Saturday, June 28, 2008

Guess whose back, back again...

I'm back in America - and already working at the summer camp where I grew up...Click the hyperlink to check out a post I wrote for the camp blog.

Although I'm back in the states and this blog was initially dedicated to my year in Israel - I do plan to keep updating it. If you would like to unsubscribe from it - you can do so by unsubscribing from feedburner.com via the email that sends out the blog syndication. If you have trouble, let me know and I'll help (I am not offended if you want to unsubscribe.)

Have a wonderful week!
Jen

Monday, June 2, 2008

On Wrestling

On wrestling

As a child, I was never much of a hugger. I preferred to neither give nor receive much affection from my immediate family, except for from my mom’s mother – Bubbe Schwartz. I’d like to say that I remember vividly that we were inseparable, although nearly 20 years later I cannot be sure if my memories are accurately my own or if they are simply reconstructions of snippets of information I was told. My Bubbe died when I was in second grade and in her absence, I eventually learned to hug other people. Ironically, a strong and warm hug is something I have begun to crave throughout my adulthood. When parting ways with my parents before a long flight or leaving my siblings after a short visit – I sometimes return three even four times for one last hug. It has to be just right and until it is, I feel unable to walk away without looking back.

A lecturer at school suggested, “To be engaged with Israel is to be both a hugger and a wrestler.”

As I have spent the past few weeks supporting various Jerusalem shopkeepers when I should be studying; trying to honor my commitment to eating one falafel a day before I depart; considering which pairs of underwear I’m willing to leave out in order to make room for as many Wissotzky tea bags as I can stuff in my suitcase; wondering which speed dial numbers on my American cell phone I will assign to my new and dear friends; pondering if the waitresses will miss my daily visit and poor Hebrew at my local coffee shop – I’m not sure how I can run back to each of these things and people for one last hug. The doors to the plane will close even if I haven’t finished saying my goodbyes. The man who sells lotto tickets on my corner, and sits with his granddaughter or daughter I’m not quite sure, only starts work at 7:30am. My flight leaves at 8am. The parking attendant and security guard who greet me daily at the HUC garage will probably want at least one hug before I go. If I don’t show up for my flight, the airline will call my name over the loud speaker until someone tells them I’m busy hugging the guy who cleans my laundry on Azza Street with sensitive detergent because I have bad allergies.

I understand that Jews are wrestlers. I understand that it was a wrestling match won by our forefather Jacob that gave him his new name with the heavy yoke of parenting the children of Israel. I wonder though what would have happened if he had just hugged his wrestling opponent? What would have happened if he had just hugged Esau? What if Cain had embraced Abel and Isaac hugged Ishmael?

Wrestling is exhausting.

Hugging is invigorating.