter in the heart of Bethlehem.

Some of the places we went and people we met were:
The Hope Flower School--a co-ed K-12 school for Muslim and Christian children committed to education without messages of violent and hate. Students come from a variety of homes and backgrounds including refugee camps and upper class neighborhoods. Any child who opts to attend is allowed to come. They get their funding not by the PA but by private donations and NGOs.
The Tent of Nations: Land owned by a Palestinian named Dauad Nasser. Family has been living there since 1911 and has kept all paperwork. He has converted the family home into a grounds that runs that aims to build bridges of understanding and peace. Dauad wants Palestinians and Israelis to think in a constructive way. Face to face interactions are what need to be the foundation for this peace. The Tent of Nations creates the framework to do this. They have held tree plantings, run summer camps for kids from refugee camps, Bethlehem, Hebron and surrounding areas. He hopes to give encouragement to youth that they are valuable, respected and have a reason worth living. Unfortunately we take this ideas for granted, they are not inherent in everyone. For Dauad it is important to realize that there are people and ideas on the 'other side'. The 'other side' for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Throughout the next 2 days we heard from many speakers. We also visited with members of the Al Walaje village. Some of the villagers have had their homes demolished, others have demolition declerations pending. There we were guided by an Israeli man naed Meir Margalit who works with the Israeli Coalition against Home Demolitions. It was a lot to take in.

I am going to share just a few memorable quotes from the 2 days. Some resonate with me, some make my insides turn. I will let you read them and see which affect you. Please also look at my Encounters:Bethlehem album on my flickr to see some of their faces and the things they described.

"Even if they say non-violent communication does not work, it is what we do-because it is the only thing we can do"--Elias Holy Land Trust

"Walls paint ignorance and fear. I could accept a wall, but let them build it on the Green line of 1967"--Elias Holy Land Trust

"I don't want to think negatively, instead I want to invest my frustrations in a positive way"--Dauad Nasser Tent of Nations

"We must respect each other, trust each other. To reach each other we must speak out and listen to one another. We must forgive each other."--George Sa'adeh Principle of Greek Shepherds High School at Beit Sahour, Bereaved Families Forum--Lost Daughter as a result of Israeli army mistaking his car for a Hamas vehicle and opening fire; Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem

"It is nice that you are here, but you will forget about us tomorrow"--Joni Resident of Beit Sahour

"Everytime Israel bulldozes a house we destroy Jewish ethics. I hear Yirmiyahu (the prophet) crying out: ENOUGH!!"--Meir Margalit Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions

"What keeps me awake at night is the question of how did we, the Jewish people get here? Two generations ago we were in ghettos in Europe. Today we build the ghettos."----Meir Margalit Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions

"We deal with the Government of Israel, not individual parties. We feel Israel should do the same. The PLO recognizes Israel, why should Israel be concerned with all the other factions [Hamas]?"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"Israel must make peace with its neighbors. They are a natural part of this area. War cannot continue for another 50 years. Peace will happen, even if it takes another 100 years"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"Fightine the Occupation is not a terrorist action. It is a war. Civillians will always suffer. Suicide bombers are terrorist actions like 9/11. But here in Bethlehem, we don't have a definition for terrorist. We believe Humans should be respected Everywhere"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"Israel is the only country in the world that the army made the state instead of the state making the army"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"They [Israel] are not self-critical, they are too proud to accept their problems and mistakes."--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"Israelies and Palestinians, we are noisey players, but we are not the power. The power is in the East"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"The West placed Israel here to divide Egypt and Syria, two major powers in the Middle East"--Fouad Kokali Member of Palestinian Legislative Council, former mayor of Bethlehem

"Through acting humane on both ends we can live peacefully. If you feel you are superior than acting human you will be disappointed"--Yousef Al Harimi Professor of Islam, Bethlehem University

I was only handed a slice. I hope to go back and gain more. Priviledged with my American passport I had no problems walking through the checkpoint. I cannot begin to imagine what life is like day to day on the other side of the wall. But I hope to learn more. Although I know it is only a minority I was constantly amazed at the hopeful future the Men and Women I encountered painted. That dispite their frustrations they only want to build up constructively and non-violently. I hope this voice will spread and maybe one day soon it will be the majority--on both ends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


You may have noticed my excitment by the capital letters used in the spelling of the title of this post. I have for a very long time now been looking forward to this Passover break. I have been feeling overwhelmed recently. When I mentioned it to a friend she sarcastically said: 'gee with school full time, 2 part time jobs, and a weekly volunteer position how could you possibly feel like you don't have any time for yourself??' Yes, I over commit to things. Yes, I have a stong sense of obligation. And yes, this is why I feel overwhelmed.

Even now on break I am procrastinating between writing a letter to a Pardes donor, and editing my personal statement for my Shalem Center application. But I got to sleep in this morning, go get a cup of coffee and do some journal writing--two big pluses!

But even though I complain I enjoy everything I do. I get a lot of fulfillment out of the volunteering position. It has taught me that in no way shape or form do I want to be a social worker, but that I really do enjoy working with teens and young adults. Working with Nesiya has been good too. I got hired through the end of August and will be staffing one of their summer programs. Bit of info: for those of you who are Regina Spektor fans-she was a Nesiya participant in the summer of 1996 and wrote her very first song here in the Negev (southern Israeli desert).

I am going out of town this thursday and friday--keeping it a secret until i get back. Then on Friday night Tal and Nick arrive!! I am soo looking forward to spending time with them next week! I am also very much looking forward to my trip back to the states. I will be home a week from tomorrow--so soon! It has been almost 2 years since the whole Rosin clan was last together, too long.

Okay, need to finish work so I can start enjoying this BREAK

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ding Dong the iPods Dead

Well it was a dreary morning. The sky was dark and gray, it was pouring rain (which then turned into snow!) and when I turned on my ipod I got the icon of an ipod with a hazard sign and a frown on it's face--clever apple graphic designers...

I checked the website and it looks like the hardware is busted and although I kept it going for another few weeks it is finally time to say goodbye. Who knows maybe I will find the afikomen plated in gold this year (there is always wishing right??)

Due to the rain and the snow and the sleet my time on the streets was cancelled for tonight. We are going to try to reschedule sometime in the next few weeks. Although I am a little dissapointed that the experience will be delayed I am looking forward to getting home before midnight for the first time this week.

My Shalem Fellowship application is due April 1st so I will be focusing a lot of my efforts on that in the next coming week. My final day at Pardes before break is Sunday and then all the visitors start coming!

Ok, the roommates just baked some cookies and i feel it my duty to go help them eat them. Kol Tuv!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Media Update

Unfotunately I don't have much time to type. But wanted to give you all some quick updates:

1. I uploaded new/old photos and you can check them out by either clicking on the flickr shortcut at the bottom right of the blog OR go to

2. My friend launched a new website called yideoz hoping to become the virtual jewish community for interactive media. I uploaded a short clip of my friend David's band playing at a local pub. Here is the clip:

Feel free to log on, sign up and upload your own videos!

3. Tonight was the last night of the Hartman series. I unfortunately had to miss it because I have bumped up my volunteering hours and had a training for working on the streets that begins this Thursday night/early morning (I am sure I will report on that later). BUT his lectures are actually available online. I know my notes were not the most coherent so I encourage you to check out the lectures yourselves if it is a subject that interests you. They are on video which is nice because he has got a great personality and it really gives you a sense of who the man behind the ideas is. ANYWAYS the first two lectures are up the others are waiting to be posted. Earlier series are also available to watch. You can check it out at:

Good week to all!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Whole Megillah

Well Purim is over, and the hangover has passed. There really is nothing like celebrating it here in Jerusalem. For some it was a 3 day holiday since Jerusalem (a walled city during the time of Joshua) celebrates the day after (15th of Adar) non-walled cities (at the time of Joshua). But recovering from a week slightly off health wise I decided it would be best to keep it low key.

I read the first chapter of Megillah (Book of Esther) Sunday night at Pardes. I was nervous as all hell and had been practicing since December. Being first and having to open with the Blessings in front of a room of 120+ was somewhat nerve racking--I don't think I have sung in public in some time! But after some deep breathing exercises and imagining that I was up there all alone it went smoothly. Some girlfriends and I decided to not think too hard on costumes, each bought a wig gathered up some garbage bags, table cloths and duct tape and went wild. The night was a lot of fun but a combo of not eating and a lot of drinking meant I was in bed before midnight...

I woke up the next morning and headed to the Old City where I read Megillah again. This time with Women at the Wall. Women at the Wall is a group of Women who have tried to make a voice for themselves within communal prayer. They gather once a month to do a Rosh Chodesh Torah service however they are not permitted to read at the Western Wall itself. Therefore they read at the Southern Wall Excavations. This is due to the fact that the Western Wall is technically an Orthodox synogague and there according to Orthodoxy there are Halachic problems with women being a part of a Torah service. The Halachot however are different when it comes to reading the Megillah. Many Orthodox communities have adopted Women or mixed Megillah services. So when Purim roles around Women at the Wall read Megillah at the Kotel (Western Wall). I was expecting some sort of controversy but was pleasently suprised that we were only met with curious stares. Looking back I really wish I had a camera to document the experience...Again I was up first. However this time it wasn't my nerves but my neaseua that was making me anxious. Luckily I read almost on auto-pilot and made fewer mistakes than I had the night before!

It was my first trip back to the Old City since August. I live a 20 minute walk away. It was my backyard the last time I spent time here in 1999. I think that is why I hesitate to go back. On one hand it is so familiar and on the other hand I just realize how much of a different person I am today than I was back then. So much of me has changed. To be a part of the Women at the Wall experience was a good way to get me back there. Maybe I won't let another 7 months pass by before visiting again.
I returned home to nurse the hangover some more and made it to my friend's Annie and Marni's later that day for Seudah (big festive meal). In the spirit of paying it forward I was on hand passing out glasses of water to all those with potential hangovers the next morning. We then headed over to town where the city of Jerusalem had put on a street fair. It was super cool to see the whole place lit up for the holiday and everyone walking around in costume. It kinda reminded me of being in Ireland during Holoween but I was having more fun this time around. The big show was HaDag Nachash--Israel's hottest hip hop group. Here are some photos from the holiday. I know I haven't uploaded anything for a while--you know the technology shpeil...but here are a few to enjoy in the meanwhile:

Here are the Lovely Ladies of 4 Mendele and 6 Jabotinsky:

A very telling photo of our night...