Sunday, 29 April 2012

Commanders Log:

Sunday 22 April 2012
The start of Army Week and ultimately the worst week of my (and Rebekah's) lives. We thought it would be a good idea to make the Assefah in the form of the army, so after a hearty dinner of pizza we headed down, in uniform, to start the assefah. We organised the troops in chet formation and swore them into the NDF (Netzer Defence Force). After a heated discussion and sadly some tears, we ended the assefah. Rebekkah and I stayed up on the roof till about 3am organising our lives, eating cookies, drinking tea and being absoloutly rediculous. We made a movie :D

Monday 24 April 2012
We woke up bright and early for our tour in Tel Aviv.

Tuesday 25 April 2012
MKK- An interesting discussion on Reform Zionism, as it is stated in the Netzer Platforms. It was amazing.  I want more ZIONISM!
Yom Tnua- We went all the way to Latrun for the Erev Yom Ha'atzma'ut Tekes. I spent a good deal of the time at the tekes with niagra falls on my face. A whole bunch of people performed songs for fellow soldiers and their families. There was one ex soldier that was injoured in battle and he played the guitar and sung songs for his comrades that had fallen. It was so beautiful, although Lily didn't think so...
I spent the rest of the night with Rebekah in the Dojo planning our peulot for the next day and watching videos on youtube.

Wednesday 26 April 2012
The Etgar group went to Har Hertzel for the Yom Ha'atzma'ut Ceremony. Rebekkah and I walked around and stopped at the Navy Memorial for the two minute long silence, where everyone stood still to commemorate their families or loved ones.
I watched a woman and her husband standing over their childs grave, tears pouring down both their faces, a handkerchief clutched between trembling fingers, and I felt helpless.
I spent the afternoon having my room mates attacking me for waking them up in the middle of the night, even though they wake me up at ungodly hours of the morning by spraying four thousand bottles of deodorant and single handedly killing the planet in more ways than one.
Erev Yom Ha'zikaron was a sight un-be-told by any previous Shnattie. One could not even begin to imagine the kind of electricity that had built up in the Holy Land of Israel over the past few hours. The city had transformed from being in mourning to being as proud as ever to  be in existence. Independence day had started. The streets were filled with vendors selling light up Israel hammers and snow in a can. We started off  the chilly evening at Machon with some of my Aussie friends in a little picnic of Laffah and Hummus and Dips. We all sat in a circle listening to music, although I was too excited to pay that much attention.

The four of them sat, feet in the flower bed. They wondered about the world and the children that were just beyond the bushes, playing on the jungle gym as the sun went down on a solemn day. They sat in a circle and some played soccer while the sounds of the city grew louder in her ears. People faded in and out of her thoughts. She would sometimes volunteer her musings to the sounds of amused laughter and scoffing form people who thought she was mad. 
They left the safety of the park and ventured out into the party that had erupted in the streets of Downtown Jerusalem. 
Hillel street was one big party. "Rabbi Nachman Nachman Neoman" echoed through the early hours of the morning, along with the awe inspiring firework displays and the Hebrew Rap Artists in Crack Square. The two girls spent their night dancing and on a constant search for blue. Stumbling upon the Store of Requirement, (the biggest candy store in the whole country) where they found drinks and liquorish. They sat on a bench to enjoy the people, the sights and the music. Lights and sounds emanating through the ancient walls couldn't keep her eyes open, and she retreated to the safety and warmth of her bed.

Thursday 27 April 2012
I awoke to the sounds of an Air Show over head. Feeling overly inspired I "Reformed the Dojo" and headed off for an adventure on the tram with Rebekkah. We had originally decided to go shopping but all the stores were closed. I did buy some cool rings though.
I had plans with Ari and so we grabbed some snacks and headed over to Machon. After a long debate over the phone about weather or not we would help clean his room, we decided we wouldn't but we'd still go over and distract him. We ended up waiting for the bus, that took a hundred years to get there and eating ice cream waiting for him to finish "Cleaning". Gal set up the projector in an abandoned class room, but we didn't finish it. instead we vowed to finish it another time and went mattress surfing down the stairs.

He was strumming his guitar in the moonlight, singing softly under his breath while she told stories he didn't seem to be interested in. Gradually, he got louder and she stopped talking to listen to hi singing. Laying back on the damp grass she could barely see the stars but she strained her eyes so she could. It was chilly and she wanted nothing more than to lean into his chest and sleep. She loved the grass instead.

"You alone have the stars, as no one else has them"

Friday 27 April - Saturday 28 April 2012

I woke up in The Institution to a frantic call from Rosa telling me I had to be on a bus to Tel Aviv within the hour. Groggily, I looked around the room. It was still dirty, the previous nights cleaning had obviously not made much of a difference as there were still clothes everywhere. Still in my pajamas, I caught a bus home and hastily showered, stuffing clothes; two sleeping bags; my camera; extra shoes; a foam mattress and my toothbrush into my hkiing backpack. I left Jerusalem's sweltering heat for an even hotter Tel Aviv by Shirut and had 6 sheckel Falafel in the Bus Station. It was the best falafel I had ever had.
The four of us, our b]classic hiking group boarded the bus to Be'er Shevah and managed to catch the last bus the Sde' Boker. I must have fallen asleep because the normally long and unbearable bur ride to the south was really rather quick and I was well rested when we got to our camping grounds.
We met two really nice Israelies who made us coffee and pointed us in the right direction. We hiked our way down a small mountain ravine to the camping grounds where we set up our tent and ate a lovely salad and pitah dinner. It was still light, and we had done all the things we would normally have done in pitch dark. We got comfy in a leaning square and talked animatedly about boys and the world and how weird it would be when the four became three and then two.
We woke up bright and early, although not as well rested as off the bus to the amazing mountains and the middle of nowhere. We packed up camp, put our largely obtrusive backpacks back on our backs and headed off to follow the green and blue trail markers. Deciding we didn't want to hike all that much we found a nice shady place for a picnic and took a nap.
Later, on our way back, we met a lovely gentle man who we bribed with cookies to give us a ride back to J-ruz.
The car ride was progressively less awkward as Lily worked her magic and made political conversations while I only volunteered some sarcastic comments about superstition from the back seat.
A phone call from Anat meant that we would be having a farewell dinner for Rosa, at, conveniently, a restaurant called "Roza".
The food was amazing, and warm for once, while the company was even better. Gal joined us and did some reminiscing about Australia with the other Aussie that was there while the shlichim and I lead a few good rounds of Nkosi Sikelela and Shosholoza. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen, but ended up with us being kicked to the curb at 2am when the restaurant wanted to close. We hugged goodbye and promised to see everyone soon.
"I hope all is well in Daisy's dreams..."

All the Walking

Monday 23 April 2012

Almost all of Etgar headed down to Tel Aviv for the day. We had a tour of the museum where they have exhibits from Diaspora Jewry. I really like the Sports Exhibit where they told us all about the Rugby Team that couldn't play on Yom Kippur. I felt so proud to be a South African Jew.
Later, after we had finnished our Siyur, Naomi, Emily, Rebekkah and myself got on a bus to the beach.

My eyes were tired, burning from being open for too long. The dull hum of the bus' engine was ringing in my ears. Everything was too loud. Darkness. People. Darkness. My eyelids fluttering open and closed, fighting the urge to fall asleep. My head, resting against the vibrating window of the bus was slipping off my hand. My neck unable to hold it up. My body, unable to stay awake, functioning. Shifting images filled my unconscious mind and words accidentally spill from my lips. Sleep talking. I awoke to find a different woman next to me, Naomi looking lost and confused, trying to find out where we were. The four of us had evidently fallen asleep on the bus to the beach. We disembarked, panicked and cold, to the pavement of Bat Yam. King Falafel filled our growling bellies and we boarded a new bus back to Tel Aviv. We left Naomi and Emily and continued our adventure around the city.

Rebekkah sleeping on the bus.

The azreali mall.
Eventually, we ended up in the Azreali Mall, the largest mall in the city, and ate some ice cream and boarded another form of Public Transport, bringing our grand total of public transport to: 7 (Walking; a tram; a bus; a train; another bus; another train; another bus; more walking and a taxi)
This is a map of everywhere we went:
The Red is the Bus, the blue is the train, the green is the second bus, the purple is us walking around.


Do You Want some Beer with That?

19 April - 21 April 2012

What normally happens in these situations is that Rosa and Lily call me, and tell me to go somewhere and it normally ends quite badly, or we get ourselves into very sticky situations. 
I met them for a small tour around the Church of the Holy Seplica and we had some REAL hummus, in a quaint little hummus place.

We left early and went to shule. If by went to shule I mean sat in a dump and ate chocolate and died of hysterics. Thats all we do when we're together: eat and giggle and complain, and then we complain about eating too much. But, eventually, we ended up in shule, listening to the beautiful singing that is the only real reason I like going to Kol Ha Neshamah. I think I fell asleep.

We took small walk to the Gozlans for dinner. These are my favourite meals because is like Nathanel is a little kid again. Its the sweetest thing. You can tell that, that's how he was when he was little. Ah! :D
 We had a small rebellion against the chicken soup because Nathanel 'forgot' Lily was a veggie, and I don't think he knew I was changing my lifestyle.

Spontanious hikes in the Judaic Desert:
The sun beat down on us as we stretched before our hike to the Monastery in the middle of the desert. Lily and I had come down stairs to rescue Rosa from her work colleges friends and ended up joining their hike for the day. We've now learnt to not wear our Adventure Boots to the shops. We walked for what felt like ages, we fought our way through all the elements of nature that day. There was water that we had to swim through, rocks we had to hang on to, mountains we had to climb, rivers we had to brave and the incesent obnoxiousness of one obnoxious teenager from the ARDC to bare through. On the way home we picked up a hitch hiker from France and got kicked out of Aroma because: 'The police said so.', we ate the best Malawach and met up with the rest of Netzer for a surprise picnic for Naomi.

And there it is. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

You Don't Look Jewish.

I had never had the feeling of being a cult before. We had joked about it, and laughed a long too, but I had never really felt like it was a legitimate feeling. Until now.

I sat in the pew of the HUC Synagouge, three rows from the back, and looked around the room.
I haven't been in a shule for ages, the last time I was 13 years old and was reading from the Torah on my Bat Mitzvah. It was the first time that  actually had enough understanding and self confidence to just sit, and watch and listen. I allowed myself to get lost in thought.

Before, when I was younger, I didn't really understand My Judaism and why we do what we do, so I always just took it for granted. Now, looking around at the Rabbinic Students I felt as though I didn't belong. I've never felt like this before and I didn't know quite how to handle it.
The cult like feelings I had were intensified by the people in front; and behind me bowing and chanting in unison. I felt like an outsider.

My mind drifted to the same place as my body through the singing and chanting and  felt as though I could feel my thoughts. I though about the army, and the way it must feel to be shot. I could feel a pain in my shoulder and the breathlessness that I can only imagine. My brain occupationally tuned in and out of the speech from the Rabbi leading the service. He spoke fondly of the yamulke he was wearing, from a survivor in the Shoah. Every so often he would touch his hand to his head, tentatively, fondly. Almost caressing.

I thought then, as I have the past few days, about showing my Judaism, and how I don't have any means to do so. I looked around the room to the men wrapping tefilah and the women clipping their yarmulkes to their hair. I had spent so many years in school hiding it for fear of humiliation. Flash backs of Grade Eight came rushing back. A boy, knocking my books and pencil case to the ground everyday. His friends laughing as they spat at me and called me a dirty Jew. I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling, and it will be a long time before I can publicly display my Judaism with pride.

A small part of me finally understood why people would think that the Jews as a people were strange or exclusive, and no matter how much we try and deny it, we know that its a truth and that it always will be. We're exclusive. We're a clique. It's odd.

Monday, 23 April 2012

America Week

It was me and four Americans for a good chunk of the week.
We found ourselves leaving directly after eating when we went to get bagles and ice cream on Tuesday Afternoon, and I had to stop the girls putting up an American Flag in the living room, for fear there would be an American revolt. For the rest of the week, it was mundane activities like Lap Tops and The Facebook. I struggled to sleep with no one else in my room, and realised its hard to live on your own after living with other people for so long. 

Disclaimer: For all the details of the week-see the Weekly Report.

This is just the interesting stuff that I can't tell Rabbis and parents:

She stayed at The Institution that night, against her better judgement, but too tired to leave. There were no buses anyway. She wanted to run, to jump, to play, long having missed the smell of grass freshly coated in dew and the open spaces to do handstands without fear of hard concrete ground. One of the only upsides to The Institution being the wide expanse of grass and the Room of Zen so different from her lonely bedroom in the Flat. She sat under the table in his room, watching an average show about hipsters that turned out to be rather funny and breathing in the dull smell of deodorant that hung on the air and the laundry strewn across the floor. His hands were warm running down her back, forming circles, swirling in and out of her hair. They were close. It was comforting, but not over whelming. It was silly, all too silly for words. They fell asleep, noses touching to the sounds of the other six people, all breathing at different intervals, on stolen mattresses on the floor. 

She woke early the next morning, slightly sleepy, but determined. She contemplated for a minute waking up her friend, deciding there was no other way and then making her way through the silent corridors to the other room. She dressed in the dark, as quiet as possible, not wanting to wake up the sleeping bundles that lay, still curled in their slumber. At such and early hour, the roads were still silent. Birds chirped their approval above her head, but she was distracted. 
2 bus rides and a tram ride later, she was volunteering with her flat mates at a School for Kids Who Cant Read Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. To top it all off, she had showered and made tea with time to spare.

She spent the afternoon curled up in a blanket watching British TV Shows and spiralling down rabbit holes trough tangled dreams of a wonderland.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Brief Interlude

It's about one thirty am and I'm sitting on the purple couch, as I often do at the end of each week to write my blog posts. I'm cold because of the chill from the open window behind me and my hair is wet. The weather has spontaneously decided to become winter again, and I'm uncomfortably full from three months of eating Hummus and Pitah Bread. My feet hurt and the glands in my throat are swollen wich makes sleeping only a mildly satisfying event. My feet hurt and I want nothing more than for someone to rub them and tell me it will all be okay. Tomorrow marks my second official week as a 'Weekly Madricha' and I don't know weather to look forward to it or not. I want Jungle Oats.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

This is a funny email my Mom sent me.

How do you explain South African words to an Australian? (Or to anyone Else, for that matter). It's not only a foreign word, it's a foreign Concept.

Perhaps the English never do anything "just sommer". Although there's no Australian equivalent either, they take to the idea of it.
"Why are you laughing? Just sommer."

"Bakkie" is another one of those useful "portmanteau" words. It's a car or pick-up truck, also used for what they call "utes" in OZ,  and very useful to describe all shapes and sizes of containers around the house.

We all know "voetstoots" of course. There's no concise, one-word equivalent in English. "As is" just doesn't hack it.

There's no good English word for "dwaal".  It doesn't mean dream, or Daze. It's close to absent-mindedness, but that's not quite it.

I think "gogga" is the most delightful word for insect I've ever heard. "Insect" just doesn't stand a chance.

And then there's "gatvol". "Fed up" doesn't have half the impact. It's like Blancmange in comparison. "Gatvol" is a word used more frequently than ever in the workplace these days, with increasing intensity.
While we're on the subject, another phrase which outstrips any English attempt is "Hy sal sy gat sien", or "He'll see his arse". "He'll get his come-uppance" is like milque toast in comparison.  It definitely lacks the relish.

"Donder" is another very useful word, used as an all-purpose swearword, used as a verb, it can express any degree of roughing up. As a noun, it is a pejorative, as they politely say in dictionaries, to mean whatever you want it to mean. Lets be honest, there's no good translation for "Skop-Skiet-en-Donder" either.

It says something about the English that they have no word for "jol" or "Going out on the town, kicking up your heels, enjoying yourself..."

I've yet to meet a South African over the age of two who doesn't use the word "muti". Between "muti" and the pedantic "medication", there's simply no contest.
And of course, my personal favourite "Kak en betaal" , which just says it all, doesn't it?

A bland and effete English translation would be "Cough and pay", or "Breathe and pay".
But it just doesn't cut it, does it? Not by a long drop.
POST SCRIPT These are wonderful.
Other words that come to mind: jou bliksem, wag 'n bietjie, nie so haastig nie, just now, sakkie-sakkie music ou swaer, Ya, nee How are you?
No, I'm fine thanks?
How do you explain the passion of "LEKKER!"? Wow last night was a "lekker jol"
Dudu or doeks. Telling your infant to go to bed is just not the same as:"Go dudu now my baby!"
HOW MANY OTHERS ARE THERE? Add some and send on.

How about 'bliksem" - I'm going to bliksem you or ek gaan jou donder!   Both wonderful
Afrikaans expressions with nothing to compare in the English language, at least nothing that gives the same satisfaction.

Trapsuutjies………..the way certain maids and others work. .
Slowcoach just doesn't do it, hey
So first - Mielies!
Pap - there is no word like pap, here...  they have porridge, and when they say porridge, they mean oats.
There's no Maltabela, no Tasty Wheat, No Creemy Meal... In other words, there's no pap!
Mislik - such a 'lekker' word, and one that my kids are familiar with.  'Why are you so mislik, you little skelm?
Do you want a snot-klap?'

Which brings us to skelm - here you just get 'baddies', but that doesn't have the same sneaky connotation of a proper skelm, does it?!
And snot-klap...  fabulous word!  How would you say that in English?  'I'll slap you so hard the snot will fly?'  Yuk!
Just not the same.

Loskop is another favourite.
The English just don't understand when I say 'Sorry, I forgot - I'm such a loskop!'  ha ha

The Adventures of Us Five (and Lily) featuring Eliot and Asher.

There are tiny holes burnt into the plastic that makes up the bottom of the tent. If anyone asked, they would have no idea where they came from. No one could even sleep in the tent, there was just stuff everywhere. They sat in the tent for a while, watching each other in the dark.

They played Superstar. They walked in formation with the Brits. They watched them fall over with laughter and helped them up almost falling themselves. She wore too many pairs of pants. They spoke about life and were shushed from the inside of tents by strangers. They figured out why we speak the way we do, and tested out our their theories on passers by. They watched the stars fade into the darkness as they tried to find the constelations, but ended up making up their own. They lost eachother and found eachother ten times over. They leaned against eachother for what seemed like ages, back to back, equal. There were words that seemed more important than they were. She told stories while he listened, only half paying attention to the things she was sayng. They were overly descriptive and he quickly decided that they were made up fantasies of a lost girl who likes to cause trouble. He ran his fingers over hers and through her hair. He rested them gently on her face as her breathing became deeper, steady. Her eyes fluttered closed for the last time and she was over come with slumber. They fell asleep on the hemp mat, a clump of mismatched sleeping bags.


It started on the hill on the other side of the tent city. His fingers gently caressed the strings of his guitar in the early dusk. They sat huddled in a blancket and watched the sunset and the sky settle into a deep dark blue. They told jokes and stories, clutching our sides in agony from laughing too hard. His husky voice eminated from his chest louder; softer. No holding back. They sat in the tent, hunched over. Too close. You could see the small holes from the night before if they caught the light from the torch at just the right angle. 
They didn't want to miss the concert this time so together they hurried to the Main Stage area and chose the best seats in the house. They tried to get people to pass around an empty Coke can.

 "Pass it On" 

The older poeple weren't having any silly antics tonight. The five of them giggled at the confused strangers. Three renditions of slow claps later, and the lights finally went down for the show to start. A beautiful women dressed in a flowing white gown took the stage, castenettes clicking between her fingers. You could barely hear them over the music. The flower in her hair shook slightly with each step. Five other women dressed in white skirts took the stage. They jingles and moved their bodies, mesmorising the audience. They moved like contortionists, but danced and swirled like smoke in the lights. Aplause, and it was over. 

Two of them, a girl and a boy didn't stand up right away. They sat, back to back, and waited for people to start dancing, watching their bodies sway to the music. A man started chanting at them to get up and within a second everyone had joined in. he two qickly rose, giggling uncontrolably and joined the writhing crowd, moving and swaying to the beats. Loud. She left.

She found the rest of them playing soccer on The Grass. He met up with us later and we went in search of a good tree to climb, but failed miserably and ended up sitting on the grass beneth it. He thought it weird that she hugged and comforted the tree, but didn't say it out loud. A kind soul. She was woken up with a start to the sounds of someone asking obtrusive questions.

"It's in the fridge!" She told them, and went back to sleep.

Music and singing filled the cool air in the early hours of the morning and she leant on  her elbows watching the group of people hug eachother good morning and disperse to finaly get some sleep. She soon followed their example and settled back down onto the cool grass, breathing in the smell of stale sweat and deodorant mixed with an unfamiliar scent  and the smell of dew on the grass. She rolled over and watched the branches swaying in the breeze for what seeed like an eternity, until her eyes closed again.


This time it started in the tree. The tent, too holy for the gang now.

The red and blue lights from her Glow Poi lit the earth around them and there was a whisper from somewhere. Looking up they could see the culprits in the tree. They both climbed up and found a comfortable plae to watch the soundcheck for that nights performance. They joked and laughed excitedly at stories about Asher and made plans for the night, none of wich we actually went through with. Rebekkah anoyed them all by dropping leaves in their hair. It was impossible to get out because of all the other dirt and greese. They looked like monkeys scratching their heads. 

Scary Men told them to get down and they went in search of a better tree to climb.

Finding one, they climbed up and called to people on the ground, each person looking around confused and dazed as to where the noise came from. 
She played harmonica and he beatboxed to a rhythm that was questionable. Gal almost fell out of the tree from sleep deprivation and Rebekkah went off with her new BFF to do something that would probably have gotten them into trouble. 
She sat on the mattress and he sat directly opposite him. They moved their hands in unison as the dull thump from the trance music made the floor come alive. People stopped to watch, to ponder, to look upon the intensity of two people making eye contact.

"Do you ever stop? Turn off I mean..." She asked. An inquisitive look on her face. 
He thought for a moment. 
"Yes. Well, No." 
He was second guessing himself again and she could see the thought process in his eyes.

It had become something she was used to seeing, but that always stood out from all the other expresions. In that moment she vowed to herself that she would find out how. she wanted to see the person who wasn't always thinking of something to say. They spoke excitedly for a few more hours, but the time was ticking away and she would soon have to leave. He leaned in closer and closer. A kiss. Two people, better off as friends but unable to keep that distance. There is something betweent them, but they cannot see what. 
Uncontrollable laughter eminating from them, a wonderful aurah that had been created through thought and emotion. There were things that still needed to be heard, but didn't need to be said just then. 

She left, a smile still on her face as she fell asleep that night on the way home, only imagining what he could be doing. She missed him. She missed them. She missed the desert and wished she could be back. There was a twinge in her stomach and a small seed of anger but that all subsided as she remembered they would be back soon. 

Free WiFi in the Ashram Desert

As I watch the dirty water run down the drain in the shower I cant help but think that that was one of life's great memories that would never be fully explained through words or pictures. The luke warm waterburns my face as the droplets fall. I think I'm sunburnt. In fact I know I am. The discoloured pigmentation of my skin is just another reminder. My feet are cracked and broken, possible stained forever with the remaints of rocky terrain and scratches from the beauty that is the Ashram Dessert.
We left on a good note, but as I lay on my bed now I want nothing more than to beback in the dessert with my friends and not here in the chaotic whirlwind of people through the enclosed structure we call home. I want nothing more than to be singing songs about nothing on the patchy grass. I want nothing more than the smell of dirt and sweat that has built up over a weeks worth of not showering. I want nothing more than to have woken up under the trees with hundreds of sleeping boddies around me.

There is a slight twinge in my heart when I realise that is no longer an option.

Zorba The Buddah Festival

Tuesday 10 April 2012
Day One:

I woke with a start, after only four hours of sleep from the eventfull night of Hippie Pants and Gangstah Hats that kept Rebekkah and myself up till the early hours of the morning.  It was cold and my hair was wet. Groggily I forced myself out of bed, a thrill building up inside me. I pulled on my hippie pants from the night before and grabbed a jersey just incase. We had a 6 hour bus ride, including a change over, ahead of us. At first we thought we would be able to sleep on the bus, not realising we had to watch to get off at the right stop, Rebekkah kept herself awake by telling me stories about her life and braiding my hair. Needless to say that when I stepped off the bus in the middle of the desert, I looked like I belonged at a dessert hippie festival. I felt at home.

The gate to The Zorba the Buddah festival was an archway, the ribbons attached to it gently billowing in the wind . Just inside was a large area of grass. People were scattered everywhere, and there was a constant hum of chater, mixed with all different music. If you lay on the grass you could tune in and out of the different melodies.

In record timing we set up two tents. One overly large one that was a green and orange monstrosity. The other a generic silver and blue one. I felt like as soon as you walked inside you could time travel back to medieval times.

We spent the next five hour's waiting on the Brits to arrive, asleep on The White. I woke up to a group of people in a large circle singing along to a scruffy man and his old battered guitar.

I could feel the heat from my hand over my heart as the Zorba Tzevet told us to breath deeply. I felt my chest rising and falling with my own breathing. I felt the beat of the music through the ground and through my body as I sat with hundreds of other people all feeling the same thing. Standing up in smaller groups of strangers, we chose a leader who did movements and we all copied him. We shouted out noises and danced around in the circle. We went on a journey through movement and sounds. A cool trail across my forehead and over the bridge of my nose was soothing in the heat. 

Up; down; left; right; a figure of eight; a wink and a smile. The sage smoke curling up into nothingness.

We ate lunch and had a brief inerlude with Naomis guitar on The Grass.

An old women in a red dress aproached us.
"Shalom. Mi medaberet Ivrit?" She asked us in a gentle voice.
Naomi responded by telling here that she spoke Hebrew, but all her friends were English. "Ani medaberet, kulam lo mebrabrim Ivrit. Englit."
She invited us to the opening ceremony of her Red Tent.
We gingerly walked over to the mysterious Red Tent. It was on the far side of The Grass. The whole tent was red. There were red lights hung over the circle or missmatched red cussions, women already sitting. Waitng. We sat down, and my eyes adjusted to the growing dim of the Dessert at night. There were red dresses and lingerie hung up on the white material walls of the tent. In the middle was a circle of stones, all different sizes and colours, and a large red candle. There was a small statuette of a woman that facinated me as m eyes travelled around the Red Tent.

The burning stick of sage that she used to welcome and bless us left a trail in its wake that swirled up to the night sky. It made me dizzy to watch but I couldn't look away from the grey swirls.
The length of red string that is now tied around my wrist, along with all my other braclettes is a constant reminder of my first ever Womens Circle. A wrap for ever generation of women in your family. A piece of history on my arm.

Ani Kathryn, Bat Yael, Bat Ima h'Adamah. (I'm Kathryn, Daughter of Jennifer, Daughter of Mother Earth)

Sitting in the circle listening to the kinds of inspireing women that these women had as their parents put me in a reflective mood on my relationship with my mother. Later talking to one of the other girls, she must have been about twenty, I expressed my love for my own mother and how she managed to raise two pretty decent kids on her own. We spoke about how we would feel being mothers and the hardships that they must encounter from their kids. I remembered that one time, just before I left, when I went for breakfast with my mom, and it suddenly hit me that I was leaving and finnished with school. She told me something that I will probably never forget and what was, probably, the reason I wanted to fix things. She said: "We've been fighting so much that I've missed years of your life" It scard me to hear that. I expressed something that she said she had only realised in her later years, wich was me realising that our parents are real people, with real personalities and that my Mom, in particular, is a strange; funny; free spirited lady who is a strong woman and that motivates us to be the greatest people we can be. She never stops believing in us and always encourages us to do better.

The most intraspective conversation.

Lights invaded my eyes even though they were closed. Music penetrated my sould as we jumped and swayed to the jazz trance at the main stage. You could hear the Aussies all chanting stupid things and mockingly Rebekkah and I chanted "USA! USA!" We vowed to avoid large groups of Australians from then on.

I wouldn't call what I did that night sleeping. The ground was covered in small rocks and the tent didn't exactly fit six people in it comfortably. It would be the last time I slept there.

Wednesday 11 April 2012
Day Two:

I awoke before anyone else in my tent. I changed into clean clothes and drank almost a litre of water to stop the highly possible chance of dehydration. I waited until everyone else was awake and brushed my teeth. Relief. I hate not brushing my teeth. After a breakfast of Matzah and Chocolate spread we checked the board for sessions to go to, deciding that a Journey through Gypsy Dance in the Movement Tent would be a great way to start the day.
We had some time to chill before and we met up with Gal and Byron. We chatted about our plans for the day and decided to meet later. There was some hand shaking and introductions to Rabbi Reverend Yonnie Genende and we went our separate ways.

The session was by far my favorite of all the ones I did.
We started off by stretching and feeling the earth. We eventually progressed into Gypsy Dancemoves and felt our way through it, with use of our bodies and our breathing. The Insructer was a beautiful Spanish women with big eyes. She looked a little like Elrita and I wanted to be her.

Peoples shoes lay discarded at the edge of the Main Stage while they danced and I took photographs. This would mark my first (and slightly dredded) conversation with Ari.

His voice was rough and husky while she played a beautiful melody. Her hair fire-y red and his a golden blonde. He spoke his words softly and she whislted along without hesitation. The words were made up on the spot. There has never been anything more genuine than the spark that egnited a whirlwind romance of three days between the two of them. His words penetrated everyones ears as his friends watched on, impressed, but not surprised. Barely looking up from their game of Gin, played with Elvis cards. She was fixated. Alive. A sparkle in her eye reminicent of something long forgotten or only dreamed about on cold lonely nights.
They kissed goodbye on the last night, with hopes to meet again soon.

Thursday 12 April 2012
Day Three:

Naomis Birthday:

Her friends spoilt her with gifts from home and a surprise dinner. Her little face was so happy and smiling. I could only wish for friends that care that much for me and would do such lovely things for a friend on theit birthday. A friend-y kind of love. It was beautiful.

Rebekkah and I had a crash course in Kung Foo an fell asleep during the Live Music Meditation.
We lay on a blanket on The Grass for ages just chatting to ALL the Australians and making friends.

Friday April 13 2012
Day Four:

We spent most of the day eating Garanim on The Grass and talking excitedly about things. The guitar passed from one person to the other and the world was filled with singing and melodies. Ari and I took a walk in the desert. There were conversations and towers built with rocks as we made lists of Pro's and Con's, deciding that being friends was beter for everyone. That it makes Lily and Gal happy should have been the only argument. we lay under the sky, tangled in a thorn bush for quite a while.

"What if the sky starts right where the ground stops, so we're all live in the sky anyway?"

We walked back in solomn silence, with only a few words puncturing the space between us at irregular intervals. I cried for a while in my tent. Not about the Brittish Drama, but because I felt as though I had made the wrong decision. I missed my mom, I missed my friends, I missed not being tired and I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep, and to have someone hold me and keep me safe. I missed my feet not hurting and I wanted something warm to eat to make me feel okay again.

Dinner, and Chai Tea and Cake. Rebekkah and I could never have been happier. We ate our Malawach with smiles on our faces. 

We packed up the tent. I spent a good two hours looking for my shoes, but Ari found them in the dessert somewhere.

Just an Ice-Cream (Up) Date

Wednesday 4 April 2012
(The Day Before ALL the Bad Things Happened)

I picked Rosa up from outside a fancy hotel for a little bit of trendy-lesbian time.
We walked through the streets of Jerusalem chatting about things that happened to us recently. She told me stories of her family and I went over the same exhausted topics of boys and drama in the Etgar flat. Nothing terribly exciting was happening at all. Nothing what so ever. An odd occasion, we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves. A day without drama or tension and confusion? No weird feelings? What nonsense was this?
We ate 10 sheckle ice cream from "Internet" and met up with Lily just down the street.
The three of us sat on Tzion Street listening to the musicians and argued about the Army and Indoctrination and making Aliyah for a while. We made bracelets in the middle of the street an I said goodbye to them in the middle of a busy intersection and tucked myself into bed.


Friday 6 April 2012 
The Pass Over Seder.
Alyson, Liz and I got lost on our way to our host family for Seder. It was awkward for a while, then it got interesting as we discussed topics in the world and ate a lovely dinner in this nice strangers home with all his family and long lost relatives. I missed the Manoims and Sivan and Thando and being in a nice space and staying up really late talking to my friends until my Mom had to drag me away with promises to see each other the next morning at Shule.

Saturday 7 April 2012
Etgar ALL nighters
Tara, Jess, Rosa, Lily and Myself headed to the Kortel at 2am for a litle Easter celebration. We ended up singing and peeing in the bushes with short extracts from 'This Week in Palestie' and uncontrollable giggling and blasphemy.
I stayed up ALL night posting the posts before this one.

Sunday 8 April 2012
We became wizards. There was a Tree Apocalypse. I'm pretty sure Jeffrey thinks I'm mad.

Sprite Day 9 April 2012
I took myself for a walk through the City. I stumbled upon a crafters market and had a moment of reminiceing with myself about all the time I used to spend in crafters markets when I was small. I had alost all but forgotten about it, until then. I basically grew up in them.
I hung out with Mor for the majority of the day. We went shopping in the shuk for a bucket and some veggies for dinner. We stopped for ice cream and I fell asleep on her couch for a while. A call from Emily woke me up and I said goodbye to Mor and headed home. Rebekkah arrived shortly afterwards and we wanted dinner, but instead we ended up adventuring through the streets of J-ruz in Hippie Pants and Gangstah Hats in search of Crepes. This story will probably be the greatest Shnat Confession Ever.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Jeff is playing guitar in the living room, he's even taking requests and it makes me so happy. He's playing this amazing melody that he's composed. It's filled with so much emotion, so many feelings in the strumming of chords and notes on a simple device such as a guitar. Even as I sit here I can feel the emotional turmoil and though process that he was going through. I personally think that its only truly real musicians that can make you feel the things that they feel through music. He's singing an existential crisis he had a while ago, I like to think that Rosa and I were the first people to hear it, although I'm probably wrong.

The Dojo was dark except for flickering lights of the candles on the low side table. There was a dark figure sitting in the corner, comfortable. He was humming and strumming his guitar to the music emanating from his heart. I could hear his fingers squeeking from fret to fret and the gentle, steady in and out of his breath. The music filled the room as it does now, it fills ever pore of my being and I cannot remember a time when I had ever felt empty. Everything I ran away from at home now seems like a million miles away and that I would never have to feel that kind of displease again. Every so often I'm captivated and relaxed by the melody, every so often I lay back and watch him play from the comfy chair on the other side of the room. He makes everything on Etgar feel so much better, and as much as I like to deny it, I miss him when he isn't here. His husky voice and sweet soothing strumming builds a protective layer around us. It shields us from the dangers of our own minds and creates a mesmerising window for our emotional turmoil, especially here and now with everything that's going on. The intense atmosphere of Shnat. It all seems tangible.

He says he maybe subconsciously wrote it about a friend he's missing.

I feel like I'm actually going to cry.

After Dark

There's a light out side my window
shining through the half drawn curtain onto my face. It is warming my pillow.
I should close it
but sleep has over come my body and I cannot move.
There are people moving around out side.
In my head
a story plays out about a boy and a girl.
Friends for so many years
but pulled apart by the winds of change
through a series of events unbetoled to the people of the room
I can feel a slight breeze that carries a sweet smell across the room
in the early hours of the morning
when its quite and still I think back to those people
the ones I used to know
that have since gone away
and have not returned my phone calls or text messages
I reminisces about the times and the places and the people that we all called friends,
wondering if well ever meet up again.
There are people all over the world
Without the sun on their face in the midst of blankets and warm comforting senses.
I'm waiting.

She has since grown up and found a new life far away across the country.
She is dressed all in white and there are people all around her.
She doesn't recognise their faces
 biting back tears when they all rise as the wedding march is struck up by the band in the corner.
Her father kisses her on the cheek and she can smell the musty smell of his old brown coat,
his beard gently catches her hair.
He places her hand in his,
she looks up,
he's not the one.

He is sitting alone in a coffee shop, a notebook lays open on the table in front of him but the pages are blank and he doesn't know what to write.

"Sorry I couldn't make it" he mumbles under his breath and discards the many crumpled notes, each confessing his love in one line, that just isn't good enough.

He could have gone but he just didn't want to go, all the memories of that summer came flodding back in one sweep of emotion.
He walks outside into the rain.
A lit cigarette in his hand.
The church is down the road and absent mindedly on purpose he starts to walk.

Flower petals blow in the wind and catch in her hair as she, smiling, descends the stairs.

He watches from across the road.

Briefly, their eyes meet. One second.

Maybe it could have been different if they had tried hard enough to keep it together. If she hadn't gone away and if he hadn't said those things. If they had only tried to make it work, to talk more, or visit.

She turns to her new husband, and runs across the road.

The End.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

To Jake, From Shnat.

Jake, remember that one time when you became a Bar Mitzvah? This is one of those times you, me, all the Shnatties, your family, your friends, and everyone else here will remember for a long time. Kind of like that time you ended up at Kikar HaEvan. Or the time you fell in the water after the tunnels.
As someone who has lived with you for quite a while now, I feel qualified to comment on your life. And after months of seeing you lose your keys and sing Cage the Elephant, I know you’re someone I’m going to drive down to LA to watch Saw and have In’n’out dates with. Every single one of us has seen you change from that guy who fell asleep at every single class during Orientation Week, the guy who ruined his sweater on kibbutz, the guy who thought the kibbutz was vegetarian, the guy who lost his keys in Karmiel, who got lost coming back from the store in Karmiel, who got lost in Kikar HaEvan, the guy who played that same song every time you sat down at a piano, who thought it was Beit Shumel, who lost his glasses, who lost his phone, who fell in the water. The Jake who didn’t know the Aleph Bet when we first started Ulpan is not the Jake up here becoming a Bar Mitzvah. This Jake is smart, prepared, responsible, funny, and independent. The line, “will you do everything in life for me?” is no longer a legitimate request, it’s just a joke. You have truly become a man on Shnat, and we are all lucky to have witnessed it. 
I couldn’t imagine my Shnat without you, and I know everyone else feels the same. We can’t think about you without smiling or laughing. You’re that guy that manages to brighten everyone’s day without even trying. You have no idea how much we all appreciate that.
To show you just how much we love you, the Shnatties have compiled some words of wisdom, advice, humor, and memory for you.

We are all so proud of you. Congratulations, bro.

By: Rebekkah Karp

This is what we do when we're bored:

Rebekkah and Kitty Time

Oh... and Girl Scout Cookies.

Jakes Bar Mitzvah

We spent majority of the week trying to get Jake out of the house so we could work on something great for his Bar Mitzvah on Thursday. It was quite easy when he wasn't around, 'cause he was with family, but eventually we had to just make him sit outside for a while.

Theme Night 4 April 2012

We got the whole flat together throughout the day, so stealthily, without Jake suspecting anything and recorded him a song that Emily, Rebekkah and I had stayed up really late the night before to write. Everyone had a few lines to sing, and we put it as the back track of a slideshow presentation that we showed at his Bar Mitzvah. We also wrote and performed a short play about Jakes Shnat life with the help of his little brother, Milo.

ALL the Borsuks!
Milo made us delicious dinner and we all dressed up like him. We're all under the Milo Cuteness Spell, but we still wouldn't trade anything in the whole world for the real Jake.

Yom Gadol 5 April 2012


Everyone is getting dressed up for the first ever Shant Bar Mitzvah. There is an air of rising excitement on the flat, but if you look closely you can see Jakes hands shaking a little more than usual and his normally chilled air of calm is slightly warped. He cant decide which pocket to put his speech in and has only just found his shirt. The girls are all doing their make-up while the boys are finding yamalkahs and complaining about the girls taking so long to get ready. Naomi is making everyone lunch, and I cant sit still. I'm excited for Jake. Bursting with pride that one of my best friends is doing something so amazing and that he wanted all of us to be a part of it too. 
We all joke and reminisce about the last time we all went to Bar or Bat Mitvahs. Those times when we all stood around awkwardly because we were still in our awkward puberty stage and didn't wanna dance at all, let alone with the boys.

It is a beautiful day. Warm for the first time in Jerusalem. People are wearing dresses and smiling in the sunlight. soaking up the much needed Vitamin D.
We walk as a group to the southern wall. Everyone is laughing and congratulating Jake. Everyone is happy.

The ceremony takes place under a shady bit of Rock. Jemma, Josh and Jeff lead a service they put together especially for Jake, and the congregation all join in clapping and singing. 
Siman Tov! 
Mazel Tov!
He reads his Torah Portion like a true man, and His fathers speech brings me to tears as he says the words that could only have come from the deepest, most proud parts of a fathers heart.
Rebekkahs speech makes us all laugh and "Aww" at the fond memories we have of our Jake.

We had dinner at a fancy restaurant and I got to bond with Jakes Mom over dessert. We talked about how she felt that Jake was having his Barmie and that she has always known that he is one of the most amazing people in the whole world. We spoke about how we forget that our parents are real people sometimes and that it took her a really long time to realise that about hers. We spoke about Jake when he was little and she shared all her hopes and dreams with me. She told me about how she wanted to be a photographer and travel the world, and she asked me to email her all the pictures from the day. 

I think she is the luckiest women on earth to have two beautiful children and that I finally understand why Jake is who he is. His parents are amazing and they love him so much.

Mazel Tov Jake!

I don't like Cemeteries.

Sprite Day 2 April 2012

A field trip for us!
We woke up tired and groggy from the weekend we still hadn't recovered from. We had a solemn day ahead of us waht with our trip to Har Hertzl, the Cemetary for Fallen Soldiers.

I've been there before and in all honesty, I didn't think it would hit as hard as it did.

We started the day off reading a play that our Lecturer Mark had written. It was quite witty and another hadrach technique we could take back to our sniffim and hopefully utilize to get complicated or boring information across to our Channichim.
We walked to one of the graves of the Habbonim Dror founders and had our first peulah of the day. Mark gave us each a stack of information and told us to present it in a way that was creative and inspireing. Not an easy feat when you're exhausted. Daron and I attempted a pantomime interpretive dance to the information but it wasn't good at all.
It was time for lunch and we all livened up a bit after that.
The rest of the tour consisted of a stop at Theodor Hertzls grave and a quick history lesson.

Theodore's grave is my favourite in the whole cemetery. Its the design and meaning behind it that I find truly remarkable and wonderful. The fact that his grave is so symbolic to a lot of people is awe inspiring. What he did for the people of Israel, the inspiration he provided for them is one that kinda makes my brain explode every so often. Other times I just think that people put too much faith in some people.
His grave is in a semi circular formation, half white for his wife, and half black for himself. There is a candle placed in the middle that is sometimes lit. I guess it would symbolise the light that he provided for the people, or the fact that he still gives hope and that we should remember him.

We saw Golda Maeir's tomb stone and open spaces next to other tomb stones where loved ones are reserving their space in the ground.
That freaks me out the most. I hate the idea of death, especially what awaits us on the other side, and the fact that we know it could all end at any moment and this is how we prepare for it.

We walked around the memorial for the civilians who had died in terrorist attack or during wars. There too was space left for the future. The anticipation for more death due to war and violence prevalent in the open spaces on the wall.

Liz ran a peulah on Zionism.

The Fallen Soldiers:
The decorated graves of brave young men and women from Israel and other countries made my heart sink. I walked around the graves for a while fighting back tears, looking at the different pictures of the smiling faces that grieving parents had placed on their child's grave.
I like people. I want to know their stories, their reason for existing.
Seeing these people represented in such a way, where you could tell what kind of person they were in their lives, even after they were gone, I just couldn't handle it.
Lily told me that it was just glorifying the army and that I just didn't realise it, but I don't think it is.

There's this one grave, this young man, who made Aliyah to Israel and decided to join the army. He fought for what he believed in and died for a country that he believed in so much. Not the place he was born, and not the place where his parents live, but a place that he had decided meant so much to him, he would do anything for, even give his own life for it. I didn't stand at his grave and cry because he died in battle. I didn't stand there and think to myself: "Wow. I want to join the army. I want to fight 'Enemies'". I stood by the grave of a person who, in his own way inspired so many people through his actions. In that moment I was proud to be a part of the human race where, in some way, a young man brought people from all over the world together to support a family who had just lost their son. No matter how it happened, it is the hardest thing to watch a family be broken.

I added a bracelet to the growing tokens of appreciation. Not because I support the army, but because we're a world wide community and we should stand together against any kind of injustice to the Human Race.
Thats my bracelet. The Pink One.

I don't like cemeteries.

ALL the Rattans!

Tuna Tuesday 3 April 2012

  • We had a mini discussion about: IRAC. I took a tactical pee break...
  • The southerners had a meeting with Hannah from Kibbutz Lotan. She seems really nice. I'm so excited for it!
  • We had a bake off in the kitchen. Did you know that Dan makes banana pancakes? Our cookies (Dans, Mine, Liz's and Becca's) were the best by far.
  • We had a mini party in the Mitbach and Jeff was trying to be 'Lil Sweezy... Whoever that is...
  • I played the best game of Bananagrams ever. ALL the dirt words and "Dragons".
  • We had a chill sesh in the Dojo and ate all the cookie dough in the world.
  • Jeff and I made a Draw my Thing account together. Then we ate pizza and decided not to hold grudges against eachother anymore. Lol. Classic Libra (Vintage Libra...)

Dangermans brother came to visit and we spent the better part of the early hours of the morning singing the Netzer song in ALL the languages we could. I even taught them Afrikaans.

One thing I've noticed about the Rattans is that they like to tell stories, and I even had the pleasure to find out why. Their Grand Father used to tell them stories and for the few months that Gil lived in Israel last year, he spent as much time as he could listening to all the stories he could. Gil captivated his audience with tales of his time in Germany and in his drunken slurring state his ideas about the world and the importance of the diaspora for Jews. He told me all about his family history and how his parents met and how he learnt all the languages he knows today.
This was all with brief interludes, in the beginning, from his brother trying to get him to come party with them. He didn't go in the end. He said its because he prefers to chill.

When Dangerman gets drunk he starts speaking in German.

I'm glad I have friends that do silly things with me.

Sunday 1 April 2012


Rebekkah and I pulled the best prank! Lol. Everyone hated it, and I spilled all the syrup on the floor. We now have to use plates for french toast.

Toilet Rolls on the Ceiling. Check.

ALL the shoes in the kitchen. Check.

All the cupboard doors open. Check.

All the chairs in the Bathroom. Check.

The dining room in the hall way. Check.

The chairs from the balcony in the showers. Check.

Writing Happy April Folls on all the mirrors. Check.

Turning all the signs upside down. Check.
We did a whole bunch of other stuff too.
We cleaned the fridges, that hadn't been clean for DAYS. We turned all the chairs and couches to face the wall. We hung tampont on the door handles. We moved all the signs and opened all the drawers. All at 4 am I might add. We made so much noise, and no one heard us...

etc etc