Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Big Relative Week!

1. GRANDMA'S LANDING TODAY! (I won't see her till Friday)
2. EMILY decided that she was coming to visit, too. So I'll be with her on my mom's birthday and on her birthday :)
3. I called up very distant Klionsky relatives who live in Tzfat, and will be staying with them for this Shabbat. (Which, incidentally, includes also Lag Ba'omer). I've only ever been in Tzfat for three hours. And they have a one-month old baby girl. (In addition to many other children...)

I'm very excited for all three things!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pesach Break

I wrote about the beginning of break (when I was in Haifa at Yogev and Abby's).
Basically the rest of the break I had "Campus Jerusalem"--bumming from house to house for the rest of the week until the end.
On Saturday night I headed to Shani's in Jerusalem--I got in really late, and had to lug my suitcase (I don't remember if I mentioned that my hiking backpack is messed up from Survival Week and is getting fixed right now) all the way to her house from the bus stop. We hung out for a bit, and then went out and ended up running into a few other folks from the Mechina for a pre-Pesach glass of beer and Belgian waffle. We got back to her apartment late at night, and slept until a good 11 or 12 the next day, before her mom woke us up (Pesach cleaning and all that jazz). When Shani left, I stayed there for a bit before heading back to the city to meet Efrat, the person at whose house I was having the seder.
On my way to meeting Efrat, I heard three women asking each other, in English, "Where's the synagogue? Do you know where the synagogue is?"Naturally, I asked them which synagogue they were talking about, and they answered that they were looking for the Reform one (Kol Hanshama) and/or a seder to go to. I gave them Rabbi Klein-Katz's number, and when I talked to him later that afternoon, he said he'd gotten a call from three ladies from Georgia (the state) looking for a seder to go to :) I waited while Efrat got her hair cut (something that I didn't do this year before Pesach; a regular cut costs upwards of $40!) and we headed to her house in Ramot. Once there, there were final Pesach cleaning and things like that--washing the windows and floors in her room, organizing her closet, etc. We ate lunch, and hung out playing guitar and such, and at night made a run to the felafel stand down the street (with all the other Ramot residents and their 7 children apiece.)
We woke up relatively late in the morning and didn't really do a lot during the day. The seder was a lot different than I expected. She's from a Yemenite family, and is one of 6 or 7 children, so I thought the seder would be huge (everyone's spouse, children, etc.) but this year only 4 of the kids were home for the seder, plus her grandma, so we were only 8. It's the smallest seder I've ever been to. There also was no commentary--everyone took turns reading the paragraphs, but there was no initiative to share commentaries or explanations or ask questions or have discussions or any of the stuff that I'm used to from our seders at home. Having rice as one of the main courses at the seder was also something that I am certainly not used to (yes, this year I ate kitniyot, I couldn't not), as was not having matzah-ball soup or brisket or sponge cake or strawberries-and-sugar... or any of those things that have become institutions of Pesach at our house/at Savta and Grandpa's. Her dad also decided that they were too old to look for the afikomen, so he just produced it (with complaint from Efrat and her younger-by-a-few-years sister) and we ate it and that was the end of that. We place the cup for Eliyahu on the windowsill, but never opened the door for him. (Important note: Efrat lives in Ramot, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem. I made a point of having the seder in Jerusalem, because every year we say at the end of the seder we say, "Next year in Jerusalem" so I didn't want to give up the chance).
On the actual day of chag I didn't go to shul, we slept in, had lunch with the family, played the not-as-good-as-American Israeli version of Monopoly for a while until we went out for a 4-hour walk with a friend of hers from the neighborhood. One of the greatest things about Israel is that "city" doesn't necessarily mean "far from nature." Right down the mountain from her house is a huge forest--we climbed, found an old abandoned stone house, looked at the rich people's houses, smelled the spices growing along the path, saw families out on long walks, and enjoyed the perfect weather. If I wanted to go on a nature-walk in Chicago, I'd have to drive two hours to some preserve, or pay money to go to the Botanical Gardens or something--in Jerusalem you just somersault down the hill and there you are.
That night I went to the Kochins in Jerusalem--I ended up getting there rather late, and Yael was already getting into bed. The first time I was there Elijah was in the States; this time, he was there but Rosie was in the states. I always get to do some reading when I'm there, because they have nearly as many books out in the the dining room as we do at home. I had matzah-toffee there :) The next day I went with Ariel and Danielle to meet people from the Mechina at the beach in Herzeliyah. At exactly the same time that we got to the connection point in Tel Aviv, I got a call from a friend in camp saying that a bunch of them were meeting up in Tel Aviv in about an hour and a half. Completely imperfect timing! I went to the beach with Mechina people--when we got there there were only about 7 or 8 people there. I had Neti and Itai (camp) pick me up and went to hang out with camp friends for a while (OSRUI 2009: Yonatan Cope came back from his 7-month sailing trip. He had a great time! And is coming back to camp!) before Yonatan dropped me back off at the beach. This time when I got there, there were about 25 or so people from the Mechina, plus 7 or so prostitutes and their pimps (not joking).
We had a great time at the beach. About 35 people came in all. We had a barbecue, two fires, a guitar, and a good time hanging out with each other outside of the setting of the Mechina. Most people left by the early hours of the morning (3, 4), but about 10 of us stayed to "sleep" the night at the beach. It was freezing, so I didn't actually sleep much. Sheera and I left around 7 and went to her house, where we ate (HER DAD MAKES 7-LAYER CHOCOLATE MATZA CAKE!), showered, and sleeeept.
Thursday afternoon I had planned to go to Yonatan's to pick up my suitcase (after Survival Week my hiking backpack was broken, so I was wandering around with a big wheeled-suitcase), but he had gone to the Golan with some friends. I had been to his house before, and his mom is from Chicago, so I called her up and asked if I could come over to get my suitcase, and to bum for a few hours until Rachel's family (I went to Italy with Rachel. Her family came to visit for a few weeks and were staying at an apartment in Jerusalem) came back from the north. I hung out with Yonatan's mom for a few hours, which was actually really nice, and then went to Rachel's.
I was at Rachel's for two days, and on Friday we took a bus to Tel Aviv to go to the beach. Once we got to Tel Aviv, we hopped on a intercity bus, and on the way to the beach passed a flea market. We looked at each other for approximately 4 seconds, said "Galya will be so jealous!" and hopped off the bus. We spent two hours at the flea market (Mom and Dad: I looked for the sponge cake egg fluffer without success) at then found ourselves at the beach for only about 20 minutes. It was definitely worth it though. I bought a necklace that I have to convince myself I can wear, as well as a jug for creamer to add to my teacups-from-different-countries collection.
We made it back to Jerusalem just in time for Shabbat (after taking a Monit Sherut that didn't actually go to the Arlozorov Sation, and he made a detour for us).
Shabbat was very nice; I started reading Shalom Auslander's Foreskin's Lament, which I have to find somewhere so I can finish it.


I don't remember much more about Shabbat... but it was a lot of just hanging out and etc. In the evening we went to family-friend's of Rachel's, who have the coolest/best-decorated apartment I've been in since I've been in Israel. They live in Baka, and the floor is done with this really neat geometrically-designed tile, and there's really cool art on all the walls...
I then took a bus to Josh Bloomberg's apartment, met up with him, walked around and ate Kosher for Passover Ben&Jerry's ice cream (mmm!) In the morning, I learned that the Israel Museum was free during Passover, so after a lot of bus-complications, I got there with only about an hour to spend. Turned out to be good that a)I only had an hour and b) it was free, because a lot of the exhibits and parchments were under preservation so they weren't on display, which was kind of frustrating.
I had a series of obstacle courses getting back to Joshs apartment in order to pick up my suitcase in order to run uphill to the bus station in order to catch the last bus to Zur Hadassah (including bumping into Ayal WK in the street). Long story short, I got on the bus 10 seconds before it was supposed to leave the station.
I stayed at Hadar's house. We took a nice walk and had a chat on a lookout over the mountains, which was really nice. In the evening we went to her Grandma's for dinner--with her aunt and uncle and etc--and it was one of the best meals (and most colorful, literally) since I've been in Israel; like at home, there was something of every color on the table :)
The next day we went to the Stalactite Cave (!) that's near Beit Guvrin and Beit Shemesh. It was SO COOL! We weren't allowed to touch anything, but there were ones that looked like broccolis, and ice cream cones and cliffs and the underside of a mushroom... all sorts of things. It was really one of the coolest things I've ever seen (although too many people).
THEN, at night, we went to Gan Yavneh for Girls' Night at Bar's. And arrived--20 people strong--at the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv the next day for our first day back at the Mechina.