The freedoms within (ask me about what I mean)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Life!

New years.

I cannot express this thanks I have to G-d for giving me what he has given me this year. I try everyday during the Amida to thank Hashem so much in the 'modim' prayer. I bow and close my eyes and smile every time and say all the words with sincere heartfelt expression. I can't beleive that I finally got the chance to turn the leaf back over; I got what I always craved.

The past five years have consisted of new years nights celebrating the right to party. I found clubs, yachts, cruises, and house parties to have some un-remembered moments with some friends. This year, I'm going to be in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, with a new group of amazing people. At 11 PM we are going to have some sort of learning, and I imagine singing that is going to lead me in the right direction for 2011.

I hope everyone gets some sort of inspiration this new years. If not from this, maybe from something else you encounter. Ein Od Milvado-everything Hashem does is intentional, and I hope you see the beauty in that statement.

Happy new year everyone, I'm glad I'm wishing my self a happy new life!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jennifer is like Yaakov round two?

It's been nine days. Nine long re-living, re-learning, and re-experiencing emotions I haven't felt in a while. I've kept my cool here the first three months taking in a new lifestyle that I truly do genuinely enjoy. I disregarded emotions because of the spiritual high I've been on and it probably wasn't the wisest of choices. But it is what I was used to, crying on the inside. I know that I'm slowly working past that and soon will overcome the fear of 'feeling' to others rather then just to myself. but I had a weird block of de-motivation and I couldn't understand why.
I like that G-d gives us a new day every day. According to the Jewish religion, when you go to sleep you are technically 1/60th dead so when you wake up in the morning, you say a 12 worded prayer thanking G-d for returning you to this world and giving you another day of life. He also gives us a new week every week with the cycle of recharging on shabbat, a new month with rosh chodesh and the moon cycle, and a new year and clean slate on rosh hashanah/yom kippur. Really, he gave us free choice allowing us to change whenever we want. All in all, I'm dusting my self off and trying again.
I posted a blog a while ago about paralleling myself to Yaakov. Well here's round two. Remember when Yakoov and Esav had their meet-up and Yaakov was scared because he thought Esav would try to kill him since Yaakov stole his blessing? Well, he was going to try and kill him (since he brought that army of 400 men with him) BUT he saw that Yaakov was tired. No, not tired like physically, emotionally tired; Esav saw that all Yaakov's hardships were slowing him down, he saw that life had finally gotten to him. Leading to a embracing reuniting, the two finally were known to the other. I guess what I'm trying to get at is, life is going to slow you down, but G-d has his intentions and his intentions are right. I hate to be cheesy, but the glass is half full. Life is only just beginning...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

living and learning?

So I'm walking through a mall. There are so many stores, so many different things for me to choose from that fit or don't fit my life, I have to make decisions. I choose stuff and am heading up to the next floor. I'm on the escalator going up, playing with a yo-yo. It's going up and down and up and down and up and down, but the escalator is going up...

On Thursday night, my new activity is to go to Bnei Brak (one of the most religious neighborhoods in Israel), get cholent on the house from our program, then head to our activities director, Meir Balofsky's house to sit around his table, make some L'chaims, snack some more, and give out blessings. (Quite a different 'Thirsty Thursday' college experience...)Meir gave me a blessing that entailed a part saying that I was going up the escalator-but I'm playing with the yo-yo on the way up. Basically saying that I'm going up the right path, but it's going to come with many ups and downs. It's really nice to know that people are finally starting to see who I really am, over who I tried to make myself be in the past.

Friday day was a fast day for the remembrance of the beginning of the seize on Jerusalem. It was an easy fast despite that our program decided to take us to Yad Vashem-the biggest Holocaust memorial in Israel. I just recently found out that my grandfather-who passed away when I was younger-had a late wife and a family that perished in the Holocaust. Made me much more emotional there-hard to describe the feelings.

For Shabbat, we were in Nof Ayalon- a religious community- for an all girls shabbaton. The best part about it was on friday night we had a panel of four women that lived in the neighborhood that were American that talked about there life there and answered any questions we had about them. I took it upon myself to talk to a women that was going to go to Barnard for college, but decided to go to Stern in the end. She is a psychologist, so I got a one and one session discussing how much I want to go there, what I can do to get there, and how to approach people about it. I'm really lucky I got to encounter such a strong and sweet woman.

Saturday night, I decided to go out for the first time in a while-and realized something-alcohol is a serious depressant. Obviously I knew that that was a fact, but never really encountered the experience completely. I drank with my friends but when I cam home-found myself in an unstable emotional purge of tears. I could not stop for hours. I was replaying every bad thing that has ever happened to me, beating upon my self, my decisions, my family, their decisions, and thought of impacts many people have made on my life. This led me to today, on a day trip to Casearia, a beautiful cities ruins and an amazing ocean site-to be able to reflect and try to dig up what brought up all those emotions. I stared into the ocean, watching the waves, and couldn't understand where it came from...well, here's to living and learning...I'll figure it out soon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lifes waiting to begin

On thing different that I've been doing here more is reading. I always liked to, but before I always thought I found something better to do. But now I'm actually picking up a variety of books and seeing what I can get out of them. I like to get inspiration, humor, and happiness out of books, but the one thing I love most is when I find something that relates to my life.
"The Return to Zion" from the Popular Judaica Library is something I've been reading lately. I picked up this book because I'm in a class-Arab-Israel conflict and I sometimes find myself lost knowing that my background on Israel isn't so strong. One would think that I wouldn't get anything the relates out if since it is basically a history text, but I found something pretty close. There was a guy Moses Hess (1812-75), who was the first assimilated Jew to turn to Zionism. Basically he wrote a book called "Rome and Jerusalem" and this book had its opening paragraph. I feel the need to quote the whole thing:

"After twenty years of estrangement I have returned to my people. Once again, I am sharing in it's festivals of joy and days of sorrow, in its hopes and its memories....a sentiment which I believed I had suppressed beyond recall is expressed once again. It is the thought of my nationality, which is inseparably connected to my ancestral heritage, with the Holy Land and the Eternal City...For years this half strangled emotion has been stirring in my breast and clamoring for expression, but I had not the strength to swerve from my own path, which seemed so far from the road to Judaism, to a new one which i could only envisage only vaguely in the hazy distance."

wow. Reading it and now and writing it myself; it's like I am a re-incarnation of the guys soul! Well not really, but it really mirrored my feelings right before I came to Israel. If I didn't like writing so much I may have used this as my admissions essay! Just kidding just kidding. But really,I was 19 when I got here and really felt that I was finally returning back to surrounding myself with Jewish people. I pledged to keep all the holidays and so far have done quite well. The emotions I felt when I was younger, when I was in my orthodox phase growing up, are finally begin able to be released again. Some of my family, all from Europe, immigrated here in the times of the Holocaust and started anew in this amazing land. My heart was sore when I was living out of the Jewish loop, and I didn't know how to rekindle my Jewish identity-I only envisioned it, and it was only in my wildest dreams...

Mirroring scenarios really help someone in any emotion. It reassures them that there is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how hard the situation is. When I was around 17, I was really into this band called Angels & Airwaves. There songs were centered around inspiration. They made airplanes their logo,just like life taking off. I made them my hideaway. Every time I would feel helpless I would drive my car to a random spot, sit, listen to the music, cry, and try to find a way out of the life I was in. One song called "The Adventure"-really hit my heart's home run. Here's why:

"I wanna have the same last dream again
The one where I wake up and I'm alive
Just as the four walls close me within
My eyes are open up with pure sunlight
I'm the first to know
My dearest friends
Even if your hope has burned with time
Anything that is dead shall be re-grown
And your vicious pain, your warning sign
You will be fine

Hey oh here I am
And here we go
Life's waiting to begin"

Find inspiration out of everything you encounter-it's here for a reason, and the reason is you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm amazed that about one year ago, I was already planning my 21st birthday and how excited I was to finally be legal. Even though it didn't matter since I had a fake ID. I couldn't wait to reach that point in my life. Now, I'm thinking of what good school I want to go to, probably Stern, where I want to be after, my goals on traveling the world and learning and growing. These thoughts were always in the back of my head, but I never actually tried to pursue any of them.
I remember when it was right after passover at UCF when I decided I needed to give the rabbi in charge of this program a call. I realized when I was at the seder table at Chabad, with everyone not really even paying attention to the haggadah, that it was not the place for me. I was speaking to him for a while about the pros and cons of my staying or going. That was when he gave me a d'var Torah about the slavery during pesach. He said if the Jews were never actually freed from Egpyt, in time society would eventually let them go. However, they wouldn't have been able to receive the Torah and been declared the Jewish nation if Moses never asked to 'let his people go'. Modernly, we would go on with life and not have that inner freedom that we received, just as if I never connected with my spiritual self, I would be in chains. He told me your freedom is within your beliefs...and now I see that :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Negev and the wonders and the change

The wonders of the ocean and the sky are endless. There are countless amounts of discoveries to be made in each regions and each one has a different awe aspect to them. Personally, both of them intrigue me. I find myself staring into the sky or staring into the ocean in amazement and marvel. They both lead your mind into thought. Not only about you, but also about everything pertaining to life. Why am I saying this?
For the past 4 days I was on one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on. I went with my program to the Negev. The Negev is the southern region of Israel that consists of amazing scenery, a variety of activities, hikes, and desert. A new wonder that has appeared before me is the vast sand world; aka the desert. This amazing part of the world has led me to dive down into the deepest parts of life; your mind, your soul, your heart. What makes each one go, what goes in and out of them, and my personal stories.
Day one. Departing Ramat Ef’Al at 7:15 AM, we were on our way to the gravesite of the Baba Sali. The Baba Sali was a Moroccan kabalistic prayer miracle worker. We prayed the morning prayers there where the one most important thing on my mind was rain. Israel suffered from a horrible fire in the North and no rain was to be seen. There were fast days and community praying services to try to get it but it still had not come. After we departed, the hike of Ein Ovdat was our next stop. This hike consists of amazing desert scenery where you start at the bottom of a mountain and work your way up. A few months ago, I hiked it with birthright, more importantly my brother. When we were on the top, I saw him admiring the amazing view and walked over to him to find him in tears from the site. A true sibling bonding moment when we put our arms around each other and both were just tearing (he was also telling me how much he was going to miss me when I moved to Israel in the next few months). Anyways, I was really glad I got to re-experience that sight that brought back that amazing memory. Camel riding was after that. We were probably the last group of the day to go, so the camels and donkeys were all disheveled and probably really tired. That is probably the reason why our tour was growling camels, screaming girls, and complete laughter. That night, we slept in the Bedouin tents. (Ben and I on our boring camel that didn't growl or do anything, still really fun though)This was my third time there, and the experience really never gets old. The biggest highlight this time though was surprising not the stargazing but the singing of the song that consisted of the three words “Ein Od Milvado” (there is no one else apart from him). The definition is not only saying that there is one G-d. The deeper meaning, explained by one of our Av Bayis (“father of the house”), is that everything that G-d does is with a motive. There is no luck, no coincidences, no mistakes. No matter how hard, or how amazing something is, G-d gave it to you because that is how it is meant to be. Repeating this phrase to yourself could save you from the simple question of why me? The song sounded something like this:, but a bit slower.
Day two. It was about 4:30 AM when we were woken up in the tents to depart to climb the Masada Mountain to watch the sunrise. Running up the mountain (or trying), we made it about 30 minutes early before we saw the actual sun. But when it came, of course it was beautiful. That came with morning prayers again. These prayers that are usually prayed 3 times a day, many times brings me deep into real emotions and decode my soul. I am constantly in deep thought that is training me to be real to others and most importantly to myself. After we were done on top of the mountain we went down the snake path which just consists of a lot of stairs. I chose to run most of it down so I could use my quads instead of my calves since they are stronger anyways. It was pretty empowering getting to the bottom and looking back up to see the people I was walking with way behind. The rest of our day consisted of the Ein Gedi hike and the dead sea, oh and how could I forget the amazing Chanukah gift and miracle of rain! We were departing from lunch and we walked outside and the desert was covered in dark clouds! One of the hikes was even canceled due to fear of a flash flood. (The photo is some of the people that were brave enough to go into the freezing water on a pretty cold day)Hearing this honestly sent chills down my spine. I was so so so happy. That night, we traveled to yerucham to sleep in a hotel for the nest two nights. One of the night activities that night was “In the Negev with Ari” (Our Av Bayit), where I got this wonder of the desert from. He brought up the concept of Mirages and where they come from. Essentially, when you are at your lowest, when there is nothing else around you begin to create; building up images of hope. I paralleled this to my coming to realization at UCF, when I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I couldn’t stand who I was. That was when I decided to come to Israel. When I couldn’t even bear to look at myself is when I made the best decision of my life.
Day three. The most amazing hike I’ve ever been on called the Nachal Peretz hike. We started the day on a small hike in the desert that ended in rappelling. Of course this was fun, but it didn’t top the hike that followed. It was about a 2 and a half hour amazing opportunity to climb up mountains, see amazing scenery, and test your fears. There was a group of guys on our program, I think that called themselves ‘the mountain men’ that literally got up so high on mountains they looked tiny from afar. Maybe I’ll build up my physical endurance some more and go back because I climbed up a small hill and saw an amazing view. I can’t even imagine what it looked like from up there. After that we went back to the hotel, ate dinner, and had an unexpectedly high profiting charity auction. This is how it worked: our activities director came up to us and would ask us what we could offer in order to raise money. People offered things like making home-made dinners, a personal chauffeur for the night, a piano lesson, being able to be followed by two of the built kids for the day in black suits sunglasses and ear pieces, and one that raised the most money, a kid offering to a do a mitzvah (good deed) of the winner’s choice for a week. I offered to put someone in my blog who I will mention another time in order for it not to seem like I’m only doing it because I have to. Just about 9200 shekels were raised. I donated about 140 shekels to the causes and won two home cooked meals and chipped in for the weekly mitzvah bidding since it was about an 850 shekel bid.
Day four. Leaving Yerucham, we were off to Eilat for a few hours to enjoy some shopping and a 2 hour glass bottom boat lunch and cruise. Seeing everyone together smiling and happy was simply just amazing. I found myself reflecting, and maybe getting a little bit sad when I was staring into the ocean.But it’s ok to feel sad once in a while; don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
This trip all in all brought a lot of us closer, made some serious memories, and gave some real life learning that will stick with me wherever I got for the rest of my life. (Just want to add that I committed to doing all of these hikes in skirts. If someone would have told me to do that a few months ago, I would have laughed at them. It's really crazy how things change. I couldn't love it more)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How could I leave out the festival of lights...

Oh Channukah. Honestly, my memories of channukah really consist of getting presents and singing Ma O'Tzur. I can't even imagine what it would be like if I didn't come to Israel. Channukah became a less and less important holiday as time went on to the point where I didn't even know it was happening last year. However, now not only am I celebrating it and doing the mitzvot I'm also getting a whole new understanding of what the holiday really means. Back in the day when the Jews were taken over by the Syrian Greeks, we kind of just accepted the fact that that was how it was going to be. We evolved into their life and got sucked into the 'modern' society'. Of course that was until the story of the maccabbes, when the family of Matityahu (and his sons Eliezer, Shimon, Yochanan, Yonatan and Yehuda-I only know them because of Morah Sheinkophs 5th grade class in Maimonides) overtook the Syrians. Also with the help of Yehudis cutting off the generals head (reason being why women get to relax after lighting the candles), the one miracle of winning the war happened.
Anyways, I think that the real miracle of Channukah (learned from one of our Av Bayis) was saying no to just adapting to a normed culture; freeing ourselves from only doing the parts of halacha and being OK with it as well. It parallels today when there are people that are living in a colorful Jewish world and still follow all the halachot (real modern orthodoxy). I take this lesson to heart, in now being freed from my blackberry and a public college society. I'm starting to appreciate the real things in life; happiness, love, truth, clarity.
All in all, this holiday is not about presents anymore. At least physical ones. Give yourself a spiritual gift by honoring G-d. He WILL pay you back, I promise. This Channukah, I was honored to receive a recognition from the "Guide to Online Schools" site for being one of the top 50 Jewish blogs. The site features different blogs that have a variety of Jewish topics ranging from Jewish parenting, to Israeli culture. ( I can tell you, receiving a gift such as that is truly spiritually uplifting. This month as well, I was featured as NCSY Alumni of the month found here: Getting this was also spiritually uplifting since NCSY always did and will hold a special place in my heart since it was my only connection to Judaism in my public high school.
Happiness goes a long way when you begin to understand what it really is. Chag Sameach! Happy Holidays! Enjoy this Channukah video:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My real soul

You want to know how you know you have a soul? You have an intuition, you have feelings, you have that pulling of emotions that make you smile, cry, laugh, scream. So lately, my soul has been screaming to me pulling me directions I've never been before and it's really opening up my eyes. I guess eyes really are the window to the soul, but for now instead of someone looking into mine right now, my soul is bursting out.

I have felt so many emotions that have made me tear up lately. To name one, one of our Av Bayit (father of the homes-basically lives on campus and is there for us), just had a baby girl. I was lucky enough to attend the naming of his daughter. Seeing something so real, something that is coming straight from the desires of his and his wife Ayelet's hearts was seriously heart warming. They names her Tehilah Yakira or Rosi. I forgot the whole definition of the name but what I got was that our singing praises to G-d should be held close and be precious to us especially in this time of Channukah. Real lives, real emotions, real joy. Another time was when I met with a financial aid adviser from Stern. I was explaining to her how I got to where I was, and then came up with this thing that I said 'I've found this happiness, this inner happiness, that wasn't in me before and that's why I'm siting here now, trying to enrich my Jewish mind, and my future's Jewish minds'. I almost lost it, but kept my cool since it was my first time meeting her.

All these things, are bringing out the person I never thought in a million years I could be. I saw her; Chana Leah (myself)in a distance in happiness, I just didn't know how to reach her. I called to my soul, it has finally answered; I'm beginning this life in clarity, reality, and truth.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks and welcome

One of the most precious gifts I have ever received was the ability to attend a private Jewish school for the beginning of my life. I have an amazing foundation of Judaism that has me set very well here in Israel. Not only did my feelings of wanting to come to Israel come from that school, but also it gave me such a foundation to work off of! I'm sure it cost my parents tons of money, but my Jewish life was probably the best investment they have ever made. So I couldn't be more thankful for them for giving me that backbone that many people in the world are not lucky enough to have.

I just learned what Chabad meant in one of my classes last week. It is decoded into Chochma, Bina, and Da'at. Ultimately, all these words mean knowledge. However each definition of knowledge is differnt. Chcohma is actually wisdom, Bina is understanding/intuition, and Da'at is the ability to tell between right and wrong. That could not have been more appropriate for the high words I speak about Chabad; especially Chabad UCF. The inspiration they brought upon me was very high. They took these Jewish kids, that may or may not have known ANYTHING about Jewish religon, served them meals twice or three times a week, held classes and sessions for them, was patient with them, inspired them to go on birthright, and basically dropped living in any sort of Jewish community just to do all those things. They really pulled strings on my heart with memories and definitely were part of my deciding to go to Israel.

Anyways, I'm going to one of my teachers house for shabbat in Ma'ale Adumim. Welcome new experiences.C

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Just want to jot down a quick dream:

I was in school in Israel and decided it was time to switch schools. I went to Germany to try and find happiness and i couldn't. Somehow I ended up back at UCF..where I really wasn't feeling it. All in all I ended up back in Israel and was walking through the streets of the old city in Jerusalem saluting soldiers and started to cry of happiness. I was asking myself how I could ever think of leaving this place?

Home is where is where the heart is.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trips and in-shabbats

I feel like this week passed really quickly! Which is amazing because I LOVE Shabbat and chilling and eating and singing and conversing, etc. But anyways, we went to neot Kedumim today which is a nature reserve where we did a few activities. First they showed us some caves, and cisterns and told us how they used them and some history. Then, we went goat and sheep herding! A new experience that was pretty fun. After that we made Zatar, basically the go-to spice in Israel and ended off the day making olive oil.

This shabbat we are staying in Ramat Ef-al for what we call an in-shabbat. I could have left campus to go somewhere else, but I actually like hanging out with all the people here and having the comfort of my own room. Next week I'm going to Ma'ale Adumim to my Jewish literacy/halacha teacher's house and then the week after that begins our Negev trip where we will be exploring southern Israel!

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The outcome of change..?

I'm definitely in shock at how quickly my attitude has altered. I am more inclined to study, learn, grown, and do productive things with much so that I'm thinking about majoring in Biology?? I can tell you 3 months ago I would have laughed at that statement. I'm starting to realize though I always had it in be the person I am now.

I guess I never had to courage to actually show it though..I was so good at dressing up in hot outfits, going out, getting attention, etc. I actually became really good at it and thought it was one of my skills. I was using my confidence and strength for the wrong reasons and I'm really really thankful I'm realizing that that was wrong.

To be honest though, I am actually kind of afraid of the outcomes of all these differences. I'm wondering if there are withdrawals to lifestyles and if I should be expecting a crash..I'm not trying to set up any bad expectations..but I'm just trying to be real. I am not one to go through life and act as if everything is perfect. I am perfectly aware that changing a lifestyle comes with hardships. i haven't seen to many yet..who knows maybe many more won't come and this is how my life was meant to be?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happiness is where you're from

I can't believe I left Shabbat out of my life for SIX years! G-d is telling us to chill out for 25 ours, forget the worries of the world, eat good food, sing good songs, and just spend time with people you love, or will learn from!! It's just a better and better experience every weekend.

I went to the Carlbach Moshav in Modiin this Shabbat, and unfortunately I was kind of sick so I slept most of the time and was completely wiped. But besides was really a beautiful place to be. We stayed in a beautiful home of the Trugmans. There home basically has something that I hope one day my home will have; a window over the sink overlooking mountains, cities, and part of the Mediterranean. ALSO, their whole home was decorated with Jewish art. Literally every painting on the wall in their home had a Jewish theme. It was really beautiful. All in all, shabbat was really relaxing.

One point I just need to talk about now is how truly happy I am! It's crazy how I was so unhappy last year..and I just didn't do anything about..I sat through it..thinking that one day I'd get back on the right track one day. I'm so glad that I left my comfort zone and came here..because I just can't stop smiling here! Even though I have much to work on...I'm just loving life! :D

"If you want to make it where you're going, you got to know where you're from" -Shi 360 One Love

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I am just so amazed that there are so many things from the Jewish biblical stories that relate to life, my life in specific.

I made the decision to come here on a spiritual level. I KNEW that this was right and I was not going to let any logical sense get in the way. Regardless if it included (which it did) screwing up my car lease, canceling my apartment, loosing all the money my school would give me, having many friends talk badly about me since they don't understand, and getting into fights about finances, I was still going to go.

Tzitzit can assist in making decisions (as learned in one of my teacher's Rabbi Kahn's class World view of the Sages class today). Men wear 8 strings of tzitzit on the corners. 7 of them white, one of them the traditional blue color called t'chelet. This specific color is sued because it does not fade. Why is the t'chelet color used you ask? Because t'chelet resembles the ocean, which resembles heaven, which is ultimately the colors of G-d's throne. This reminds a person to make 1 out of 8 decisions by the rule of G-d and the other 7 logically. Not saying that that one decision is not made logically, but to ignore society for a moment and go with your inner spiritual feeling that you know as a Jew is right.

Now why was I learning about this in my World view of the Sages class you ask? Because we were covering the topic in this week's parsha Vayetzei, about Yaakov's dream. He was dreaming in the city of Lod (that he renames Beth-El-the house of G-d) but in this city is where the blue color of the t'chelet is found. Now the dream he had was G-d promising him a nation and the land of Israel. So when he had all his sons and he lived in Haran under his wives father, Lavan, he had an instinct to get up and go to the land of Israel. He didn't turn back to his comfort zone, he got up, told his family of what was going on, and they went. Regardless of the father, lavan, trying to convince them otherwise to stay. It was Yaakov's destiny to go to Israel..and even though it was probably an uncomfortable decision...he did it anyways.

Paralleling myself to one of our forefather's may seem like a bold move...but this is what my year is all about...exploration, ah ha moments, and living in the spiritual moment.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eternal appreciation

Just got out of a class about love. Basically, what I got out of it..that love, Hebrew ahava, armanian hav, english giving-means you have to give and then you love. we spoke about loving your parents, friends, and G-d.

About loving and respecting your parents (probably one of the hardest things to do-if you are doing it the right way)...HOW? It's so hard to ignore every bad thing they've done...but at the same time be on your knees thanking them for supporting you when you were only a taker (the first years of your life). I want to be able to embellish both my parents in love and appreciation...if anyone has any ideas, please enlighten me. I know I'm not a horrible child, but I definitely know there is room to grow in this area. I really want to be able to feel that appreciation in a way I've never felt it before. Sounds a little harsh...but at least I'm woman enough to admit I have the problem!

About loving your friends. I realized who my friends were when I got here. The ones that still talked to me, and asked and cared. Anyways besides that...a person will eternally be depressed if they don't have legitimate close friends. I'm really glad I have a few of those back at home (IE: Evelyn, Brandon, my brother <3 )..and made a few here.

I'm pretty good at the whole loving G-d thing. At least I think so...obviously I have a lot of work to do..but I really do love what he's done for me..and what he's doing for me now..and I know I'll love what's in store.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Love > $

So we're sitting in the forest. Separately. This is our time to meditate. This is our time to reflect and to connect with G-d or ourselves in any way we want. I'm sitting in the darkness, and I'm mouthing the words to Jewish songs. Jewish songs that remind me of happiness. A few tears fall, and then...a cow moos. I snap out of my meditation immediately because at first I thought it was one of my friends screaming. I'm proud of myself though that I was actually able to pause life, and reflect without my thoughts flying back and forth. So besides the cow interrupting my serenity, this was one of the highlights of our trip to Tzfat.

(My friend Elisheva and I on the hike)
It started at 7:30 on Thursday morning where we were first headed to the city of Meron to pray at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. I didn't really know much about I wasn't completely moved. I know that I need to work on knowing some leaders in Jewish history. Anyways, after that we went to this beautiful hike that highlighted the various scenic pictures of the North. After that, we went to the hotel in Tzfat where we settled in. I was a little disheveled when I got a text message saying that my phone was going to be shut down, because my credit card wasn't working! (it was a mishap in the end, but the added stress was certainly not needed). Consequently, I was upset the rest of the night, and ended up ditching the kabbalistic concert to run into the streets of tzfat and just cry to the mountains. To be honest, it was really comforting.

Friday day we got a tour of Tzfat where we roamed the artistic shops, heard a speech from a mystical genius, challah baked at the hotel, and then had plenty of time to prepare for shabbat.
(My roommate Rachel and I pre-Shabbat)

As shabbat rolled in, we went into the forest and then went to kabbalt shabbat at the famous Carlbach minyan. It really was an experience. Every prayer had it's own song that followed with dancing and singing to the tunes of the songs. During many of the prayers I just closed my eyes and smiled and realized what was going on around me. I am where I want to be.

Shabbat dinner followed with some night activities (including an Oneg at a seminary in Tzfat that FREAKED me out because it truly resembled a sorority. A bunch of girls clapping and singing and then introduction games, and I don't know..brought me down memory lane, so I got out of there as soon as possible!) I fell asleep around 11 and got to sleep in till 10 the next morning.

I woke up to a snack filled kiddush with a Parsha Shiur from one of the rabbis that was in attendance of the shabbaton. I think I was still I may have missed the message... Besides that, I prayed on my own since I didn't get up early enough and lunch followed right after. Shabbat afternoon consisted of a nap, a class on knowing your inner self, playing some games, praying again, getting into some deep talks, and just flat out resting.

When havdalah rolled around the energy could not be beaten. At first, we sang songs like Acheynu, and Tov Lehodot and we literally kept the songs going for a good 10 minutes. Literal havdalah followed and then a concert where I danced my heart out with my amazing new friends here in Israel. I was closing my eyes thanks to G-d for giving me this chance I thought would be impossible last year.

Overall, the connections I felt to Hashem through prayer, to my friends with dancing, and to my family with meditation meant more then any dollar sign. I can't be asking for anything more...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It's so interesting how everything I;ve learnt so far in my Jewish classes, are truly relevant to life today. I can learn and learn and learn about stories that will give me an inside insight in life..and apply it to my everyday actions!

We learned about the story of Rachav...a woman 'innkeeper' who at first was a prostitute, then eventually ended up helping the Jewish people, and marrying the prophet Yehoshua. She was compared to the Jewish people as she wandered (as the Jew's wandered in the desert) in life, and then eventually returning to G-d.

Basically I said this because if a prostitute can return to Hashem, then so can anyone, especially me.

Were going on a three day trip to Tzfat this weekend..and I'm aiming for one of those spiritually high experiences people get when their in the cities presence..I'm especially exciting for a pre-shabbat 'hour of silence' where we are going to sit by ourselves and just think silently and then yell really loud. We'll see what happens!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Simultaneous Chants

CHEVRON CHEVRON CHEVRON---was what a few friends and I were chanting all week in anticipation of our camping out Shabbat in Chevron in honor of Parsha Chaiyeh Sarah.

The amounts of experiences definitely cannot be written down..but I can talk about a few.

Our journey began at 9:45 on Friday morning. We all (as in the few people that chose to camp out for Shabbat) met up at our gate to our neighborhood and proceeded to walk to the bus stop to take a bus to Jerusalem. Then we transitioned to a bus that took us to random bus stop, where we transferred to a bus that was bullet-proof that was en-route Chevron. We were dropped of at Kiryat Arba (the outskirts of Chevron were some Jews now live), and then finally got on a bus to where we were camping; on the grass right outside maarat hamachpela!

First off, let me tell you, Chevron looks like another count

ry. My friend compared it to the scenes in the novel "The Kite Runner". So that itself was intriguing. When we got there, one of our madrichs, Ira, already had a spot waiting for us! There were about 5 tents, 3 big ones and 2 single person tents. The 11 girls got the big tents, where the guys either slept outside or in one of the tents. We set up the area, and dropped off our stuff. Then, a few friends and I ventured off to
maarat hamachpela.

The Maara itself was a little weird to me. There were Arabic decorations and a hole that when you smelt it, it was supposedly the air of Gan Eden. I am not educated in the history of the Maara, so for me, it was a bit weird understanding everything behind it. Since we were questioning it, this random guy (that seemed as if he had a mental health problem to the point where he was obsessed with the Maara itself) found us, and gave us a personal tour on his opinions and his known facts. He told us that the place tiself made him nervous since all the time people are lied to thinking that where tombs are portrayed, the bodies are in, when in turn they are really not. I'll have to do more research to understand what really was going on there.

As Shabbat started, there were many minyans for kabbalat shabbat to choose from. Some friends and I chose the 'Carlbach" minyan where you dance and sing. Of courseee the men were dancing a lot more then the women. I took it upon myself to sing loudly and to jump around and to get others to dance with me. it didn't last too long, but at least it was enough to the point where someone in our group thanked me for doing it. After Kabbalat Shabbat we went to Friday night dinner at this place that was formerly homes to Jews (and was burned down and eventually jews could no longer live there since it was too dangerous), and ate a good meal of chicken rice and potatoes. There were people that said the food was bad, but I think the spirit itself was amazing, which made the food even better then an ordinary Shabbat evening meal.

After the meal, there was basically a big social scene. Everyone was outside of their tents (despite the FREEZING weather) talking to people they didn't know, singing, chanting, drinking, exchanging stories. I personally took the time to meet some people, and have some new conversations. I eventually went to sleep. Might I add it was freezing even with two layers and a blanket, AND it started pouring in the middle of the night. I was ok with it since we pray for rain everyday anyways, so finally Israel is getting it, even though it made the experience a little bit harder.

I was sleeping, and was dreaming a dream I was SO sure I was going to was vivid and clear and I knew when I woke up, I would be able to tell it verse by verse. However I was rudely interrupted. 4:00 AM my eyes flew straight open. 'ALAAAAAAAAAAAAA ACHBARRRRRR'. I was wide eyed, looking around, still laying down. and again ala achbar, ala achbar over and over again, so loud to the point I thought they were right outside my tent. I was aware that this was a call to prayer for the arabs, but I never heard it so clearly or loudly. Eerie is the perfect word to describe it. they used their loudest or closest speakers first, and then as that mosk was about finished a next one started, and on and on, till eventually it stopped. It was probably a good ten minutes until it completely dwindled down . I was lying wide awake until the sun came up..imagining horrible things...but I eventually fell asleep.

Anyways, for the beginning of the morning, that was the talk (unless you slept through it, which in this case I thought they were lucky). But soon, people got on with their day. I went with some friends to pray shacharit in the Maara (which got packed right after we left!) and then headed my way over to the camp site to walk over to lunch. Meat and cholent! Perfect cold rainy weather food. As we were eating though, it started to pour, and our tables were not under a roof so we had to move them. But before we did that, when it was drizzling, I shouted Gam Zu La Tovah! (Basically everything happens for a reason), and was not bothered by the rain at all. After we moved up, as in carried our tables with all the food to a different location, we resumed eating. We were right next to the huge cholent pot (SO BIG). I watched as many people were crowded around waiting to get their bowls filled. No doubt it was not the most sanitary production, but once again it didn't bother me, I was purely happy.

Shabbat afternoon consisted of a short nap, a tour of Chevron, and once again meeting people and talking. I was so happy also with the bond I was making with some of the people from my program. I've found people that have motives just like mine, and each of them have something beautiful to offer...I feel as if I'm closer to these girls, more than any 'best friend' I've ever had. Everything was amazing.

Havdalah. As our madrich was chanting the prayer, the arabs began their call to prayer as well. It was as if we were competing with spirit. Once again, it was an eerie feeling. It's basically like reality setting in, we both want this land, and until a real solution comes upon us, the competing is not going to stop...

Overall, Chevron taught me history, it taught me bonding, and it taught me reality. I could not have asked for more.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A dangerous slide

There are alternatives to going out to bars here. As I've mentioned before..there are cooking classes, talks about peace, etc. Anyways, there is one that is called 'In the House with Ari'. This is a weekly class, where the girls are invited to sit down and listen to topics that are relevant to our lives. Last week, Ari (who lives on campus with his wife Ayelet and his child Yitzchak who are one of the Mother's and Father's of the campus) brought up an interesting note. He told us that every single thing in life has a meaning or a lesson behind it. He described the walls as boundries and an EKG machine as us living with up and down and when we are dead its sometimes we get so overwhelemed that we are so sick of the rollercoaster of life..but without these hardships or happinesses we'd be a flat line, aka dead. SO at first, I thought making these comparisons would be one of the hardest things to do...I sat looking around in my room, and I just couldn't do it. time passed I just laid down and closed my eyes.

A slide. A slide popped into my head. One second later my thoughts were on a marathon. You start at the top. You see an extremely fun ride below you. You know for a fact that it's going to be fun regardless of the situation. However...there is always a dead end at the conclusion of this so called fun.

After this I realized that it was just like me making a decision about moving here. Orlando, was pure fun to me...but I knew that it would always bring me to a wall, an ending. I would never be completely satisfied with life.

Another comparison I came across was a lawn mower. I know it's random..but it's what came into my mind at the time. When do you mow your lawn? When the grass is getting to long. But eventually, it grows back, and you have to do it again. It's like working on yourself. You see you have a certain issues with yourself, so you work on them, or mow your lawn. Eventually, your going to come across more things that need to be worked on, but you have the power to fix them.

One last one, A pita bread. A bland pita bread. No one really eats a plain pita. They fill it with falafel, tomatoes, cucumbers, humus, tahini, eggplant, etc. These fillings make it taste good, and sometimes will make it taste really good. You can compare your life to a piece of bread! Life is what you make it! Fill it with tasty and wholly ingredients, or leave it plain.

These possibilities are endless and also help you realize what you need to work on in your life. You can make these comparisons by yourself, and your results will always be something relevant to you. Of course any example is correct, but eventually you'll have an 'ah ha!' moment. I'm thankful for Ari explaining this simple concept to us at our weekly meetings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Looking back but moving forward

Activities and school have taken over my life. I am not upset about this though. I am doing what I said I wanted to do when I was sick and tired of UCF. I wanted to live and grow and to delete the craving to party out of my mindset. Here's how I'm feeling about my growth here:

So last year, there was no question about it: I was a party animal. Didn't want to miss one night out at the bar; I just wanted to socialize. Here, something has happened. Scenario: Someone asks me go out. I start to think about it, maybe consider it. But then something takes over and I am just not in the mood. It's like my personality has altered...I don't want to be drunk or be around people that are drunk. It's really the weirdest thing to me since last year that's all I wanted to do! I went out once here...and felt so bad about doing it. People were telling me it was ok..but i was just so upset at myself. I don't think I can trust myself in those situations I'm going to stick to learning for a bit.

(Doing something good for the world: onion picking for the needy. Activities director Meir Balofsky, me and Jacob)

Another thing; growth in the Jewish lifestyle. Back at home, being Jewish was something that didn't come so easy. Both my parents didn't keep kosher or make Shabbat, etc. And I wasn't ready to ask them to do it for me..since it would make me seriously emotional. I don't know why. If I saw someone in my family in true deep prayer, or heard kiddush, it would be hard for me to hold back my tears. So, I didn't ask them to alter their lifestyles. But here..everything, well many mitzvot are being handed to me on a silver platter. I am wearing more skirts, studying more Torah, eating Kosher, and doing Jewish things that I just wouldn't do at home. I kind of feel like I'm cheating though. Because it seems as if I'm not putting in any effort, and that it's just being handed to me. I've talked to a 'madrich' (one of the counselors basically that live on campus) and I was reassured that many people are making choices to not follow the rules or advert the attention to the learning, and that I was doing a pretty good job myself. It comforted me. I guess a challenge in the future is how I'm going to take all I've gained here and apply it back wherever I am after this.

(Looking back but moving forward. In the old city in Jerusalem on a roof)

One more thing, there are so many people here that are living out of their parent's wallets. And not only are they doing that, but they are complaining and complaining and complaining about countless amounts of things. It bothers me since I am here on scholarships, a loan, and my own check. And coming here wasn't easy! I don't take advantage of anything they offer here since not only did I pay for it, I want to gain a true experience.

(Sitting on the floor of a 45 minute bus ride to Jerusalem with two amazing girls Robin and Claudia)

We do so much here and I barely find the time to sit down and write. My phone was run over by a car...and now I can't see the screen, so I can't call anyone right now. But feel free to call me! But not on the American number I gave you before...since I realized now that it's costing me. So call 0524508440. Here's our newsletter that is sent out monthly if anyone wants to see it:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Suffering is for making us grow......


Saturday, October 16, 2010


I've come to the conclusion that I am not going to get much sleep while I am here for the year. We have class sun-thurs. Sunday I get to wake up a little later, but from Mon-Thurs I'm up at 6:15, (so i can press my snooze button a few times) and then have long days that range from ending at 3:45 to 5:45. Then, there are activities at night, like cooking with the counselors, or insightful talks about peace; just random things that are alternatives to going out. I attend most of them, and then sleep from either 11-2. Anyways, I love shabbat now, because it's the only 25 hours where I'm actually resting. Thanks g-d for commanding us to rest once a week, it really is great!

My classes are like this so far: Ulpan level 3 sunday, Arab-Israeli conflict sunday night, Jewish literacy, Tanach Overview, Business marketing, and Leaders and Leadership on Monday, Bein Adam L'Chaverio, Aggada, and then a chessed internship where I will be volunteering, Contemporary Halachik issues and World of the Sages on Wednesday, and Practical Halacha, Philosophy of the Siddur, Biology, and Micro-economics on Thursday. It's a pretty busy schedule taht involves activities, and trips, and then me doing my own thing so free time is pretty close to shot!

I may have gotten emotional once or twice. I think of my 'provacative' past, and then I think of my future, and that makes me happy that I'm really dedicated to changing. Also, I opened my facebook up one day and came across some words, that weren't directed towards me, but between my family, and it brought back many many memories. I was lucky to have Rabbi Bryks there to calm me down, because I was not well for a few minutes. But that night, we also had a bonfire that calmed me down and made me realize how lucky I was to be in such a warm and interesting place.

This Shabbat was an out Shabbat so I was able to go wherever I wanted. I was lucky enough to be able to have one of the families on campus to host my mother (since she was here on business) for the weekend. SO because the Siegel family had us for both meals, i cooked a past time, a deli roll, (for those of you who don't know pastry dough with deli slices and mustard, aka fattening goodness) and brought it over. Mrs. Siegel also prepared an array of yummy (and healthy!!) food. After Shabbat, 3 people from my mom's side of the family: Carmela, Nurit, and Hila, picked my mother and I up from Ramat Ef Al and took us to a nice dairy restaurant called Uno in Tel Aviv. It's truly amazing how the vegetables are so much better here. I still cannot get over it! Overall Shabbat was relaxing and fun.

Tomorrow is our first day of Ulpan, and I could not find myself placed on the list of which level to go to. SO because of this, I'm placing myself in level 3, and seeing where it goes from there. Following that, we have a table to table fruit picking for the needy activity, which im sure is going to very rewarding =)

I miss my brother! Wish he was here with me <3 I can't wait to see his album, I know it's going to be amazing and I'm going to brag to every one about him! love you bro!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

thinking > sleeping

My intrigue for the Jewish life is at it's highest right now.

We just started taking classes, and I'm actually excited to actually start getting into the learning. Even though I'm taking 8 Jewish classes, 5 Secular classes, and 1 Ulpan class, I'm still ready. I am a little afraid since so much information has departed my mind; it might be hard to absorb it all in one year.

Besides that though, anyone that has met me in the past 5 years, or anyone that knows me, would be suprised to know that I'm known as one of the girls that 'never go out'. I like to stay back, and chill, and sit outside and play guitar, and have intelligent conversations. I've purposefully sparked conversations to get my mind thinking, so I'm not just sitting around or sleeping and doing nothing like I did in Orlando.

There were a few people back at UCF that said I was running away from my problems, and that it was stupid that I was coming here. Well to all you doubters, I am now something to prove.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What a life.


Some time to sit down and to relax! So many things have happened in the past few days. It feels like it's been so long since I've gotten to Ramat Ef'Al. Here's why:

Tuesday: Move-in day. I definitely don't live in a 5-star hotel. But, I also don't live in the slums. The dorms are like this: two story separate buildings that have 12-15 girls in each of them (this is the girls campus which is a few minutes from the guys). I live on the second floor with a really awesome and sweet girl named Rachel. She's from Kansas, and kinda looks like Taylor Swift. Anyways, the room has two beds, ONE closet, and two desks. No drawers, no storage space, and an israeli shower that has no separation ont eh floor, so the water gets every where. We also have many pets. I mean ants. BUT despite the interesting living conditions, I'm actually really enjoying it. Thursday night, I went to one of the guys on the programs freinds house in tel aviv, with a few other girls, some from L.A and one from new York, and just relaxed.

Wednesday: Woke up at 9:50 to register early for classes. Turns out, I have to take 8 Jewish classes, 4 English classes, and one Hebrew language class. So that's 13 classes a semester. Not what I'm really used to, coming from UCF, but I'm definitely going to be busy, and I like that :) After that, the school took everyone to a big home store, and a grocery store, where my roommate and I split costs and agreed on almost everything! That night, I just unpacked and went 'to sleep.

Three generations of Beauty: Suzie, Reut, and Esti

Thursday: I don't really remember what time we woke up, but I know it was early. Anyways, we went to Jerusalem early in the morning. Personally, I had a meaningful morning prayer and just felt purely happy. After that we went to, or should I say underground to the pitch black tunnel tours. Funny thing: I was right behind one guy that is in charge of the group, named Meir Balofsky, He's really great with people our age. Anyways, he was like "I've done this so many times" turns out though, we got lost behind him,in the pitch black. It was pretty funny, and we eventually found our way back. After this, I took (my first) bus alone back to ramat ef al so i can get back and get ready for Reut's wedding. When I got back, I got ready, and got picked up my my aunt Susie and we were on our way. The wedding was truly a beautiful experience. I honestly got goosebumps, when I saw them first touch each other, since that was the first time they touched each other since they met...
Eitan Kochav with me and his two sons, Matan and Or

Friday: we were woken up early to go mountain biking and do a ropes course. It was really fun, even though the bike ride was pretty challenging. After that, we went to Ariel for a shabbaton. To sum up Friday and Saturday, I met a lot of people and may have inspired some, telling them of my past, and my goals now.

JUST SAYING, I have not been out or drank since I've been in Israel; for those of the family members that are worried ;)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Few Remaining Activities

Saturday night I traveled on a train (I'm a pro at this train thing, now how to conquer the buses :o ?) to Netanya to see my friend Arielle Fried and her family. From the train station, I took a taxi to the main street in Netanya, where her and her family were having sushi. I joined, and was lucky to have them treat me to a sushi dinner as well.

The next day, we woke up late and then just relaxed and then walked to a dairy cafe a few minutes around her house. She lives right off the beach, so it was really nice to get a wide view of the Mediterranean. It looked like there was some surf there, so another trip there seems to be in my near future. Anyways, we just relaxed for the rest of the day, and enjoyed a really beautiful sunset right before I boarded the train back to Shoham.
Today, Monday, Reut woke me up and asked me to accompnay her on her errands, which included laminating a prayer that the groom reads as the bride walks down the aisle, some pharmacy items, and volunteering. At first, i was really tired, but I realized I didn't want to waste the day away so I tagged along.

I really loved volunteering. It was a room with a bunch of donated clothes and Reut and I were supposed to go through it and find clothes for 3 month year old girl, 6 month year old girl, 1 year old girl, 2 year old girl, and size 25 shoes for a boy. Even though the room was small, and there was no A.C, and the plastic bags started sticking to me because I was sweating from the heat, I really enjoyed the outcome.

I'm definitely going to find a place to volunteer at close to where I'm moving in tomorrow! I don't want to waste any time while I'm here; I just want to absorb a new life with new experiences and to grow with what I see.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tears of Joy and Distant Feelings

Reut'sShabbat Kallah went beautifully...for her.

I sat in the background the whole Shabbat and observed the many Israeli girls that were all Reut's friends. They played games, sang songs, danced, and prayed. At one point, when everyone was singing a lighter song, Esti and Sapir, her mother and sister, started to cry. I teared a bit over this sight of pure love.

However, the whoe time, I felt sort of out of place. Everyone, Shomer Negiah, Or close (which means they won't touch any men, even their fiances until they were married. I thought it was beautiful for them, but I also may of felt embarresed or ashamed of my past, compared to theirs. Anyways, I made a connection with one amazing girl named Advah. She insisted on helping and cleaning the whole time. By the end, she came over to me and told me that I was very brave for what I was doing, and that she really was thinking about me the whole time she was here. She told me that she hopes I have an amazing time, and that maybe someday, I'd move there. She almost made me cry, but I held back.

Reut's shabbat kallah really gave me time to sit and reflect since the girls were speaking hebrew so fast, that I could barely catch one word.

I am now going to visit an old friend, that I still label a close friend since we grew up together. I respect people i grew up with, because they know where I came from...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hakafot and Hallah

Simchat Torah had just ended and I spent it at Rabbi Bryks's house in Ramat Bet Shemesh. Despite the Hebrew name of the city, EVERYONE spoke English. It was a very Americanized neighborhood. Not to mention, very religious. Anyways, 2 other girls from another seminary stayed at the Bryks's home as well. They were both very sweet, one girl was from Manchester, and one from New York.

We went to the shul (that was a few steps away) for Hakafot (traditional dancing for renewing the reading of the torah) and all the men were dancing with their kids. The women on the other hand, were not. I wanted to ask why, but I knew the answer; the women were in sight of the men, so it wouldn't be appropriate. I wouldn't choose a place like this to live, because all I wanted to do was dance, dance, dance. Besides that though, it was really beautiful to see the passionate faces on the men that were really happy to be renewing the 5 books.

The next day consisted of relaxing, and me reading a 750 page book that I got 350 pages over one night, and one day. It's called The Double life on Chani Greenberg, and it has a really really good plot. I borrowed it from the rabbi, and will most likely have it finished by the end of Shabbat. I like that my life is different over here.

Anyways, I really really wish I remembered to take that vitamin C from my dad before I left, because of course, my glands and ears are starting to hurt. Usually this happens when I go away....I'm so not in the mood to go to an Israeli doctor right now!

This Shabbat is my cousins Shabbat Kallah. I'm really excited for her, but not so much excited to be with a bunch of girls that are going to talk and talk and talk in hebrew so quickly that I won't be able to follow. Hopefully I feel better in the morning so the headaches don't start kicking in...
Maya, Sagit, Me, Reut, Shir, and Tami

So before Shabbat we all just made Challahs and did the mitzvah just for women where you rip the piece of dough of and 'sacrifice' or something. It was said all in Hebrew, so I don't know the whole meaning behind it. Reut is so so happy, it is really written all over her face. Her wedding is in 6 days, when she can finally touch the man she's been engaged too for a few months...I wonder how that feels?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'We'll only take you to the best places!"

The past two days consisted of sun, sun, and sun. Of course, I stayed the same color, sunscreen or not. Anyways...the dead sea was great with the Lavis. The place that we went to was the same place that birthright had brought me a few months earlier. Brought back memories of me being SO tired from the previous night of 'sleeping' in the desert, and then passing out on a bench at the dead sea from the sun. Good times.

SO, today was very fun. I returned to Shoham last night and was with Cochav family all day, and still am. We drove about an hour and a half, (since we got lost on the way) to a beautiful beach that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. I asked where we were going and Esti said to one of the most beautiful beaches in Israel, Reut followed with "We'll only take you to the best places." The sand was so white and powdery and the water was as clear as the Bahamas water. There were tiny fish everywhere. Of course, I brought my waterproof camera (that amazed EVERYBODY) and many pictures were taken in the ocean.

I love being around my family here. Everyone is so sweet, especially all my first cousins Esti, Ronit, Tami, Shy, and Beeni, They truly will all do anything for me.

Simchat Torah is tomorrow and I will be at Rabbi Bryks house for it. It'll be like a pre-NCSY reunion before he is basically my Dean.

Reut's Shabbat Kalah is also this weekend, so there will be many girls at her house, celebrating and also EATING! I love the food here.

Now, I'm off to a festival in Shoham with some famous Israeli singer and little kiosk's with shops. Time to spend my first shekels!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The adventure of a sandled American

Jet lag is still evident. I was awake till about 4:30 AM last night. At 8:45 Rotem came into my room to tell me to get ready. Luckily, my morning bird kicked in since I knew the day was going to be exciting.

I went with the Lavi family (minus Hadar) to some place near the dead sea that consisted of a sany and rocky hike to a long walk in a cold river. Of course, I didn't know that so I was wearing flip flops. Descending down the mountain forced me to concentrate on the floor and not the surronding dessert.

It was fun though, holding Lital and Rotems hand, laughing at our slipping on the rocks. Not to mention that there were so many people there because it is Chol Hamoed on sukkot, and all of Israel is off. Before we transitioned to the river part, we sat down to eat a prepared lunch by Ronit which was bread, eggs, humus, tuna, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and something spicy.

After eating, we made our way to the river part. It was so so refreshing to have my feet and calves covered by freezing water, midday, in the Israeli desert. A few times, my flip flop would get stuck in the mud on the floor and I would lift my foot up, without my shoe. It would float up to the surface and flow with the current and we would yell to the people behind us to catch it. Trust me, I wasn't the only one. We walked for about 2 hours and it came to an end.

Tomorrow, I was invited by the same family to go to to the dead sea. I cannot wait to rub mud all over my body, lay in the sun, have it crust up, and then proceed into the warm salt bath to remove it. My skin truly feels the most soft after this process.

Now for some much needed food (in the sukkah of course) and then some much needed sleep!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Artichoke stuffed meatballs, fried eggplant, soft white rice Oh My!

Friday night and Saturday, also known as the 25 hours of resting for the Jewish people, consists of family time, praying, resting, and food; really really really good food.

I spent shabbat in Modiin and stayed at Ronit and Dudis house. There kids are 3 girls Hadar, Rotem, and Lital and one boy Netanel. After finishing mine and my second cousins' new favorite game, UNO, I went to Beeni and Yisrael's home for shabbat dinner. I entered the amazing smelling humble home to be greeted by their kids; Yedidyah, the oddly blonde hair blue eyed newly 6 year old, Oriah, the beautifully black eyed brown hair tom boy, Binayah, the child that will smile and smile and smile, and Eliah, the newly born blue eyes black hair baby. We immediately sat in their sukkah and began to eat the amazing food that once again greeted my stomach.

Home made schnitzel
green beans covered in tomato sauce and sesame seeds
Sweet chicken
Meatballs that sat in the heart of artichokes and onions
soft white rice
and lastly: a pancake covered in parve chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chocolate drizzled over it; not to mention the sweet honeydew.

This was just the first meal of shabbat.

After the meal Suzie walked me back to Ronit and Dudi's house and I changed into comfortable clothes and continued to read the book i Started "The Red Tent." A few chapters later Ronit and Dudi sat down and I got some time to know them. it did not surprise me that they were as sweet and as smart as can be...just like every other person in the family.

I woke up Saturday morning around 12 o'clock (paradise) and awaited the return of the parents from shul. I continued to read and 20 minutes later they appeared eager for the shabbat lunch. Once again, their cooking skills blew my mind when I tasted the pasta with meat sauce and pesto and potato blintzes, and more and more and more. Everything was so so tasty and of course there was tons of leftovers...they told me any time I want they will give me some of their leftovers for my dorm... :D

After the meal I played Uno with the girls and then went to sleep for about an hour. I woke up and started to read once again...eventually finishing it (it was very good and recommend it certainly to women and any man that can handle woman power, ...and life cycles...)

Post Shabbat was a dairy dinner with mushroom pasta, bread and cheese, tuna salad, etc. Better then any deli... I am staying another night with the Lavi's since they invited me to go somewhere for a day trip...I'm excited to see this family outside of shabbat and in action.
Left to right Yedidyah, Rotem, Eliah, Me, and Lital

Coming early has certainly proved that my relationships with my Israeli family has been getting closer and closer as time passes....and it's only been a week...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Surviving the first holiday

I came to Israel a few weeks early before school so I can spend time with my family and actually celebrate the few Jewish holidays before school began. Sukkot has fallen upon us and I cannot tell you how good it felt to be in a Succah, decorated from pure love, with family again. Really brought back memories of when I was younger, and we would hang up the same decorations every year; without them ever getting old.

Before the holiday started I did one thing I wish I could avoid, but my eyes were so heavy that I slept for 5 hours. Maybe because the jet lag had kept me up till 5 AM the night before, and the light of the morning woke me up around 8, 9, and 12. So I slept from 1 till 5 PM, and woke up to ready myself for the first night of sukkot.

The first night was spent at Cochav house and the WHOLE family was there. The food of course was amazing which included home-made hummus, beet salad, Pasta with meat, spicy meat balls, white rice, goulash, and on and on. Of course, I ate as much as I could handle and then sat and observed the family as they all interacted nicely and with love. They played a trivia game with questions about the holiday and I was upset that I had forgotten most of the answers. I guess that's why I'm here right?

The second day we walked (in the DRY heat) all the way to Tami's house. Once again, the whole family was there. This meal consisted of home made tahini, fresh salads, Moussaka, potatoes, lamb with dates, mini (AMAZING) hamburgers, chicken, and more. For some reason though, I was barely able to eat....probably still full from the night before (or perhaps the amazing cheesecake I was fed for breakfast). Everyone ate and talked and laughed. I followed the children to the back yard where we played ping pong and watched Sapir pour water on the younger kids (who begged and begged for her to do it). Later into the day they played home made bingo and used small soup almonds (better known as crunchies) as the bingo pieces. Following that, the people who wanted to sleep, including me, went to sleep until night fell for havdalah. So here I am now post havdalah, and finally getting my technology cravings settled (since I am not yet used to giving them up for 2 days...)

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've made it to Germany! I sat in seat 41 A and luckily had a nice older Italian man next me. He works on Carnival cruise line as an engineer. He was on his way to Italy for his 6 or 8 month vacation. Anyways, I'm glad I invested in Tylenol PM because that was the EASIEST 9 and a half hour flight I've ever been on! I always wondered what it would be like if I fell asleep on most of the plan ride. Now I know, and it feels GREAT!

ADDITIONALLY, Lufthansa is actually the best airline ever; TVs on your seats, comfortable chairs, and the best part CUP HOLDERS! It's always so annoying having to have your tray down just fro your cup of water. Thumbs up to the German engineers!

Sitting at the window seat allowed me to finally see another country besides Israel. And one thing I noticed is that there seriously must be ONE architect in all of Munich since EVERY SINGLE house and building had white walls and red roofs. The sky was so beautifully blue with the rising sun making the lower skyline a bright yellow.

I met an Israeli women in the line from entering security named Iris. She's a sweet woman and that seems as if she has traveled the whole world by the way she speaks

Well I'm waiting for my flight to Tel Aviv now. I'm going to find some random food in the foodcourt that I havn't tried before. Definitely not the white sausage though :)


I arrived in Israel on time and safely. But one thing that brought back memories of this summer is when we were flying the sky was perfectly blue and the clouds were all separated into small white circles. What it truly truly resembled was jumping into the middle of the ocean with a scuba mask, looking down, and seeing many small jellyfish below me. One of those beautiful sights that a person can never forget....

Anyways, when i arrived five of my oldest second cousins: Reut, Sapir, Sagit, Or, and Matan all greeted me with an I love you ballon and one big cousin hug! I went to the mall with Reut, Sapir, Sagit, and Esti (their mother) and was so happy to see them being so sweet to each other. Complimenting what they tried on, holding each others hands, etc. It really is beautiful so see a truly happily functioning family.

I am going to paint Sapir's nails now with the Lakim (nail polish) we bought at the mall.

Day one

Today is the day I'm finally going to achieve what I have desired so badly in the past two years. I'm breaking out of my element and entering a new world, that will fill me up with many valuable life lessons and experiences. I am truly happy with my decision to go. No matter how many hardships it came with, I am following my heart, and isn't that what everyone says to do?

In a few hours I'll be flying into Munich where I hopefully will not get lost because the only German I know is Vi Gatez (whatever that means)! I'll then be flying into Tel Aviv being greeted by most amazing family oriented, beautiful cousins that I cannot wait to become so much closer with!

Here's to new experiences! Shalom!