The past month-ish in summary
Every time I come on the internet, I think, “Hm, I should update my blog!” And then I never do. And so much has happened since my last post!
Sukkot break was generally pretty relaxing. Right after Ulpan, friends and took a bus out to Tel Aviv and stayed in a relatively decent hostel that was very close the beach (then again, no matter where you are in Tel Aviv, you’re never far from the coastline). We mostly spent our time on the beach (I got a pretty bad sunburn on my back, but it was worth it to swim in the Mediterranean again), but we also had time to see a little bit of Jaffa and we visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which was incredible because I’ve never been to a proper art museum, and to see Degas and Van Gogh and Seurat (my favorite artist of that time period) and Monet in the same room was indescribable. They also had a portrait by Gustav Klimt, who is another one of my favorites—generally, my entire experience at that museum was amazing and I’m definitely going to go back the first time I can! In Tel Aviv I also got to try my first Israeli McDonald’s out of pure American curiosity, and was a little relieved to discover that it’s much different (the meat is dryer and they only put ketchup and the suggestion of onions on their regular hamburgers) than American McDonald’s, so I won’t have to worry about having that particular craving again!
The rest of the vacation was spent figuring my way around the Old City. I visited the Kotel and Church of the Holy Sepulcher again, as well as walked a chunk of the Rampart’s Walk. Just outside the Old City, I visited Dormition Abbey, the Chamber of the Holocaust (which was the first museum erected in Israel for the victims of the Shoah), and finally found Oskar Schindler’s grave on Mt. Zion! I was also able to make a short visit to the Israel Museum, which was rather overwhelming. There is so much to see there, and the rooms do not follow a strict chronological order, so in fifteen minutes one can go rather seamlessly from 200 year old menorahs to Impressionist art to Dadaism to a replica of an 18th c French salon to a Botticelli to modern Israeli art. It was really cool.
I rather crashed and burned at the end of Ulpan, which was my own fault—I didn’t keep up with the lessons, so for the rest of the fall semester I’ll be in an intermediate level, which will be more suited to my learning pace, I hope.
This past break has been spent with Chris Harrison and Monica Wasserbach from the IFSA-Butler staff! At first it was a little boring, because the first two days were spent going over orientation information that had already been told to us through Rothberg, but after that, the pace picked up, and I’ve really had a blast the past few days. We went on a great guided tour of the Old City, which was fantastic because now I really know what I’m looking at when I’m there! On Wednesday we toured the City of David, which is an archaeological site of an ancient city that used to be in the valley at the base of Mt. Zion. On the tour, we went through an extremely narrow cave-like path that was beneath where the city walls had been—it was easily the most Indiana Jones thing I’ve ever done, all I needed was a torch! There was a second path available, one that was in complete darkness with water up to your knees, and I know I have to take some friends back there and do that second path, because it sounded incredible! On Thursday we visited the town of Ein Karem and toured the alleged sites where Mary visited Elizabeth and where John the Baptist was born. It was a gorgeous town that really looked and felt like the Mediterranean. From there we took a guided tour of Yad Vashem, and while that was the 5th time I’ve visited the museum since I’ve been in Israel, I still learned a lot from it, and enjoyed the tour very much. At the end, the tour guide had noticed/had been told that I knew a lot about the subject, and after I confirmed that I studied the Holocaust, he gave me his email in case I had any questions! That was really wild, and I’ve already emailed him about suggestions for books.
Yesterday a friend and I made a really poor Israeli brand of mac and cheese for Shabbat; today I’ve been reading and relaxing, and getting ready for classes to start next week! I have a meeting about my Hebrew class and about potential internships tomorrow, and then Monday I will have Issues in the Study of the Holocaust and Issues in Israeli Society! I’m so excited, I can’t wait for school to finally start!