Thursday, August 17, 2006

!שלום מירושלים


Entering my second week of life in the Holy City, I thought that I should take the time to sit down and let everyone in on some of the details of my trip so far, especially in light of the particularly important events that recently transpired in Israel.

I came to Jerusalem to learn. To learn Hebrew in Ulpan, to learn more about Israeli and Jewish history at Hebrew University and to learn Torah at a Yeshiva. So far, I have only been learning Hebrew in Ulpan, but the other two aren't very far away. Ulpan is nice; in only a week and a half my Hebrew has improved immensely. I now feel like I can hold a semi-normal conversation with an Israeli, as long as they speak s-l-o-w-l-y.

Whether or not to come to Israel was a very difficult decision for me to make when the country was in the midst of a war. If it was up to my parents, they probably wouldn't have allowed me to go, but alas it was a risk that only I was taking and a decision that only I could make. Actually, I was very close to canceling my entire trip because of all the discouragement I was hearing: from my co-workers, from my family and from my friends. Nevertheless, deep down I knew that I needed to make this journey to the country which so much of my family calls home. Also, the fact that my flight was coincidentally scheduled to leave on my Jewish birthday seemed like less of a coincidence to me than symbolic of a kind of personal rebirth.

So I decided to make the trek, and I am so glad I did. Jerusalem really is one of the most beautiful and most diverse cities in the world. Just in my Ulpan class, there is a person from Italy, one from England, one from France, one from Puerto Rico, one from Poland, two from Japan (they are having somewhat of a hard time with the language), several from America, and five Arabs (four Muslims and one Christian and all from Jerusalem). Now this is where it gets interesting. The Arabs, for some reason, have taken a real liking for me. We joke around together every day and they try to teach me words in Arabic, then they say something that I don't understand and all start laughing, and then I don't feel so comfortable. It's a very funny and unexpected relationship that has developed between us, one of them even said Shabbat Shalom to me after class today, but one that I really don't feel will go much farther than chatting during breaks. I don't think I want to get any deeper into the subject in such a public place though.

I have also become somewhat close with the two Japanese students in the class. They both know very little Hebrew and very little about Judaism, but I find myself having fun explaining things to them. I played some Hebrew music for one of them (Takeshi), and showed him where in the Siddur the lyrics came from. He was so interested in everything and was amazed when I told him about the Berachot that one says before eating different foods.

Interestingly enough, I also met up with Santa Cruz's own Ze'ev Hoffman here in Jerusalem, and he even stayed at my apartment for a couple nights. Me, Ze'ev, a bochur from Santa Cruz (a Russian one) who is studying at yeshiva, and another yeshiva bochur from Germany all wandered through the streets of the Old City in the middle of the night and ended up at the Kotel at about 2:00 am. It was filled with people even at that time, and I davened Ma'ariv there before the beautifully shining and glowing Wall in awe and disbelief that I was there. It was my favorite night.

I also have to reserve ample time to visit all of my family here. My Aunt Gracia came to Israel from Morocco about forty years ago with six kids, and then gave birth to seven more after moving. That's right, that makes 13 children, which in turn makes about 50 grandchildren, and now 5 great grandchildren. I also have family members from two other uncles here, so I actually don't know if I will even be able to see them all, but G-d willing I will. They are such amazing people and I really look forward to seeing them.

Well, all things must come to an end, and that includes this post, but hopefully not my stay in Israel. I hope people make comments on some of my remarks so I can respond to them when I am able to. I know I will be seeing a few of you here in a very short time, so thank G-d for that. בהצלחה ולהיתרות



Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Wow... what a refreshing post! I'm kvelling right now, seriously.

I'm so happy for you, and it's great to get this type of story out of Israel, and to know that people are able to live peacefully from day to day. That's so cool that you're typing in Hebrew, too. If I recall correctly, the keyboards in Rothberg have English, Hebrew, and Arabic printed them, right?

Wow, and that's cool that you have Arabs in your class. I'll be very interested to hear how that relationship develops.

Man, yeah I'm kvelling. Shabbat shalom, אָחי הַקָדוֹשׁ

Thu Aug 17, 12:48:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous dl said...

Wow it is so great to hear from you! I hope you continue to share with us the special time you are having....see you soon with in the Holy land with Moshiach now!

Thu Aug 17, 02:24:00 PM 2006  
Blogger JewSlug said...

Good to hear from you both as well! Uri, that's right, practically every keyboard at Rothberg gives you the ability to write in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. It's really cool. How did you write in Hebrew?

DL, I will call you guys very soon to give you an update on how I am doing. I hope all is well in Santa Cruz.

Wed Aug 23, 03:53:00 AM 2006  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home