Friday, September 21, 2007

Spiritual Check Up

The streets of Jerusalem are now quiet. The shops and grocery stores have closed. Traffic is coming to a complete stop.
To the vegetable stand clerk I inquire, "I thought there would be more people here, gathering final ingredients."
"No. Now is the time of Cheshbon Nefesh - a spiritual check up. Everyone is checking their souls right now!"
Right now?
I paid and hurried home. No one told me that at 1pm today was when the entire country would be checking up on their spirits! I needed to catch up.
And now, our apartment - Jerusalem of Mold - is as clean as it will ever be. I've showered and cleansed myself of any impurity from the Jerusalem streets. My clothing is completely white and I'm even wearing flip flops to services - my Dad would surely be appalled, but they are the only shoes I own that are not made with any leather.

I think about my attempt this past week to read up and reflect on repentance and forgiveness and of spiritual cleansing, but I'm worried that our dishes received more attention than my soul. A classmate gave a sermon about how much energy we use being angry, holding grudges, engaging in idle talk about others, and other negative experiences. We waste so much energy. when there are so many more positive and productive things we could be doing instead. As I look to have a clean slate, a fresh start in the new year, this idea really sticks with me.
The streets are hoppin'! Without traffic, people are free to walk down the middle of the street. Most are dressed fully in white and have just left evening services, though many Israelis will not spend time in Synagogue at all, but will likely fast. Teenagers play soccer in intersections, barefoot, tzit tzit flying with each kick. One of my classmates jumps out of the way just in time, nearly knocked over by a little girl whizzing by on her scooter. Young kids are riding bicycles with training wheels and popping wheelies on skateboards, too.

It feels more like a neighborhood block party than a day of repentance. But this is Israel - always a contrast between the religious and the secular - with the Reform Jewish Rabbinical students floating somewhere in the middle, welcomed or cast out - depending on who you ask.
Best wishes for a sweet and healthy New Year.
However you spend Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement - I hope it is meaningful.
May you be inscribed in the book of life!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Quick Update and Pictures

I just got back from Turkey and started classes again on Sunday.
Turkey was beautiful, scalding hot, and a generally interesting vacation. Our hotel was...well, lets just say the best part about it was checking out. But the beach was relaxing and their local alcohol, Raki, nauseating.
Things are pretty busy but a friend brought me a bag of starbucks coffee, so life is looking up.

Wishing you a great day off for Labor Day, Happy New Year, Happy Columbus Day, and Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day.

For your viewing pleasure...

Life Before HUC

Israel Part I

Israel and TurkeyLink