Thursday, January 26, 2012


Last Friday eight of my classmates and myself piled into a minibus and went on a tiyyul [trip] to Sderot. Sderot is a small unassuming town an hour and ½ south west of Jerusalem. Along the way we saw some of the lushest foliage I had ever seen, before pulling up first to the town of Sderot, and then to the Sderot Media Center. At the media center a man named Tom who was going to be our tour guide for the day greeted us. Tom offered us all coffee and cookies, and then a warning—if you hear an alarm go off you have 15 seconds to run to the nearest bomb shelter.

Bomb shelter?? As I said,  Sderot is a small, unassuming town located within Israel proper [opposed to in disputed territories]. It is also around 1-1.5 kilometers from the Gaza strip.  For the past 11 years homemade ketusha missals have ambushed Sderot. The majority [if not all] of these ketusha rockets are homemade. The supplies that is used to make them, comes from aid given into Gaza from Israel. It is, in essence, as if Israel is indirectly bombing itself.

While we were there we met mostly with people who lived there for the normal reasons anyone would live anywhere. One person wanted to live in a small town, somewhere not too expensive to live. Another lived there simply because it was affordable. Yet, for these people a part of their every day life was hearing a siren go off and having to run to a bomb shelter. During our time there, we joked, laughed, sat with people and had conversations over tea. But there is a tension in the air, of never knowing if the alarm would sound.

There have not been many casualties in Sderot, the effects of the bombings are psychological. Our tour guide told us that as a result of his two years living in Sderot he jumps every time he hears anything that remotely sounds like a siren. Children are raised to not chase a ball that goes rolling down the street for fear of being to far from a bomb shelter if the alarm sounds. Houses when they are built, are built first with a bomb shelter so that should the alarm sound the workers have a place to hide. We heard stories of the alarm going off, and people having to decide which child to take if they had young kids [15 seconds is not enough time to free two children from seat belts and run to safety]. There were stories of disabled people who would just make it to the shelter after it was safe to go out again. In Sderot, everyone has a story.

Everywhere you look in Sderot there are bomb shelters. Every house has a shelter [if it has not been built in such a way that the house itself can be a bomb shelter], every school, there are multiple shelters on the streets.  These shelters have become works of art. Tagged with graffiti so that they don’t stick out so much. And they smell. Of sweat, and urine and God knows what else. During our time there we did a sample bomb drill [after looking at pieces of bombs, painted in different colors so that the Israelis would know who sent the rocket over].

For the last part of our tour Tom took us to a lookout. Before we went up he warned us “if I say duck don’t ask questions just do it. Don’t care if your clothes get dirty just get down to the ground and lay there, flat as you can”. From this viewpoint we had a view of Gaza City. From this view we saw skyscrapers, and buildings that looked like they belonged in any city, anywhere in the world.

After the tour, we hopped back into our little bus and headed out of the quiet, unassuming town, back towards Jerusalem. In the first ½ of 2011 over 180 rockets were fired. While the Israeli government has found ways to protect the cities that are under fire, those firing the rockets have found ways to counter those methods.

Sderot is a small, unassuming town that most people outside of Israel have not even heard of. It’s a town where people want to go about their daily lives. They study, they work, they go out to eat. It is a town where everyone knows someone who has been injured or killed in a terror attack. It is a town where almost everyone suffers from PTSD.  But the people do not move, they do not move because their lives are there.

Sderot is not a town over some line that divides what is from what isn’t [depending on who you ask] Israel. Sderot is properly inside the boundaries of Israel. Yet it is constantly under attack. It is a town where everyone is a victim and everyone suffers, yet no one outside of Israel seems to know about it, and I can't help but wonder why.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

D'var Torah

This is the D'var [words of] Torah I gave last week:

The book of Exodus. Martin Luther King Jr. Abraham Joshua Heschel. This list sounds pretty random, and when hearing it one might wonder what do they have in common besides the fact that this week we read the first parsha in the book of Exodus, Monday is Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US, and it is also Abraham Joshua Heschel’s yartzite. To me, it is actually quite fortuitous that these things  came together at the same time this year--as one of my friends put it, drashing on these three things together is like winning the Rabbinic lottery.  What makes these things the “rabbinic lottery?” Why do these things tie together so well? To me, it is how clearly all three display what it means to have courage. This sounds a bit broad, what is courage and how do these three instances display courage to us? For the purpose of today, I am not going to use the dictionary definition of courage, rather the one I am going to use comes from the book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  In To Kill A Mockingbird, Lee defines courage as:
 When you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
This week we have many examples of people who probably thought they were licked before they began.
Firstly, in this weeks parsha we read the line:
: :P`Eswøy_tRa oäådÎy_aáøl r¶RvSa Mˆyó∂rVxIm_lAo vä∂dDj_JKRl`Rm M∂q¶D¥yÅw

a new king arose who did not know of Joseph. This Pharoah  saw that the Israelites were multiplying and set task masters over the Israelite people. Still, even in slavery the Israelite people multiplied. In this story we read of two unlikely heroes: the midwives. Pharoah  speaks to the midwives Shiphrah and Puah saying:  
When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy kill him, if it is a girl, let her live.
The orders Pharoah gives these women are pretty explicit: step 1 deliver the baby, step 2: if it’s a boy—kill it. There is no grey here. Yet, despite these incredibly black and white orders from Pharoah
—the person who is the highest in government, the midwives choose to let the Hebrew male babies live, as we read:
N™RhyElSa r¶R;bî;d r¢RvSaA;k …w$cDo aâøl◊w My$IhølTa∞Dh_tRa ‹tOdV;lÅyVm`Ah Π Naô®ryI;tÅw
:MyáîdDl◊yAh_tRa Π Ny™R¥yAjV;tÅw Mˆyó∂rVxIm JKRl∞Rm
The midwives feared God and so they let the babies live. They also risked punishment from Pharaoh when he found out what THEY were doing. Think for a moment, how different the story of our exodus would have been had these midwives not had the courage to do what they felt was right. Had they not disobeyed Pharoah there would have been no baby Moses, would there been another who could have led us out of Egypt? The rest of the Torah would have been completely different had they not been so courageous! This is especially true given their position in society.  According to Hannah Pressman a commentator who is presuing her PhD in Hebrew Littature at The New York University
Consider, then, the special position of Shiphrah and Puah in these initial verses of Exodus. Significantly, the book of Exodus begins with an overt act of political defiance by two women who are themselves serving the enslaved Israelites. Yet these women, seemingly in a subservient position to a subservient people, enter into a high-stakes power play with the king of the ruling nation! This fact, in and of itself, sets the stage for the eventual and ultimate defiance of Pharaoh by the Israelites.
Shiphrah and Puah risked insulting Pharaoh at the least, and my guess at worst  death. Yet they risked it all, not knowing that through that risk, Moses would be born and he would lead the Israelites out of slavery.
These women, my not have thought that they were “licked” when they were doing what they were doing, but they most likely they knew it was risky.
Lets fast forward to the mid 1900’s and the Civil Rights Movement.  On Monday, America will be celebrating Martin Luther King Junior Day. Now, I could be wrong, but my guess is that Martin Luther King Junior did not know if the movement would be successful at all. Rather he saw an injustice, and saw a need to fix it, and just like Shiprah and Puah he did it on faith, he was once quoted as saying: “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.  My guess is, Martin Luther King Jr did not see the whole staircase. He could not imagine how far we would come, while still having so much further to go for equal rights for all. Rather, he had to have the faith to take the first steps, to start the ball rolling, he had to first have the dream for equality, and then have the faith and courage to follow it. Many may have thought he was licked before he began, but as Harper Lee pointed out to us, you don’t often win, but sometimes you do.
One man who believed in Martin Luther King Jr’s fight was, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel, who was a noted Jewish philosopher who wrote well known books such as Man Is Not Alone, God In Search of Man,  and The Sabbath,  was also a fighter of civil rights. Heschel believed that we needed not textbooks, but what he called “text people”, people who through their actions and how they walked in the world lived the Torah.  Heschel saw the teachings of the prophets as a call for social action in the United states, and he worked for racial equality. Heschel had the courage to stand up and be a text-person fighting against what he believed was one of the biggest threats to mankind. He once said: Racism is man’s gravest threat to man-the maximum of hatred for the minimum of reason. Heschel’s support of Martin Luther King Jr went beyond simply agreeing with his message. Heschel once said “To be is to stand for”, and Heschel had the courage to be. He had the courage here to speak up against what he saw as a grave injustice in the world, as someone who was not experiancing the injustice himself but knew it needed to be fixed. In 1963 Heschel and Martain Luther King Jr. met and not only did they work together to fight injustice, but they formed a friendship. There is a picture of King and Heschel walking arm in arm in the front row of the marchers at Selma. They spoke out against the war in Vietnam. These men worked together, and through collaboration and the courage to speak up for what they believed was right were able to achieve great social change.
We may have come a long way from the Civil Rights Movement, but we still have much further to go. This past summer people pitched tents all over Israel demanding "Tzedek Hevrati"--they saw injustice--inflated prices that did not match up to the salaries . Now, for  the past few weeks in Israeli newspapers we have heard people speak out against injustice against women in the public sector. People are speaking up, saying that things like segragated bus lines go against the Jewish values of this country, and they are taking a stand. Now, I am not asking if you agreed with the politics of the protesters or  if you agree with how they are going about getting their voices heard. What I am suggesting is that you admire their courage. They may not win, and they may feel as though they were "licked" before they began, but they have found the courage to open their voices and demand to be heard. Pirke Avot 1:14 starts by saying if I am not for myself who will be for me. No one else can stand up for you, no one else can speak your mind, only you can work to right the things you think are wrong—the quote from Pirke Avot ends with if not now, when? We need to have the courage to speak up, we may think we are licked before we start, we may fail often, but sometimes we will succeed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So, nu tell me about life in Israel?

So I have no time to post of late [lets be honest, did we really think I was going to keep up with the blog]. So for this post I present you with:

One of my former colleagues at one of the synagogues I taught at asked her students if they had any questions for me since I am living in Israel where they have studied. Below you will find their questions and my answers....Got questions about my life here? Post them in the comments box and I will answer them in a new post (this will give me something to write about too!)
**please note the answers have been changed for the blog post, I did not tell 7th graders where to go to learn hebrew curse words.

1) Do they have Menchies? (self serve frozen yogurt)
They do not have Menchies. They do have Yogurtland, however it is not the same at all. In Israel there are no self serve Froyo places that I have seen. Ice Cream/Fro yo takes three forms:
1. Gelato--richer and far tastier then plain Ice Cream
2. Frozen--frozen yogurt where you pick your mix ins and they blend the whole thing together.
3. Ice cream Bars--like Nesscruch, or Ice cream sandwhiches

2) Are there lots of explosions?  Have there been bombings?
Since I have been here there have been no explosions in Israel, there has been some violence in Gaza, but nothing in Israel.
3) Is it scary?
Not really, while I have been here people have been frusterated by things like expensive housing. To deal with these problems they protest peacefully (like sleeping in tents in parks and having rallies and concerts). Overall I am no more scared living here then I am in America.

4) Is there a lot of violence?
There is not a lot of violence, but the military is more obvious then it is in the states. Because everyone has to be in the army after High School you see soliders everywhere. Safety precautions are also more obvious here. As a result,  it is common here to have to go through a metal detector to go to the mall, or for a security person to ask to check your bag, or to see a solider with a gun in a mall.  These things are not scary, they really are there to keep you safe.

5) Are busses safe?
I ride busses all the time, they are totally safe--they are just sometimes croweded and a little stinky.

6) Do they have the same kinds of cars, food, brands, music, we do?
So some stuff that we have they have too, for example:
Coffee Bean
yoplay yogurt
Ford cars
Pizza Hut
They have a GAP near where I live
There is an American Apparel in Tel Aviv
There are Billabong stores, Havianna flip flops,
They LOVE abercrombie and fitch and they have Mango clothing stores.
Everyone seems to have an Iphone
They love american music, but there are also really awesome Israeli bands such as The Idan Rachel Project, Ivri Leader, and Hadag Nahash.
There are some things that are different. For example you cannot get a good burrito here for your life (I REALLY miss mexican food), but they also have really amazing pastries called burekas which are dough filled with cheese or potato, they have falfael here and shwarma which is meat on a stick that is sawed off and put into a pita or a laffa bread. Salad here is tomato and cucumbers with some salt and lemon juice. The food is different, but a lot of it is absolutly amazing....In Israel a lot of it is about street food: Pitas filled with falafel, hummus, eggplant, salad, onion, and its greasy and amazing. Bowls of Hummus with veggies or meat on top. The food is different, but you can eat your way through and not miss to much (except burritos) from the states. 

Also, the food here is not as processed so a lot of it tastes better. 

7) Have you swam in the dead sea?
I have on past trips, sadly I have not been there yet this time. If you ever go make sure you have no cuts--it REALLY burns if you do.

8) Is there a fancy part of Israel?
Yes. I stayed on a Moshav that was AMAZINGLY beautiful, there are areas with lovely houses and suburbs like in the states.

9) Are there sports teams?
YUP!!! They take football [errr soccer....] very seriously...the best way to learn words that you should not learn is to go to a sports event!

10) Is war going on? Have you seen anything war related?
There is currently not a war going on. What I have seen is the freeing of Gilad Shalit, a solider who was captured five years ago. Recently Israel negotiated with Hamas for the return of Gilad Shalit. The day he came home there where signs up EVERYWHERE welcoming him back. It was as if he is everyones brother or son or friend, the majority of the country was so happy to have him home. 

11) What happens on Shabbat?
It depends on where you are, In Jerusalem lots of restaurants and stores are closed, but in Tel Aviv its like any other day.

12) Are they very religious?
Some people are (they are called Dat-ti), and some are secular (He-lo-nie), some are Reform (Reformie), and some are conservative (misoritie). In Jerusalem the largest growing group are the dat-tim. In places like Eliat or Tel Aviv, they are fairly secular. 

13) What are your favorite parts of Israel & why?
Tel Aviv, hands down best city. in the WORLD. There is so much to do and see its AWESOME. I also love the desert its quiet and the amount of stars you can see is breathtaking....its also home of the kibbutz with the best dairy in the world....the North is also great, its lush and green with amazing hiking.14) Is it loud there like in NYC?
Some parts are really loud, like Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem at times--big cities. But there is also a lot of space where there is a lot of shecket [quiet]. The desert is not very populated and it is calm and peaceful, the same with the northern part.

15) How is it different than LA?
There is public transportation--you can take a bus to get anywhere!! Mos of the cities are walkable, so you don’t need a car.  Because Israel is Jewish, it is easy to forget things like Christmas. Instead of Christmas trees everywhere, you see Sufganiot [donuts for Hanukkah]. The busses wish you a happy Rosh HaShannah and a good Yom Kippur or a Chag Sameach.

16) Why would you choose to live in Israel?
Because its awesome! The truth is I am studying to be a Rabbi and so my first year of school is in Israel. That being said, its an amazing country--and beautiful! For a tiny space they fit a lot in, you should come visit!

17) Do they celebrate Halloween?
No. People here who are American do, however Halloween is not part of Israeli culture. Neither is Columbus day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, The 4th of July, Valentines Day, Marten Luther King JR Day. Those days all feel like normal days here. The Jewish Holidays are what feel different. For example on Yom Kippur in Jerusalem you can walk in the middle of the street---there are NO cars. Here they celebrate all the Jewish Holidays, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), Yom HaShoah (Holcaust Memorial Day), Yom HaZikron (Memoral Day for Soliders), and the anniversary (yartzheit) of the assination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

18) How is the weather?
AMAZING--although Jerusalem is chilly, the rest of the country tends to be wonderful weather wise!
19) Are the signs and books in english or hebrew?
Signs are in Hebrew and in English and sometimes Arabic. They sell books in many languages. Most people speak English in addition to Hebrew. Some also speak Arabic, Russian or French.

20) What is a new food that you have tried that you really like?  (New experiences too??)
Shakshukah--Its eggs (sunnyside up), in tomato sauce with peices of veggies--which is AMAZING....Bureakas which are pastries filled with cheese or potato, or pizza filling. They have something here called choco b’sakit--which is chocolate milk in a bag, but it is the best chocolate milk EVER, and so so so much fun to drink!  For snacks they have chocolate with poprocks in it, and milky--pudding with whipped cream, they also have crembo--a cookie with marshmellow and chocolate on top. They LOVE sweet potatos in Israel and the other day I had pizza with mozzerella and sweet potatos--it was AMAZING!!!!

21) Have you seen any Jewish attractions? (
I’ve been to the Kotel (western wall), I’ve seen the city of David, gone up to the Dome of the Rock, Gone to the hall where israel was founded, The first Israeli settlenment from when people first started moving here, I've been to the desert, to the most southern point, all around the old city, to Beit Lechem (otherwise known as Jesus's hometown), Tel Aviv, Yaffo...and the list goes on

22) Do non-Jews live there too?
Yes. there are many Muslims and Christians living in Israel as well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Is Gilad Shalit?

            Yesterday, I was catching up with my sister and telling her about life here and Gilad Shalit came up. She had no clue who he was other then he was a solider. I asked a few non-Jewish friends of mine if they knew who he was and they had no clue. Now, I am not saying how I feel about the Shalit deal, as an American with only one citizenship I am not sure how much of an opinion I can really have, but what I am saying is when Israel does something "wrong" the entire world knows, when Israel is willing to sit at the table and trade 1,027 terrorists prisoners to bring home one KIDNAPPED solider home no one in the states hears about it.
            So who is Gilad Shalit? Gilad Shalit was born in 1986 in Israel. When he finished high school he started his mandatory military service [everyone in Israel minus a few exceptions has state mandated military services.]. On June 25th, 2006 when Gilad was 20 years old, he was kidnapped just one year into his service. He was held somewhere in Gaza where he was not allowed to be visited by the Red Cross. He was held in captivity for 5 years and 4 months.
            About a year ago, his parents set up a tent outside the prime ministers house. They sat in this tent every day to remind the government that their son was still missing. Across the street from the tent was a sign that showed the number of days Gilad Shalit had been in captivity for.
            On Tuesday October 11th, 2011 it went public that a deal had been signed for the release of Gilad Shalit. Israel agreed to free 1,027 known terrorists for one solider. When I read reports from the US media it made it seem like ‘how bad could these people be if Israel was willing to trade 1,027 of them?” The answer is, bad—but Israel is a country where no one gets left behind. Where every solider should come home, and if they don’t every family should have a body to bury. Israel is a country where people look out for each other in all respects—from the grand scheme of Gilad Shalit, to the cab driver who will drive back to your house if you leave your wallet in their cab (I know a lot of people with stories like that). It’s a country that will trade 1,027 people so that one family can get back to their lives knowing that their son is alive.

So who is Gilad Shalit? He is a solider that finally gets to go home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holidays Without The Hallmark

            I am fairly certain that if I were in the United States right now, I would be bemoaning the fact that there are pumpkins and Halloween costumes everywhere [and probably have been since the 5th of July]. In the states we really enjoy rushing time. July 4th ends in time for Halloween, which is over in time to start marketing Thanksgiving, and before that passes us we have 24/7 Christmas carol stations, and booths to sit on Santa’s lap. January 1st barely sneaks up on us before we see hearts and chocolates and Valentines Day everywhere. We are constantly rushing through the year, as if something better will come.
            Now, as I sit in my living room, sipping my coffee hours before I am going to services to celebrate Rosh Hashana and the Jewish New Year, I realize how quietly this major holiday for the Jewish people [and therefore in the land of Israel] has snuck upon us. There have been things to let us know it is coming, but these things have been silent, passive. Coffee cups at Aroma [Think the Starbucks of Israel but with food too], now read Shana Tova [Happy New Year]. The busses as they flash where they are headed also flash the traditional greeting for the New Year. Billboards from various companies wish you a happy and healthy new year. Stores have brought out traditional foods such as apples, honey, and pomegranates. But none of this has been in your face. There are no signs that read: ROSH HASHANA SALE. No bright flashing lights. No decorations. No fancy windows at stores. Just small changes: the busses, the way people greet one another on the street. This buildup we have in the states does not exist here.
            As the holiday approaches I find myself reflecting more on more on time. Why do we feel the need to countdown until the next big thing? When did we stop taking every moment in its own time, and simply enjoying the here and now? Time moves fast on its own [how have I been out of the states four months?], why do we feel the need to speed it up?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's not that we don't care we just know that the fight aint fair, so we keep waiting on the world to change

            When I was in college we protested. A lot. We protest the start of wars, we protested speakers on campus who we disagreed with, genocide, social injustice, and in one instance, we protested not being allowed to keep a grocery cart we had somehow procured, decorated and stored on the first floor of our dorm. These protests took time, we made signs, we spoke to others about our cause, we started clubs to stand up for these issues. We were deeply passionate, convinced we could change the world.
            Somewhere along the way, the protests stopped. It wasn’t that over night we began to agree with everything going on in our society, it was just that we got busy with life. We stopped feeling effective. We became apathetic. To quote John Mayer, we were waiting on the world to change:
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it.
            Last night I attended Kabbalat Shabbat [Friday evening] Services at the site of one of thetent protests in Israel. This protest involves demonstrations, rallies, and people sleeping outside in tents in parks as a peaceful protest of the cost of housing. These protests are peaceful, but demand change, as Amos Oz stated in Ha’aretz:
The heart of this protest is the affront and outrage over the government’s indifference to the people’s suffering, the double standard against the working population and the destruction of social solidarity.” Mr. Oz added that “the first thing these demonstrators are saying, even before ‘social justice’ and ‘down with the government,’ is: ‘we are brethren.’ ”
            I do not know enough about Israeli politics to have an opnion on these protests, but as I sat underneath a tent, with the slight Jerusalem breeze around me, quietly meditating and praying I could not help [ethnocentrically I suppose] thinking about my country. My country where boldly claim that the people have a voice, that we have the power to change and shape the country. Is the change we want this partisan split? When did we become so divided that we cannot pick leaders who can work together, and why do we elect leaders who can’t leave their partisan baggage at the door?  This week we lost our AAA credit rating for the first time in the history of our nation, subsidized graduate student loans are being eliminated .
Now, this is not do say I disagree that Pell Grants are more important [they are more important], and hey, maybe I am over educated, but, when did our country get to this point? And, more importantly, why didn’t we the people stop it? 
Is this a matter of apathy, being frustrated, or truly being powerless? How did the country get to this point, and what will it take for people to be able to sit at the table, stop pointing fingers, and compromise (and not at the last possible moment).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

i hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow, and each road leads to where you want to go....

 ....and if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
i hope you choose the one that means the most to you
and if one door opens to another one closed
i hope you keep on walking til you find the window....

When new doors open in our lives it is incredibly exciting. Often when these doors open we are so excited about the future we do not even think about the doors that might be closing behind us, and every so often, these doors wind up slamming—maybe even months later, and this can shock us. It can hit that we have not properly mourned what we are leaving behind. Often, we hear this slam when we least expect it….like when we walk into services Friday night, at a progressive synagogue in Israel.
As I walked into the synagogue, out of the corner of my eye I saw the very familiar faces of the Biery family—members at Temple Israel of Hollywood, and part of my family Chavurah group for the Shabbaton program I taught in last year. I was then bombarded with many of my former students showing me hamsah necklaces and purses they bought, stories of their first few days and questions about why I was in Israel, which were followed by questions of if I would be in LA again next year.
This was the first time I had to tell someone from my Los Angeles life, face to face, that I was moving back to New York. To make it even harder they were kids, some of my favorite kids, from one of my favorite jobs of all time. They of course then asked me if I would be a Rabbi at TIOH when  I was done with school, and I told them I had 5 years of school before I would know.
The parents told me to keep in touch, and I took my seat excited for Shabbat, but on the brink of tears as I realized that I am going to New York, which means I am not going back to Los Angeles. I am still incredibly excited to be moving back east, but I realized that I have never taken the proper time to mourn and come to terms with the closing of one chapter of my life.
With Shabbat excitement mixed with a twinge of sorrow for closed doors I moved into yom Shabbat [in Hebrew the word for Saturday is Shabbat]. HUC hosted an Alumni learning on the topic of how to teach Israel. The educator geek in me was excited as I sat and listened to brilliant minds discuss the best ways to teach Israel to Jews who do not live in Israel. Here again, I had another intense moment of reflection, not at all based on the subject of the learning [side note—the learning made me incredibly excited and grateful to start my studies at HUC].
Doors have recently closed: my masters from AJU came in the mail, I moved from LA, my summer travels are finished, and I am properly mourning the closure of so many doors, but at the same time the future holds so many exciting things that as I walk forward a little sad, I smile knowing I am mostly incredibly excited and bursting at the seems with what the future holds. 

....i hope you never look back, but you never forget
all the ones who loved you and the place you left
i hope you always forgive and you never regret
and you help somebody every chance you get