Friday, July 23, 2010
What I Learned This Week
I learned that I have the potential to learn modern Hebrew. Our regular Ulpan started last Sunday and I was pleased to see that I was able to keep up with the class. Perhaps all we learned in the pre-Ulpan finally clicked, or perhaps it was because some of the information was already covered in a previous class, but I wasn't lost. This first class gave me the confidence I needed to speak out in class, ask questions and interact with the other students. I am hoping that this continues and that I am able to get this "Hebrew thing" after all.
I learned that I shouldn't eat any more chicken from SuperSol. SuperSol is the largest supermarket chain in the area. The first week I was here, I purchased some already cooked chicken thighs which made me violently ill. I attributed it to the fact that I had just arrived in the country so I bought some uncooked chicken and roasted another chicken thigh for my dinner on Tuesday. BIG MISTAKE. I was sick again and had to miss classes on Wednesday. So, there will be no more chicken from SuperSol for me. I am finding it difficult to get my protein here but I will keep searching. Any suggestions would be more than welcome.
I learned that there are two sides to every story. On Thursday, for our Israel Seminar, we split into groups to look at different areas around Jerusalem. I participated in a tour arranged by Rabbis for Human Rights which took us into East Jerusalem. We met with some Palestinians then went and looked at the wall which was erected to separate the municipality of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem neighborhoods. I could go on and on about what we saw and heard, but, for now, let it suffice to say that the trip was disturbing on many different levels. I do not consider myself to be a political person but I had heard just one side of this debate for many years. Now I was able to hear the other side. I am sure that both sides slant the information in their favor but, this time, I was looking these people in the face. The women were offering me a chair and some tea and the children were playing at our feet. They weren't militants in the streets or suicide bombers. It was difficult and heart-wrenching and something I will be thinking about for a long time.
I learned that a little bit of socializing time is a good thing. I finally went out with some people on Thursday evening and had a terrific time (even though Dave found some glass in his food!). I have been hiding in my apartment and studying all the time and that hasn't been too good for my morale. An occasional evening out with friends is a good thing. Next week I hope to go to an evening art festival in Emek Refaim and out to dinner at Burgers Bar (non-kosher burgers!).
I learned that the mall still makes me happy. Even though money is tight, I found out that I still love to wander through a mall. On Friday, I took the bus to the Malcha Mall which is the largest in Jerusalem, with 250 stores on three levels. It was just like an American mall - many shoe stores and a nice food court. I wandered around for a couple of hours and even found a People magazine to buy. It was nice to do something I consider so "American" in my new, temporary, home.
It was a week of learning...some formal and some pretty informal...but it was a good week. Coming up: my first Hebrew exam, picking our Truma (community outreach) projects for the year, a lecture by Danny Siegel (one of my all-time heroes). It should be another interesting week in Jerusalem.