Saturday, 31 March 2012

Etgar Vs. Jerusalem

Sprite Day 26 March 2012

A scavenger hunt through Jerusalem, by Rebekkah and Naomi.
Dan Rattan was unimpressed.

Accomplish all tasks and be at ____ by _____.
Stay as a whole group the whole time.
Don’t break Netzer/Shnat rules (on camera)
Don’t cheat (Jeffery…)
Have fun!

Purple- Videos
1. Tune in around a traffic light at a crowded intersection:

2. Play a netzer game of the group’s choice outside the old city:
-Get strangers to join in for extra points
3. Interview somebody on the streets:

4. Pick up 5 pieces of rubbish in the old city:


5. Get something for free from a food place (stealing doesn’t count):

6. Get into a tent city tent:
7. Get someone’s shoes:
8. Make an obstacle course on the street and get at least 2 strangers to do it.
9. Sing the Netzer song in the jewish quarter of the old city.
10. Get a family recipe from a local.
11. Find a receipt from Superpharm.
12. Get 1 person to take an item of clothing off.
13. Get a strangers phone number:
14. Serenade somebody:
15. Try and fit the whole group into somewhere you wouldn’t expect to fit:
16. Hug a stranger:
17. Get a kiss on the cheek from a stranger:
18. Get a soldier to sing your country’s national anthem:
19. The whole team humming mission impossible and acting it out as they act like spies going round the shop back to back:
20. Convince a stranger to let you taste their food:

There's a video that wont upload :/


Sprite Day 26 March

The Bowling ally was warm and it smelled like a mixture of feet and pop corn. We set up our shnattie hobo camp at lanes 3 and 4. Our names appeared on the screens above us and we started to play. There was a rising tension of competitiveness in the air as each person in each team rolled their balls down the lanes. Personally, I hate bowling in theory but this was really fun. We all sat around cheering our flat mates on and being sympathetic when they missed. We did enjoy a hearty laugh when someone (mostly Alyson) missed the balls completely or when Naomi just couldn't do it because of her broken arm. After we all had ice cream and we decided to catch the bus, but Dangerman told us to get off too soon and we ended up walking anyway. The cracks in my nails from sticking my fingerds in the holes of the bowling balls are a clear indication of how much of a great time we had/ that I actually participated and not just took pictures which is what happens all too often in these kinds of situations. 

Here's a poem of some sort to express my feelings on Bolwing:

Bowling is great

Well all get strikes
Lingering in the elevator
Inside and outside
Never gonna give up
Green is not a creative colour

South Tel Aviv

Tuna Tuesday 27 March 2012

We normally have small tours (Siyurim) around Jerusalem as a part of our program, but this time we took a bus ride, all 30 of us, to Tel Aviv.

Before we left for Shnat, one of the main selling points they had for us when we argued that it would all be Pro Israel-Make Aliyah! propaganda was that they would take us to the shitty parts of Israel too. Now, I come from a country where poverty is basically right in your ace and social inequality is littered through the streets of our suburbs, but here you have to go literally right off the map out to the outskirts of the cities to find it. Yes, we have that in Africa too, but its way worse than anything here.

Our tour guide told us that when he brings South Africans on these tours they always tell him that there's way worse poverty where they come from, so Lily n I had a little chuckle, because it's so true. We were walking through these streets and people from American and England were shocked and we were wondering why they have paved roads and fancy cars. It was so odd.

We started our day log Siyur in /south Tel Aviv. It's basically an informal settlement on the outskirts of the City. People decided to live there because they needed a place to stay and there wasn't anywhere that they could afford so they made their own. It isn't considered a part of the city, its not even on the maps. The houses were dilapidated and none of the streets had names. The mail man had to know everyone so that they would get their mail. Our guide told us all about how the government decided to try and improve the conditions by building a high rise of apartments, but because people were afraid they would get kicked out of their homes, they lied on the survey for how many people lived there and so not enough houses were built. There were a few synagogues and people who had decorated their houses in odd ways to make it more homely. We saw Muels and Chickens and a dog that no one wanted to touch because it probably had rabies.
Ah, First world people. Gotta love 'em!

This is an Informal Settlement in South Africa called Kliptown.
This is the "Informal Settlement" in South Telk Aviv.
Thats the High Rise Apartment building in the background.
These are the Muels.
Next on our walking tour of Tel Aviv was through a suburb where they haven't got a good education system and most people spend their lives trying to get out instead of making it a better place to live. We spoke about how kids are tracked into being either a good kid or a really bad kid and then spend their whole lives in that stereotype.
It made me think back to when I was in grade 7 and I was pout in the lowest class for maths, and then in the lowest class for maths I was put in the stupid row of desks so that the teacher just didn't have to deal with us. When I got to high school, my mathematical education was way far behind and so I failed dismally. By the time I got to grade 10, I couldn't do maths and was forced to take Mathematical Literacy. Thereby limiting my job opportunities and the amount of points I'd get for university entrance.
Why do we do this to kids? Why don't we just allow people to try as hard as they can and encourage growth and development? We have the power to grow into anything we can! Why don't we allow it to happen, were stunting our own intellectual growth because were trying so hard to make people fit into a system, a mold that we're creating for ourselves.
I cant help think that if I hadn't been put in a stupid class and encouraged to try harder, having my educators set the standards just a little higher that I might have actually surprised them.

This is graffitti in the neighbourhood.
The rest of the afternoon we walked through places like red light districts and sat in the Refugee Park and spoke about what we could do to help the people there. They're being deported because they're not citizens and had to escape their countries, but they don't want to go back obviously. We spoke about how the Jewish people should be more welcoming because that's exactly what happened to us. We tried to escape slavery so many times, and now thank goodness we have a country but we should be more empathetic to people with the same plight.

We spoke about how people in dilapidated places or in places where they feel like they can't get out and do something with their lives or make a change don't really have any kind of wanting to do it. So things get increasingly worse and worse and people just want to leave more and more. Its a vicious cycle of poverty and hatred that could easily be remedied by people trying to make the world a better place. TIKKUN OLAM! Better the world!
Off to Rothschild street and a stop for the best ice cream I've ever had. Chocolate Stratechella. Chloe would be so proud.
We ended our tour in a building that the government gave to the people protesting the price of houses last year during the tent protests. We decided that were going to do something about it and spent the better part of the next four hours eating pizza and brainstorming ways we could help refugees. I want to start an organisation that will help them find jobs and get Isralie citizen ship or even just places to live while they're sorting their lives out. People cant sleep in a PARK!

We sang on the bus ride home and after dinner we all sat around in the flat just hanging out. For some reason we had moved all the couches around and there was more space for activities. I made so many posters out of pure boredom.

Procrastinated the MOST and made a hundred posters to put around the house.

Wednesday 28 March

Inside Jokes With Guy

Thursday 29 March 2012

Lily n I went adventuring in Ranana (Fontein).
Yay! Extreme right wing South Africans!

I spent the morning doing handstands in the living room. I was waiting for it to be 12:00 so I could meet Lily at the bus station in time to head off to Ranana. A few last minute grabbing of warm clothes and a pair of jeans for the unceremonious changing in the bus before the cold of Jerusalem and I made my way across town to the CBS.

I met Lily outside and we eventually found Guy after having to phone him four times because we kept forgetting the platform number. On the bus we chatted about the plans for the day, the Shnat gossip and Guy told us a whole bunch of cool places to go camping. He had a great book with pretty pictures, unfortunately it was all in Hebrew so that's all we could look at.

We started our South African (and Israelie) adventures at a place called: Beit Issie Shapiro.
It was started by the same family who started Selwin Seagul in South Africa, so it was really cool to learn more about it and see that people who make Aliyah are actually making a difference in life here.
Thee centre is for people with mental and physical disabilities. They have this really cool thing called the "Snoozalin" where they take kids before scary things like dentists appointments or surgery to calm them down. They have pools for physiotherapy and specially made playgrounds for kids in wheelchairs, they even have swings!

The multicoloured light flowed from green to red to blue and purple beneath my feet. The light was distorted by the clear balls of the ball pitt that we all sat around. Hannah was talking but I had stopped listening as soon as we walked into the room. The walls and floor were soft beneath my bare feet, and the stairs were made from foam too. It was hard to walk over them, but the softness was comforting, because if I fell it wouldn't hurt. There were coloured lights hanging from the ceiling and the white flowers on my pants glowed from the luminescent light. I felt calm. Serene. Surreal. There was nothing else like it in the whole world and I wanted to stay there forever. Nothing could hurt you there.

We went on a tour of the building and helped pack things for them to sell.

After that we had a very architecture car ride to TELFED. We had an interesting conversation about what they do for South Africans who make aliyah and how they help them. He told us about the "South African Shop" that sells "South African Food". But he lied.
There was no Rusks or Biltong or Peppermint Crisps or Jelly Tots or Chutney.

We had another architecture walk to this really religious girls house who was hosting us for dinner. It was really lovely to be in a house, with throw pillows, and carpets and all these books on Nelson Mandela. There was so much shwehshweh. Everywhere.

Then it was off to meet a strange, eccentric, Canadian women who was the rabbi of this Reform Shule in Ranana. Our visit was cut short by us not wanting to miss the bus back to Jerusalem. It was 9pm already, and we didn't want get home too late.

Lily and I fell asleep on the bus, and I did my fun Lets-Get-Changed-On-The-Bus trick while she organised a way for us both to get into Kiryat Moriah and have a party in The Zen Room. A total stealing of The Dojo, but The Dojo is soooo much better. Ari met us outside, and we just walked in, no sneaky-ness needed. We spent the night in Gal n Aris room, Gal left for Poland at 3am and I spent the night remembering all the times that Sebastien used to mock Old Gregg with his Mangina because we watched The Mighty Boosh and I didn't have the heart to tell Ari that that's my least favourite episode.

I woke up alone in the early hours of the morning. It wasn't pleasant, I felt hurt. Betrayed.

19 Glasses of Wine

Friday 30 March 2012

Happy Birthday Ben!

Shnallenge: Drink your age in glasses of Wine.

His lovely girlfriend organised a picnic in the park for him, with all his favourite foods, ever.

The sun was hot, a perfect day for a birthday celebration. I sat next to Daron and Becca. People were talking excitedly about the food and Ben and occasionally people would burst into different renditions of Happy Birthday. We popped the cork on some slightly warm white wine and made many a toast to the birthday boy. We snacked on breads and strawberries and sweetly delicious things from Marzipan, and after we had all eaten and been satisfied, a game was in order, so we started playing out loud Paranoia. The game soon evolved into us asking him questions about anything we wanted, and he having to answer truthfully. In return, he could ask us any questions. People told stories excitedly that kept us all in stitches throughout the afternoon, but soon the sun was setting and the bottles were emptying and Shabbt was just around the corner. A quick consunsus around the circle to head back to the flat and have a beautiful Netzrey service by candle light and acoustic music. We had soup and Challah for dinner.

I made Hogwarts out of Sprite Bottles...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Secret Magic Rainbow Stickers

We woke up slightly chilly, to snow capped mountains in the North. After everything that had happened the last night and after being in the weirdest situations, in the dark to top it all off, it was definitely a pleasant surprise.


I woke up to the theme tune of Harry Potter-My ring tone-, and croakily enquired as to who was on the other end, my eyes still being held shut with sleep. It was Lily, She told me to meet her at the bus stop in 20 minutes. I had completely forgotten, and was already late. There was no time to shower, only pull on a few warm clothes and shove some shorts and a bottle of water into my bag. I grabbed my camera, and only, disappointedly, realsied later that I had no battery power. I hurried out of the house, only stopping to say good morning to Benji as he thanked me for covering him with a blanket the night before. This is the part where I swooned over him and nearly forgot our map. I hurried downstairs and off to the bus station via tram. I got their before Lily, who looked slightly more rested than I did.

We spent the majority of the bus journey, like all other bus journeys we take together, over analysing our lives and making mountains out of mole hills. We talk about Boys, Girls, Friends, Home, What were doing here, and of course the meaning of life. We always say that we'll catch up on some well deserved rest, but we never do. We ate a really good sandwich and some chocolate of course! There is always too much to talk about so the breaks between stories were p[erfectly permiated with mouthfulls of rich Cocoa. At the bus station, Lily and I did some grocery shopping, getting all the essential vegetables and bread we needed. Not to mention all the biscuits and fruit. We met up with Rosa and her American Friend and we set off on our Road Trip adventure!

The drive from Tel Aviv to the Kinneret was a long journey and we would all need some coffee soon, especially Jess because she was driving. We decided to stop off in a small town, just before arriving, but all the small towns were unbelievably creepy. The first one we drove through was strange. The pavements were littered with old antiquities and vintage couches. Creepy dogs and cats sat waitng to pounce on their next pray or just watching us, eerily, a we drove by. Needless to say, we did not stop for coffee there.They felt like if we stayed there too long we would all end up in one of those really creepy scary films, with no way out other than death. We got out of there ASAP.
The next town smelt weird, and Rosa awoke, a little groggily to the smell of cow Manure.
We ended up in Tiberius, a larger city on the shores of the Kinneret. We stopped for a picnic and then had an early dinner/lunch in the city itself.
We gave up on finding a hostel to stay in and decided it wouldn't be a good idea to sleep n the middle of nowhere and after a few frantic phone calls and driving almost to Syria, and through large puddles, and over rocks, and through firing zones and around in large circles we found a lovely forest to sleep under the stars.

This is s song we wrote to the tune of "Under the Sea":

The adventures are always better
When were on the road together
We're here to travel Israel
but it's not working out too well.

Lights of the city around us
Half way to Palestine
Should we sleep in the bushes?
Maybe another time.

We'll see snow capped moutains
We'll see Syria
We'll take long ass bus rides,
wish we could sleep inside.

Under the stars (Under the Stars)
We'll pitrch our blankets
None of us planned this
Under the Stars

Jess, Lily, Rosa, Idan
Where've all the cookies gone?
We'll find our way somehow
It's just not happening right now

Drive over some rocks
Wear three pairs of socks
Under the stars

The next day saw us walking through the Daliot forest to a beautiful waterfall and taking a short road trip to Mirror Lake and eating the best Falafel in the whole world. We stopped at a legitimate Syrian settlement, filled with Drewz in their traditional dress. They wear Hippie Pants, the ones with the extended crotch, so that if their G-d falls from the sky, He has somewhere to land.

After an intense weekend of Adventuring and a 4 hour bus ride back to Jerusalem we were all ready for bed. Unfortunatly it was 4:30 before that idea became a reality.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Meaning of Life as depicted through Sour Patch Kids

The wonderful life of… Kitty and Rebekkah!

The best part about writing the weekly report is that I get to choose what gets said. And we can mention each other as many times as humanly possible. From this point on, you’ll be counting the amount of times were mentioned or have written the actual report ourselves. For example, I was gone last week on a Masa Building Future Leaders Conference, and I was in the flat and thus wasn’t mentioned in the weekly report.  This week, however, I think that the following insertion written by Kitty and I should be said, and thus here it is:
Sour Patch Kids and their implications on the lives of youth
To start off this article, we’ll begin by stating the 3 things we would do for Sour Patch Kids (this is a very hot topic in the Etgar Flat currently)
Rebekkah’s List:
·      Trade my precious Skittles
·      Debate with Jeff
·      Walk anywhere near the boy’s bathroom after it’s been recently used
Kitty’s List:
·      Nothing
·      Lick peanut butter off someone’s big toe
·      Give Jake a piggyback to class down two flights of stairs to class 117.

As you can see, Rebekkah’s list contains much more perilous things than Kitty’s does.  Why is this?  Maybe it’s because Rebekkah grew up eating SPKs and thus holds much higher value to them.  She’d be willing to do much more for the taste of those delicious candies again.  Kitty, however, does not even know what she is missing. Having had someone try and bribe me with this means, I have become increasingly more interested in the supposedly delicious taste Rebekkah claims they have. Which position is better?  To know and enjoy a luxury item and then have it taken away and dangled in front of you, or to never know and thus be indifferent to the dangling? To have loved and have lost, or never have loved at all?  Rebekkah pities poor Kitty, for she has never had the experience of tasting SPKs.  Kitty seems to think Rebekkah is a little desperate and weird, bargaining all of this for a candy.  Its really just sweets, I’m sure I can live without it, having lived a pretty average life without them thus far. As much as Rebekkah attempts to persuade Kitty, she just doesn’t get it.  And Rebekkah is becoming more frustrated; trying to describe something she thinks is so indescribably wonderful.
(Cue here: un-PC jokes about the situation when you think about it from the American kid versus the African kid perspective)
After some conversation about this topic, we have come to one conclusion:  it is favorable to experience as much of life as possible.  Eat SPKs, go to Zorba, try shwarma, run an obstacle course in the Old City, live in a flat with eleven young Jews, go to Israel, go to China, go to India, ride a camel, meet an Israeli soldier, play loads of Jewish Geography, go to university, study something interesting yet completely irrelevant to your future, or wear a crazy hat.  We do these on an almost daily basis, so we’re pretty much experts me thinks. Try it all, do it all.  What is life if you don’t experience it?  You grow up, follow societal expectations, and are nothing but a product of society.  However, if you grow up your own way and have your own adventures and try as much as you possibly can, then you are the product of your life.  To experience is to live, and to shelter your self away from the delicacies of the world (both culinary and not) is to essentially waste this one opportunity we are all given in this world.
I think I just figured out the Meaning of Life. I, Kitty, have not yet reached the point of being able to relate the meaning of life to the wanting of SPK. Maybe I should try them? But then I’ll have to do one of those things that I said before that I would do for a SPK and I don’t really want to because its really late at night and summer just doesn’t happen in Jerusalem.
EXCEPT (yes, chevre, there is always an ‘except’), what happens when you develop an attachment to something and then are no longer allowed it?  A country you’ve fallen in love with and then have to leave?  A food you can only have when in one region of the world?  A view that can only be seen from one spot, one singular spot in the entirety of the huge planet we live on?  A person you have to leave, or who leaves you? Or, for those of us who live in a different hemisphere and don’t know what daylight savings is, it might be people that have changed your life, and only having a limited time to talk to them. To be with them, to soak up every possible morsel of their being. Having a limited time frame for friendships in an environment like that of shnat is probably one of its biggest downfalls. I can’t imagine a shnat without the Northerners, and all too soon, I know that this will be a reality, and that I will spend the rest of my young adult life trying to reconnect with these people but knowing that we might not ever be a platform for that kind of relationship. I’ve just reached that stage of existential crisis and am now wondering why I spent the last four hours in the flat making signs and sticking them on the walls, instead of living. I could have been exploring Judaism in one of the holiest places on earth! But I wasn’t. I was here. You were there. And we were listening to Beatles songs and wondering why Josh had to poop so many times today.
Is it worth it?  The pain and that sharp feeling of loss that comes from having something taken away from you, or even worse: having to leave something.  Is it worth having had it at all?  On one hand, the period spent grieving may outweigh the joy the thing brought you.  In its most extreme form, grieving may never end, and it has the potential to destroy lives.  One the other hand, the joy can outweigh the grief and feeling of loss.  If anything, we can take in and realize that in our most depressive states, there is something we miss that touched us so deeply that we feel that way.  Something touched us and gave us such joy and happiness or something that it was able to make so much of an impact on us. Its people and places and things and times that make us realize just how precious each and every Sour Patch Kid is and how we should taste and savor the deliciousness in every minute. Yes, we are grieving and yes we are sad and yes we have a catch in our throat and a pang in our chest, but the knowledge that something was so detrimental to us in such a positive way can carry us through.  Using memory, it might even help to dwell on that pain.  There are a lot of reasons people say pain is good: it makes us stronger, it means we’re healthy enough to detect it, etc.  Another reason could be: Pain is good because it means that we were once healthy, happy, whole.  In this moment, with Dan making tea out of boredom and looking around at all the new signs depicting rules and regulations or even just the laundry roster, I’ll know that once there was a real purpose from nothing, from boredom and that pro-activism, in any sense would make the world a more colorful place where rosters are fun and everyone knows when they can do laundry. Yes, my arm is broken, but that means I had such a long time with full use of my arm, I could do so much with that arm?  Remember all those baskets I dunked, all those poems I wrote, all those hugs I gave…  Yes, I’m now sad that I am moving away from a close friend.  But I’m sad because that friend made me so happy, and I’m lucky to have had such a good friendship.  I miss friends. Yes, I miss SPKs, but I am so lucky to be privileged enough to live in a society that gives me such luxuries, so lucky to have experienced such a tasty treat, so lucky to be fed and happy enough to have frivolous things like SPKs in my life, so happy that I have nice little things in my life to miss and look forward to.
So although the pain of leaving might be hard, it is worth it.  It is always worth it.  Every bad thing, every pain means we were once happy. That we’ve grown and that we’ll continue to grow on this extensive journey called life.
Yes, Kitty doesn’t miss Sour Patch Kids, and doesn’t have the frustration and longing that Rebekkah now feels.  But she has never known this little luxury, has never had that experience.  Maybe Kitty feels more content with her life right now, but Rebekkah really has had more: more experience, more life (in this specific example of SPKs, not in general side-by-side comparison of our lives).  Content is an over statement, I don’t think one will ever be content. It’s human nature to want more, to be more, to love more (whatever that may mean to you) but one will never truly sit and look at ones life and say that they’re done. That, this is what they have done and that they’ll want to stop. No one should want to stop and that’s the beauty of happiness. More. Ah, the wonderful world of existentialisms.

The solution to our problem, and maybe all problems ever:
Jeff needs to share his damn Sour Patch Kids.

Candy Floss Beards

The night was surprisingly warm as we walked the 15 minute walk from our front door to the Old City of Jerusalem. There were coloured lights lining the walls, floating high above our heads, suspended like luminecent orbs amidst a navy blue sky. There were no stars. Bustling crowds of carnival goers littered the entrance to the city. A marching band struck up a melodically catchy beat, hand clapping and cheers arose from the enticed crowed. A circle of people was forming, and upon closer inspection, we could see a circle of drums and a few brave souls banging along to the beat. There were others dancing in the circle and some around it. We joined immediately, kneeling on the hard, smooth stone floor we began to beat our drums to the sounds of the city.
A string of lights strung from wall to wall above our heads lit the way through the winding streets. Along the way you could hear the sounds of musicians emanating, seemingly from the walls itself. Carnival goers would stop at irregular intervals, some hugging their friends hello and goodbye, while others gazed, mesmerised at the musicians, engrossed in the melodies. Each instrumentalist was stranger than the last. Each instrument a true testament to the musician and to the capability of human kind in the arts. We carried on walking, stopping, also engrossed in the sounds. We reach what seemed to be the hub of the carnival. A sunken pit lay before us, people lined up eagerly overlooking the railings of the balcony to the band that sat just below. They were strumming and beating and singing and clapping. The crowd kept in time with the beat. White, sugary fluff hung on the breeze. The sweet sugary smell from the candy floss made it all to unbearable to go one more minute without it. We bought two spirals of candy floss and gently peeled away layers, devouring the sugar and felling it evaporate as it touched our tongues. The city was buzzing with people and music. Around every corner was a different sound, a different vibe, a completely different atmosphere. Each quarter of the city had a different smell. You could feel the electricity in the air. Hanging musicians lit up the walls as we were exiting the gates. One last jam session and we were off into the night, searching for another adventure.


We spent the greater part of the evening devouring the sweet sugary goodness that was the Fairy floss, and the rest of the night mocking the Aussies for calling it such. The six of us walked aimlessly through the streets of the old city occasionally stopping to clutch at our stitches from laughing too much. We left the old city with steaming hot cups of Sahlep (a warm milk pudding with nuts, cinnamon and coconut). Wondering the streets, we stopped for a bathroom break in a fancy restaurant that had mildly disappointingly unexciting bathrooms. The one had no door, and the other had no toilet paper. After a walk through the streets past the dirty shnattie bars, and a consensus to avoid them, we went to the trendiest bar in the area. Broken skate boards for handles and a foose ball table while the walls are almost covered in graffiti. A welcoming sight, and a lovely break from the chilly wind that had picked up outside. We said goodbye to Jess and Rosa, and headed home while they caught the next bus to Tel Aviv. Ari walked me home.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tussen Stasies

I'm feeling rather nostalgic for the early mornings when I would bust huge missions getting out of bed to make tea, braving the cold of the kitchen floor, forcing myself to get dressed for school. I miss the smell of the Jacarandas blooming in spring time and the feel of crunchy leaves as the smell of sunscreen fades and we start to close the windows rather than open them. I miss the sound of swimming children next door, and the early morning guitar playing that would wake me up on mornings I slept in. I miss the 3am phone calls from my brother asking me to let him in because he'd given up trying to put the key in the lock of the front door. I even miss the sad look in his eyes as the realisation of what he had become in his intoxicated state finally sets in and he stumbles to an upright position, me supporting his steps. I miss the smell of scrambled eggs as hangover cures and the muffled groan of Ben asleep on the couch. I miss the roar of motorcycle engines and the click of the kettle through heated discussions about girls and finding love. I miss the incessant renditions of "SERIOUSLY?!" and the arguments as to who would sing in the band. I miss the endless laughter from Candice and the spilled vodka that awaited us in the morning, cold from dew that had settled that night. I miss the braais, the people and the rowdy-ness that was the Henning Household.

I miss only needing to know that its the purple house on the corner and one street down from the Wimpy. I miss our drunken escapades through the streets of Melville for Joburg Burning and staying out just those few more minutes to catch the last acts in the form of 340ml and Fire Through the Window. I miss screaming for my favorite bands, in crowded bars. I miss meeting new people and having an instant connection through the vibrations of the speakers. I miss the missions we'd bust to see Desmond and the tutus. I miss the epic parties we'd have when we were there and I miss the quiet drive home after a night out in New Town. I miss the tangled rats nest that my hair would become and the lingering smell of ciggarets and beer that wafted through my bedroom the next morning. I miss stumbling to the shower before anyone noticed, I miss trying not to step on bundles of blankets that resemble my friends. I miss the memories that slowly become less blurred as one remembers the events of the night before and the stories of the epic bruise you find in the shower. I miss cleaning the congealed muck off my shoes and findong stamps on my wrist and fliers ion my bag. I miss the R5 coins. I miss the crumpled 20s. I miss the familiarity of the ringing in your ears and the
joy in your heart. I miss the warm nights and the cold beers. I miss African rain. I miss dancing in it.

People here: They don't understand the beauty of being able to go to The Boheimian  or Tipsy Gypsi every night, for a drink or some sweet tunes to the bitter taste of Zamelek. They could never even begin to understand the concept of being able to drive a little ways out of the city down to Splashy Fen, or having RAMfest not more than 4 minutes from your house. They will never understand the Jagermeister girls, or the thought of POGO pits. they will never understand the kind of mutual understanding of gig goers, to let you go to the front because you're short. They will never appreciate going stage diving at Cool Runnings Fourways and our constant protests and petitions to let the municipality not close down our pubs and bars..

So here's a video, that pretty much sums up the beauty of our Country, our City, the People that we all to easily forget come from the same place as us. We forget that we're united under the seven colours that make up our flag, those seven colours that greet me when I wake up in the morning. Weather we speak Zulu or English or Afrikaans the gesture for a lighter remains the same in every language. We forget that we're all part of the same generation. We forget that we're fighting for the same cause ansd no matter how hard we try, racisim is still a big part of life for us. People here don't understand the kind of society we come from, where you have shacks and mansions on the same streets. Where the languages of Africa are all around you and you have no choice but to listen past sounds and clicks but to peoples eyes, their hands, their emotions that they're pouring into their words, trying to express themselves.

Tonight was South Africa theme night, and I managed to make the nostalgic feelings for all things South African, friends and family, as well as food, dissipate for a good few hours whilst hanging out in the Etgar flat. I made Cape Malay Curry, but without the lamb and we ate it Bunny Chow style with bread rolls and a ban on cutlery. My favourite was watching everyone struggle to escape their Western ways and live a little cultural-y for once. They complained bitterly that it was too hot, but soaked up every last morsel on their plates with the (slightly) slate bread rolls. For desert we had Vetkoek.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Rosa arrived late on Thursday night, fresh off a shirut from Tel Aviv. 
Here in the land of milk and honey, where the milk and honey refers to the public transport system that allows one to catch a mini bus from one city, to the next, at 1am; walk alone through the busy streets of Jerusalem and take in the buzz of what would be a normal Thursday night for the rest of the world, But here the days of the week seem to play with your mind and confuse the internal workings of ones body clock, and a Thursday night is Party Night. 
The only people still actively awake in the apartment, like most nights, moved silently through the shaddows, not wanting to wake the others or move to quickly, provoking unnecessary conversation of mundane things. Each keeping to themselves. Slight scratching of pen against paper and the gentle tapping of keys to a key board were the only sounds that punctuated the still night air. The water dripped from my hair, having only showered a few minutes before. She called form outside the front door, bursting with electricity and stories of a night out with friends. 
We made tea and drank it on the couch in the warm living room. I could tell it would be one of those weekends, when the spoon hour starts and doesn't stop until we say goodbye on Sunday morning, eagerly anticipating the next time we would see each other, to have more adventures, whine and eat chocolate, and then whine about all the chocolate we eat. I could tell this, mostly, by the lateness of the hour and the fact that comprehensible conversation was an expectation that would surely be forgotten through the giggles and the jokes that no one else ever seems to get. Lily says, that sometimes she stands in rooms and watches people not get her jokes. 
We talked excitedly about the events of the past few days, her telling me about her new found friends in the ARDC and me about the last few days in the desert. A shadow emerged from the kitchen, silently creeping past, but eventually becoming enticed by the electricity of the room and a conversation ensued. A mundane, yet beautiful occurrence.
As we finished our respective cups of tea, and only the dregs of Rooibos were left we decided it was time for bed and headed off to the darkroom where we slept that night.
With only a few (3 to be exact) hours of sleep under our belts, we rose bright and early the next morning to a wind stricken Jerusalem. We packed what we thought was silently, and headed out to the bus station. We had obviously forgotten about the Jerusalem Marathon, so there were no buses. Ignoring the signs from God, we persisted through the runners to a coffee shop and looked up bus routes from the Holy City down to the Dead Sea. Lily met up with us an hour later.
We congratulated her on walking the marathon and set off for the bus station. 
Lily telling us about her hike, Rosa repeating stories from the night before with just as much gusto as she had the first time and I trying not to get lost navigating the winding streets we spend too much time on. We stopped at the shuk, having realised we hadn't quite thought our adventure through and bought some tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, oranges and a challah. These few items would become one of the best meals of the weekend.
The bus station wasn't the start of our problems, but yet again we ignored the obvious signs to turn back. First the weather, then the marathon and then we missed the bus.
Why did we think it was still okay to go? Why were we so determined to do this? 
We caught the next bus and spent the next three hours feeling car sick and trying to sleep, uncomfortably in the isle of the bus. Not knowing where to get off, one of us stayed awake to make sure we didn't end up all the way across the country. It wasn't me.
The desert heat and wind we had only just left a day before was not comforting. But the smile on Rosa's face as she witnessed the beauty of the Israeli desert view for the first time since we had arrived was priceless so I conceded to enjoy myself on this misadventure back through the wilderness. We panicked for about an hour as to what to do with our day. As we do when were together and thinking about the sticky situations we get ourselves into, we made hobo camp on the lawn outside the snazzy tourist hotels, almost immediately bringing down the property value tenfold. Eventually we decided to take our hobo camp over to the beach.

Bus-ing back to Jerusalem after admitting defeat in the Dead Sea, we all took a well deserved nap and put the thought of unbearably cold weather out of our minds, causing a mad scramble to pull all our hoodies and coats out of rucksacks on the pavement of the Central Bus Station. It was starting to rain and we wanted to be Jewish just this once. 
A little known fact about my life: I cant go to shule, it never works out. 
This was so proved by the fact that a torrential down pour that ensued as we walked,( it was raining sideways), trying to find the quaint shule Lily and I had attended our first Shabbat in Israel. We failed miserably and had to head back to the Etgar flat, cold, tired, spiritually unfulfilled, but laughing still. 
We ended up having an amazing dinner and service illegally in the dome of Beit Shmuel, singing all the songs we loved and praying for a someone we had met recently. Putting good vibes out into the world. 
We had salad and did kiddish with Sprite.

We woke up in the Dojo, recollections of the past few days, that seemed so far away now swimming through my mind that was still half asleep. Deciding that chocolate wasn't a healthy breakfast we busted the best mission for salad and scrambled eggs on toast, eating them down in the courtyard. The smell of burnt pop corn filled the apartment and only made me miss Netzer SA even more than before. The thought of missing day camps and movie nights lay heavily on my mind that night and skypeing Evan and Sivan made it worse. The rest of the afternoon we spent back in the Dojo being somewhat creative and writing slam poetry. 
A failed mission to Tel Aviv left us alone in the apartment. Noa came over for a while, bringing treats of Music in the form of a Havdallah service and little cakes. Rosa and I decided to go out partying one last time, hoping to meet up with Gozlan, but failing miserably at that too, we found ourselves in a trendy bar, over analysing life and drinking Goldstar.

Then, we slept.
Being "Macho" is an odd concept to grapple with while there is silly music about a girl who never stops thinking about a boy who she supposedly loves.

The Secret Menu

Depression captures the souls of too many
Untold stories of the past to
New found love in the future
Cautiously proceeded by playful antics on warm lonely nights through the
Auspicious streets of a city that never sleeps
Night falls and they are held tight

Alone in the dark,
Lights flashing in tie with the dull hum
Even as they lie there there is no knowing what will
Are they apart of this crazy misadventure of forbidden love in a time that doesn't
Eeary silence
Ready? He whispers

Could this be the moment weve all been waiting for? The applause from a crowded hall
Over the balcany
Even in the pitch dark of the night, his shadow is illuminated
Run away with me?

Artificial Seretonin

The concept of depression is so hard to grasp when you're on the other side, the light side. The side that doesn't quite know where it starts and how it feels to be looking in on what were all told is where we want to be. When you cannot understand the process of life under the constant influence of medication and the power of negative thoughts about anything and everything. People often think its just a thing people have. An excuse to complain or be alone, but sometimes, most times, its an unavoidable disease brought about by chemical imbalances in ones own brain. A biological flaw that we will forever be ridiculed for having. A mistake in our genetics that we cannot help, or cure. A problem rooted in your own psyche. A metaphor for an unjust world where peoples words and gestures are magnified by incomprehension.

Its unfortunate, but a reality that people turn to substances to make it all just that much more bearable. In best case scenarios, people are able to overcome this disease, turn their mental habits into a work of art. Use it to their advantage and become famous for it. Kurt Cobain will forever live on in our memories as will Vincent Van Go. But are they really role models or should we look deeper into the bloodshot eyes and sunken expressions of our friends and siblings, force them to face the reality that one of these days they're just not going to be able to make it out alive. They wont be able to reach that high any more and the artificial happiness just wont be the same.

I've seen it before, only in brief glimpses through flashing blue lights, on a comfortable bed on the floor eating ice cream as the dim light of the early morning forces its way through the dishevelled curtains, but I know it was real. It was a glow that hung around his matted fro of dark brown curls, reaching almost to his collar, forced across his forehead from nervous twitching. For the first time I had seen the tiniest hint of real happiness. There was no need for that joint he often told himself that he needed, there was no need for the bottle of pills that lay half empty on his bedside table. In that one small moment, I knew he would realise that it was just an excuse, that deep down he knew that there was still hope and the he could feel it inside him. The power to make a change. To himself, to his family. He didn't need to do it, but I knew, all too well, that there was still that nagging urge, the pull you feel at the back of your neck just as it hits you. That comforting tugg, pulling you under where you know you can forget everything, the reason you keep coming back to the dealer, the reason you tell yourself that one more drag wont hurt, that after this one you'll stop because it will all be better. Never thinking past the pull, never thinking to the next morning, never realising its all part of the haze, the addiction.

Being able to find it within yourself to know the difference between the artificial happiness and the glow you emmit when you're not on a different level to the majority of the world is a delicate subject, one not often discussed by the people who need to discuss it most. They all know that its there, they're scared. Scared to admit defeat and scared to try in case they fail.

I haven't thought of a solution to this problem, because I don't think its something generic. I just though, for a while, about him, and that night and her and the person she used to be, and the unfortunate reality that she's probably very little of the person she was before she stopped the pills, the man he was before he started and the reason I have the utmost faith that in some small way we both helped each other out of a dark place.

The most beautiful Souls.

There is so much truth in the world at 3am.

Sitting in a trendoid bar this evening with my South African friend drinking beer that reminds me all too much of home really only intensified the thought process that has been a non-stop ocurrance since I arrived in this country just over a month ago.

We spoke for what seemed like hours, even days. That's all we do when were together, I feel as though I have no one to talk that intensely in my house, and that its a refreshing change when I see them. To be comfortable enough to be myself, to freak out over my pillow, to rub our bellies and to say silly things and have profound thoughts, (that aren't all that profound) and not be scared of judgement when we voice them. I feel as though I'm sinking backwards into a dark abyss of loosing myself. I hate having to conform to this society were creating within our community where being different is a bad thing. Where being oneself is frowned upon.

I was sitting on the couch the other day, feeling more at home then I have in a very long time. I was just talking to the room, they, all more tired than I was, (me - being used to living in a haze of semi-exhaustion) and therefore all quieter than usual. A perfect opportunity for random voices. Entertainment. Something so often only brought about by music more often than not by the same people and by specific people at that. I'm not musical so I cannot relate. I like voices, I like people. I like to just talk and say things. They all looked at me with quizzical expressions on their faces, confusion in their tired eyes as to what was going on. Someone asked where what I was saying was from, as though in complete disbelief as to the fact that someone, normally so quiet, could fathom or think of something mildly different than "Yes, okay, good". It was then that I realised I was sinking away. Floating further and further away from the person that had taken me so long to find within myself and bring out to the world. It was then that I realised just how much I missed being at home, not for the tea, not for the food, not for the people, but for the place where I felt as though I could be the person that I was. Freely.

The talking intensified, along with the thinking that never quite seems to stop. I sometimes have to consciously think of a dark area, normally a large black square, whilst trying to fall asleep to make it go away. My brain never really shuts down. I'm fidgety, a constant motion, a constant need to itch, to twitch to get carried away with mundane things. I have to move. I have to be busy. Back in the smoke-y bar, over analysing life, love, the universe and other round things I came to a few conclusions about Love. Something that has always bothered and confused me about this whole "love" dilemma is why we feel the need to define it, analyse it and constantly seek it. That's all terribly hipocritacal, because that's exactly what I do. I seem to fall in love with people all to quickly. All to easily. More often than not for the wrong reasons. I wear my heart on my sleeve and its gotten me into more than one sticky situation. I don't believe it exists but I still use it, over use it even. The excuse of "love".

We as humans tend to throw around these words until they have virtually no meaning at all. Say a world enough times and it doesn't sound like its even real.
Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl. Bowl Bowl.

We have to find that delicate balance within ourselves where we can distinguish between being in love with someone on a level of Romantic Interest and where we find people who just have this amazingly, conceptual idea of how we should be and how the world should be. We have to be able to notice when were attracted to people because of our inherent need to find people to procreate with or weather we just want to have the opportunity to soak up this amazing vibe from a persons soul. We have to decide when to be Ron and Hermione, or when we want to be Dementors. (But the good kind, where its not that we want to suck out peoples souls and devour them, but where we want to absorb their feelings and ideas about the world. Being able to tell weather I'm "in love" with someone or weather I just want to hangout will always be the biggest issue in my life.
Do I marry the cool old woman who has these cool ideas about women and the world and life, who lives in Mozambique and has dreadlocks, or do I find and attractive young man with a successful career and settle down to have a family? None of these situations seem appealing to me, but its what society expects of me. To make a decision about something so abstract in such a conventional way. Either of these options provide society with a chance to make judgements. What they think is right, never once taking into consideration my opinion in the matter, always assuming that I have made a decision that is set in stone. The main stigma behind divorce I think.

From late night existential crises, to overly exaggerated hand gestures and long complicated sentences without punctuation marks in smoke-y pubs and all the slam poetry its hard to keep track of ones thoughts. I have a journal. A quote book. 3 files for notes taken in class. A creativity book and this blog. Where do I begin and then where do I end it all off? What's even relevant any more? Who am I and what am I doing here? These are the real questions that I'm asking myself but when does it start sounding pretentious, or become irrelevant. There are so many more important things in the world; like people and politics. As much as it pains me to say it, I now live in a country where other people take preference over me. I live in a house where people are die-ing of the plague and I cannot help them. I feel as though I'm going stercrazy with the mess and the dust. I have no space for myself and the apartment is barely quiet. When it is, like now, its eeary so I have music. I'm scared to be alone, but crave it. Crave it like all the food I've been missing in my diet. Never before had I needed to eat Marmite and mow I find myself craving it at 3am on toast. What is going on with me? With my brain and my body?

When does it all stop being a ruse and turn into real life? Does real life become all just a ruse to keep the masses happy? How long will it last?

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Or just tired thoughts projected on to the screen of my laptop?

There is a dull hum around the apartment as I write.

I was thinking yesterday during Jefferys Peulah about the situation in Gaza and Israel at the moment. When we first arrive on Shnat were all in our own groups, with people were meant to feel comfortable with. We flock together and stick together because of a basic understanding, a shared  culture or an equally long and painful plane ride. We group ourselves to feel safe. We form our own community within a larger community for fear of being left behind.
Sivan once told me, just before we left for Shnat, that there would be this divide. Either I didn't believe her, or I just didn't understand how that could be possible but here I am, a month down the line, over analysing everything and she was right.

Lily and I are the only South Africans doing Shnat Netzer. We spend more time together than we ever did back home in SA because we are each others security blanket in this new, scary place. We arrived on Netzer Sem, to a room filled with Australians. They had all known each other for years before. They had all already established these bonds, and friendships. Just like Lily and I, they were each others security blankets.
Then the northerners arrived. Imediatly, and only after knowing each other for 8 days as the Southerners we were forced to bond together and for a new kind of security blanket. It was no longer the Aussies and the Saffas, but a unified group of Southerners. Being thrown into a completely new group with all their dynamics and  group drama isn't an easy feat. Its like going to a new school and being forced to make friends with the popular girls.
So, just like that, we were united through the fear of having no one.

I imagine its the same for the Machon people. They're thrown into many larger groups of already established safety circles and so they have to bond together to become Netzer. Unfortunately, and I think it may be a flaw in the Etgar program, we have to find different ways to bond our group. That's the most challenging part, and probably, although sub-consciously why we choose to do Etgar.

So, my solution for the problem in the middle east, which will probably sound ridiculous when I read this again without the haze of sleep deprivation, is: For the super powers of the world, in politics, to rage a collective war on both Palestine and Israel, forcing them to come together and unite as one country, one nation, one people fighting for the Holy Land in any-which-way they want it to remain. Thereby forcing the people to come together in a just cause to save themselves and their neighbours. It would have to be the most strategically planned and well thought out, but I'm pretty sure that in an ideal world it would work out.

Those are my thoughts on war for now.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Pooping in the Wilderness

Etgar Southern Tiyul 2012
Tiyul Day One:

We woke up pretty darn early, packed our bags and were all on the bus before it left. It was a long drive down to the desert and after a brief lunch and Naomi's first Poop in the wilderness we packed our Rucksacks with all the essential supplies and headed out to start out three day Survival Experience.


2 Gas Stoves
2 Pots and Lids
2 Tea Kettles
4 Loaves of Bread
Assorted Vegetables
Assorted Fruits
Peanut Butter
Jams and Sauces
A Tarp
Walkie Talkie

The dust of the dessert was slowly settling into a layer on my hiking boots, already well worn in by the previous tiyul and the steep incline of Jerusalem. My feet tried desperately to curl around the rocky ground in the Negev desert but failed dismally, being encased in protective fibres of rubber and shoelaces. The sun beat down on us as we walked at a steady pace through the winding crevices of the huge sand dunes. Excited chatter filled the open expanse of the wilderness that would be our home for the next 18 kilometres. The gentle swish of the water in my backpack reminded me I had to drink. The cool liquid quenching the thirst I had not been aware of. 
The dry sand felt refreshing on my bare feet after walking the whole day. Being able to feel the desert for real made it all the more worth it. From the tiniest of stones to the biggest rocks, the wonder of the worlds climates made my head spin.

Our first day was a short hike, just getting into the groove of the desert, from our pit stop to our camp for the night. Jemma ran a Ma'amad for us on the way and we stopped a few times for peulot and explanations from our Guide Talia. We had decided to spend the hike split into two teams: Boys Vs. Girls. Obviously we would win. Besides all the drama and Battle of the Sexes vibe that erupted over the course of the tiyul we really managed to bond as a group of girls. I feel like we should have sleep overs and braid each others hair.

That night we had an Asefah (Group Meeting) around the bonfire and played Truth or Dare till the wee hours of the morning. Thats when the sandstorm hit and we were all cooped up in our tents waiting for it to blow over.

Tiyul Day Two:

We woke bright and early to a chilly morning, packed up our tents and refilled our supplies. Today we would start our navigation course. Yesterday seemed so much easier. The very first thing we did was hike a huge mountain. I felt like I was going to die of exhaustion. At the top, Talia showed us how to navigate using maps and what we saw around us. Setting off on our journey the first stop was a pee break. We walked for what felt like hours and finally stopped for lunch on a beautiful mountain gorge. The drop looked more like a reflection, as though it was filled with water. the desert heat was getting to us. We cooked rice and ate about three hundred million sandwiches!

More walking.

A Spring! (or Reform Mikvah for some American Bar Mitzvah Boys if you so wish) Another place to rest and ponder nature.

The water was ice cold on my feet, a contrast to yesterdays sand experience. The rocks were slippery and I dreaded putting my shoes back on, but camp was only 2 kilometres away and we had to push on. I walked alone for most of the walk back, listening to the wind and the distant chatter of my Etgar peeps. There were birds and there were sounds of foot steps and it just made me realise how noisy it always is in the city. Its so good to get out of the world and just be able to hang out in nature and be free. Be able to poop behind a bush or pee on rocks, it makes it all the more worth while.

On our new camp site we did some stretches and recapped the day. We built a better tent area making sure we were all shielded from the wind and ate our dinner on the large, bamboo carpet.
A solo Experience: Talia took us a little way up the trail in the pitch black of the desert, our eyes slowly adjusting to the night far away from the lights of our bonfire. She sat each of us down about 7 meters apart. We were left alone in the night, to think, to ponder, to sleep, to dream. I woke up in a panic. Where was I? Had they left me? What would I do? I was cold and panicked, alone in the desert. The fighter planes now flying over head more frequently. After I had calmed down I realised what a silly think that was to think and saw some dark shapes coming towards me- They hadn't left after all.

We huddled around the fire after the brief explosion of over tiredness and emotional turmoil where Rebekkah ran away and Jemma freaked out and listened to Noa tell stories in Hebrew, Jeff tell scary stories and Dan Aaron and Jemma talk about their adventures doing crazy things like scuba diving.

Tiyul Day Three

The hardest day. We re-grouped, this time boys and girls mixed and headed out, navigating our own way across the desert to our destination town. I hiked with Eily, Dan Aaron and Jeff. They made the hike so much more enjoyable with their silly jokes and our redundant game of "I Spy"

Emily: "I spy with my little eye something beginning with R"
Jeff: "I spy with my little eye something that is brown"
- The ground

There were so many hills and so many rocks and I had to pee soooooo many more times than necessary. It was hotter we were all way more tired and the day just never seemed to end, but standing on the top of that last hill, thinking to myself and looking back and seeing just how far we had come. I was proud to say that I did it. Even if I did complain and whine a lot. I'll be the but of any whine-y joke because I just survived three days in the wilderness.
Suck on that.

That night we stayed in a hostel. All the girls spent the day hanging out and talkoing about the boys. More bonding and showering and being clean for us!
Jeff ran a peulah where he read us some updates on the rocket attacks and Guy ran a peulah about Ben Gurions dream to "Make the Desert Bloom". We had a Ma'amad overlooking the tips of the mountains and down into the valley. Singing Hatikvah, the Shmah and a prayer for peace whilst more and more bomber planes flew over head was surreal and slightly frightening. I had that terrible feeling in my stomach that I used to get when Gordon pretended to be dead and just lay on the floor. Like I was helpless and alone, worried for the safety of others and feeing as though the whole world would end and it was all exploding inside me.
We had a pretty chilled evening hanging out eating strawberries and jamming to every song in the Shiron, drinking Hot Chocolate.

Tiyul Day Four:

Breakfast bright and early followed by a tour of Yerucham.
We went to a library.
We went to a youth centre.
We were at a dam for a while.
We played on jungle gyms.
We slid down slides.
We slept on the bus.
We ate Humus.
We ate more hummus.
There was so much humus.

Israel Update

Gaza militants fire rockets at Israel, Iron Dome intercepts projectiles over Be'er Sheva
Source: Gaza truce holds as Israel warns of Iran influence - World News | IOL News |

Attacks come mere days following an Egypt-mediated ceasefire agreement between Israel and militants in the coastal enclave; Be'er Sheva, Ashdod, and Ashkelon call off studies in local schools over renewed violence.
The Israel Air Forces' Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two Grad-type rockets launched toward the southern city of Be'er Sheva on Wednesday, despite a truce reached between Israel and Gaza militants earlier this week, while a third projectile landed in an open field in the vicinity of the town of Ofakim.
Municipalities of the cities of Be'er Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon  announced later Wednesday that studies in the cities' schools would be called off for Thursday, after only two days since announcing a return to studies following the Egypt-mediated ceasefire.
It was not the first time since the ceasefire that rockets were fired at Israel's south, a Grad-type Katyusha rocket also hitting a residential area in the southern town of Netivot late Tuesday. One person was lightly wounded.
In addition, even prior to the attack on Netivot, seven rockets and five mortar shells were fired toward southern Israel throughout Tuesday. They exploded in open areas and there were no reported casualties.
All in all, about 200 rockets have exploded in Israeli territory since the latest round of violence between Israel and Gaza broke out on Friday and until the Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants agreed to cease fire.
Responding to rocket fire, the Israel Air Force carried out 37 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, 19 strikes targeted rocket-launchers and 18 targeted weapons warehouses in response to rocket attacks.
Twenty-six Palestinians were killed as a result of IAF strikes on Gaza. Out of these 22 were militants and 4 were civilians who were in the area of IAF strikes, but were not involved in the rocket fire.
Earlier Tuesday, IDF officials announced that, following the ceasefire, 207,000 schoolchildren in communities 7-40 kilometers from Gaza would be returning to their studies on Wednesday, for the first time since the beginning of the week.

For more:
AFP: Fragile Gaza truce holds as Israel warns on Iran
Israel Agrees To A Ceasefire With Palestinian Militants After Four Days Of Violence | World News | Sky News


As it's the week of Purim, our Weekly Madrichim: Emily and Jeff instilled the dress up everyday rule.

Sunday 4 March
Dress: Hippies.

Best Hebrew lesson ever. 
Best Tanach lesson ever.
Best day so far.
and then:
Worst Asefah ever.

Jeff is such a dick sometimes. Ruined everything. But at least now we have new assefah rules.
We watched Crazy. Stupid. Love in the Dojo for Jemmas birthday celebrations a week late. Jeff got really angry and killed the Dojo. But it will never die. Now its awesome. At around 2am, Jake and I went to get ice cream, we ate it on the couch like teenage girls. It was beautiful.

Sprite Day 5 March
Dress: Sprite Colours

We had a brief excursion to Meyersharim, the really conservative part of Jerusalem. We had to dress really modestly and what not. When we were walking through the suburb I really didn't feel that out of place like some people did. I thought it was quite cool to see these kinds of people really following what the believe in to the max of maxes. Sometimes I feel as Netzer we really don't follow our beliefs and if we do they're never to the full extent. Were all very lazy and it hurts my soul. We should try harder to be better Jews and People and Netzernicks.

Tuna Tuesday 6 March
Dress: Purim Style! I was a Smurf.
We threw a Purim Party for the kindergarten.

I think this discussion was really good for once. A lot of people didn't participate but the ones that did had really interesting things to say. I feel like if we had these kinds of discussions in smaller groups it would allow is a better environment for discussion. Especially because of the intense topics. Because its movement time though, I wish we had more time or a better set out platform to discuss things related to Netzer. We should be discussing our ideology as well as the other topics that we do.
I also had a good think about one of our previous topics after this tuna Tuesday: Consumerist Relationships and what everyone on shnat is gaining from their relationships with other people here. It was quite intense and mos of it is not suitable for the internet, but maybe one day when we all back on opposite sides of the world.

Wednesday 7 March
Dress: Like a volunteer.

Volunteering at the soup kitchen, I felt in the way mostly and like there were too many people and not enough things to do.

All the boys dressed up as girls and we went to a reading of the Migilah, wich is slightly controversial because of us being in a walled city. We had dinner at Japanikah and then we all hopped on a Shirut to Tel Aviv. What a party. There was a shuk party and I met up with Amir and had the most awkward, yet not awkward experience ever. We did a lot of catching up, but we'll see him this weekend because we're having a program with the Israelie shnatties- The Michinah.

Thursday 8 March 
Dress: Purim!

We had a rather interesting reading of the migilah at Kol Haneshamah and then went off into the night time atmosphere of Purim in the holy land. Rosa and I met up with Anat and Noa and Gozlan. We made our way past the shuk party to a house party. We enjoyed eachothers company as the shlichim were pre occupied with their prospective lovers, we danced to Matisyahu and danced in the streets. I'm so glad I got to Fifth wheel on EVERYBODYS lives. (Lily has a Boy Friend!)

Friday 9 March
A chilled Shabbat for us and an excursion through the old city to places that cannot be named. We did things that cannot be told and ate food that cannot be spoken of (it was good though) and I bough me some chocolate for my late night existential crisis. I haven't had many lately though...
Rosa and I skyped Sivan the rest of the afternoon while I made the best pasta salad for our Shabbat Dinner.

I had y first date in the Holy Land! Jokes, it wasn't a date I was just hanging out with Amir having conversations about life. It was great. It felt like old times.

That night we had a Purim Party with the Michinah and Noar Telem. We all dressed like the opposite sex and ate so much sweets and hot dogs and cake and all sorts of fun things. We danced and hung out and the israelies made noises.
After the party our flat was filled with Noam people and we all went out for Hummus. Theyre so cool! I wish we could know noam people. They're basically people from London just here in israel doing a six month almost gap year program. This one guy (His name is Guy) could do the best South African accent. Oh my god it was amazing. They all asked me about Biltong and why I dont say: "Gahy" and "Marituuuuuuuuuuus" It was a beautiful moment in my life.

Tiyul in the morning!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Singing in the Rain

Friday 2 March

Shabbat Dinner with the Gozlan Family.
We finally got to meet the other Gozlan.

The cold rain dripped down our necks and faces and off the tips of our noses as we walked/wondered around the streets of a previously unfamiliar part of Jerusalem. We had met a fellow Saffa at the bus stop and shared a wafer whilst waiting for (hopefully) the right bus. After walking around the streets with soaked shoes and coats, we gave in and called Gozlan to find out how to get to his house so we could be warm. A cup of tea later and I was already sound asleep to the sound of gentle strumming and chatter from Rosa and Gozlan. I have an uncanny knack for falling asleep to them talking. Eventually he made me go sleep in his bed and said cute things like: "I'm closing the light". Rosa came to spoon soon after and we had a sleepy conversation about something. I don't know what it was because I was not concious.
The smell of the house and the warm cuddles from Rosa made me so happy inside.

Dinner was scary to say the least. There was a lot of political debates in Hebrew wich made conversation hard to follow but entertaining nonetheless. The food was amazing. I think I love shabbat the most because the food is so good and it completely backs up my idea of having a warm meal and enough sleep and love can cure, even the biggest bout of homesickness.

A hilarious Skype Date with Gyreth, Sivan, Evan and Jake wrapped up our evening with Goz.

Back at the flat there was a party in the Dojo and Naomi made chips and dips. Jake is still the best cuddler, except when he sits ON the blanket instead of under it.

Saturday 3 March

In the afternoon I met Rosa for some trendoid time in a trendy coffee shop on Hilel Street. we ate malawach and drank hot chocolate and had life crisis about how were homeless and we shold have been more welcoming to our people in South Africa. We came to the conclusion that its really something you have to experience yourself to really understand what its like to be homeless. The hot chocolate was delicious and its really nice to have someone to talk to on the outside of Shnat. They're not involved enough for them to be affected by the drama, but they are involved enough to understand the group dynamics and the life style. I really wish Rosa would be here with us doing shnat, but I'm so glad and proud of her that shes really doing her own thing and that she's dealing with life and growing as a human.
Sounds lame but its true.

Boobs and skirts night!
Basically everyone, and by everyone I mean all the girls got dressed up into a skirt and what was supposed to be a "boob top". We all changed outfits every five minutes, trying to decide what to wear and what constituted the appropriate amount of skirt and boob for skirts and boobs night. The wind was cold on our legs as we walked through the wind, laughing and shouting: "Oh my God! Taglit!" after having a n intense discussion in the Superpharm about how much Sprite to mix with our Vodka. Outside in the street we made friends with a whole bunch of randoms and were having a heated discussion about the rain in Seattle while Noa was being strange in the corner and we couldn't decide what to do with the Sprite. The night quickly deteriorated into grinding in sleazy shnattie pubs on crack square. The loud music of the club was pulsating through the bodies of our fellow Machon Shnatties as we all celebrated Aris birthday.

Lily and I were hanging out with her boy and my ... friend. I decided it was time to stop hanging out with so many shnat people and made friends with some random Americans that turned out to be really nice people and we shared some pizza. We went inside for some warmth and before I knew it, everyone had left me at the bar again, and it was raining outside.

Ari walked me home and it was hilarial. It was raining and I felt silly.
I cant decide how I feel about this Ari guy. He sems really uptight about life and so much less chilled than he needs to be and all weird and up in my grill all the time, but all his friends say he's really great but like... its Shnat, and I'm finding myself.
Jemma was nearly falling off the bed, crying with laughter.

A good night all round.