HERE IS A BRIEF RECAP OF MY LIFE IN ISRAEL SINCE OCTOBER 19TH:
-MASA event in Jerusalem: A group of us from ITF ventured to Jersualem for the MASA Israel Journey Opening Ceremony. It was awesome to see SO many MASA groups together in Jerusalem for one ceremony. Best part? 40 shekels for an Idan Raichel Project concert. I have loved them since my high school days at Milken, so I was very satisfied. It was also my first time in Jersualem (so sad, I know), and while I didn't see much, just being there lifted my spirits.
-Death of Cousin Lou: Unfortunately, soon after that, I learned about the unexpected death of my cousin Lou. He was my mom's first cousin, and a very close family member of mine. He came out to Los Angeles only a week before I left for Israel to celebrate my cousin Joseph's bar mitzvah on my dad's side of the family. That's how close he was - he was so friendly that he became great friends with the other side of the family. I miss him so much, and dealing with such hard news while here has been a challenge in itself, but I know my family has been great at taking care of each other since it happened.
-Desert Night in the Negev: The other week, some of the Israelis organized a camping night in the Negev. We literally slept under the stars, and by slept I mean I took a nap for 2 hours. I had my first ever poike (pretty much a giant stew), took some awesome pictures with a headlamp and Jesse's camera skills, and got to hang out with some awesome people. It was soon after my bad news, so it was extremely refreshing to get away from technology and the real world for a night.
-Halloween: Nothing major, but we did kinda celebrate Halloween here! That weekend, we threw a Halloween party in my apartment. I went as a Dodgers player (original, I know), we made some chocolate balls (a speciality in our apartment), and watched Charlie Brown and Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a fun night, indeed.
-Shopping: A highlight of the last few weeks (besides teaching) was all the shopping I've done :) Aleah and I ventured to the big mall, Azrieli, in Tel Aviv a week ago. Neither of us really bought anything, but getting away from Rehovot was so nice and very needed! This past Sunday, I finally saw my Chetzi after weeks of not seeing her! I met up with her at the mall in Rehovot, and she took me to all the good stores! I bought 2 sweaters and a top at a store called Twenty-Six, which reminded me a lot of Forever 21. I have a feeling I'll be going there a lot more :)
-School update: As another week of school ends, I can say things are getting easier by the day. I feel more comfortable in all classes, and I feel more and more confident with my teaching. Things are still a work in progress, but seeing children who have improved in just a few weeks puts a huge smile on my face. We are getting more and more involved, and Noa, Keren and I plan to put on a Hanukkah program for the 6th graders. The 6th graders are also starting to study for the Rehovot Spelling Bee, and I'm already helping pupils learn the definition of words so they know what they are spelling. They are so eager to learn, which makes me feel that I'm accomplishing something at school. I'm starting to create memory games for the 3rd graders, in hopes that it will help them differentiate between capital and lowercase letters. Getting the chance to use the creative ideas we got at training for the program shows that there is more to teaching besides reading from a book. It's such a great and meaningful experience, no matter how challenging it may seem.
-The situation in Israel: As many of you probably know, things in Israel are definitely crazy. There have been a lot of issues, and as much as I want to tell you all what is happening, I feel the best way to do so is to read NON-BIASED reports about what is going on between Israel and the Gaza Strip. I follow Jerusalem Post a lot, and I know Ha'aretz and Al Jazeera are great news sources. Anyways, things are not extremely safe in the south right now…a lot of missiles and rockets heading towards Be'er Sheva and Ashdod. Rehovot has not been affected in any way, so let me make that clear - but it's still very surreal. We were told to evacuate this past weekend, in case things were to escalate (which they didn't). A group of us went up north, and spent the weekend back at Givat Haviva in Hedera. I am very fortunate that I have yet to experience a code red siren, which indicates that a missile is falling in the area. I know people who had less than 50 seconds to find the closest bomb shelter and hope for the best. I only can hope that Rehovot continues to stay safe, since I did return tonight after a field trip in Haifa, mostly hiking in the Carmel Mountains. Ma'ase Olam is taking great care of us, and making sure we are prepared for any situation. They evacuated us when it was still safe to make sure nothing were to happen. They understand the importance of safety and security in Israel, and I truly appreciate it. I also truly appreciate everyone who has reached out to me and made sure that I am ok. I am doing my best to keep everyone updated daily via my Facebook statuses, and feel free to email, Skype, FB, iMessage, Whatsapp, whatever to make sure I'm ok :) To sum it up, I am completely safe where I am right now.
I promise I won't slack so much, and I will keep you all updated on my situation!