Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shout Out

I did a double take this evening when I swore I saw my friend from Barnard, Alberta, standing two people in front of me in the bus line from Be'er Sheva to Jerusalem. This girl was in Israeli Army garb and smoking a cigarette. And she looked good. Sadly, it was not Alberta, and I'm actually pretty sure she's in Paris for the semester, so it definitely was not Alberta. Nevertheless, girls in uniform for one reason or another are just cuter, so by default, Alberta, you just got cuter!

Back to 'J-Town'

You know how you always seem to remember the first time--be it your first kiss, first dance, first job etc.?

Riding into Jerusalem this evening, I couldn't help but get an emotional sense of nostalgia for my first Israeli city. I spent four months here in the 10th grade and I gotta say it's nice to be back. If J-town was my first, post high school Haifa was my teenage romance, maybe Be'er Sheva will be my 'mature' run at things?

So I'm writing to you from Micah, Deborah and Dov's beautiful apartment in a cozy neighborhood here, and here I will remain till Saturday evening when I head back to Be'er Sheva (I moved in on Tuesday, by the way...the dorms are solid and the campus is surprisingly modern and pretty. Also, the hype about this uni is right on: BGU definitely seems to have the best student life. After two days I can already point to the oft boisterous student center and the daily bustle of thousands of students on campus as legit examples of just this claim).

And now, precious sleep (before baby Dov inevitably wakes me up in the middle of the night)...

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Picture Neville Longbottom. Now make him Russian and about 28 years old, with a Security company jacket folded on his lap. That is who was sitting across from me on Bus #561, the Saturday early evening local from Hod HaSharon to Tel Aviv Central. Igor, or so his name quite possibly was (or wasn't), spent the whole ride with sort of a glazed look on his face, all the while incomprehensibly mumbling favorite tunes under his breath and intermittenly belching.

Sometimes with Russians in Israel you can easily see the disdain on their faces--many (spanning every age group) simply aren't happy here. But with Igor the case was less clear. I couldn't tell if he had a sort of "Fuck this country I'm tired of it all and to top it off I'm stuck working a shitty security night job" look, or if he was simply more of a simpleton enjoying his far off pretend never-never land before returning to earth. Based on his continual humming and physical similarity to Neville, I decided on the latter.

Suddenly, Igor's eyes for the first time focused on something specific--a supermarket and then a street sign. The bus slowed and stopped, and Igor, stumbling to his feet, hopped off.

As he exited, I couldn't help but be glad that my new Hufflepuffed busmate wasn't off to guard my building tonight.

Friday, January 23, 2009

bus ride this morning

Have you ever seen lush fields surrounding small towns and beautiful houses and thought to yourself, 'Gee, I could really see myself working the land by day, pondering to myself for hours at length the finer things of life, and socializing--dancing, learning, mingling, with my spouse and friends and children by night...'

Well, that's basically what I felt on the bus ride this morning passing through the verdant pastures and communities in and around Gedera.

In other news, I brought Josh (Warren, who went to high school with me) and Adam with me to my cousins, the Shilors, in Hod HaSharon, where we are presently chillen and will remain through the end of שבת.

שבת שלום

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

biding my time...

When will they let us move into the hopefully now rocket-free Be'er Sheva?
Time will tell...

In the meantime I'm chillen with my group at the international field school at Sde Boker. They do some fascinating work here a la water research, anti-desertification etc. Down the road from us is the Sde Boker Kibbutz, famous because it was the one Ben Gurion himself chose to become a member of back in 1953 (abruptly resigning from politics one day and moving to the then tiny kibbutz of 12 people for a year or so before returning to politics and then finally retiring from politics for good and settling down here till his death in 1973). I've been here several times over the years, and although the views are breathtaking and the stars are gorgeous, one can't help but think it will get boring if we stay here too long.

My Hebrew class is too easy. Will complain tomorrow (I'm in the highest one, so we'll see what fruit this bears...).

Dinner now, Inauguration in an hour! ObamaMania hits the Israeli desert!


Saturday, January 17, 2009


I smell like sulfur from the Hot Sulfer Shower I took after covering my entire body in Dead Sea mud. Shoooot.

But I guess my skin is healthier now?

Friday, January 16, 2009


So I landed in Tel Aviv with no real problems on Thursday afternoon. On the flight itself I was sandwiched between to young Israelis, a 23 year old dude who had been working in kiosks and periodically road tripping throughout the states and a 17 year old girl who was visiting relatives in Brooklyn. Shay, the dude, was returning home after two years abroad to Ashdod, a newly minted Qassam town, and Lee was just with family for a short stay. Kind of thought it was weird when I asked her in Hebrew, "So, you're a senior in high school, then?" and she answered "Yeah, that age, but I'm not in school." Then she told us she was three months pregnant, engaged and מסודר, all set. Ummm. She showed us the nice rock on her ring finger and seemed pretty happy, it's what she wanted anyway since she stared dating him two years previously when she was 15 and he 22. Shay and I exchanged glances, but that was about it. Anyways, again, an overall pleasant flight sans the part where I didn't sleep a wink.

We took a bus straight to Ein Gedi, where we've been chillen since. I passed out at 10pm last night and got up on my own accord at 7:45am. Not too shabby. We had a full day of south Judean Desert hiking (all with spectacular views of the Dead Sea), so I figure to sleep real well tonight, too. Tomorrow will be a restful Shabbat and Sunday morning we're off to a satellite Ben Gurion Uni campus at Sde Boker, where our Ulpan (language intensive Hebrew courses will be held for one to two weeks). I dunno if the other 13 Ulpan students (the other 32 will be joining after Ulpan when Uni classes begin) feel this way, but I can't help but have this nagging thought of War in the back of my head even while we're on our nice, easygoing hikes. Especially when a seven year old was seriously injured yesterday when a Grad rocket packed with shrapnel penetrated his skull in Be'er Sheva, the city where I still very much hope to spend my semester.

On a less serious note, the Ulpan crew is 14 people including me, with 12 Americans, one Finlandian who goes to college in Sweden, and one Dutchman. Dude from Sweden is named Bo. That's awesome. In English and in Hebrew. 'Bo, bro, whattup. How you doin.' and in Hebrew, 'Bo, bo l'po,' or just 'Bo, bo.' (Bo = come/come here)

We're going to go to the Kibbutz pub tonight. It is Shabbat, so there is no bus service, but it's open, because Friday night in non-religious Israel is a bar night (equivalent to a Saturday night in the states). So we will uphold the Sabbath by walking to the bar, and then break Her prohibitory words by purchasing beer. Listen, religion is a struggle. Don't worry, pops, I'm working on it. Don't worry, ma, I won't drink too much.

Until next time,
Love, Jonah

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Up and Running!

Alright! Instead of writing mass emails as done in previous trips to Israel, I will instead post on this nifty lil blog. I arrive in Israel on January, 15th, and soon after the real postings will begin.

For now, a recent ditty from finals week:

You sit across from me,

A couple of tables away.

Twirling your curls,

You suddenly catch my gaze

And flash that grin.

Oh, you can’t put me in that sort of daze!

And at this hour? I’ll never win,

Don’t you know, it’s too late at night for these games,

A real shame.

I try to steal your stare once more,

But you’re too sly for that.

Back to studying, you’ve gone.

Hahhh. The 4am Flirt.