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One month and one day ago, I stood nervously in line at Immigration at Ben Gurion airport. I lugged my suitcases out into the dry desert air, searching for these “sheirut” shared taxis I had heard so much about. I rode into Jerusalem at sunset. I got to my AirBnb. I found the wifi password. I iMessaged, WhatsApped, and emailed a few people. I took melatonin. I slept. The ark floated. Or, as one dear RRC classmate put it in an email shortly after I arrived (and I quote): “Dude you are fucking DOING this thing.”
As it happens, I’ve done quite a lot in the past month. I’ve started at a new school. I’ve learned at least a bit about a new neighborhood in a new city in a new country. I’ve scoured the internet for non-Airbnb housing (and found it and paid for it and moved into it). I’ve checked out 5 different synagogues. I’ve experienced Rosh Hashanah. I’ve met bunches of people. I’ve learned how to buy some things. I’ve wandered about some parts of the city. I’ve wandered about some places outside of the city.
As it happens, I feel as though I’ve done almost nothing. I think a month from now things will be a little different because I will at least have started all of my classes (a couple don’t begin until after sukkot), and I may have had the opportunity to travel around the country a little more. I’ll also have (finally) started learning modern Hebrew. We’ll have to see. November 7th seems a long time away. I shall be on eggshells that day, as I imagine most of us will, because it’s the day before elections. But I digress.
This week’s blessing, which now hangs over my bed in Jerusalem, is the second one handed to me in person during my Minneapolis jaunt. This is from a college friend who happened to be my next door neighbor freshman year.
The rainbow cranes themselves would have been blessing enough, but she also wrote messages on the cranes. Since they’re hard to read I’ll write them out: “Explore, Connect, Love, Laugh, Advocate, Be Strong, Kill Zombies, Come Home Safe!”
With the potential exception of zombie-killing (although, you never know), I am hoping to do each of these things with my time here. I really appreciate the visual of each of these charges being interconnected but separate. Even as they each influence my life, I don’t have to hold them all at once. Sometimes exploring and connecting will mean setting the things that I advocate for aside temporarily, and sometimes advocating will mean not being able to connect with particular people and places. I seek to explore, but remembering that it’s my goal to come (go) home safe will put acceptable limits on how much I explore in particular areas. And there is so much to explore here. Jerusalem, after all, is a city where time meets itself.
For now, it’s time for a relatively mellow day. I’ve got homework, I need to make some flashcards, I need to walk to the store and pick up a few things before the city gets insanely busy with shabbat preparations, and, perhaps most importantly, I need to chill out.
Also, I put this on facebook but I’ll say it here too: If you’d like mail from me or you’d like my address to send me mail, let me know! I’d love to send some postcards. There’s something about snail mail that’s especially special for me when I’m far from home.
Shabbat Shalom, folks.