Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Netanya Tigers

Some of you may know that Israel has begun a baseball league, creatively called Israel Baseball League. Last night was the second game of the season, but more importantly the first game of the Netanya Tigers starring Benji Engelhart. Here is my story:

I pulled up in a car with the Altschuls and Schors. There was a large Silver Spring showing. The field was in the midst of a sunflower field with one set of bleachers and rows of plastic chairs. The 'will call' box consisted of two men who had no name list under a makeshift tent at the entrance just off a dirt road. We got there just after the first pitch. Both dugouts were on the left side of the field, leaving all seating to the right. It took us a while to figure out which one of the guys in the orange jerseys was Benji. Then we spotted him, the one eating the garinim (sunflower seeds--fitting for the setting we were in), #10.

It was an interesting mix of people who came out to the game. Lots of shlubby guys in baseball caps, lots of families visiting and very few Israelis. We had a great time and hung with the other kids from Kemp Mill. Esty and I had made a bunch of signs and we were definately one of the stronger sections of fans cheering broadly for the Tigers but loudly for Benji. We made several efforts to get him in the game chanting En-gel-hart and Put Benji In...but unfortunately a no go.

The game itself was only supposed to last 7 innings (maybe they'll upgrade to a full 9 next summer) but was called after 6 because of poor lighting on the field--it was getting dark. The end score was Beit Shemesh Blue Socks-2, Netanya Tigers-1. After the game we got to see the big star, take photos and get autographs. Heres one photo of Esty, Benji and Me:

I would like to try and make it to one more game over the summer, much of that will be dependent of scheduling and days off. I am feeling more and more that i am seeing less and less of anything outside these office walls. Looking forward to getting on the bus, hoping the heat will cool down and getting this summer started!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

TOO hot to Sleep!

There is a heat wave in Jerusalem. With no air conditioning or fans in the apartment where I am crashing, it is too damn hot to sleep! So instead of sleeping, between swatting mosquitoes and cold showers, I figured I would update the blog and catch you up to date.

Last Wednesday I went to Tamara Fine and Aron Skeversky's wedding. It was held in the hillside of the Jerusalem forest and was absolutely beautiful. Below are a a few photos and a clip post chuppah:

Myself, and fellow Hebrew Academy classmates Naomi Korb and Yael Davis (ne: Zemellman)

The wedding was followed by an intense 3 day Nesiya workshop surrounding The Jerusalem Unit: exploring holy place and holy space. The unit will consist of many parts, looking at the history and the current status of communities in Jerusalem. However, as a staff we focused on some really interesting topics regarding the relationship between Jews in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and questions following one particular conversation. For me, they are not easy questions. In fact I find them very hard to swallow, but necessary to discuss.

What is the obligation of Jews in the diaspora (those Jews living outside the land of Israel) to Israel? What is Israel (Israeli) obligation to Jew in the diaspora? Where do obligations lie? To the land? To peoplehood? What should be our connectors? The land? The tradition?

These questions emerged after looking at a piece of biblical text-(Numbers 32:1-42) that describes the agreement made between the tribes of Reuven and Gad, with Moshe and the elders of Israel to remain on the east side of the Jordan. In receiving what they wanted, in return they agreed to fight with the rest of the tribes entering the land, and specifically as the first into battle. It was only then that they could return to the eastern side of the Jordan, to the land they deemed as more fertile and appropriate for their success. They had to define their commitment to their fellow Israelites, they had to do so through blood. They shared a defining point creating a shared history. But what happened when they returned to the eastern side of the Jordan? Did their children feel this same connection? Was it an ongoing agreement or a one time deal? What about their great-grandchildren? Will their shared history be enough to link them as one?

It seems to be an acceptable deal to Moshe and the elders, they approve it. What does this say about their commitment to peoplehood? What does it say to the commitment to a shared covenant that had been made earlier regarding the land of Israel?

Where do my commitments lay? In the face of a Judaism that again today has Jews living both within and outside of the borders of Israel, should every Jew around the world serve in the Israeli army? Should this be a necessary action to maintain this connection to brethren? Is it enough that my grandfather did it? How will I define my own connection? Will it be a decision I make or will it be defined for me? Have I fulfilled it? Is it an obligation that is every fully fulfilled?

Should we be fighting so hard for this unity? Unity between those within and outside the land? What are the benefits? Do these benefits outweigh the challenges? Will it be okay if we become a divided Jewish people? Will this be the divider? Geography? Or will it be within defined frameworks of halacha? What will become of the Jewish people??

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How Can It Be June 19th??

Didn't I just get here yesterday? Where did the time go??

Didn't I just get here yesterday? Where did the time go??

I am once again in transition, repacking bags and looking for the next place to store them. Additionally I am in (not by choice) a transition of mindset. Although it was my intention to not be concerned with the summer until the summer was over, My Mother is correct and I don't have that luxury. So in the midst of being in the office full time preparing for the 40 teenagers I will be responsible for six weeks arriving a week from Sunday, I am also now getting anxious about finding a job. I posted my resume on Monster.com and realized that I am not as marketable outside the non-profit world as I thought. Shame...

I am hoping that the universe will work something out (as it always seems to do) and that something will come along allowing me to begin in early September. That’s right folks, I said early September. I arrive in the U.S. August 21st. I am going to rent a car at the airport (Unless I can convince my amazing, wonderful, brilliant, selfless, and possibly still unemployed brother to come pick me up--nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and drive north with all my things to the apartment my roommate will hopefully have found by that point. With no furniture I will probably make a quick run to ikea or crash with friends in the area for the night. Possibly find some things on Craig's List the following day and then high tail it back down to Maryland where I will pack up the rest of my things and drive back up to Boston. Anything’s possible...right??

Okay, back to packing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Five Minutes

It all started from an explaination of the movie Run Lola Run. A clip from the film appeared on our all Greek 4 station TV in Santorini and I was relating to my friend how different the outcome of a situation, and on the greater scale life, can totally be altered by something as small as 5 minutes or less. Granted, I don't have a boyfriend who owes money to drug dealers at the expense of his life--but hey, five minutes are five minutes.

As a result of a bus that was five minutes late, Annie and I met a couple of girls from China who were awaiting the bus after returning the car the had rented for the day. They gave us all the info, the research they had done and it resulted in us following their plan and the next day we were able to explore Santorini literally tip to tip.

Before we had made it to Santorini however we spent two days in Athens. Although we had not yet had our 'five minute'discussion, in retrospect I will attribute our good luck to that as well. When we first arrived at our hostel we took the extra time to chat with the receptionist who informed us that the next day was Greek Earth Day and that all sites and museums would be free. That little piece of information saved us each about 40 euro! Earth day was beneficial to the earth...bringing rain. The Parthenon, the Acropolis, Greek Theatres, Olympic Stadium, National Garden, Hadrians Arch, all in the rain! But we had a great time none the less. We stumbled across quaint neighborhoods after making wrong turns, and found that the Athens meat market has LCD screens for TV viewers plastered along the ceilings. Athens is also donned with artistic grafitti, and a way of feeling you are in an old european town and a bustling city all at the same time. No matter where we went there were sleeping dogs...couldn't explain it but if i get any choice in where i am placed in my next life...

We took an early morning ferry from Athens to Santorini which allowed us to see a good deal of islands on our way over (it was an 8 hour ride). To bide our time we ate bannanas and peanut butter, read and played cards. When we got into Athens we met up with the representative of our hostel: Hotel Anna. They drove us up the VERY windy road of the Caldera cliff. Highlights of Santorini are: The red beach, Oia, and Perissia beach. Here are a few photos of Santorini (more on my flickr site)

From Santorini we took a ferry to Naxos arriving in the wee hours of the morning. Santorini, although beautiful is an island for the tourists. Almost all businesses on the island function only for tourist season. We were lucky that we travelled just before the season got busy. Naxos on the other hand, is an island that is much larger and functions primarily independently of the tourist season. It is known for its olive oil, grapes, and a special liqour made of citrons. You may be familiar with citrons because they are also known as Etrogs and used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They have been making the liqour for just over 200 years and is only available on Naxos. Let me tell you, its strong. Equal in strength is its beauty. We decided to rent another car and went exploring. We found great little villages and bays along the east side of the island, rolling hills and old ruins. One of the major attractions is the Temple of Apollo. The temple was in the earlier stages of construction before the builders (or ruling party) decided to give up on the project.
It was also on Naxos that I rode my first bicycle in 8 years. 8 years! My tush hurt. Because it had been a while and I was riding along with a triatholon goer and a person who rides their bike to work I decided that on our return trek I would start a bit earlier and then we would all meet up together. I got lost. I ended up in this farming community where no one spoke english and I stuck out like a sore thumb. With no mode of communication I navigated my way back to the shore and an hour late, made it back to the rendevouz point. I accepted gladly the beer that was waiting!

Again a few photos:

All in all it was a wonderful trip. I arrived back in Jerusalem tanned and relaxed. I also decided it was time to make a change and got my hair cut (for those of you who were there think Jacob's bar-mitzvah). There are a couple more weeks until Nesiya begins. We have begun doing a lot of prep work for the summer and have been broken into staff teams. I am very much looking forward to getting started on the trip itself! But I am also looking forward to really utilizing these next couple of weeks here in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv. I have a wedding (Mazal Tov Tamara and Aron!), a baseball game (yay Benji!), multiple friends arriving in town via Taglit birthright-israel, Pardes students, and a friend's concert to attend before I jump on the bus with 40 teens. Hopefully I will make it to the beach one day as well!!