Posted by: RaeAn | 18 July 2010

First Day Excitement… and Pain

One day down… 612 to go! (No, I haven’t counted how many days I have left. Really. I just took the number 613 because that’s such a Jewish number and all that jazz and subtracted one.)

Today, there was Ulpan. I made it to class at 8:30 am on time, found the room, and was even able to understand most of what was going on. (Yays all around!) I got into Kitah Dalet, which is level 4 out of 5 here… I was a little worried that it would be too hard for me, but I think it’s a good placement. I was able to understand Zohara (my teacher) most of the time with a bit of concentration — and it should be somewhat challenging, anyway; if it’s not, I should move up a level. But it is challenging enough to feel like I’ll be learning, while not so challenging I think I’ll drown. So good news all around.

I then went to Cantillation class (to learn trope, which is the system Jews use to chant the Torah). I learned cantillation when I was about 16, but I forgot most of it… so it’ll be a good review. The class is optional for those of us in the ed program, but I figured I may as well learn as much as I can while I’m here; it’s only an hour a week for six weeks, so it’s not a huge chunk of time, and it’ll be good to know/re-learn. Also, Tamar, the instructor, is fantastic. So it’ll be a good time.

After that, Rabbi Gingi (his real name is David, but he’s a redhead, so he’s Gingi) led a bunch of us on a Psalms Walking Tour of Jerusalem, which is a 3-hour walk with stops along the way to see sites mentioned and implicated in the Psalms and do a little learning about the texts and the city where we’re living for the next year. It was fantastic. I got quite a few pictures this time as well… and the album is up on Picasa!

Some highlights:

Fresh rosemary, picked right off of the hill, which grows wild everywhere here.

Walking up to the Old City, in my brand-new sunglasses. (Prescription sunglasses are fantastic. I don't know how I lived without them before.)

Statue of King David, near the entrance to his tomb. All of the strings for the harp are missing... except the one on the very left. The first 72 psalms are attributed to King David, so of course, it was fitting that we visit his tomb.

Rabbi Gingi emphatically teaches us something from the Psalms as we sit on a playground looking out to the city beyond the Old City walls.

And this, my friends, is why it's called ירושלים של זהב / Yerushalayim Shel Zahav / Jerusalem of Gold. Sunset + Jerusalem Stone = magic.

And now my feet are very, very angry with me. Between the bug bites and the blisters, I'm surprised they haven't gone on strike yet. (The banks here do, so I wouldn't be surprised.)

In an effort to appease aforementioned angry feet, I’m going to sit and do my homework now. I have a 2-3 page paper to write and a bit of Hebrew to write/learn before morning. This should be fun.

Oh! Also, I finally got my Israeli credit card in the mail! Yay! So now I can withdraw money from the Israeli bank account I opened last week. Or at least I will be able to once I wade through the myriad Hebrew phone-robots until I get them to reveal my PIN. (They assign those here.. you don’t get to pick.) Sigh. The loans will come through next week, though, and then I’ll have money again so I can afford things. Yay!

All right, off to do homework. I have so much more to tell you all once I have more time!


~ Rae



  1. Wow! I’ve never seen a picture like that with Jerusalem as gold. You didn’t have to alter it? You know that my brother, Ari, is in rabbinical school, right? Do you remember him from nfty sar?

    hope all’s well!

    • Nope, no alterations! Just an amazing photograph and amazing sunset at the Mount of Olives. This place is beautiful sometimes. I see where all the poetry is coming from. I’m still warming up to Jerusalem culturally, but the scenery and the history is unbelievable.

      And no, I don’t think I knew Ari in SAR, but if he’s the same Ari as the one at HUC with me, I’ve definitely met him! Is he the same Ari as the one I snuck a picture of here?
      We haven’t talked much yet, but I’ll definitely make a point of it tomorrow!

      Everything is definitely well, though! Just plowing through Ulpan homework at the moment so I can sleep and be awake-ish for Tisha B’Av shenanigans tomorrow evening. 🙂 How’ve you been?

  2. Yes, that is my brother. He’s a good kid. 🙂 Things are going well. I’m in medical school in augusta at the Medical College of Georgia. I’ve been doing research for the summer, which is finishing up this coming week. I wish that I were back in Israel! I miss it a lot!

  3. I am so excited that you are enjoying yourself! It’s such an enlightening feeling seeing a young girl follow her dreams, and being able to read about her journey 😀

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