Gabrielle Gordon, from Highland Park, Illinois
Nativ 28, Yerucham group
So after finals, we had a nice break for Rosh Hashanah. For the holiday we all had dinner together the first night, and then the next day my group went to Talpiyot for synagogue and lunch. I was at a house with two other people from my group and it was okay. That night, I went to dinner with a ton of people from Nativ to the Russo-Goldberg household, (Rebecca Russo goes to Beth El in Highland Park) and it was amazing!! They had services at their house before dinner and then they made us a delicious dinner and it was a nice break from Nativ food. A few of the people who were going with us needed to run back to base to pick up some stuff and then they got lost on the way to their house so the rest of us were freaking out, but they showed up so it was okay. The next day, I went to one of my old staff from USY's house. The food was once again delicious and it was fun to see her.
After Rosh Hashanah we started school. I am taking: Colloquial Arabic, Foreign Policy of Israel, Jewish Education class, Medieval Jewish History, and we are all required to take Hebrew and Freshmen writing. For Hebrew, I am in the 4th level out of six, so that was exciting. I have only had four days of school because of all the holidays but so far I am really enjoying it. My teachers are very good, (my Medieval Jewish History teacher is the same teacher from my Jewish Text class for mini-mester and he is awesome, and my foreign policy teacher is really cool also!).
The next weekend was open so a bunch of my friends and I (twelve girls) went to Tiberias for Shabbat and stayed in a hostel. On Friday we walked around, ate dinner, hung out, slept, and then Saturday we spend all day at the beach. It was very relaxing and a great way to begin school.
After just three days of school, it was time for Yom Kippur. To prepare, I went to the shuk with Avi because we both needed to get things and we saw Kaparot (where they swing a chicken around you three times in order to transfer all your sins to the chicken and then they kill it and give it to charity) and I was glad we got to see this because there is really no where else to go to see this. Avi and I did Kaparot but with money instead of chickens. We had dinner on base before the fast and went to Kol Nidrei at a minyan of mostly young Americans who are here for the year or who recently made aliyah. It was nice and I saw some familiar faces. They next day I went to this synagogue called Kol Rinah and stayed there all day until break fast. The fast in Israel is a lot shorter because we turn the clocks back before Yom Kippur. The really cool thing about Yom Kippur in Jerusalem and in most of Israel is that it completely shuts down. The traffic lights turn off, the television channels stop broadcasting, and there are no cars except for police on the street so everyone is out walking around and riding their bikes. After Kol Nidrei, most of the people on Nativ ended up on the intersection of King George and Agron, right outside our building, and we sang for a while. Everyone who walked by stopped and people were taking picture and videos of us singing. It was really cool and we thought it was awesome because we were sitting in the street. It was really fun! When the singing ended, I walked over to the Kotel with a few people and it was interesting to see who was there. Some people (not on Nativ) actually slept at the Kotel over night on Yom Kippur!!
This past Shabbat I went to Tel Aviv and stayed with the Witows. It was Maia's birthday on Friday so her friends threw her a surprise party where we went to Max Brenner's for dessert and then her friends all slept over. It was fun to meet them and that night Yael was with her class from school and I played Monopoly with Lior. He won. On Saturday, we relaxed and hung out and then saw the movie Igor. It was cute. We went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then I headed back to base for school the next day. I had one day of school which was good, went to the gym, and had dinner with Lital (staff from USY in Chicago who moved back to Israel), Ari (Lital's boyfriend and also a counselor on Nativ), and then some Chicago people who knew Lital, and some other random friends. It was delicious. Then, I had flag football practice. There is a flag football league in Jerusalem including us and some seminarites, we are all very excited to play. My days from flag football at camp and playing with David were very helpful and we had a good time. Three of the boys are coaching us even though none of them played football in high school, but they were great coaches. Afterwards, I just hung out with some people in Jerusalem. Which brings us to today where we went to the Shuk and bought our own Lulavim and Etrogim. It was exciting. I am staying on base for the holiday so I can use the sukkot that we built! I am very excited!!! Chag Sameach!!!!!!
On Sunday nights, I have flag football practice and that is fun. We scrimmage each other and we are getting a lot better offensively and defensively. On Mondays, I work at the YMCA after school with the preschoolers and they are cute but they have just recently began listening to me a little and they are a little abusive so they like to hit and kick and spit which is annoying but no one can control them. They are a hard class. Monday nights is also the night of our football games. We play at Kraft Stadium which was donated by the owner of the New England Patriots. For the opening ceremony his wife, Myra Kraft, was there and we took a picture with her and talked to her. One of the deals when the field was donated was that there always had to be girls playing on the field and there always has been. Our first scrimmage we played a really good team who had a few players from the Israel National team. They wrere good but were really understanding and helped us a lot with our game. I cant' wait to play them for real. The next week was our first game and we played a team that wasn't really that great but we lost to them. We played well though and definitely knew more about the game. The referee was very annoying and making calls that we didn't know those were the rules. The next week, we had the same ref and played a team that was made up of older women whose nick name is the mom team. They were good and have been playing together for a long time but we played even better than the game before and had our first touchdown of the season!!! Tuesdays are Erev Nativ where our madrichim plan a program. The first Erev Nativ was about Zionism and the different types of Zionism and the important Zionists. We played some games and eventually got into conversation about the Israel and if any of the types of Zionism were more right than the others. The next week it was revolved around the murder of Yitzchak Rabin and we looked at different times in Jewish history at what Israel looked like and if this validified or supported the motives behind the murder of Yitzchak Rabin. Each group had a different map to look at and then had to find a way to present the two sides creatively. My group looked at Israel from the bible and we presented through art. It was fun. The next Erev Nativ dealt with our own Jewish Identitly and did not work as weel as the others because each person was very opinionated about their Jewish Identity and what they valued that as a whole we had a hard time generalizing. Wednesdays I have a Jewish education class at Beit Nativ with the guy who came to my Jewish Education class at Hebrew U and we played games with. It's really fun and I feel like I have been learning a lot through all the activities we have done. The kdis in the class are also really nice and we have a lot of fun together. Thrusdays I have a class about Poland and the Holocaust that I am in because I am going to Poland with some Nativers at the beginning of January. I am really excited but we have only had one class so far so I don't really know what exactly the class is like.
That is a typical week on Nativ. In the meantime I have also been busy planning the Thanksgiving for Nativ (we invite anyone is Israel who has been on Nativ in the past) which ahs been fun. Thanksgiving is a big deal here. I am on the decorations committee so we will be working even harder this coming week. One monday after the YMCA, I decided to take a walk around Jerusalem and I went up to the Shuk (market) and I walked down one of the streets by Beit Nativ and it was nice to wander around the city a little and go places I haven't really been yet. On Wednesday, I went to the GA (General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities) which was really fun. It was the last day but I got to hear BB Netanyahu speak and also Tzippi Livini who are both canditates for the next prime minister of Israel come elections in February. It was great to hear them speak and I had a really good time at the GA. Afterwards, I went out to lunch with some friends because we had 10% off from restuarants that are Tav Chevrati (treat the workers right and are handicap accesible). It was good, I went to a vegetarian restaurant. Then, I went to the old city with two friends and we walked around a bit. It was a really good day!!!
I hope you all enjoyed this email!!! I will try to write more often I am just so busy though!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!