39 Weeks

I have been here for a week.


Yes. Here! Where that little dot is! That’s me according to my phone, and phones don’t lie. שׁם (sham) has become פה (po)! Dreidels will never be the same.

I have been here for a week. I’ve been staring at the 40 week countdown for what feels like so long that the very notion of my time here being less than 40 weeks seems impossible. Yet, the countdown has started. I’m in the ark. The ark is floating. And this first week has been all about me getting my sea legs.

So I guess I’m in Yeshiva now? I understand that this shouldn’t be a weird concept. After all, I am learning to be a rabbi. Intensive text study is par for the course. Yet, this feels different. I’ve done 12 hours of Talmud in the last 4 days. I’ll do the same for the rest of the semester. We pray every morning and afternoon. I fall asleep with fragments of nusakh stuck in my head. The learning is intense, and it is good.


Talmud. Isn’t it pretty? I bought it yesterday. 

Grocery shopping in Israel requires more concentration than studying Talmud. There are so many things in the shops, and I don’t know what half of them are, and the things I do recognize or can puzzle out are often not what they seem. A few days ago, I bought a container of what I was very excited to identify as feta. Only, when I got it home, I quickly discovered that it was not like American feta at all. It tasted ok, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. And Israeli groceries are not cheap. In fact, on the whole they seem pricier than in the states, with the delightful exceptions (so far) of hummus, tehina, and bell peppers.

I am also learning that I truly have no notion of metric units. What, pray tell, is a kilogram, and how do I know how many kilograms of apples I am buying? If I can figure this out, I can avoid paying $5 for three apples next time. Of course…it would also be helpful for me to read stickers next time and see that the apples I’m buying are from Washington State. At least they are yummy, even if the locavore in me is griping with every bite. Also yummy? Falafel. I have eaten it twice in the last week and look forward to eating it much, much more in the weeks and months to come.


Walking anywhere still requires google. Walking anywhere is possible. Last week on shabbat I walked to services (at Har El, a Reform synagogue with a good bit of spirit and responsive readings of psalms… in Hebrew), walked to dinner, and walked home. The streets were traveled– not like an American big city where they’re busy and loud. Just traveled. People were out and about. The shops were largely closed. The roads were largely free of cars. It felt nice. It felt safe. It felt like shabbat.


This coming shabbat I’ll be resting with most of the Conservative Yeshiva cohort somewhere down south. I’ll post my weekly blessing before I head out Friday morning and look forward to telling y’all about it when I get back.