Shana Tova to all my readers!
Rosh Hashanah in Israel is something completely new for me, so I wanted to make sure to go in with an open mind about it. I knew that it wasn't likely I would be attending services, and if I were to attend, it would be something I wasn't going to be familiar with at all. This is a year all about exploring and trying new things, and sometimes that means sacrificing traditions you are used to from home in order to fully experience a new thing.
I spent Erev Rosh Hashanah at my Chetzi's house, and it consisted of a HUGE dinner. We did the prayers for the meal, but that was the extent of my praying for Rosh Hashanah. Am I disappointed? No, not at all. Yes, I'm definitely used to spending Erev Rosh Hashanah and the following day at services, but I knew not to expect that. Things are definitely different in Israel. My friend and her family is not religious, so no one was even mentioning going to services. Instead, Chetzi and I went out to Atmos (on Herzl) after dinner and met up with her friends. Let's just say I had one too many vodka red bulls, and was definitely feeling it the next day (also feeling it because I forgot to bring my meds with me, but that's a whole other issue.)
It was so interesting to see that while everything is to shut down during Rosh Hashanah, the local pubs and even a few convenience stores were still open. It definitely shows how there is a huge gap between the religious and the secular Jews in Israel. It's hard to be in that middle here.
Another thing I have noticed from both personal experience and hearing stories from my other friends on the program is how warm and opening people in Israel are. I know there's this stereotype that Israelis are rude, and they definitely can be when they want to be, just like we are in the US. But with Shabbat and especially Rosh Hashanah, you can see how Israelis are more than willing to open up their homes to those of us who are not from Israel, and need a place to call home for the holidays.
The rest of the Rosh Hashanah vacation was so relaxing. Very little was done, which was fine by me! I was able to sleep a lot, even when getting up early to Skype Abby (which was totally worth it) and lots of hanging out around the apartment. Last night (Tuesday) a group of us went out to dinner at Igens for Jordan's birthday, which is at the Metro Mall. The Metro Mall was a great place during Rosh Hashanah, because the grocery store, pharmacy, and some cafes were open there. It'll be great during the other holidays if they are open as well.
This morning, we all went to our schools to meet the teachers and students we are working with this year. Noa and I walked 30 minutes to our school, and met up with Keren, who lives right next door. The school is called Ramat Alon, and is an elementary school in the neighborhood of Denya. It was great finally seeing where I would be this upcoming year, and although we didn't get the chance to sit on any classes, we will be able to on Sunday. The students seemed very eager to meet us at recess, and it will be very interesting to see how this all pans out. After spending an hour or so there, we went over to Keren's house before Noa and I started walking back to Herzl, where we were meeting at the Weizman Institute to get campus passes. Unfortunately, we learned less than 5 minutes away from getting there that the person in charge was sick, but it gave us more free time! I went with a group of people to check out a local gym, and hopefully I will be signing up for it very shortly! We had an apartment meeting with Ofir this afternoon, and I'm planning on spending the rest of my day relaxing.
It's definitely hard to get back in the mindset of teaching and working after so many days off for Rosh Hashanah - especially since it's already Shabbat on Friday, and Yom Kippur is Tuesday and Wednesday. As of now, I'll be staying in Rehovot, but you never know if my plans will change. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in Rehovot, and hopefully having all this free time will make me feel even better. I've started doing things I would've never imagined doing, and I hope this only continues!
Until next time…hope everyone is having a sweet new year! <3