Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jerusalem, If I Forget You....

Long time no talk! Sorry I haven't blogged for a few days, I am already having withdrawals from Israel and I haven't even left yet.... great.

Yesterday we adventured down to Jerusalem for the third time this trip. All of the other times we sat in classrooms, but this time was different, thankfully. We started off the day in a classroom (shocker) learning about Jewish text. The theme of the day was Judaism, which was very fitting since after all we are in Israel and are all Jewish. We read a passage from the Torah and did some "deep thinking" which occurred a little too early in the morning for me.

Next, we heard from my favorite speaker. Her name was Leslie and was the Executive Director of Women of the Wall. Now, I'm sure most of you haven't heard about this organization before. Most people in my group had not either. The mission of Women of the Wall is to "achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall." This was directly taken from their website because they just summed it up perfectly. Leslie, a reform Jew, started off the presentation by showing us videos of arrests that happened at the Wall. Leslie herself has been arrested 4 times and in a way, she is proud of it. Along side of Leslie, Sarah Silverman's (comedian) sister and niece were arrested as well. Basically, the police men at the Kotel will arrest women who wear tallit in white, blue, or black because those are the "men" colors. Pinks and purples are fine, but no masculine colors. So messed up in my opinion. They will arrest them if they bring a Torah into the women's side of the Kotel, but the men are allowed to do it. They will be arrested for praying out loud at the Kotel, whereas people are always chanting on the men's side. As you can see, there is a 100% discrepancy between what men and women can do at the Wall. As much as people try to deny it, it is obvious, apparent, and hurtful. I'm not even religious and it bothers me because it is an issue of women's rights and human rights in general. Leslie was one of the most passionate speakers I have ever heard from. I could feel her energy and dedication for women's rights, which is obviously something I can connect with. My favorite part of her entire presentation was when she stated that she cares about this issue herself, but also does it for the rights of others. Leslie is a reform Jew, meaning she isn't very religious and wouldn't go to the Wall daily to pray. But, there are reform, conservative, and orthodox Jews in the group as well. Her ability and thrive to support them is what makes this organization so successful. I left the presentation feeling hopeful for the months to come. Leslie said Women of the Wall has made great progress since it started years ago, and it can only go uphill from here.

Stop number 2 of the trip was to the Old City for some free time and lunch! I ate at the same bagel place (Holy Bagel) as Sam and I ate on Birthright last summer. I remembered my way around the Old City, something that definitely does not come naturally to the directionally challenged me.

Since arriving in Israel, all I've wanted to do (besides go to Tzfat) was to go to the Western Wall. Although I don't consider myself a very religious person, just being present there gives me a feeling that I cannot explain. Especially with everything going on (family stuff as well as this horrific war) it meant a lot to me to be able to go to the Wall. I put my note inside the Wall and basically just sat and thought. Many times having the time to think produces unwanted thoughts and memories. In this case, it was exactly what I needed. Time to reflect on my two months in Israel, on life, going back to school, etc. It was "me" time and it was just incredible.

Last stop on our trip was to an ultra-orthodox community. Anyone who knows me knows that I am so intrigued by the orthodox way of life. I love asking questions and being informed about their traditions and beliefs. But, this lecture was different from the rest. I'm not going to go into details because it will just upset me and probably you as well. This man was so opinionated and basically insulted every one of us sitting in the room. We did a Q and A session with him, which resulted in an argument with a boy on my trip. Not only was it uncomfortable and awkward, but totally uncalled for. The worst part of the entire lecture was that this man stated that reform Jews basically are not Jewish. This obviously upset each and every one of us sitting there, since we all were raised either reform or conservative.

But, have no fear because dinner just brightened up my entire day! My boss and I went to dinner at this place called Taizu, an Asian Fusion restaurant. She had contacted their PR person to get us in since Inbal does the writing for Fodor's Guide Book for the Tel Aviv section. Although I have no pictures to prove how amazing the meal was, I can tell you it was one of the best meals I have ever had... and that's saying a lot. The interior was Sushi Samba meets New York chic. We had about a 12 course meal, not including the 3 cocktails they brought out for us. My favorite cocktail was with this orange vodka-ish thing with hot pepper at the bottom. Spicy and sweet at the same time! Out of the 12 courses we had, about 8 of them included fish and seafood which is my absolute favorite!

Some dishes included:
-Wild Fish Tartare, served in a crispy rice cone
-Shrimp Dumplings
-Wild Fish Carpaccio
-Tandoori Calarmari
-Fresh Mussles
-Tandoori Soft Chicken
(just to name a few)

Our dinner lasted 3 hours and was full of delicious flavors and amazing company. While all of my friends here made chicken and rice for dinner, I was eating like royalty. They truly did roll out the red carpet for us!

Now, off to see a Ethiopian Jewish woman who made Aliyah speak. It should be interesting.....

ONE LAST NOTE: If you could all please "Like" Women of the Wall on Facebook, that would be great! Just want to give my girl Leslie some more fans!


  1. Just wanted to post a comment and see how this works for my blog! Love you and can't wait to see you Friday!