Friday, July 29, 2011


Also, Ricky (who I know from home, but also go to school with) is here now and we've gotten to hang out a lot... including with Julie's friends from her year here at seminary.

It's a good feeling to be the first same-age person your friend has spoken with in five weeks...

[happy, ricky? you got your OWN blog entry!]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Armenian Quarter (sh!), BLIND/DEAF CAFE IN YAFO!!, The Israel Museum, and Challah (yum! cookies, too)

After work on Tuesday (maybe it was Wednesday?) I went with Leah and another Yale girl, Ariella, to the Old City. We took the cool shortcut Leah and I found, and wandered around... a lot. On our way out, we walked through the Armenian Quarter, which is basically the most closed off to the public. They have their shops, of course, but none of the residential stuff is really open for people to walk through--they kind of keep to themselves. The door to the church courtyard was open, however, and the guard told us to take a peek through the gate. So we did, and saw a door...and climbed through the doorway, up two flights of stairs, and found ourselves in the Secret World of the Residential Armenian Quarter! It was very cool--essentially, there are three layers of city built on top of each other, and you look out over Jerusalem and down into the church courtyard (this picture)

The view from the top layer of the residential part of the Armenian Quarter.

Our secret doorway ;)

Big cross.

So pretty! The church is opened to visitors between 3:00pm-3:30pm every day. What?

A wedding on the boardwalk in Yafo, the port town next to Tel Aviv. Shalem took the interns yesterday to "Mercaz Na Laga'at" ("Please Touch Center"), the center for blind and/or deaf in Yafo. It's a really cool organization, that tries to teach people what it means to live with a hearing and/or visual impairment. There are three things that they do: a play, in which all the actors are blind and/or deaf, a cafe in which all the waiters are deaf and they teach you how to order in sign language, and a "blackout restaurant," which simulates the way that a blind person would eat. The last thing is what we went to.
You're led into a room that's pitch black (as in, there are no light cracks at all, and I was there for two hours and my eyes didn't get used to it. Not only could I not see Leah, sitting two inches from me, but I also couldn't see my fork as I lifted it to my mouth). You walk in with your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you, and the waiter shows you where your chair is, explains where your utensils are, and advises you to always return the water jug to next to the wall, "otherwise you'll never find it." Around their ankles, the waiters wear the same bells that belly dancers wear, so that they don't run into each other.  You have a choice of ordering a meal and dessert from the menu, or of getting "surprise" ones--obviously I chose the latter. You're brought your food, and left to your own disposal to figure out how to eat it (my method: use left hand to put food onto fork. Put napkin as bib on shirt. Put fingers in cup when you pour water, so you don't spill over the top). Your taste buds and fingers are all you have to tell you what you're eating (but it's delicious!).
There's a lot of things you can do in absolute, total darkness that you can't do when it's light--or even light enough that your eyes get used to sensing shapes and blobs. I'll leave it to your imagination.
It's really cool. I've wanted to go for a long time, but never got around to it. But my friend Elana W-K volunteered there this year, and told me it was a must, so I suggested is as an "interns fieldtrip" and Shalem made it happen. I'd really recommend that everyone make the trip to hot, humid Yafo for this, it's by far worth it!
After that, I met up with Ari Rosenberg and Lital in Tel Aviv. I'll just say that Yafo is a really sketchy place to walk through at night (and I'm from the south side of Chicago...)

Today we took a field trip to the Israel Museum. The only other time I was there was when everything was under renovation, which was a little bit of a downer. It's a really great museum--lots of archeology, and their kitsch is that everything that's there (except a few) was excavated in Israel! But they also have a modern wing, and some surealist stuff, and a sculpture garden outside (hence this picture, with Adj and Amy, other interns)

We bought baking ingredients so that we would HAVE to bake. Today we (me and Leah) came to Adj's, to make diner, do laundry, bake challah (unbaked, here), and chocolate chip cookies! Oh, and a side trip to the pool :)

My "bootiful" (thanks, mom!) challot

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Soccer in Gan Sakker (pronounced "soccer)

(Quick update: Shabbat dinner at the Breuers. All 4 kids were there, including the two I haven't seen since they moved here. Shabbat lunch was with Sam and Adj at Danny Gordis's house, then we wandered over to Adj's to read books/watch Adj fall asleep. Headed over to my friend Amir's apartment, which I found sort of by accident, and then got lost on my way to Sam's cousin's for dinner--where we discovered that they know both the Breuers and the Sterns, and had a great conversation with Sam's aunt about my Race, Drugs, Drug Policy class).

I woke up at 6:15 this morning to do recruitment for the mechina on the other side of Jerusalem for high schoolers here with the American Tzofim (Israel scouts) group. It was actually a lot of fun, although reminded me how obnoxious sixteen-year-olds can be... Getting up so early made me really tired all day, so after nuking a sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamom in the microwave that we just figured out how to work (!) I took a nap. [It has come to my attention *ahem, Gideon* that it was not clear from this that my nuked potato and nap were after work. Yes, Sunday is a real day here.]

Then it was time to go play soccer in Gan Sakker! Well, Leah and I took a really roundabout way (okay, so we got a little lost.... naturally, when we asked a policeman how to get there he said, "Keep walking straight..." typical Israeli answer, and not at all correct, but okay. We figured it out).

We had been planning to meet up with a couple of Leah's friends from school/home/seminary, but it turns out that they had joined a larger group of girls/women who play ever Sunday at 7:15 in Gan Sakker. It's some grassroots group that's been meeting for years--mostly religious women although not entirely--and everyone who played was an English-speaker. It was a lot a lot of fun--I realized I haven't actually played soccer in years (at least two, probably three). As it got later, the grass got more slippery, so there was a lot of falling and the twilight/post-sunset time (despite occasional floodlights) is actually the worst lighting for seeing a ball. But it just felt really good to was the first actual pick-up game I've ever joined, and I think we're planning to go back next week. It really was a lot of fun! Got some good sweating in :)

Well, we finished around 9:30, and made our way back home (this way we didn't get lost, and we even took a shortcut, which showed us exactly where we made our wrong turn on the way there) and were exhausted and hungry, so we made easy food: noodles! And now I'm about to fall asleep again...

sorry about the lack of pictures!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rabin's office. nbd

Today I went to Abu Gosh, an Arab town just outside of Jerusalem. You may have heard of it a few years back, because it set the world-record for biggest plate of hummus ever prepared (something like 8000+ pounds of hummus!)--and 50 Israeli and Arab chefs were involved in the making of the hummus. [Except then Lebanon regained control of the record, when it double that amount in 2010]. Abu Gosh hummus is a thing. People go to Abu Gosh to eat hummus (not to eat pita, with hummus on the side, but to eat hummus). 

I missed the bus that goes to Abu Gosh by 3 minutes (ugh!), so I took the next one that went to the area (although not as close) 40 minutes later. It goes to a Haredi town called Kiryat Ya'arim. This sign is at the entrance (an "eruv" essentially makes it permissible for religious Jews to carry things outside their house on Shabbat).  While waiting for the bus, I took out my notebook and did some writing, and sticking out from the notebook was a slip that I'd written Gamal Abd Al-Nasser's name on in Arabic. The guy sitting next to me said (in Hebrew): "You read Arabic?" "Yes" "What does that say?" "Gamal Abd Al-Nasser. Just his name." "You spelled it wrong, it's like this. And took my pen to write it correctly on his hand." It was so cute!

Anyway, Dani, one of my madrichim from the Mechina lives right next to Abu Gosh, so I went to visit him, and he showed me something very cool, which I missed when I was at the mechina because on the day the group went, I got stuck in traffic in Tel Aviv on my way to talk to some Americans about the program.  

 It was an old British fortress, just sitting on the side of the road. It had once been British, but about three weeks before Israel declared independence, the British abandoned it. The villagers in Abu Gosh (who historically had a good relationship with the Jews in pre-state Palestine--they were the ones who found alternate supply routes to Jews in Jerusalem during the Arab siege on the road to Jerusalem in '47-'48. When the Brits abandoned it, the Arab villagers in Abu Gosh notified the Palmach (pre-state military), so that they could take control of it--the Harel Brigade of the Palmach made it their HQ until December.

During the War of Independence, Yitzchak Rabin was the commander of the Harel Brigade, the brigade that took control of the fortress. This was his office. There's a sink in there, a closet where his uniform probably hung... and the sign on the outside of the door telling us that it was his office. (Rabin went on to be the Commander in Chief of the Israel Defense Forces and to be a Lieutenant General, to be Prime Minister, and to win the Nobel Peace Prize before being assassinated at a peace rally in 1995).

The fortress is huge. And totally abandoned. Most people don't even know it's here, and there's only a tiny sign outside of it. But Dani showed me all around it. There are more wings than I remember, and certainly upwards of 50 rooms. 

The roof/porch of the fortress. It was so cool to explore where so much history had happened! It's a beautiful, beautiful old building (and, unlike the fortress that the Mechina was housed at, is made of actual stone, chiseled by hand).

Stained-glass stickers on the synagogue where Dani lives/taught this year--a boarding school called Kiryat Ya'arim. 

The sunset from Dani's porch

Because I got in later than I expected, I didn't actually have a lot of time to wander around. And there's a lot to see in Abu Gosh, not to mention eating hummus. Which means I'll just have to go back sometime...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Street performances (lots of pictures!)

First, of course, a dinner shot: We weren't really sure what to do with our stale laffas (sort of like pita, but bigger and thiner... like a mix between a tortilla and a pita, sort of?). So we tried to make french toast, only it's not sponge-y like challah is, so it doesn't really absorb the egg stuff. It came out kind of like matza-brie. Not bad. Also, we carmelized apples, and fried a nectarine. Yum!

 We made dinner quickly so we could head out to the shuk for "Balabasta," a festival with music, puppets, art, food, dance, etc. that happens every Monday in July at Machane Yehuda.  After Sam and Leah left, I stayed for a while to do some browsing and wandering. Here are some pictures from what we saw:

Not really sure what he's doing. Lounging, naturally, but why?

Making portraits out of beans (kindergarten, anyone?)! David Ben Gurion (left) and Golda Meir.

The open-air part of the shuk. Strung with Christmas lights. Also, this does not accurately represent how packed it was, as it is toward the exit to the shuk. 

mmm, lychees!

Foosball (sp?) table in the middle of the shuk. There were a bunch of Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross) volunteers playing before these kids

A giant bird on top of one of the buildings in the shuk. They were doing a play called "מתוך הביצה", "From inside the egg"

A band playing on top of the shuk.

Giant puppets. This was great. I took this picture, and then the puppet said to me, "You know, every time you take a picture you have to tell me something about yourself." So then I did, and I had a whole conversation with the puppet. The old man standing behind me did too--in falsetto. Before this photo, I took a picture of a girl talking to the puppet--I turned around, and whose child had I taken a picture of other than the Segal-Weinbergers, who I've run into on Emek Refaim and at Anna B.'s house! Good thing, since they don't own a camera...

I love dried fruit. And colors.

Tours of the shuk!

mmm, rugelach! (Although I prefer cinnamon to chocolate. Interestingly, I haven't seen any poppyseed ones). 

Jazz in one of the alleys of the shuk. (Imagine the severe gapers'-blocking that occurred throughout the night. To say that I was not the only one photographing things would be a huge understatement).

 I decided to at least start walking back home (rather than attempt to fit on a bus). I figured it would be a good time to do some tchotchke shopping (which I failed at), so I walked to Town, where there were so many groups of street performers I can't possibly put up pictures from all. I'm putting up five from my favorite:

I've seen this woman (sitting, to the right of the person playing) before in Town, but never really stopped to listen. I took this picture from afar, and the man standing came over to me and said, "You know, you're not going to get good shots from that far away. Come closer. You can't be afraid to get in their faces." So I went up close. You'll see.

The man who's playing is from Holland. He's taken a couple of lessons at home, and he asked the harpist if he could sit down and play. She taught him the chords from Pachelbel's Canon. I like this shot because you can see her pointing out to him where to pluck next. The gentleman from the previous picture, meanwhile, is instructing me: "Shoot from down here. Good, now move in close. Get the teacher's hands. Excellent. Now from above...". I've always been intimidated to do street documentary photography because I have a point-and-shoot camera; somehow, people are less afraid of people who walk around with SLRs, and aren't weirded out (for the most part) when they're in an SLR photograher's shot. Because they seem more "real." So it was really great to have that guy encouraging me. I got some great video, too. 

He was so happy playing! And then he played Hatikva (the Israeli national anthem), which I have recorded. He played this prompted by his wife. I can't imagine that they're Jewish, although who knows, there are Jews everywhere. And they (at least the wife) did know some Hebrew...

Just really like this

This might be my favorite. He was jubilant. There is no other word. And hilarious.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I touched raw chicken! (Sheheyanu...)

Leah and I went for a run today, up to the Tayelet (Promenade)--a place I've only been once before. It's beautiful! You look down and you see the layout of Jerusalem, the Old City, downtown, the bus station... But then we just kind of sat there for an hour and a half, talking and enjoying the view. It was a beautiful day--breezy, and not too hot.

On our run we passed these orange fruits, which I thought were going to be loquats (a word I learned last year, when I was eating something that I knew what it was called in Hebrew--shesek--but had never heard of in English). But I opened it up and this is what it looked like...kind of bloody, mushy seeds. Gross, but also kind of delicious. I did a google images search for "orange fruit red seeds," and this link popped up. General consensus, it seems, is that these fruits are "Banana Passionfruits"--edible, certainly, but not nearly as delicious as regular passionfruits (of which I had one today!) Now that I know they're not poisonous, I want to try one!

Our first foray into the world of cooking meat (okay, well, Sam and Leah grilled a few weeks back, but...). In any case, I cut raw chicken! I touched it! It wasn't as gross as I was expecting--slippery, but not slimy. That's good. Basically just stir-fried it after we let the veggies get nice and sauteed, had some cashews in there, and poured in some of the (bad bottle of) red wine we have. Then the chicken bits. Was delicious with our brown rice (came out perfectly!) and salad. Cherries for dessert :)

Sarna and I were going to watch a movie...but instead we washed the floors. Which we haven't done in all the time we've been here, and it's probably been months since they were washed. The towels we used as mops are proof. We didn't do Sam's room--that's where we put all the stuff that wouldn't fit on the table or on the couch.

Sarna mopping. Cleaning pictures are great because peoples' hair is always really goofy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Real Concert this time (plus other updates)

The previous post was NOT a preview for this one.
I actually did go to a real concert last night with Avishai--one of the other interns--and Leeron, a friend from high school who's at Yale and in Israel visiting family for a few weeks.

The concert was a benefit concert for a youth group called Knafayim shel Krembo, one of Israel's newest youth groups (everyone in Israel is in a youth group), which is an integrated youth group for kids with disabilities and those without. It's a really great organization. Here's a link to their facebook page and some pictures from the concert. 

The cool bandshell in Ra'anana's ampitheater. There were 8 bands there, each of which played three songs. Between the songs they would screen short videos (campaign-commercial style) about Knafayim shel Krembo. One of a "regular" girl who is a volunteer counselor, one of May Ofir, a girl with a severely twisted spine who is a "camper" (?) and one of a mother of a severely disabled child who is a camper as well. They were really beautiful videos. That's not one of the ones that was shown, but it'll give you an idea.  There were a lot of people in the audience who had tears in their eyes.  And there were 8000 people there!

Hadag Nachash was on first, then a band called HaPil HaKachol that my friend Eitan introduced me to at the Mechina (the song that's linked is one of the most beautiful songs ever written) came on. After that I can't remember the order. I think next was Mosh Ben Ari--I can't remember what songs he played (oops), but this is one of his more famous ones. Ivri Lider was a crowd-pleaser (attested to by the girls standing behind us who kept shouting--to the openly gay Lider--"Ivri, have my babies!"). Efrat Gosh was a little too pop-y/Lilly Allen-y for my taste (and maybe drunk onstage?). I'd never heard of Assaf Amdorsky before, and he seems to be less well-known than the others (also his songs were slower). One of the researchers at Shalem had told me a lot about Shlomi Shavan, so I was pretty psyched for him. Although his solo piano-ing didn't really fit the mood of the rest of the concert, it was incredible! This video doesn't really do it justice, but the ones I shot would take too long to upload. Also, apparently Shavan is the guy who plays for Ernie's song in the Israeli version of Sesame Street! Finally was Mercedes Bend (yes) who was...well, awful--I couldn't find a clip that was as fake-metal-y as he was there, but trust me.

Just liked this one :)

Not from the concert. Just funny. July 4: Canada Day? This is near the street that leads into Mea Shearim, one of the most religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem, if not in Israel. I went with Leah and our friend Sara. Yes, I dressed according to their standards--and the second we left I changed, because it was shmoiling out! But I need to head back, because there's a very cool wood shop there...

Friday was also Princeton-in-Jerusalem get-together day (plus Sam). We met at Cafe Hillel, which is coincidentally where Avital organized the Princeton-gap-year-in-Israel get-together the year I was here. This is the "silly shot", although apparently me, Sam, Olaf, and Morris (although Momo's might not be intentional?) got the memo. Also, it was funny seeing Kate and Rebecca here, as the last time I saw them they were crashed in my room at the beginning of their cross-country road trip. Kate, let's go hiking!

The liquor store across the street from the shuk (open-air market where we do all our fruit/vegetable/other shopping). So many colors of wines!

Friday night I went to the Carlebach minyan at Yakar, which unfortunately starts late enough that I couldn't stay for the whole thing. But it was beautiful! And I ran into Temima (who I haven't seen since they moved to Israel about 10 years ago...). We (Sam, Joel and I) had dinner at Adj's with his family, and two of his high-school friends (one of whom is, coincidentally, good friends with Galya!) and then today I went to Shira Chadasha in the morning and to Anna&Michael and co.'s for lunch. mmmm. Scrabble, too!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Outside my window. Lovely. (Then later there was a cat fight, and these two lazy cats ran over to watch it). By the way, if you thought the sound was babies crying you're wrong. It's the cats. Every night. Every day. All the time. Ah, Israel...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter Comes to Israel!!!

Somehow the movie came out in this country at 4:30pm on Wednesday, July 13.
And I was there, in the 3D version! (A very long-debated, last-minute decision. And well worth it, despite the sizeable number of seats occupied by Israeli children, who cannot--to save their lives--shut up and watch a movie. There were times that I had to read the Hebrew subtitles because they were talking louder than the soundtrack!) Also, the first time the theater erupted in applause was really cute, one of those "this would never happen anywhere else" moments. But then when it happened 4 more times?

This is Leah and I during...intermission? What?! WHY IS THERE AN INTERMISSION!? They literally wait until the exact halfway point--with zero regard to scenes and excitement level--and pause the movie for five minutes (bathroom, popcorn, etc.) 

After the movie, taking our picture with Dumbledore. Clearly, Sarna and  I like each other more than Sam and Adj do.

And this is proof that the "light rail" Jerusalem train exists. In service? No. It runs through the city empty, doing months of "test-runs" before it will "open" in September (when I was at the Mechina it was supposed to open in September, too. September 2010...).

After the movie we walked back--a nice, leisurely 2.7mile stroll (wow!). Leah and I drooled over the second-hand bookstore we passed, so the boys left us and we browsed for a bit before heading separate directions. I showered quickly, and then headed off to meet Hadas, my madricha (counselor) from the Mechina a few blocks away. She had told me she was "bringing a surprise," but I did not expect it to be Eldad, one of the other madrichim! So the three of us went out for a delicious, shared dinner at Roza, an Italian place about 10 minutes away. We had a garlic-topped focaccia (Eldad's comment when I said that we go through at least one head of garlic a week: "wait, it's three girls that live there? No, there's a boy!? oy!"), and then ordered three dishes, which sat in the middle of the table and we all ate out of. It was wonderful. They came back to see the apartment, and Hadas promised to bring me a fan (it's not even that hot here!)

Today was an excellent day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

One fish, three Sams, and some graffiti

Mom, this is for you, since you wanted to see how the fish came out:
The fish: tilapia. From: Emek HaYarden (but bought at the shuk, where we watched the guy slice off the tail, shuck off the scales and fins, and dig out the insides). Stuffed with: Lemon, onion, garlic. Was planning to make mom's semi-Moroccan fish recipe, but that involves "medium sized chunks" of tilapia. And cutting a fish when raw (even when cooked, but be glad I've spared you those pictures) is super messy. So I scrapped that idea and instead took mom's replacement suggestion, of just baking him, and doing the vegetables (next picture) separately.

The vegetables: zucchini, red peper, onion, garlic, ginger root, tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Sauteed till mushy and delicious, but still with different colors distinguishable. Served on the side.

The set table, from left: couscous with raisins and almonds, the fish, the vegetables. This meal was, of course, cooked in Adj's kitchen, because it was laundry night! [And we don't have an oven...]

This picture (or a similar one from the thirty-photo series) also made an appearance on my Facebook page. It is simply to show how many Sams can fit on one couch. Here we have a Sam T. sandwiched by two Sam G.'s, all of whom go to Yale. One of whom (the middle one) I live with.

This is just a funny graffiti on the way to the grocery store (where I went today to get some basics--although the eggs there were 2x as expensive as at the corner store, so I got those later--including chocolate chips and flour, because we're going to make cookies sometime! And challah! At Adj's, of course...).