Welcome to my adventure in Israel. Join me as I spend six weeks delving into my Jewish heritage with learning and study in the heart of Judaism itself, Jerusalem. What will I learn? How will I feel religiously after? Is committing to this whole enterprise an exercise in folly?
I will be studying at the Conservative Yeshiva, a place I was first introduced to by my dear friend Jessica Kendler-Yarkin. As many of my readers may know, I visited Israel last fall. I had the fortune to spend a portion of my trip in Jerusalem and sit in on a couple classes with Jessica. Somehow, despite me being sick as can be and not quite conscious I was sufficiently inspired to drop work for almost two months to study there. Note to self, do NOT eat dodgy falafel again. Stick to quality falafel stands. Beyond that, my fellow companions from my Israel trip last year know I swore to get back to Israel this summer somehow. In fact, the consensus of the group was that I would be the first to return and indeed I will be.
What was the first thing I did when I got back you ask? I spent the couple days resetting myself back to LA time researching potential summer programs. Thankfully, my work for the United Synagogue put me in a position to find Conservative Yeshiva. There were other programs, but they didn't seem right to me. The moment I found Conservative Yeshiva's summer program, I was all over doing it. I immediately started the process of getting the trip organized. It has taken 2 excruciating months to accomplish, but it is done.
Here I am with two days until I board a plane for my 17 hour journey to Israel. I am finally over my first adventure, getting the trip organized. What an adventure it was. I had to make sure I could take off SEVEN weeks from work, arrange for housing (Thank you for everything Brent, I owe you way more than beer.), finding an affordable plane ticket, asking for financial help to make this whole trip doable(Thank you to Conservative Yeshiva for their most generous scholarship.), and so on. All I have now is to finish packing and make sure I have everything.
I was gently reminded last night by re-reading an email sent to me by Conservative Yeshiva recently that is an academic exercise and I need to be prepared to actually study for real classes. I am now of course trying to remember how to do these things. My last class in college was a mere eight years ago. I have to remember to take notes and read, discuss what I learned with my study group, and all that school stuff. Oh dear. Hopefully I won't have to write any long essays! I also seemed to forget that I may want to have basic school supplies. OOPS! I am torn between how much to bring and how much to buy there.
I will relate to you some truths about my feelings about this trip. Of all the fears that have come and gone, the only one that means anything to me is that I will come away uninspired. It is the most terrifying thing to me. Thankfully, I will have two wonderful friends from LA there with me and I know all the new friends I make amongst my fellow classmates will make this the most inspiring two months of my life.
On a more positive note, I am so excited for my classes despite my slight terror about going to school for over six hours a day for the first time since high school. First of all, sitting in a ulpan all morning for six weeks I have a feeling my Hebrew will finally be something more than a smattering of random words that I cannot make into a sentence and the ability to read phonetically. My hope is that my Hebrew ability will be to the point where my Hebrew speaking friends will no longer converse with me in English. I very much want to become proficient in a second language and this is the language I choose. My afternoons are equally exciting to me, studying a mountain of torah and ending my days with workshops on both torah chanting and service leading. Just you wait for this fall all of you who frequent Valley Ruach Shabbat, you may find me leading services here and there.
I do have one more joyous thing to report. I will only be required to spend one flight in a middle seat and it is the comparatively short hop from LA to Toronto. After that, it is an comfortable aisle the rest of the time.
Stay tuned for more...