Saturday, October 31, 2009

give me your hand, let’s go

last sunday night, MASA put on an idan raichel concert. masa is a program of the jewish agency that gives young people (ages 18-30) money to come to israel, emphasizing long term programs. i am technically masa eligible, but not taking any money from them this year, because i’m not studying at any one institution for enough time to qualify. most of my friends here are indeed taking advantage of the generosity of the jewish agency.

so, masa put on this concert the other night, offering tickets to all of their beneficiaries in jerusalem. this included not only my rabbinical student colleagues but also (and it seemed, mostly) younger folks, probably on gap year programs.
the evening started with speeches. 
now, i understand that there is a lot of money flowing from the dudes making the speeches to the rowdy youngsters in the audience, and this is their chance to acknowledge that fact. but, getting 3000 people together, telling them it’s going to be a concert, and then talking at them for half an hour is not, in my opinion, the best plan.
also, it was full out propaganda. there were russian dancers.
there were smiling, dancing israeli teenagers in the colors of benetton.

there were pyrotechnics.

there was natan sharansky telling everyone they should make aliyah.

there was a video highlighting three different recipients and their stories of how much they love Israel and how happy their parents are to send them here.
oh yeah, and eventually there was the idan raichel project, you know, the advertised event. after i shook off the ickies of the pre-show presentation, i could settle in to appreciating an exceptionally diverse collection of folks who make excellent music together. they put on a great show – dynamic, engaging, full of highs and lows in all the right places. mixing languages, colors, moods, and melodies with skill, grace, and ease. 

but their music seems much more suited to an intimate setting with tables and wine, rather than a big auditorium with stage-rushing and flag-waving. maybe next time i'll skip the sponsored events and go right to the small scale music scene.
the concert did inspire me to head out to my favorite music store to discover new artists and i've been happily listening to my acquisitions: Michael Greilsammer and the new Mayim Shketim (sorry, can't find a link for them!).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

i've got something to say about it. and it goes something like this...

people here are very passionate about their beliefs. surprise surprise! i just happen to live in the same neighborhood as the Prime Minister, a block away, in fact, so in addition to the frequent traffic issues this causes, our little pocket of Jerusalem is also a popular site for protesters to set up camp. 

this summer, while walking around looking at apartments, i noticed the Gilad Shalit vigil. a white tent with a sign counting how many days he had been held in captivity, a table with informational flyers. a banner proclaiming הצילו (rescue him). since that visit, we passed the 3 year anniversary of his capture, and the release of a video of him in captivity. the protest has ramped up significantly.

across the street, protestors have images and signs against "freeing terrorists." this likely refers to prisoner exchange, which is one of the ways israel has previously secured the return of captive soldiers. 

we are also host to protests about the occupation. these seniors gather every friday:

i don't feel the same palpable tension in the air as i did when i was here in 1996, when Rabin had just been assassinated and buses were being bombed frequently. 
and i don't feel the easy hopefulness i felt when i was here in 1999, when the peace process seemed to be clicking along. 
i feel some wounded hesitation, and i see many more visual representations of the frustration israelis are feeling at the political situation.

more tomorrow...

Friday, October 9, 2009

hmmm...watcha say?

okay, i love Obama as much as your average upper middle class left-wing arugula-eating democrat from Chicago. i think he's just the bees knees. but a nobel peace prize!?! he hasn't even done anything yet! if there was a nobel prize for potential, sure, give it to the man, but...really!?! what will we do when he actually achieves world peace!?

on another note, our refrigerator was broken but now it's fixed, so we got to go shopping at the shuk!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

you gotta have friends

arriving in Israel could have been a culture shocky experience, and/or a jet-laggy experience. but mostly, it has just been great. i was picked up at the airport by my awesome cousin, who whisked me immediately to eat some hummus in abu gosh.

i unpacked quickly in order to head out to dinner with the RRC gang. being with such a dynamic and fun group of students is going to make this year in Jerusalem really special. it feels like home already with so many folks here i know. so the challenge might be to really embrace and appreciate and seek out ways to make it distinct, to not hang only with these wonderful folks but also to find new friends, new places to be and see. i'm sure that when classes start and i am here for more than a day that will just naturally happen. i'll let you know.

also had my first ice cafe today. so now i'm really here.