Friday morning was a blur. A scary blur. I didn’t wake up until 6:24 AM when my roommate screamed, “WIESE.” And I jumped out of bed, how could this happen, on a day that was so important to me? Never mind…we jumped in a taxi and I ran down to the women’s section with my bag. I couldn’t even get to the regular spot because there was a sea of light blue shirts of seminary girls from all over Israel. I quickly realized that they had been bussed in for the exact opposite reason I was there. I ran into my dear friend, and later saviour, Melissa. She was also lost. We didn’t know where “Women of the Wall” (WOW) was praying because there wasn’t space where they normally gather. (Smart thinking ultra-orthodox girls…if there isn’t space, maybe they can’t pray at the Kotel. Makes sense.) We went down together into the sea of blue, maybe they were there somewhere. They weren’t. But it was time to daven, so Melissa started pezukei dezimra (the “warm up” blessings, as I like to call them,) while I started to put on my tefillin. It was worse than the paparazzi that normally come to women of the wall. The girls thought they were seeing an alien or the devil…it was true what their rabbi told them, there are women who put on tefillin! They started taking pictures of my and then scuttled away, they didn’t want to be too close, maybe I could contaminate them. Many were already tisking at the action. But then, I pulled out my tallit (I know I should put on my tallit first and then tefillin, but there isn’t a lot of space and it’s difficult, so I reverse the order,) it was like poison. The girls backed away like if touching it would burn them, or something worse. They started making this hissing noise, I have never heard such a frightening/bizarre noise in my life. No one wanted to talk to me, it was too shocking to them. And I was there alone with my tallit and tefillin. I still didn’t know where the other women were. Melissa had finished pezukei dezimra and she looked at me, we knew we had to get out of there. It wasn’t safe. I was already flustered. Melissa, calm and cool, Continue reading →
Emly Oren left Israel with her family at the age of four, but in many ways Israel never left her family. At school in Orange County, Emly was the only Israeli student; but her family continued to speak Hebrew at home, and they only watched Israeli television programs. The Orens would travel to Israel every summer to visit all of their relatives, and they would sometimes stop by other locations en route to their main destination.
As a child, Emly drew no distinction between being Jewish and being Israeli. Her traditional, secular family would remain at home together on Friday evenings for Kiddush and Shabbat dinner; and every year they would attend services at Chabad for the High Holy Days, but Emly felt no connection to that environment because it didn’t reflect the rhythm or culture of her family life. When Emly somehow decided to have a bat mitzvah, she chose to hold services at a local public library… and of course, her bat mitzvah party theme was ‘Israel’.
This was a pivotal point in Emly’s childhood, as she soon joined USY, and was exposed to other young Jews for the first time. She came to realize that Continue reading →
When I first started learning about Mr. Worms I felt an instant connection because of his love of sports. I love sports and playing sports, as well. In a speech that Mr. Worms gave when he stepped down from being the Honorary President of the Maccabi World Union, he talked about Muslims and Jews playing basketball together at Gan Ha’apamon. I have refereed American tackle football in Israel for three years, which is made up of Israelis, Americans, Brits, Palestinians, Russians, Australians, Jews, Muslims, and Christians. I don’t think he would have been surprised by the diversity that makes up the teams, but would have been happy to know that this sports league exists and is thriving in Israel.
As I continued learning about Mr. Worms, I only became more grateful for him and for the mitzvot that he did which actually have an affect on my life today. Continue reading →
Literally running into (or rather, alongside of) DLK‘s team of 10k Jerusalem Marathon route walkers this past Friday morning reminded me all over again of the thrill that was the morning of March 1st – the Jerusalem Marathon. Although I do have to say that as beautiful as the walk must have been a week later on such a glorious day, I was very happy to wake up to a cloudy morning on the day of the race. The chillier the weather, the less chance there is of an unhappy stomach during a run.
As I told DLK and some other listeners by the coffee station last week, I have never done anything in my life about which people were still talking excitedly so many days later. I’ve realized what was so novel to me about this reaction: I do not remember a time where I have been widely congratulated for something I did physically, not mentally or academically.
It’s Saturday night in Israel. You know what that means: Put your head on the pillow by 9pm because tomorrow is a work day, which is fine, because who needs Sunday anyway? Sunday is a totally over-rated day of the week: people just use them to do chores, which you could do just as well on Friday afternoon in the thirty minutes before the sun sets. And thirty minutes is really all the time a person needs to spend on chores during week, because more than that is just self-indulgent, don’t you think so?
Right. Saturday night. Despite the above rant about chores, Saturday evenings here are not as humdrum as you might think.They often involve:
Leftover cholent (yes, I’m cringing, too, but it happens)
Going over your class notes from soooo long ago… oh wait, that was only Thursday
See? Totally not humdrum. In fact, it’s murdmuh! (and you thought it wasn’t a palindrome. Ha). But tonight was especially eventful. In addition to all of the above, this evening involved football and poetry.
An odd pairing, you say? Not so, not so. Especially when an English major, a linguistically-focused Wikipedian, and a blue-and-pink-sweatpant-wearing engineer are in the same room. (Please try this at home. Anything can happen.) Continue reading →
In this weeks parsha, Beshalach, one of the most famous events in all of the Tanakh occurs when God splits the Red Sea through the staff of Moses, allowing the Israelites to finally escape the centuries-long enslavement in Egypt and become a free people.
The result of their freedom is that the Israelites break into song, “The Song by the Sea”. This is very unusual, as only ten songs existed from the time of Creation to the end of the Biblical period. One explanation for this song is that it was a rare moment in which the people were able to make sense of how all of the daily, seemingly disconnected events in the world existed for a purpose and understand how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit into place. This manifested itself in song because the Torah’s concept of song is the situation in which “all the apparently unrelated and contradictory phenomena do indeed meld into a coherent, merciful, comrehensible whole” (Artscroll). Finally, at that moment when they saw the sea split, the exile and slavery in Egypt, Pharoah’s constant deception, and demands from the Israelites to return to slavery not only made sense, but were understood as absolutely necessary.
My splitting of the sea occurred this past Saturday night, when I finally Continue reading →
The first time that I heard about contra dance, I was a sophomore in college and just taking the first baby steps towards having a social life with people my own age. It was described to me as a “really fun and really easy social dance, everyone should go.” I subsequently managed to find an excuse to not go every time someone asked, primarily because I didn’t like that group of people enough to drive an hour both ways on a school night.
The next year, at a different school and more inclined to talk to people instead of reading in every spare moment, I heard that there was a contra dance on campus. Since the idea had never been unappealing and I didn’t have to drive anywhere, I walked over to our community hall to try it out. Continue reading →
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
I know this sounds naive, but I really didn’t see this one coming.
Just some clarifications before I start. I love being Jewish. I love not using electricity on Shabbat, I love keeping mitzvot, I love davening, I LOVE Torah. I choose to believe Torah is from Sinai. I like dressing conservatively, although I don’t always wear skirts. I often think about being orthodox and marrying an orthodox man.
I grew up in a place that I didn’t have anyone to raise me Jewish, to answer my questions, or help me become the Jew I wanted to be. I grew up in a predominantly farming community in Indiana, where there weren’t any other Jews. My dad is Catholic. My Jewish education is also about survival. At this point in my life, I wouldn’t choose to raise my family there, because I want to them grow up more Jewishly observant, but I did grow up there, and there weren’t people who could teach me. Continue reading →
When it came to picking out a college and a major, Mike knew he wanted to work with numbers and that he wanted to do something practical. So he searched and weighed the available data: He looked into economics but found it boring. He looked into physics, but thought it just wasn’t for him, then mathematics, but found it “too theoretical once you got beyond a certain level.” He at last discovered the perfect combination of numbers and practicality—the statistics program at the University of Pittsburgh, saying, “It’s applied, you know, it has real-world applications, it’s not solely theoretical.”
Though Mike may not have factored this into his university decision, his time at Pitt also made him appreciate the value of Jewish diversity from an unexpected new angle when he met Orthodox and non-denominational Jews for the first time at Pitt’s Hillel and Chabad House, both of which he was heavily active in throughout his college career. “Growing up, all the Jews I knew were Conservative or Reform. [College] taught me that Orthodox Jews, or even people who weren’t Conservative or Reform like I knew it, could still interact with the real-world.” He said Continue reading →
Hey, I’ve certainly been keeping busy over the past few weeks but I’ll hone in on this most recent week since a lot has been going on recently.
The first thing I’d like to say is that, although from the media explosion through internet and TV it may seem like every square inch of Israel is a war zone and people are freaking out, things are actually quite calm here in Jerusalem. On Friday and over Shabbat, people were walking their dogs, kids were playing with each other in the streets, people were shopping and preparing for Shabbat, and more. Life goes on as usual here in Jerusalem. One air raid siren did go off last night aroun 5 pm, but I was already in Shabbat services then and didn’t hear it, either because we were all too engaged in the excitement of singing and welcoming in Shabbat, and also because we weren’t exactly expecting a siren so weren’t really listening for one. But luckily it hit nowhere near us and in an open field, far away from people. And as for the future, I think the mind set is just to take things day by day and not panic or overreact. But what can you do instead? Pray for the IDF, pray for Israel, and pray for the innocent civilians of Gaza, that this is all over soon.