Monthly Archives: April 2014

An ode to those not here

Our little kibbutz ulpan started with 21 people. It was almost 22 but one man, whom nobody even got his name, left within two hours because our kitchen is not kosher.

Jeremy the french man left after two weeks for reasons I don’t know. James was the next to leave. He was my roommate from south Florida that was an angry drunk who couldn’t stay awake in class. Sam from ‘little Italy’ (the name of room 3, full of Italians) left soon after. He was a new immigrant as well, but his family lives in Netanya. He was only in ulpan so he wouldn’t have to live with his parents as everyone got set up in their new homeland.

Now, Alon is leaving. He is the only non immigrant to leave so far. He isn’t leaving because of a lack of work ethic or the like. He is entering the IDF as a Jewish volunteer. I didn’t talk much to the others who have gone but Alon is in the smokers club with me. He is genuinely a good, smart guy. And now he is not just leaving, but taking up arms to defend the country to which I am now a citizen.

There is so much that is missed by a void from those no longer here. It may be the homesickness or the now tiredsome feeling of transition, but the void feels especially large and dark when left by people whom we’ve just met. This shining light in a sea of childhood darkness is not just leaving a void. He isn’t returning to his country to have beach days with friends and barbecues with family. He is going to ensure that we, who are so new and unworthy, are free and safe to study.

ללמוד, לומד, לומדת, לומדים, לומדות. לגור, גר, גרה, גרים, גרות. לעבוד, עובד, עבודת, עובדים, עובדות.

And there are more voids to come. Sofia, a young, quiet woman from Argentina will be switching ulpans within a week. Two other men are on very thin ice with their lack of study and work. Who knows what this group will like like when the hot summer days of July finally arrive and what voids we may have to endure.

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As I lay my head down

What a great day.

Last night was particularly rough but today was pretty amazing. We learned a lot in class and I think both the teacher and all us students felt accomplished when we finished for the week. Then I had a productive afternoon before the start of an amazing shabbat. I was the only ulpan student in service at the beit knesset (although another guy showed up for the last 5 minutes). After, he and I were invited to the rabbi’s house for a great dinner and conversation. Then back here I had a good talk with a kibbutznic about this week’s torah portion and all sorts of other religious things (and his upcoming wedding!). My hebrew is improving a lot (although is still a long way from good).

Yep, it was a good day. לילה טוב.

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A quick quote from BG

“Happily, there are still many deserts in Israel, perhaps too many. Here man sees God’s creation as it was in the beginning – wild, strong and awe-inspiring. He looks and finds within himself the powers required to repair it, and thus becomes God’s partner in creation. He sees here the ancient, primeval, recalcitrant forces of nature, unaltered by man, and he is not dismayed, but finds within his soul the power to conquer the destructive forces and strengthen the creative forces.”
       – David Ben-Gurion

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The Knesset

So I went on a tour of the Knesset the other week. It is pretty amazing and actually open to anyone with an ID or even foreign passport! So pretty much, you should go next time you are in Jerusalem.

Let’s start this off with this amazing youtube video that is just under ten minutes. Trust me, it is worth it.
The Knesset at Center Stage: http://youtu.be/3ZUKd3JZvhQ

So here are some things I found interesting:

– the knesset is unicameral (only one house, not two like the US), single constituency (each Member of the Knesset represent all Israelis, not just those of a certain district), and has members from pretty much all types of Israelis (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, native-born, immigrant, and all sorts of others).

– the only picture (at least that I remember) in the Plenary Hall (the main room where MKs sit, discuss, vote) is of Theodor Herzl. It looks so badass because the picture is positioned and is of an angle of his face that makes it look like he is watching the speaker at the podium as if the father of zionism is watching over the state as it makes its choices.

– we still don’t have a constitution… yeah, Ben-Gurion announced in the declaration of independence that the first Constituent Assembly (what was to become the knesset) would have a constitution by 01 October 1948. So, we are running a little late. The MKs still can’t agree on what should or shouldn’t be in the constitution so they have, over the course of some 50 years, passed 11 Basic Laws which act as the supreme guide used to judge all other laws validity if someone thinks a law is unjust. Once they finally agree on what should be included, the knesset will write up a preamble, make the basic laws all pretty and shit and will pass the constitution.  I mean I guess if you’re going to do something, do it right. But really, this is just….different.

– there are only 12 permanent committees in the knesset. But what I find most interesting is that one of them is called, “The Committee on the Status of Women.” It started out as a special issue committee that was to deal with some issue pertaining to women at that time and then disband. But it slowly took on more and more and was eventually made permanent. I just find that amazing and inspiring.

Anyway, that was the knesset.

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