Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Drash on Parshat Mikeitz

This is the video of my D'var Torah from Monday on Parshat Mikeitz. I've included the text that I wrote as well.

Boker Tov,
Whatever happened to that cousin you used to be close with? What about
your neighbor you spent so many summers with? What is going on in the
life of that guy you sat next to in Biology 101 Freshman year? As our lives
progress, it is easy to lose track of these people. Thanks to websites like
Facebook, it is easy to think that you are still connected to these people,
but are you really?

Imagine what your “Year In Israel” would have been like 10 years ago?
What about 20 years ago? With our hectic course load, field trips, trumah
projects, committee meetings, and additional responsibilities ON TOP OF
being thousands of miles away from home would have been very stressful.
Especially without reliable contact back home. What about before phones,
telegrams or post?

Joseph finds himself miles away from home with a completely new life. He
has a wife, two kids and on top of that, the stressful job of providing food for
all of Egypt during massive famine! He has no contact with his family and
claims to not remember them at all.

I hate to admit it, but earlier this year I fell into a similar trap. I’m not
comparing the stresses of HUC to the stresses of being in charge of
Pharaoh’s household and foodstuffs in all of Egypt, but it was easy to
quickly catch up with people back home. I would just chat with people
on facebook for a few minutes and then rush back to homework. I got
pretty good at typing, “We’ll catch up more later,” or “Can I talk to you next

Then, two weeks ago I realized I needed to make a change.

After Havdallah, I was on the phone with my mom. She told me that she
had been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the first time in my adult
life that I have been forced to face the mortality of someone I love. While
thinking about the possibility of losing someone at any moment, I realized
that I need to be better at staying in touch with people stateside. The good
news is that I have a second chance. The prognosis is that eventually she
will be healthy.

Since then, I have been making a conscious effort to keep up on people’s
lives. This was an tough way to learn this lesson, although often it takes
a shock to wake us up to something that is wrong. Instead of waiting for
something like this to happen to you, you can learn from Joseph.

But how?

After more than 20 years without seeing his family, nine of Joseph’s
brothers arrive at his doorstep. The Torah describes reunion from Joseph’s

“Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them.”

This should be enough, he sees his brothers and recognizes them. It’s not.
The very next passuk says again;

“And Joseph knew his brothers.”

Why does Joseph see and then recognize his brothers AND LATER know

Ibn Ezra attempts to explain this,
“From the start he recognized that they were his brothers, and afterwards
he looked at each one and recognized him…’”

Joseph saw the men and very quickly recognized them as his brothers. But
it was only after taking the time to closely look at each one that he was able
to remember who they truly were. It takes a lot of work to establish a close
relationship, but even more to repair a broken one.

As you can imagine, Joseph is shaken by this experience, and he notices
that his full brother, Benjamin, is missing. In order that rest will bring
Benjamin to Egypt, Joseph devises a plan, imprisons his brother Simeon
and tells the rest that they are never to return without their youngest

The nine brothers return to Canaan with their food. But the famine persists
and they are hungry again. After a long discussion, Israel allows them to go
to Egypt with Benjamin. When they arrive to Joseph, he sees Benjamin and

“‘Is this your youngest brother you told me about?’
And he said, ‘God be gracious to you, my son!’

“Then Joseph hurried (from them) because he was stirred by his
compassion for his brother that he wanted to weep, and he went to his
chamber and wept there.”

I believe that Joseph is not only weeping in compassion for his brother.
There is more to it than that. He is also weeping because he regrets
not being there for Benjamin as he grew up, and because Joseph is
overwhelmed with happiness for the opportunity to connect with him at this

Remembering to stay connected is important, especially when you are
busy. This is also something we need to keep in mind. We have all chosen
a career path that, like Joseph’s, will take us far away from our families and
friends. It has the potential to use every last ounce of our energy and every
second of our time. We will need to remember to make time for our friends
and family. Even though, as Ibn Ezra points out, it takes time and effort to
do so. It is easy to think that “Stop ‘n chats”, or a quick Facebook message
are enough, but they really are not.
If you do not put forth the effort, you might not be as lucky as Joseph.
There might not be a day, 20 years later, when you can reconnect with
someone. They might not be there. So why let them drift from your life in
the first place?

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Guess This Means I Need A Tie

One of the best parts about having a major role in services at HUC today is that I needed to dress up. Slacks, button down shirt, dress shoes and a tie. I was a little bummed that I didn't bring a sport coat to Israel with me. What was I doing today? Today was delivering a D'var Torah. I'm not going to spoil too much of the process since there will be a post up on TC Jewfolk later this week. It was exciting, nerve-wreaking and fun all at the same time. The hardest part, though, was watching myself afterwards.

HUC records the D'var Torah that we deliver so we can learn from it. As my advisor said, it's more about the process this time. Clearly there were things that I didn't do the way that I wanted to. And there were little things that I wish I hadn't done, like go too far off what I wrote out and lose myself.

On the whole, it was a great experience. I'm trying to not dwell on some of the little things and remember that this is still a learning process. And now it's on to working on my service that I get to lead in late January. I probably don't need two months for it, but I love leading services. I'm going to have fun working on that!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Summer On My Mind

It's not even December yet, but summer is already on my mind. I'm planning for getting back to the USA at the end of May and rushing into a summer job to make a little money before heading out to school.

I'm moving, finally. I'm both excited and not excited to be leaving Minneapolis. I love the area. I love the cities. I love the lakes. I love the shops. I love the people. My family is mostly in Minneapolis and the surrounding area. I will be heading to school in Cincinnati (or maybe New York, there is a chance I may appeal my placement and end up in the big city). The hard part is going to be finding a place to live from Minneapolis during the summer.

I won't announce anything, because I haven't been officially hired yet, but I will probably be doing a job that has pretty a standard 8:00 - 4:00, Monday through Friday hours. Probably not a whole lot of time that I can take off either. Immediately after the summer job ends, I need to be in Cincy for orientation (August 15th-ish). Back to Minneapolis the next weekend for my step-brother's wedding. And class starts on August 22nd, the next day. Pffffew!

It's busy enough to make my head spin, and I'm not even through my first semester here!

This is not complaining in any way, shape, or form. It's just starting to set in. This summer is going to be crazy busy, but at least I will be home for a little while. I will get a chance to see family and friends. I will have a chance to have a good time and then get back to the books.

But for now, back to the school work.

Shabbat Shalom,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Harry Potter 7, pt 1

Last Saturday night, after havdallah, I tried to go see Harry Potter 7, pt 1. What we underestimated was the large amount of people interested in seeing the movie in Israel.

The theatre was absolutely packed and even though there were two showings at 9:00 and 9:30, and another one at 10:30, we couldn't find six seats in a theater. So we bought tickets for the next day we were all free (we had already discussed it because one of my classmates had called us to warn of this possibility). Wednesday night it was.

We got there just before the movie was to start and got to our seats. The theater was packed. Last time I saw a movie, I had waited a few months before I had a chance to go see it. The theater was empty at that point, this was my first, real, "Israeli" movie experience. Culture Shock strikes again!

First of all, the movie just started and people were still filling the theater. Not normally a problem except that seats are assigned. Which meant that people had to continue kicking other people out of their seats for the first ten minutes of the showing. Then they wouldn't stop talking.

Even better was when there were scenes that were "racy". I put that in quotes because they weren't really racy, but the reaction from some of the people in the theater made it seem like this was over the line. This one kid kept whistling until people laughed and clapped for him. Then it took another 30 seconds for people to stop talking about his whistling, and then another 10 seconds for people to stop shushing each other.

This shouldn't have been an problem, but it happened a few different times during the movie.

Surprise intermission! I think I talked about this last time, when I wrote about seeing Inception.

At almost the midpoint of the movie, it doesn't really matter what was happening, the lights turn on and movie stops. The intermission lasts about 5 minutes. I'm not sure what it is supposed to accomplish any more. I have a feeling that it is something that has been happening for years.

After the last movie I saw, I talked to some classmates about it. The best idea we could come up with is that this was instituted a long, long time ago, when people could still smoke in theaters. It seems like just the right amount of time for someone who would have wanted to dig in their bags and light a cigarette. Fortunately, you cannot smoke in theaters. But like many things, this is something that is just too ingrained in the culture here to get rid of it.

You might be thinking, "Maybe it has to do with letting people go buy more snacks or go to the bathroom." I thought that too. But the break is not long enough for one person to really get to the bathroom and back. Even more so, for half a theater to get downstairs to buy some food or hit the bathrooms. Any other ideas? I can't think of a good reason for it.

The movie is still really new, so I won't spoil any of the story. I've been a Harry Potter fan since the fourth book came out. I can't wait to see the second half of this movie, and I'll probably re-read some of the books before that. This summer will give me a little free time! The good part is that I will be back in the states to watch the end of this series with Kait.

HUC Flag Football; 59 - 6

Nope. We did not manage to get 59 points. Our team was torn apart by our opponents. I don't think they had more than one possession that they didn't score on. Although we didn't play well at all, it was a lot of fun!

I had the chance to play one series at quarterback, and threw a completion! I only had one ball thrown my way and lost it in the lights... But the bottom line is that we had a ton of fun getting run all over. There there was the defense. Personally, I think I did a decent enough job staying on the people I needed to cover.

It was fun trying to adjust to the game as we played. The good news is that we will get to play again next week on Tuesday. When there are some good pictures available, I'll stick some of them up here.

I know I haven't written much this week, apparently I haven't had so much free time. If I get a chance this weekend, I will put up an update about the last week.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kid A & Winter

I don't understand why I have this association, but Kid A, by Radiohead will always have an association with winter for me. It could be that the first time I heard the album was in the winter. Maybe it was the number of times I played it while driving to and from Fargo, thanks to Kaitlin for that high number of drives, many of which were in the winter. It might have something to do with the album cover, or just the quiet, calm sounds of the first tracks. I really have no idea the real reason, and maybe it is a combination of all of them.

I'm sitting here in Jerusalem with a nice warm cup of coffee reading an assignment or two for class tomorrow and one of those songs popped up on my iTunes. It felt very out of place to me. I looked out the window to a bright sunny day, and realized that I still have all the windows open wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The current temperature is 68 and it's supposed to get a lot warmer today. I'm left wondering, where is winter? What happened to Jerusalem being freezing? All I heard about the winters here, before I came, was that it gets much colder than you will anticipate. Be prepared. The houses don't keep heat during the winter because they are designed to stay cooler in the summer. What is going on?

From what I've heard floating around, this winter is abnormal. It's actually getting dangerous for the agriculture of Israel because there hasn't been any rain yet. I was really excited the first time I was poured on, because it hasn't really since I arrived. I'm sad to say that it hasn't really rained here since then either. The drought is so bad that for last Thursday, the Chief Rabbi of Israel made it a fast day, for those who listen to him, and told people to say additional prayers for rain. I take that with a grain of salt, or two, since I don't really follow much of what he says, but it demonstrates the nature of this problem.

There was a story in the Jerusalem post this week that blamed the recent butter shortage (yeah, there is a butter shortage right now) on the heat. Apparently, according to the story, in heat like this the dairy cows do not produce as much milk, or the right byproducts to create butter. I guess that explains why the butter was so expensive for me to buy to bake blondies last week.

Now before my friends and family back in Minnesota start complaining about the fact that I'm sitting here in a comfortable climate and they're stuck in a freezer with a potential snowstorm for Thanksgiving, (although I'm not sure how the weathermen could predict that over a week away) I miss the snow. I miss the cold. I miss the seasons changing. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I'm still wearing sandals and I'm going to go play football outside this afternoon. I just feel strange not bundling up to leave the house.

Until the "bone-chilling" rains set in, I guess I will just have to listen to a different album while I do my homework.

Friday, November 19, 2010


It is well past the middle of the term, but Thursday just about marked the end of the mid-terms period. I have to say that I really liked having these as take-homes.

Some of the assignments we worked on to prove our knowledge include; Creating three new Mishnayot (verses of Mishnah) in the same style of Pirkei Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers), answering questions and working through translations in Liturgy, another short quiz in both Hebrew and Biblical History, the Duma project for the history of Zionism, another take-home test for Grammar and finally, Thursday large take home exam for 2nd Temple History and Literature.

The difficulty is that most of these didn't take up much/any class time. As a result, the professors keep plugging away at all of the normal classwork. In the end that was a little stressful, but I managed. Until Wednesday when we received our email about our finals schedule. Two-a-days for the week. B-R-U-T-A-L.

I've got a feelin' that this is not going to be the same experience as in my undergrad career when I enjoyed finals. I like them because there was not class, and you have four or maybe five tests and the occasional paper at the same time. 9 finals in 5 days. That'll be fun!

I'm not complaining, just not sure about what to expect. I know, I know. This is grad school. Midterms weren't so bad, so maybe finals will be okay too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Joshua's Shoes: Then The Army Stopped Us

A few weeks ago I joined a group of volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights to help farmers in the Occupied Territories harvest olives. My experience was posted on TCJewfolk.com or follow the direct link at Then The Army Stopped Us.

I have many other posts at their website. You can find everything in my archive page.

Shameless Plug for Apple pt.1

This is part 1 because I'm sure I will be a shameless shill for more Apple products in the future. But I love their products and I decided I wanted to write about it.

Now that we have the ground rules covered let me tell you about the best iPhone/iTouch app I've purchased. I don't remember exactly what it cost to buy. I can guarantee it cost less than $5.00. The amount of money I have spent on flash cards and note cards in the last 4 years I have been studying Hebrew, I have spent a good deal more than $5.

This application lets you make sets of flash cards with up to three sides. There is a way to use pictures and even sounds for study aides, but I have not tried that yet. There are settings to run the cards ordered or random, and there is even a function that allows you to tell it if you got the word/question correct or not. If you were wrong, it is possible to have it repeat until you get them all. Then, you can pick the other side to start from.

Honestly, this is one of the best purchases I've made on my iPod since I bought it almost two years ago. I need to give a huge shout out to Sharon for telling me about this program. It's a great study tool. And unfortunately (לרוע המזל as I have learned while practicing words for my next exam), since I have my iPod with me at almost all times I can run words whenever I'm waiting for someone or something. Talk about productivity?!?!?

Not only can you create your flash cards on your iPod or iPhone itself, but you can also create them on your computer and upload them to the server. Then you can put them on your phone or iPod. You can also share the deck name or deck code with other people who have the app and they can use the cards you've made!

The app is called Flashcards Deluxe. To me it was worth the less than $5 I spent on it. If you're going to download it make sure you have the right app by looking at the icon you can find at this website, http://www.orangeorapple.com/Flashcards/Default.aspx

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Occupy My Mind

A large chunk of my family started doing one of those, "15 random songs from your iTunes library" notes on Facebook. Since I'm looking for a way to occupy my mind for a little bit, I decided to do one on here.

The first 15 songs, on random, that came up on my iTunes are;

Artist, Song Title, Album Title

blink-182, Apple Shampoo, Dude Ranch

The Beatles, For No One, Revolver

The Offspring, Gotta Get Away, Smash

Led Zeppelin, The Lemon Song, Led Zeppelin II

Spacehog, I Want To Live, The Hogyssey

Godsmack, Voodoo, Godsmack

The Arctic Monkeys, Brainstorm, Favorite Worst Nightmare

weezer, Dope Nose, maladroit

Synergia, Lekchbek Otakch, Tzoakim Al Ahavah

Dispatch, Prince of Spades, Who Are We Living For?

The Beach Boys, I Get Around, All Summer Long

Sublime, Caress Me Down, Sublime

Third Eye Blind, How's It Going To Be, A Collection

Fuel, Empty Spaces, Something Like Human

Flogging Molly, The Ol' Beggars Bush, Swagger

I'm not sure what the point of this is, but I found some songs I hadn't listened to in a long time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I was in the mood for sushi tonight. Actually, I've been in the mood for sushi for a week or two. So tonight when some of my friends asked if I wanted to join them for all you can eat sushi for 90 sheck, I was all-in on that.

I have to say that the sushi at Tsunami was pretty, pretty good. In no way, shape or form am I a sushi snob or aficionado. But I love to eat it. Since it was all you can eat I ordered four of five rolls. I don't remember what they all were. I remember there was a Rainbow Salmon Roll that was decent. I like avocado, but wasn't a big fan of the strips of avocado that were on top of the rice, next to the salmon. It was interesting, but not my favorite.

Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon are always good standby choices. I was really happy with those two. The Spicy Tuna Roll was interesting because the rice was crispy, not fried like the last roll I will get to, but crispy. It was a good idea, and I really liked it.

The last roll I had was a Hot Salmon Roll. It was hot because the fish was cooked very quickly in a tempura. Although the Salmon was a little more cooked than I would have liked, but I'm not going to complain about that. It was a good change of pace as a third roll into dinner.

The deal is only available on Tuesday nights and right now I feel like I'm growing gills. I'm THAT full of fish. I have no idea what their prices run every night, but if you're looking for a spot to get some Kosher Sushi, stop by Tsunami. I don't actually know what street it is on. I think it's on Shlomitziyon HaMalkah or maybe it's Ben Sira. If you're standing at the Mamilla Mall on David HaMelech, you can almost see the restaurant from there. It's right next to the "W. Bush Plaza".

Sorry I can't give better directions right now.

Just Too Far Away

Although Jerusalem is great, and school is fantastic (even though I'm working on the last of the midterms due later this week). There are some things that are just impossible to deal with being so far away. I know that things happen and there is nothing that I can do about it. Even if I was back in Minneapolis, there is little I would be able to do help. Yet I keep thinking about the fact that if I were home, at least I would be home. If I were in the States, at least I would be closer to home and that would be comforting.

Then there is the side of me that looks for the message in every situation. Maybe I am supposed to learn something from the difficulties that are going on back home. I've always had this mentality that I can help resolve almost any situation. Don't take it literally, but if you've seen Pulp Fiction, I've always wanted to be that guy you can call when you need help with something and I would have the answer. Or for those Lord of the Rings nerds, I have this picture in my head that I will be like Gandalf and know exactly the right thing to do in every situation. I'm learning that I can't fix everything. In fact, there are situations in life you have absolutely no control over.

Let me say that again, there are things that you have absolutely NO control over.

I did receive a little inspiration from back home, a little Bob Marley sung in by my adorable little cousins. Yep, it's helping me too.

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun.
Three little birds,
Pitch by my doorstep,
Singin' sweet songs,
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', "This is my message to you-ou-ou"

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010


For fundraising for Ride for Reform we are having a few bake sales. I guess this means I need to learn how to bake.

Mission 1; Blondies.

I was going to bake brownies for this first bake sale but the first three stores I checked out did not have brownie mixes. Strange. Apparently there are some stores you can find Betty Crocker mixes, but I since it was Friday at 1:30 and the stores start to close for Shabbat, I was out of luck. Retreating to a little shop near my apartment I grabbed a bunch of brown sugar, chocolate chips, butter and baking powder.

Before trying a recipe that I have never used before, I figured I'd make them for dessert for Shabbat. Good thing I tried them out first...

We don't have a great selection of baking pans or anything like that in our apartment, a big difference compared to the 25-pieces of cookware. So I used these little bread pans. 2 x 8 in. They cooked a lot faster than I anticipated and they were a little crispy. By crispy I mean rock hard. One of my friends here said we should save them for when we need to build a retaining wall. I could not disagree. They were pretty solid.

So I decided to try again and watch a lot more closely. The cook times I give at the bottom of the recipe are variable, watch your blondies if you try to make them.

Butter - 1 cup (melted)
Brown Sugar - 2 cups
Eggs - 2 (beaten slightly)
Vanilla - 2 tsp
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 2 pinches
Flour - 2 cups
Chips (chocolate or other) - 2/3 - 3/4 cups

Turn on your oven and set it to 175 C or 350 F.
Melt the butter

Add the butter to brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly.

Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and then the chocolate chips.

Grease a baking pan with butter, lightly floured. Whatever you have. I used two small bread pans and one larger baking pan each time I made them.

Bake in your over at 350 F for anywhere between 17 - 25 minutes. It totally depends on your oven or your pans. The important thing is to watch them.

They are done when the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

I didn't make this recipe up myself. I followed one found at the Simply Recipes website.

I don't have pictures right now, since my camera is broken. Maybe I will add one on an update if I can get a friend to take a picture.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Ride for Reform

Earlier this week I went to the first meeting for the Ride for Reform, the bike ride I am doing next spring. I'm really excited to be getting started on this. Then reality started to set it, I only have a few months to get ready for the ride.

They have posted the route on their website, and it doesn't look that intense, but I've never rode this far on back to back days before. But other than that, I think I can get my legs into shape to take care of that. Tomorrow I'm planing on joining Dan and Leah, and maybe others, on the road to take a little ride to the Jerusalem Forrest.

The route this year starts in Modiin, if you're familiar with the Channukah Story, it is said to have taken place here. By the end of five days we will be finishing at Masada and the Dead Sea. So I guess I have a way to get down there this year, it's just going to be on a bike and not a bus!

I am worried about one thing though, fundraising. I've never done fundraising for myself before. We're kicking it all off by having a bake sale on Sunday to see what we can start raising together. Adding in to my wariness is that I need to do this all from Israel with little "actual" contact with people in the states. I know this is the digital age, but I would feel more comfortable doing this face to face. ?מה לעשות (Mah La'asot). What to do?

If you are a facebook user, I have created a community page. Please follow along there as I post about my progress. I will probably be putting more on that page than on here.

But what organization is this fundraising going towards? The Ride4Reform collects donations that benefit the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism). Reform Judaism in Israel is very different from back in the USA. The communities are smaller and there are not a ton of them. Part of the issue is that they are at a disadvantage because so many people in Israel see what many call Orthodoxy as the only way to be observant.

The IMPJ is the Israeli version of the URJ that helps support these communities, helps them with outreach and putting out information about being involved in the Progressive Movement here. They also support youth activities and so much more. This is an incredibly important cause to me, especially in light of some of the issues with the "Rotem Conversion Bill" that was in the forefront this summer. I am really excited to help the IMPJ and to have a lot of fun riding across Israel to do it.

If you're looking for more information about the IMPJ, you can visit the IMPJ website.

There is also plenty of information on the web about the Rotem Bill that still has not been defeated in the K'nesset.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Long Day

One thing I have found fascinating about Jerusalem is the fact that there are tons or arts activities, often. There is an Arts/Jazz event off Emek Rafayim that happened a few times each week this summer, there was the two week Art Fair and concert series near the Sultan's Pool and tons of others that I've missed.

Last night there was an arts fair on Emek Rafayim. They closed down a few blocks of the street and people set up booths all over the place. Personally, I didn't do any shopping at the booths selling earrings or scarves (surprise surprise). However, I was very much engaged by the various street performances. We stopped to watch some really cool fire dancers and some performance troupes putting on a few shows. We stopped to listen to a band performing, which was completed with a sweet fiddle solo, and paused to watch a "monkey" climbing around a tree.

I wish I had some pictures, but my camera is broken... bummer.

Tuesday was a really long day, and it was good to unwind after that.

In the morning, my Hebrew class took a little trip to one of the old neighborhoods in Jerusalem. It was one of the earliest ones to be built outside the walls of the old city. Today it is just off the edge of Ben Yehudah Street. There were some really cool buildings including the Ticho House, two Synagogues right across the street from each other, the old hospital that became Hadassa before Hadassa was moved across the city, Rav Kook's apartment building and many more awesome places. It was one of the first times I was able to spend time looking at the history of the area instead of running around trying to find a restaurant to meet people.

After the normal Biblical Grammar class we had a large group project. In my History of the Zionist Movement class we have been looking at Russian Zionism around the turn of the 20th Century. We were all assigned different parties to be apart of and prepare a song, posters, a speech and questions to challenge the other parties. Dressed up in costume we conducted a mock Duma. I was very skeptical at the start of the process, but it was really fun by the end.

Almost everyone embraced the project and it was pretty hilarious to hear some of the period-appropriate slurs being shouted at each other during the speeches and the question section. Someone in my group even had the great idea to bribe the party leaders and the other attendees of the Duma. The challenge was getting this all together in less than a week.

Yesterday was a pretty good day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Yes, it is November. Yes I am going to write about Ice Cream. I do realize that my friends and family back in the USA are sitting in freezing weather. But here it is still warm enough to get ice cream on the way home, when the sun is still out.

There is this little shop that is, as you can guess, on my way home from school. There really are a lot of restaurants nearby. They sell frozen yogurt and ice cream. I have to admit, I haven't had their ice cream, but I have grabbed some frozen yogurt way to many times on the way home from school.

Being slightly sour, which mixes really well with sweet toppings. Oh geeze do they have sweet toppings. On your cup of frozen yogurt, you can put up to four toppings. Between gummies, all types of chocolate and other candies. They also have fruits, nuts and many other things. I will say, there is nothing too special about the food.

It is a cute little place though. A nice seating area outside that blends into the coffee shop next door. There is one thing that makes this place really unique. On the Azza side of the restaurant, there is an open section of wall that has a counter. Instead of having seats or stools, there are swings! Yep, that's right, swings that you sit on and eat your ice cream.

This is a nice little shop and a place you should stop at if you're nearby. I wouldn't make a trip across the world for it, but if you're in the neighborhood, stop in.

Monday, November 8, 2010

3 Hours in the Library

Yesterday I spent three hours in the library doing research. Not the same research that I had been doing for five years at the University of Minnesota with my nose deep in history books. Instead, by the end of the first two hours, I had a stack of five different editions of Torah translations, three different commentaries on the Torah portion and I had picked up and put down a handful to a half-dozen other commentaries, Midrash and more that I decided were not useful to my purposes.

What do I have to show for all of this work? More than two pages worth of notes and a bunch of different ideas about what I want to talk about. Now comes the hard part. Reducing all of this material into a 500-word D'var Torah. For those unfamiliar with this term, a D'var Torah is basically a short sermon but focuses more on the portion of the week and some of the commentaries related to it.

Much like making a sauce (something I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to do), you have to reduce and reduce and reduce until you get to the solid result. The advice I was given by my advisor is that this exercise is mostly about the process, and less about the product, although the product is important.

So my task for the next week? Make it relevant, and be ready to edit it.

The bottom line? This is so much fun! I could honestly have spent all day in the library doing this, but there are classes to get to.

Speaking of classes, back to homework.

Friday, November 5, 2010

In Joshua's Shoes: A Refresher

At first I was concerned that something had gone wrong with my post that I sent in to TCJewfolk. Usually they go up on Thursday, and when I checked before I went to bed, it still wasn't up. Since I had other things on my mind, I just went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I had an email from one of the editors telling me that I had been held over a day and they are going to post it on Friday as a featured post!

The title doesn't give it away, but last week the Israeli Rabbinic Program held their ordination. It was incredible. They was just something amazing about the ceremony, the setting, everything. Please check it out at this link, In Joshua's Shoes: A Refresher. Their website is great and has blogs written by a variety of people around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Feel compelled to browse around TCJewfolk too.

I want to add a little nugget that I didn't mention in the post, there is this communal clapping thing that happens in Israel. It starts out as an "American" applause, sounding spontaneous. A few seconds into it, the clapping settles down into a rhythm and everyone claps on the same beat. It was strange to hear.

In Israel Seminar on Wednesday, someone asked one of our teachers about it. This Israeli phenomenon is a good thing. It is another way the the community shows that they are together. The communal response shows their appreciation. I'm not sure how I feel about it, it still felt strange.

Before I sign off I want to throw in one last shameless plug. One of my great friends from college (kind of an important person in my life) is writing for TCJewfolk too. Check out her author page here, or her blog, Tenaciously Yours.

Okay plugs are over, and so is this week! Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cafe Yehoshuah

Sorry, no picture this time. My camera is broken and I can't take any pictures for a while...

On Derekch Azza (Gaza Street), there is a restaurant that I have been walking past for the last few months. Cafe Yehoshuah. Every morning I walk past as they have some of their fresh fruits and vegetables being delivered and when I walk home at night, it is usually full of people. Finally, I stopped in for some dinner.

For dinner I had their gnocchi in a red cheese sauce, as recommended by Marina. Tasty! The cheese sauce was creamy with a little kick, just the way I like it. I don't know if I have ever had gnocchi before, but I liked it. Not too much else to say about the meal itself. It was everything I expected.

I was intrigued by the meal that two of my friends ate. They ordered a stereotypical Israeli Breakfast for dinner. It looked really good and I decided that I needed to go back, the next day.

For lunch after attending the Israeli Rabbinic Program Ordination Ceremony I grabbed lunch and split the "double" breakfast. Yum!
The brought us eggs, bread, tahini (cilantro and regular), Israeli Salad, apples, pears, tuna salad, chicken salad, a tomato puree, and muesli. I tasted some of the muesli that my friends had ordered last night and I have to say, that's a great breakfast food. It is similar to oatmeal, but it is served sitting at the bottom of a 1.5 oz glass mixed with honey, underneath yogurt. It worked really well with the turkish coffee as a way to finish off a great lunch.

That was something that surprised me. I hadn't intended to order Turkish coffee. All I wanted was just a cup of black coffee, but apparently the english word black is the same thing as Turkish. It was a really good cup of coffee, and I'm not complaining about it in any way, shape or form. Just now what I was expecting. It was also good to have some very fresh tasting orange juice to go along with it.

Basically, what I'm trying to get at, is that Cafe Yehoshuah is a place that you need to stop at if you can. Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is really relaxed and is a nice restaurant/coffee shop/bar. I really liked the fact that when it is nice out, there are panels in their roof that they can pull back and let the sun come in. I spent a good deal of time watching the clouds pass.

Finally, they have internet. Free internet. I think I found a spot that I will go to do some homework.