Thursday, June 17, 2010
Musings from Week One of Pre-Ulpan
Jerusalem of Gold...how often have I heard that phrase, sung that song? But I haven't yet seen any of the Jerusalem of Gold on this trip. I have seen the Jerusalem of massive construction projects all through the center of town. I have seen the Jerusalem of noise with honking horns and neighbors loudly speaking outside at all hours of the day and night. And I have seen the Jerusalem of cats. Stray cats wander throughout the streets of the city and I wonder where they all came from. It has been a pretty insular couple of weeks for me - I haven't ventured much farther than my own neighborhood and HUC but I am beginning to know the local shop owners and others who I see every day on my way to and/or from school and they are beginning to know me.
It was such a difficult first week of Ulpan for me. The Hebrew was much more advanced than I had anticipated and the other students were far beyond my rudimentary understanding of the language. Thank goodness for Rivki, our teacher, and her unending patience and for the other members of my kitah who have been incredibly supportive. After several major meltdowns, I ended the week feeling cautiously optimistic that I might eventually "get it." I read in class this morning and realized that I was reading at a normal speed (not sounding out every word). It's not much but it's a start. And we had our first exam today. I'm not sure if I answered even one question correctly but I was able to understand the directions and come up with some sort of answer for everything. For me, it was a triumph!
Did you know that root canals here are a better experience than root canals at home? I would have been happy to go the entire year without finding that out but I broke a tooth this morning and had to go to the dentist. She was absolutely fabulous - an Australian dentist who has lived here for many years. She was gentle and kind and did the work quickly with very little pain for me. Of course, the novocaine and nitrous oxide is just wearing off and I have already taken a pain pill so I can't be 100% sure about the painless part but it was not a horrible experience. And the cost for this, while still high, was lower than in the United States. They were also willing to spread out the payments over three months which never would have happened with my dentist at home. Let's hope that I don't have to spend much more time with Dr. Jacobvitz this year - but it's good knowing that, if I do, it won't be a horrific experience.
So I come to my third Shabbat in Jerusalem. I won't be going anywhere this week as I will be recovering from the oral surgery but I am looking forward to the group from Temple Emanu El arriving on Monday and spending some time with them as they explore Jerusalem. Rabbi Kohn will be bringing my good camera and lenses so I also hope to start taking pictures around the city. There are many sites here to be documented on film.
And what do I know for sure right now? I know that I miss my husband with an intensity that I didn't think was possible. It almost feels like a piece of me has been taken away and, sometimes, the pain is unbearable. But I am thankful for Skype and the fact that we can look at each other when we speak.
Dan Nichols sings about his heart being in the east. My body is in the east but, for now, my heart is still home.