I spent all night Wednesday, Nov. 25 baking my famous zucchini bread. After I realized that I purchased wheat seminola instead of wheat flour (yay to my Hebrew reading skills) I also was not able to find quality vanilla or applesauce (which an Israeli made for Thanksgiving, so I’m not the only one.) I posted my computer in the laundry room, which is right off my kitchen and as I followed my recipe, I converted each ingredient into the metric system so i could understand the proper measurements. I finally gave up and eyeballed/used regular household items as a form of measurement. A simple recipe that normal takes me 30 minutes to whip up and then bake took an entire evening. Can I just say that I hate the metric system! It is so ironic that it is so simple and yet so complicated for us egocentric Americans that prefer an outdated English system. I had enough foresight to pack spices overseas, if only I would have remembered cups and tablespoons, LOL.
Having Thanksgiving in Israel was an experience. There were about 70 of us in total, 10 Otzma ITC, 40 Otzma 24 and 20 random people a mix of Otzma Olim and Israel staff somehow connected to us. The best part about turkey day in Israel is that no one could find cranberries so we were served a pomegranate sauce. Which I might say is a great substitute, but just not quite the real thing.
It was nice to have some type of assemblence of family here, even though it wasn’t my loud, obnoxious, garlic smelling family, it was as close as I could get. I was able to spend an important day with people I have grown to love and confide in. And so even though it took me 20 minutes to figure out the conversion of the temperature on my oven, and no one here understood what Thanksgiving was, and there were no cranberries, or snow, or applesauce for my zuc bread, I couldnt have asked for a better Thanksgiving overseas.
To top it all off, I stayed up till 3:20am to watch the Giants and Broncos live on the internet. I have no connection to either team, I avidly felt it wouldn’t be a proper turkey day without football. I only lasted one Turbourg Red and one half before I passed out. I’m proud to say that I still got up in the morning to shop before Shabbat. There were some t-day leftovers, but no classic tater/turkey/cran sandwich. So we made stir fry for Shabbat. MMMMM….Israeli Thanksgiving, delicious!
(originally written on Oct 17 ) After one whole week in Yerukham, my life in this new place has amounted to small moments. These small moments have piled up and left me with bits of connection to a foreign community and environment. I have had a difficult time relating to community due to my lack of Hebrew and perpetual uncomfortability. I have found myself, a young, untraditional Jew with lots of tatoos, piercings and an unconventional Jewish background in a small, quaint, traditional town where kippahs and long skirts are the norm. I don’t know many people and in general have been drowning in my boredom and anxiety. After an entire day and several nights with no where to go and no money to spend, I found myself eagerly awaiting Shabbat. After an imprompt-do decision to stay in Yerukham, I quickly realized that my sanity was on the line if I did not leave my little bubble in my apartment. Shabbat would be the reason for me to leave and venture out of my comfort zone and break my world of boredom and internet t.v.
Melissa and I were invited to dinner at one of our six host families. We went to the Synagogue we were instructed to wait in front of without knowing who was going to pick us up, their name, looks, etc… All we hoped was that someone random person would see what looked like two American girls who were obviously speaking English and say ” Hello, you are supposed to come to my house…” Hoop dreams I guess, cause that never happened. We watched the shadows shift on the street and before long it was night, thirty minutes past the time we were “supposed” to meet our contact. Desperately searching for a small bit of luck, we decided to walk to one of the two other Synagogues on the block. No luck.
This is the moment when I thought to myself “Why am I in this God forsaken town!” The streets were reminiscent of Jerusalem on Yom Kippur. No one was out. We could hear kiddush in the houses and smell the tasty meals we would not be enjoying. We were in Yerukham, middle of the desert, closed for Shabbat, lonely and bored and stuck without a Shabbat meal. At this point in the night the utter disappointment settled in and the last place we both wanted to be was back in our apartment. So we walked….and walked….and walked….and walked….
We tried to get lost, but in Yerukham there is only one way to go until you literally hit the edge of town and the begining of the desert. We walked the entire town and an hour passed and we gave up. Hungry, bored, disappointed and slightly frustrated, we went home. Our building was in sight, and we heard “Otzma! Otzma!” We looked across the street and saw a man and a lady walking towards us. “Shalom, I’m Debbie’s son. Do you still want to come for Shabbat?” “Hell ya!,” is what went through my head. We felt so bad. But it was a blessing that we crossed paths at the precise mment of time. 30 seconds later and we would have missed that opportunity. Apparently Debbie described where we lived and sent her son out to find us. Shabbat would not start at ther house without all the guests. Mel and I were grateful and dinner was tasty.
So it has officially been over a month since last post. A combination of crazy days, exhaustion and the untimely breakdown of my computer and camera, left me blog-free. For this I apologize. So it here it goes it a nutshell:
1. I am officially a master of the Public bus system in Israel. In the last month I have gotten lost at least once on a city bus Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva,figured out how to buy a “kartis” per paid punch card for my travels and now have memorized the major bus lines and schedules to everywhere else Israel from Beer Sheva.
2. My Hebrew is improving at a slow rate. I feel little difference but the world tells me otherwise, especially Melissa, who relies on my broken understanding of things, although she can comprehend plenty on her own. I have a gift of speaking terrible broken phrases in Hebrew to people to get what I want while Melissa still does this in English. LOL, we both are beginning to study with our books and befriending cute Israelis to tutor us.
3. I have realized that my first month here was too much fun and I overspent myself. If budget what I have till June, I’m living off peanuts. So now I am looking for ways to make money and work in a small development town. I’m also checking out things in Beer Sheva. Problem is I need to find something that doesn’t need me to fill out papers or need good Hebrew. Kinda limits my options, but I am hopeful.
4. The kids are great. Everyday is a new challenge. I have developed some close relationships with kids and am constantly giving them a source of entertainment. I am always mispronouncing words and mistakenly saying something else. I also take out my notebook and write down the vocabulary with them. This is hilarious to them, but I explain that I too am learning a new language, and that I really want to know Hebrew. This usually leads to the creation of a test of some kind. They like to test me, especially spelling tests as most of them are amazed that I can write words close to perfect if I hear it clearly. I guess they don’t expect me to read or write at all.
5. There is less resistence to me in the class and now the “trouble” students are coming to me to ask. I have also gained the love and respect of the Ukrainian boys in the school and so now I have a steady crew of boys that follow me, work with me, flirt with me and attempt to get my number/Facebook, etc… I don’t mind, I clearly set the boundaries and they know, although they always push, the friendship is brewing. I think by the time year is over, I may have reached out and actually made an impact on some.
So add a plethora of really tasty Moroccan food and small town warmth and hospitality and that has been my month.
So far, things are good. The first month here was just preparation of the land, now I can plant the seeds and wait for them to grow.