Thursday, April 18, 2013

Highlights from a day in the life...

ד׳ באייר תשע״ג
April 14, 2013
יום ראשון Yom Rishon, the first day (of the week) meaning Sunday...

[I’ve decided to try to write seemingly mundane highlights for blog posts from now on since it has been so difficult for me to actually invest time in the extremely detailed descriptions I initially wrote many moons ago.]

I begin my day with the sunshine and birds’ sweet songs streaming into my bedroom from the window which opens onto my balcony.

On my walk to school two high school boys pass me, apparently reviewing for an exam, and I overhear one say to the other, ”רש”י אומר” which means “Rashi says” ... Rashi is a French medieval commentator of Jewish text who is seen as the father of all commentators.

Starting last week, balconies and cars began to display Israeli flags in anticipation of the holidays observed this week and next, יום הזכרון, Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, יום העצמאות, Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day, and יום ירושלים, Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day. This morning I noticed even more flags waving in the wind from balconies, in front of schools and businesses...

A millisecond after the walk sign flashed at the traffic light in front of my school, a car waiting to turn right honked at me to cross the street. My initial reaction included a few profanities towards his impatience and then I thought, with my Israeli hat on, wow, he didn’t just turn and nearly hit me, he actually noticed a pedestrian!

I finished reading the last chapter of the book of Ruth with my חברותא chevruta, learning partner and then we began rereading the text and asking questions, thinking like a commentator, noting gaps or contradictions in the story, symbolic vocabulary words and grammatical syntax, and much more. My mind is blown by this seemingly simple narrative about Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth and the complex list of questions my chevruta and I ask about the text.

After three hours of studying Ruth, I sit and hear four faculty members share about their personal relationship to Israel- people, land and country... in anticipation of Yom HaZikaron beginning at sundown tonight and Yom HaAtzmaut following immediately afterward tomorrow at sundown...

Short meeting with the director of my program and my peers about the remainder of this school year.

Read a commentary from Rashi with one of my favorite teachers in preparation for a peer teaching lesson I will be teaching in a week and half on some verses in the book of Ruth.

I then caught a ride with a teacher who lives in Efrat where my cousins live to join them at their community’s Yom HaZikaron ceremony. After some amazing catch up time and yummy hugs from the little ones, we walked to the community center which was packed with people, including soldiers, teenagers, families and many communal leaders. For those who have never been in Israel on Yom HaZikaron, it is an extremely personal day in which people share stories about their loved ones who have fallen while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces or who have been killed in terrorist attacks. The Efrat community unfortunately has lost many people over the years and honored them during the program. I find it hard to explain in detail the different sections of the event and especially the emotions I felt and the energy I felt from the hundreds of people sitting in the room... One thing I must share is that the ceremony was planned, emceed and included music and poetry performed by teenagers from Efrat. To see high schoolers who in a few short years will themselves be soldiers lead this evening was extremely powerful... This evening opened a very heavy and meaningful day of commemoration which I cycled through the next day.

More to come on the experiences of this day and the following day of celebrating Israeli independence.

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