Now that I’ve arrived in Jerusalem and am living in my huge apartment, I find myself in a rush to get acclimated. I also am not on editor mode, and I am putting way too much detail in my postings. Enjoy. It’s good for you.
I took a Sherut (shared taxi/van) to my apartment with my massive amount of luggage, struggling to give directions in Hebrew to the driver. A pal I met on the sherut helped me guide the driver to my driveway. Thank goodness for the handful of Hebrew word I do know, as I requested “Sha’ar Kachol” (blue gate), since, of course, my apartment, #21, is not actually at #21. It’s a few doors down, and back from the street. And up a flight of stairs.
Rachel, roommate extraordinaire, helped me drag my fat bags up to the first floor of our apartment. I unpacked them bit by bit so as not to carry the fat bags upstairs. Upon opening my bags, I realized that my joke to the primary security guard at El-Al check-in was actually true. My bags turned out to, indeed, contain mostly shoes. Seventeen pairs, to be exact. I have a problem, clearly, but having a choice of footwear is not the problem.
Rachel and I went out after I arrived, to a great bookstore with a huge selection. She exchanged her Sephardic (Spanish) Machzor (High Holiday prayer book) set for the Ashkenazic (northern Europe) version (they are different in terms of liturgy and tunes), and off we went in search of apartment-things. This led us to Burgers Bar with Allison, other roommate extraordinaire, to consume mass quantities of burgers with pesto on them as a dressing. This may or may not be a sign of a much more advanced civilization than I’m used to in the States. I haven’t fully decided.
Allison and I parted with Rachel and we went shopping at a grocery store and a home goods store in a mall. Israeli check-out counters can be interesting, because those rolling countertops that make checking out at a store easier can be covered in the last-minute discards of customers, and so can the spaces in front of registers without rolling countertops. The cabbie on our ride back spoke no English and was endlessly confused by my telegraphic Hebrew, as I sound like a toddler: “Me home.” “Left Road Ruth.” “Blue gate!” I’m surprised I don’t just say “Wa-wa” and “’Ghetti” and expect a dinner that includes pasta, sauce, and a nice glass of cold ice water. Ulpan starts in a few weeks -- it's a good thing!
On Tuesday, September 11th, I learned more about our neighborhood, walking to our friend’s new apartment, and visiting the local hardware store. Mindful of the historical day, it was not really part of the daily life in Israel, and we went on with our lives. Rachel and I went to Mahane Yehuda, the shuk (huge, open-air market) to get Marzipan, which is a rugelach brand, and is not made of almond paste. This is good because almond paste is gross. We also got challah (5 different loaves; 2 are round and 3 are braided) for Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat, candy, some apples and a pomegranate. Our neighbors on the other side of our walkway have a pomegranate tree, but we haven’t been invited to take their fruit, so we got our own. A pomegranate tree in my front walkway, kids! How cool is THAT?! Eat your heart out, backyard citrus trees of Coral Springs, FL!
Other highlights of the day include ordering in Hebrew off of a café menu (at a kosher restaurant, faulty ordering will NEVER produce allergy-inducing shellfish, so my epi-pen sits idle in my apartment.), Allison’s building of furniture for her room, dinner at kosher Sbarro’s (where you find girls with their knees showing eating next to men with payot (men’s side-curls that aren’t cut for religious reasons)). We got some art to hang in the apartment and bathroom decorations. Rachel and I share the upstairs bathroom, and our new rainbow of fish shower curtain, orange soap dispenser and orange pom-pom bath mat are really cute. It sounds cheesy, but look at how cute the picture is (coming soon)!
It’s time to celebrate some Jewish Holidays! Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year) starts tonight, runs for two days, and ends with Shabbat. Three days of chaggim (holidays)! Before I even got to Israel, Rachel planned all three days out, and we are going to services at the local Conservative-esque minyan (minyan means quorum for praying. This one is like Hadar without English), a rocking spiritual and song-filled minyan that starts much to early, potentially the Kotel (Western Wall) and hopefully the beautiful singing minyan at Kol HaNeshama. We are having a dinner here tonight, and lunch on Friday, and are eating at friends’ apartments all over Jerusalem. Lots of walking is in our future, but luckily, I have plenty of shoes to choose from.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu u’metukah – have a happy and sweet new year, and may you be inscribed in the book of life. I’m off to cut up the salad.
Much love from Jerusalem,