Saturday, July 17, 2010
That Was The Week That Was
My mind is reeling from all we were exposed to during Orientation week.
First of all, the rest of the students arrived. Now we are almost 70 - rabbinical students, cantorial students and education students. We will be studying in New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles as well as the Leo Baeck School in London and the Geiger School in Berlin. We are from all over the United States, Canada, England, Argentina, Brazil and more. We are single and engaged and married. One of our spouses had a baby just last week. We are so different but have so much in common.
A good portion of the week was spent getting to know each other and getting to know ourselves. We are going to be involved in a journaling project and we began that during this week. The Dean of the Jerusalem Campus spoke to us about her amazing heritage (generations of rabbis on both sides of her family). The Israeli author, Yossi Klein Halevi spoke about his journey and his deep feelings about Israel. Various professors presented lectures on different aspects of Israeli society.
We also left HUC and traveled around Jerusalem to be exposed to history on the spot where it happened. And we even spent some time with the poetry of Yehuda Amichai (my favorite Israeli poet). It was intense and exhausting but I loved every minute of it.
For me, the most exciting part of the week was finding out that we will have the chance to spend Pesach in the former Soviet Union, leading seders for Jews there. I can't believe that I will be walking in the steps of my grandparents and making that connection to my family.
Kabbalat Shabbat was spent at HUC with our classmates - studying Torah, participating in Services, eating a delicious dinner and enjoying an old-fashioned "camp-like" song session. By the time I walked home on a beautiful Shabbat evening, I was ready for our classes to begin.
We start Hebrew and Cantillation on Sunday. I am in Kitah Aleph and I just hope that I will not be as lost as I was during pre-Ulpan. There are others who appear to be in the same boat as me so we are planning to getting a tutor and devoting ourselves to mastering the Hebrew. The school is behind us 100% and wants us to succeed so I am sure we will. One of the things that kept being said this week was that each of us was chosen to be here. It is where we are meant to be and I believe that - I just have to keep it in mind as the difficulties arise!
I also am buying a guitar. It has been a long time since my songleading days but I want to play again and there will be many opportunities here for music. It will be fun to reconnect with the songleader hidden inside of me!
This afternoon I am hosting my first Shabbat lunch and tonight there will be an opportunity for us to observe Havdalah as a group. Monday brings Tisha B'Av and it is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to commemorate this day at the Kotel.
I'm sure I will have lots to write about next week!