I wanted to add another type of post to my blog. I have been reading a lot. I brought two books from the states with me to Israel, but I have already read those two plus another two books that I bought in Israel. The books I enjoy reading are informational and educational books. I feel like it would be a great idea to share some things I learned from these books to all of you. Let me know what you think!!
Israel: located in the Middle East, surrounded by neighboring countries that we do not have the greatest relationships with. Since the creation of the Israeli State in 1948, the people of Israel have had to overcome so much adversity. The typical stereotype for a Jewish career is a doctor, accountant, or lawyer, but for someone living in Israel, you have to add entrepreneur. What makes Israel, and the people of Israel so keen to be the home of the most amount of start-up companies in the world. In the book Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the "Why?" and "How?" questions were all answered. The number of start ups in Israel are just mind-boggling. Numbers do show you the proof, but they do not give the reasoning. In my opinion, I believe the land and the people have a huge role in the reasoning. It is not luck at all. The lesson I will be focusing on is the Israeli chutzpah, and how that gives Israelis the upper hand when owning their own business.
Look at the image above. What do all of these companies have in common? These are all companies that were first started in Israel. How crazy is that? The people of Israel think of idea after idea that make our lives better. The personality of Israelis is really unique. Israelis have a ton of persistence. A more local way to explain this is the word chutzpah. Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that pretty much means to have guts. This is probably one of the biggest culture shocks that will hit someone when they are living in Israel for the first time. I sure have felt it. Having guts is an amazing quality to have, especially as an entrepreneur because guts are needed in order to succeed. Having chutzpah gives you the ability think outside the box, while also giving you the ability to question authority. Israelis know that some rules are meant to be bent, while other rules are meant to be broken. These abilities have lead to some amazing innovations in Israel, like the companies above. Dov Frohman, the founder of Intel Israel, talked about innovation, saying that it is usually "the fear of loss often proves more powerful than the hope of gain" that really drives the Israeli people to succeed. It is not until failure is right around the corner, when you know you have to change your thought process. Everyone is going to fail at one point in their life or another. Actually, all of us will fail multiple times, that is if we take risks in life. Entrepreneurs, especially will experience failure. Looking at the quote from Frohman, lets relate it to when a company is about to fail, or when a military has to adjust its mission on a moments notice. When failure is about to happen someone may just give up and allow failure to happen. For Israelis, they will not give up, they will do whatever it takes to succeed. There is such a drive for Israelis that is is not uncommon for an Israeli lower down of that so called "ladder of authority" to question their superiors. Instead of just asking why they are doing what they were told, they will propose something different that they believe is a better approach. This allows for the ability to collaborate no matter the persons position. When everyone has the ability to speak their mind you never know who is going to have the next big idea. You would never have that ability to questions authority back in the United States. In my opinion, I find it sad that people pull rank. It is so hard to succeed on your own, working as a team and collaborating can really make a difference. I firmly believe we all have some chutzpah in us. Find that inner chutzpah and step outside your comfort zone because you never know what type of impact you can make.
That is just one small reason on why Israel is the Start-Up Nation. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I have really enjoyed learning what makes Israel such an amazing country. I look forward to sharing with you other things I have learned.
I am going to have to apologize that it has been so long since I posted, and there is just too much to write about. Needless to say, I am having such an amazing experience. I promise that I will keep up with writing not only journal entries, but also blog posts about different topics that I have been thinking about. I hope the pictures I have uploaded will tell the proper story of my experiences.
During Sukkot (October 12th- 19th), I spent a week up in Tzfat as a participant at Livnot U'Lehibanot "To Build & To Be Built". This program was just life changing, and words can't even describe the experiences I had during this week. The purpose of the program is for each individual to step outside of their comfort zone physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have never thought on a spiritual level before, but it was such an amazing feeling learning that I do have that side of me. During this week, I challenged myself to create a WOW (Words of Wisdom) to present during a Shabbat dinner I had on November 7th, my most recent visit to Livnot. The purpose of a WOW to connect a topic of your choosing to a piece of Jewish Scripture. In the end, a life lesson should bring the topic and piece of scripture together. I have never connected life lessons to scripture before, but why not give it a try. After all I am living in the Jewish State, might as well explore the teachings of Judaism even further.
This following WOW is from this experience...Enjoy
On November 7th, I was traveling back to Tzfat to take part in a Livnot Alumni Shabbat weekend. This would be my second time traveling to Tzfat using Israeli public transportation. In general, I am still getting use to living off of public transportation. I do miss my Jeep LIberty. I have never had a problem with the Israeli buses...unless I am going to Tzfat.
Typically when I travel, the bus leaves right from the Central Bus Station. The beauty of living in Netanya is its location. Netnaya is literally right in the middle of the country right along the coast. That makes Netanya a hub for direct buses. There is a direct bus to Tsfat from Netanya, but it does not leave from the CBS. Instead it stops at a bus stop on the freeway. My first trip up to Tsfat during Sukkot, was the first time I had to pick up a bus from this stop, and to add to it, I was alone. I got to the bus stop early and just satthere and waited, and was wishing that the bus would come, and all would go smoothly. 15 minutes past when the bus was suppose to come I was starting to get nervous thinking I somehow missed seeing the bus. At that point, I saw the bus pass on the freeway,but it did not stop at the bus stop. I had no idea what to do, I was thinking I was at the wrong bus stop!! I knew there were other buses that would come, and hopefully I would catch those instead. So, I proceeded to walk back to my apartment upset that I missed the bus. As I was walking over the bridge, I saw a bus stopped on the freeway. There is a specific exit that buses are suppose to take to get to the bus stop. It ended up this was my bus and the driver missed that exit. Not knowing how long the driver would be stopped for (blocking traffic). I ran with all my luggage for the week back down the bridge onto the freeway. I was literally running along the freeway and all the cars to hopefully get the attention of the bus driver. Thankfully, I did and was able to get on the bus and enjoy my ride of to Tsfat.
Now my trip on the 7th was going to be at the same bus stop, waiting for the same bus (or so I thought). I never had an actual problem with the bus numbers, and where they stop, but I guess I finally misread something. As I was waiting for the bus,that I thought I took my past trip, what ended up happening was a bus with the different bus number came, and by the time I reacted the bus pulled away already. Since it was a Friday, and buses do not run on Shabbat, I was literally racing against the sunset to make my way to Tsfat. I don't know if another bus showed up or if I just mixed up the two different buses, but I knew I had to figure out another way to get to Tsfat and fast.
What would this Plan B be? Can I deal with a misfortunate event, and figure out how to make the most of it?
I am going to do something I never thought I would do. Lets relate this event to some Jewish scripture. I would like to thank the madricha of Livnot providing me with the scripture.
"Who is wise? One who learns from every man" -Ethics of the Fathers 4:1 (Ben Zoma)
There are also two stories about Nahum Ish Gamzu and Rabbi Akiba that go along with two of their quotes. The stories can be viewed here.
Their quotes are as followed:
"Gam zu l'tovah (This is also for good)"- Nahum Ish Gamzu
"Kol man d'avid Rachmana l'tavavid (All that the Merciful One does, he does for good)"- Rabbi Akiba
Looking at the story of Nahum, he ran into a problem when the gold and diamonds he was carrying were stolen, and then replaced with sand and soil. When Nahum presented this box of sand and soil to the Roman Emperor, he was thrown into jail. Nahum believed in his faith and that this was also for good. There was a different plan for him. Nahum had to deal with being strong, and getting thrown into jail, but then later on, as the stroy says, he was rewarded.
In the story about Rabbi Akiba, it tells us that he had to overcome the darkness of the night when he was traveling to a city. Not only did his candle get blown out, but also his "alarm clock" and "car" was taken away from him. It was all taken away from him, and for a good reason. If all of this didn't happen to Rabbi Akiba, who knows what those robbers would have done to him.
In todays modern world, it is very common to see a comment on social media on how someones alarm didn't go off that morning, therefore they are late for class or work (we have all been there), or even they are having car problems. Obviously when this happens, it is not the greatest start to the day but life is all about the ups and downs. You cannot only cherish the ups. Understand the downs in life are meant to teach you a lesson. Look at the down in your life with an optimistic point of view. Look for that lesson, because then you can apply later on in life.
So back to the moment I missed the bus. I could not be discouraged about missing the bus because I knew I did not have much time because of how early the sun sets now. Shabbat begins when the sun sets on Friday night, therefore Shabbat begins at an early hour during the winter. So now I am on the side of the freeway wondering what to do. I knew I couldn't throw in the flag and surrender because I knew I had to spend Shabbat in Tzfat and Livnot. There is such a magical atmosphere that is created with amazing people of Livnot. What were my other alternatives to getting to Tzfat? Thankfully, I was talking to my friend Rachel and she suggested me check out the train schedule. The train doesn't go directly to Tzfat, but there is a later bus I can catch in the city of Akko that will take me to Tzfat. I knew this is what I had to do. I hurried to the train station to make sure I caught the last train to Akko. I just made it by 5 minutes. On the train I had the opportunity to sit, relax, read, and write. Really once I got on the train, everything went smoothly. I took the train to Akko, and then got on the bus from Akko to Tzfat. I arrived at the Livnot campus at 16:30 and Shabbat was scheduled to start at 16:40.
I had faith, and just knew it was all going to work out. I hit that down and did not let it get the best of me. I took it as it came, and adjusted. I have learned from this mistake, and now know that I have to pay a little bit more attention to the bus numbers and schedule. I may have spent more money taking the train/bus route instead of the direct bus route, but I made the most of it. I took a deep breathe and regrouped and became productive. I knew it was all for good, and that is the way life is sometimes.
I challenge you all to take an event in life when you gave into a down. What could you have done differently? What did you learn from it? How did you feel when you just gave into the down? Remember this when your next down happens in your life. Be optimistic and take advantage of that next moment you have to move to plan B.
I would like to thank all of you for reading my first written WOW. I would love to hear some feedback from all of you by either commenting below or sending me an email. I hope everyone has a great day.
This past weekend (now it has been more than a weekend ago) has been one of the most enlightening weekends of my life. Events that ranged from stores and transportation being closed from Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, finding my new "Israeli family", spending endless hours eating and getting to know them, more hours spent at the beach (because that is really the only thing we could do), being asked to participate in the Rosh Hashanah service, and to top it all off, getting pulled over by an Israeli cop.
This past Wednesday to Friday, and this coming Friday to Saturday, are the two most important holidays on the Jewish calendar. This past week was Rosh Hashanah, while next weekend will be Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, is known as the beginning of the New Year according to the Jewish calendar. The majority of the Jewish holidays are based off of historical events, but the high holidays (which these are known as) are not based off any specific event. During the ten day period between these holidays, you are given the chance to return to your true-self, and after a good year, be sealed into the book of life. All of your sins are forgiven between a person and another man, only by apologizing to them, and asking them for forgiveness. This is important to understand because one must gain the courage to face up to their wrong doings of the past year, and make them right. It is tougher to hold onto all the wrongs then letting them go and starting fresh.
These holidays can be considered similar to Easter and Christmas. Many people only go to Church on these holidays. The same is true for many Jews for the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I remember when I was younger, I would go to temple for services, and sitting through hours and hours of them. It is a lot harder to have your own personal opinion during these services, and really understand what is going on. Now that I am a lot older, and have my own views, and I really excited to experience these holy days in Israel.
Sunday the 21st started our preparation for the holidays. Raoul took us to the amphitheater looking over the Sea to have a talk with us. During this talk he mentioned the various symbols and traditions that are associated with both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Over the course of the next few days, I would participate in many of the traditions. First, Raoul gave us all a piece of paper to write to our future self. Trying my best to be all sophisticated and inspirational in my letter, I know when I receive it I will be a new person, and will be beginning the next chapter of my life. Afterwards, we headed to the Sea to participate in the ritual of throwing away your sins. We did this by throwing grains of sand (to symbolize our sins) into the Sea after reciting the pray of Tashlich. I remember doing this when I was younger with my family by this small pond, in my hometown. Sunday ended with a talk by the Reform Rabbi of Netanya. I have met Rabbi Nof previously when I was with Harriet, so it was good to see him again. Rabbi Nof did a talk on the shofar, and significance the shofar plays during the High Holidays.
On Monday and Tuesday (September 22nd and 23rd), was my first full day teaching. It was great to see the kids faces when they noticed that they will be learning English from Americans. Seeing how excited they were, reminded me on why I became a teacher. The kids are crazy, just like we were told, but they channel that craziness and excitement into learning.
Wednesday and Thursday were the two days of Rosh Hashanah. Walking around the city Wednesday afternoon, you could feel the electric atmosphere of the holiday season. The roads were crazy, and the Shuk was even crazier. I made my rounds picking up food, because I knew that I everything would be closed until Saturday. It ended up, I did not have to pick up all that food.
During any holiday, it is very common for someone to homesick because they are not with family. The thing is, I haven't celebrated these holidays, so I did not have any family traditions that I was missing. The majority of the fellows in Netanya have some family connections in Israel, so they would be spending the holiday with them. Others, were invited by teachers from their school for the festive Rosh Hashanah dinner. Others, including myself, were assigned a host family. This turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me. As I called up the father of the family (Raziel), he invited me out for a drink on Tuesday so we could talk and he could get to know me. After that drink, he invited me back to his home to watch some football (not American football). After spending Tuesday night with the family, I knew this was a special family. They made me feel right at home, and that is exactly what I wanted to find. A place I can now call my Israeli family.
On Wednesday, myself and a few other Fellows went to Rabbi Nof's reform temple for morning services. When we walked in, Rabbi Nof was so excited to see us. From when he first talked to us on Sunday, he said that his Shul is always open for us to attend services. Rabbi Nof even took his hospitably one step forward. He gave the four Fellows there the opportunity to open up the Ark where the Torah is kept during the service. He also then gave me the opportunity to carry the Torah around the synagogue, and even help dress it after it was read during the service.
That evening, Raziel's daughter picked up myself, and another Fellow Michelle to have dinner at their home. This was my first time having a traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner with all of the traditional customs, and then adding in some Yemen customs because that is where the family is from. Dinner was full of great conversation (both Hebrew and English), a lot of learning about the traditional dinner, and trying new and delicious food. I think I had everything that was on the table, no matter what it was. I believe I even had liver, and foot for the first time.
From dinner on Wednesday until Lunch on Saturday, I had a total of five meals at their house. Who knew that I would be so welcomed into this family. There is nothing better than a home-cooked meal (just because I don't know how to cook...just yet). It is such a great feeling of getting immersed into and true Israeli household. You learn so much about the country, and how much the citizens of this great country appreciate volunteers coming to make the country better.
After a month in Israel, nothing "unique" has happened yet, but that changed on that Saturday. We were getting picked up by family members and taken to the house because there was no public transportation due to the holidays. We had a meeting spot by a bus stop, so we could just jump in the car and go to the house. Every time we did this, we did not have a problem. On that Saturday, we were getting picked up for lunch, and we were standing by the bus stop, where there was also a hitchhiker standing up the road. In Israel hitchhiking is illegal. It just so happened, as we were getting picked up, there was a cop behind us. The bus stop is located in the middle of the road, so we hard to jump right in so we didn't block traffic. I guess the cop found this very suspicious, so he pulled us over. Getting pulled over in Israel, is not like getting pulled over in the States. Once he stopped the car, he immediately stepped out of the car and approached the cop. If that happened in the States you would immediately be arrested. I don't know exactly what happened because they were speaking in hebrew. I picked up a few words, especially when they were talking about "The Americans". Long story short, we had to get picked up by a family friend and taken to the house. As I am writing about it now, it does not even feel like it was a big deal, just a story I had to share.
To sum up my Rosh Hashanah experience in Israel in one word it would have to be comfort. I was blessed with a very welcoming host family, that treated me exactly like family. Having individuals that you feel comfortable around, especially when you are half way around the world is very important. Coming up next entry will be my Yom Kippur experience in the Old City of Jerusalem. Stay tuned for that!!!
First of all, I want to apologize to anybody who was waiting for another post about my time here. So much has been happening and I just wanted to take a chance to take it all in before I started writing again. There a bunch of new pictures that are in the other section that go along with the blog. With that said, I will still give a brief overview of my first three weeks here in Israel.
August 27th-28th: After getting off the plane I spent the first two days in Tel Aviv at the beautiful Beachfront Hotel. I had the opportunity to see my first Mediterranean sunset, and also start meeting the travelers of Israel. This was my first time staying in a hostel, it was very warming to see how friendly the majority of travelers are. The first evening I met up with Caitlin, Erin, and Gabrielle who are also teaching fellows in Netanya for some drinks. After waiting months to meet my new family, it was great to finally see some faces in person. The second day was spent wandering around the famous Carmel Shuk, the beaches of Tel Aviv, and then drinks and talking to people on the roof of the hostel at night. You hear such interesting stores about everyones travel experiences. The majority of Americans do not take advantage of the world given to them. I feel like all the other individuals in there 20s around the world really take these years seriously, and travel all over.
August 29th-31st: Waking up bright and early, I made my way to the train station to embark on the journey to Netanya. The program still has not begun, but during the summer I found out I had a connection to my new "Israeli grandmother" for the next year. Her name is Harriet, and she was so excited to see me and made me feel right at home. It's great to know that she lives only two blocks away from my apartment (yet I have not seen her since my stay at her home). She welcomed me into Netanya with a beautiful joint Kabbalat Shabbat with two joint congregations during the sunset by the beach. As we were introducing ourselves I said that I was from Long Island, New York. After the service multiple people, including the Rabbi, came up to me and asked how long I was staying for. After explaining to them I am a member of MASA Israel, they immediately thanked me for coming to Israel.
**Side note** All summer I was told I was crazy to go to Israel. People just need to learn that the media tells you what they want you to hear. I stopped watching the news years ago, because all they tell you is that the world is a bad place, and you need to live life in fear. Israel is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and also has the most patriotic citizens. You have everything, the bare desert in the Negev, the greenery of the Golan Heights, and the miles of coastline on the Mediterranean. Our neighbors may not be nice, but that does not mean that Israel is an unsafe place to go. For the three weeks I have been here I have felt very safe. Before you talk about a country and the state they are in, why don't you come here for yourself and see the country first hand.**
Needless to say, the citizens of Netanya, and Israel are so grateful to have Jews from all around the world coming to make an impact on the country. Harriet did an amazing job to make me feel at home, she introduced me to all of her friends, and now say that I have been adopted by a handful of brand new Israeli Grandmothers!!.
September 1st-September 3rd: The program has officially begun!!! Even though I was already living in Netanya for the weekend, I wanted to still meet everyone at the airport. Leaving my bags at Harriet's I took the train back to the airport, and met up with my new family in International Arrivals. After a long five days, I can now to started to get settled into my new life for the next school year. As time went on, the circle of people began to grow as everyone arrived from their flights. After a light lunch and meeting our
madrichim (Raoul) and other MASA employees we loaded up onto the bus and headed to our apartment. It felt like Birthright all over again, except for the fact that this program is ten months and not ten days. Over the next few days we were lead by Raoul around the city as he pointed out some important places we need to remember. These include the beach, Shuk, restaurants open during Shabbat, bars, bus station, and different types of stores. Trying to navigate around Israel was a little difficult for me. I am use to seeing water to the south but now the water is to the west. Netanya is such a beautiful city, our apartment is located right in the center of the city where there is always something to do. I could not ask for a better place to be spending my time here in Israel.
September 4th-September 6th: It has only been three days in the program, but Israel Pathways decided to give us little treat. Israel Pathways is the company that runs the ITF programs in the cities of Netanya Be'er Sheva, and Beit She'an. With the three cities loaded up onto a bus, we were sent to a Kibbutz Gonen, up in the Golan Heights. This Kibbutz was actually located right on the Israel/Syrian border back before the 1994 treaty. It felt weird being sent away already after just arriving in Israel, but it turned out to be an amazing weekend. The first thing we did was go ATVing close to the real Syrian border, we stopped at the old Syrian headquarters and checked out the ruins of the building. While walking around, everything started to be brought into perspective. For such a small country, they have done an amazing thing westernizing themselves while protecting their people. After ATVing we headed to the Kibbutz where we had time to hang in the pool and socialize with all the other Fellows from the other cities. I always enjoy meeting new people, and play the "Jewish Geography" Game. A poolside BBQ was held, and then we cleaned up and headed to the bar located in the Kibbutz. Another great time to connect with all the people you just met. The one thing that these programs know how to do, is to keep you busy. The next morning, we headed onto the bus and started to tour around the Golan, learning about why this area is so important to Israel. We visited sights that I have previously visited during Birthright, but it was great to see them again. Two years later I have a new perspective on everything, and now have a new vantage point on what Israel is all about. After the walking tour, and the highly disappointed "water hike", we headed back to the Kibbutz to prepare for our first ITF Shabbat. After another Kabbalat Shabbat, we had a wonderful Shabbat dinner, and then spent the rest of the evening sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful evening, all while making new friends. The last day, was a day spent on the Kibbutz. We were given a tour, various programs, and more pool time. It felt great to be back in a pool, now if I could only find a cheap pool to train in, that would be ideal. We also were given the opportunity to listen to Dr. Ben Rice speak about different topics pertaining to Judaism (more on that in a future post). As the sun went down, and Shabbat ended, we said goodbye to our new friends, loaded up onto the bus, and headed back to Netanya. During the bus ride, we received our teaching assignments, and partners. I will be spending the year teaching with my apartment neighbor Chloe, in the Alumot School (grades 4th-6th). This school is located in the east part of the city, and a short bus ride away. Finally receiving my school got me really excited on what the year has to bring.
September 7th-September 11th: My first five day week in Netnaya consisted of meeting our teachers and principals, sitting and observing classes at our school, meeting the Mayor of Netanya, and sitting through a variety of pedagogical training seminars. This week was especially hard for me because I would constantly compare the Israeli school system to the New York State school system. I never understood on how different school systems can be, but I am starting to get use to teaching in Israel.
During this week we also started taking our Ulpon classes. Ulpon are classes that will teach us how to read, speak, and write Hebrew. It has been years (before my bar mitzvah), that I studied this difficult language, but I am excited to see how far I will be able to come over the next 10 months learning the language.
This week ended on a difficult day. This was my first time away from New York during 9/11. Some of the fellows even forgot what day it was because we are not near the American media. I decided I had to do something, because I could not go without remembering the people lost 13 years ago. Thursday evening, we had a program with the head of MASA ITF (Lior), and also one of the recruitment heads (Rachel). The purpose of this visit was for us to express our comments we have so far about the program. I did not have any comments, but I did end up making a statement about how different it is being in a foreign country for 9/11. I am glad I did this because later on it opened up discussions about this terrible day. I felt at peace knowing that I helped raise awareness about remembering the day we will never forget.
September 12th-14th: This Shabbat weekend, we had to ourselves. I still felt like I needed to continue to travel and explore. I was invited by three girls I met the previous weekend from Be'er Sheva to spend the weekend with them in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the place to be for Shabbat. You have the beaches (they are overcrowded, and not as beautiful as Netanya), the food (Israel food is just amazing), and the nightlife (need I say more). For Shabbat, there is still a lot open, which makes vists worthwhile. Friday was spent at the beach, before we headed back to the Florentine Hostel to prepare for our first night out. On our way home, we stopped by the Carmel Market. All the shops were closing because of Shabbat, but we did some last minute bargaining for some fruits and vegetables. I was thrilled to run into a beer stand where that was supporting the local microbreweries of Israel. I was very happy to finally have another IPA, Israel style. A beer snob can only have Goldstar for so long. There was one major difference with my stay at the Beachfront compared to the Florentine. I felt like the travelers that were staying at the hostel, and even the volunteers and workers at the hostel, tried really hard to make everyone feel at home, and do things together as a group. As we pregammed on the roof of the hostel, we were taken to Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv. For a span of blocks, you have are a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants for the never-ending night.
The next day we woke up, and spent Saturday once again at the beach. I really feel like I am back on Long Island, where all you do on the weekend is go to the beach. Once again, we headed back to the hostel, got "lost" exploring the city of Tel Aviv, and prepared for another night out. This time the hostel took us all to a store called Cofix. This place is well known for everything to be only 5 Shekals (There are two of these stores in Netanya). This one was different because it served alcohol. For anyone that is not familiar with the exchange rate from American dollars to New Israeli Shekals (NIS); for everyone $1 it is approximately 3.4-3.5 NIS. Can you imagine a shot in a city bar costing only a dollar and change?
Two very long days did not end there. The next morning, we had to wake up bright and early and took a taxi to our third pedagogical training of the week. After a weekend away from my family in Netanya, it was great to see them once again, while still meeting new Fellows everyday.
September 15th- September 20th: This week, ended up prepping us for what a "normal week" would be like. During the months of September and October, there is no such thing as a normal week because of the amount of holidays during this time period. Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner; followed by Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. Nothing can really happen during this time except say "
acharei ha-chagim". This means "after the holidays". Even teachers use this saying when they are in the classroom planning for the year. Nothing can get done when you have a holiday schedule like this:
I will have a new perspective on these Jewish High Holidays being in Israel. In the classroom, I had the opportunity to continue to observe all the classes for a few hours each day. I will be teaching in the Netanya English Center Monday-Thursday from 0800-1330 with Fridays off. The kids are real excited to have Americans in their classroom, and are the most adorable, but crazy kids I have ever met. Being certified to teach Grades 7-12, these youngsters will be a challenge, but Challenge Accepted!! This upcoming week I will only be teaching Monday and Tuesday because of Rosh Hashanah. A new year is upon us, and excited what the year of 5774 will bring.
My first few days in Israel have been such an amazing experience. Getting dropped off at LGA by my Dad, knowing I would not be back in the states for 10 months was a reality check. Checking into my flight and getting through security was quick and easy, so now I just got to sit and wait for my flight. During this time, I still did not have exact plans on where I would be staying Wednesday and Thursday night. I used the website airbnb, and found this beautiful place to stay...but my reservations did not confirm before I left on my first flight. My first flight was a quick on from LGA to Toronto. I ended up getting on an earlier flight, so that meant I would now have a 4 hour layover instead of 3. Since all airports now are very wifi friendly, I was able to check out my email to see if anything interesting has happened. At that time, I noticed my reservation I wanted to have ended up getting denied. Now, I am sitting in the airport knowing that I had no place to stay, and needed to find something quickly. My next move was to just go search for hostels in Tel Aviv and book the first thing that seemed to fit my likings. I booked it right away and had no problem. But, that was the least of the adventure I had in Toronto. I was sitting at the gate, watching the news (I don't know why I was doing that), and then all of a sudden it came up that a cease fire was made between Hamas and Israel. Could that be a sign that this trip is really going to be amazing? Even though Netanya is in the north, and the alarm has only gone off once (which was actually a false alarm), it is nice to know that the operation was now over. But, that did not stop security. After everyone was settling into the gate, we were told to exit the gate with all of our belongings and line up to get screened again by security. From the looks of the protocol, it looked like they were whipping us all down for explosive residue. This protocol was only for flights to Israel. This was a hassle, but it was a comforting feeling having the extra security precaution.
The flight to Israel was actually pretty relaxing. I was able to fall asleep on the flight, and get ready for whatever Israel will bring into my life. At this point I still have no idea what I got myself into, but I know I will enjoy this journey.
As I am sitting in the Toronto airport, I am rereading my notes of my latest blog, and started to reflect on my last few weeks on Long Island. After months of talking about "going to Israel for a year", this adventure is now in its beginning stages. Over the past few weeks, I have made my rounds, on saying see you later to some very important people in my life; family, friends, mentors, professors, administrators, coworkers, and teammates. Throughout this period of time I had the same questions pop up over and over again. I will now answer, in writing, all of the most frequently asked questions during my farewell tour.
Why Teach Internationally?
I have lived on Long Island for the past 22 years. As I talked about in my first blog, I feel like everybody needs to have an experience where they step out of their comfort zone in order to really figure out who they are. This is my chance to do just that. One chapter just ended with graduating from Molloy College, and now is my chance to control my next chapter. I wanted to be a teacher so I could make a difference in my students' lives, now I can do this on an international scale.
I always knew about the MASA Israel program, because I would constantly get emails from them, about different programs and opportunities. It was my last semester, and I was on break from student teaching at Calhoun High School (my high school I graduated from), and it finally hit me that I had to figure out what my next step was going to be upon graduating. I had the choice of going to grad school, finding a full time teaching job, or do something unique. I knew from the start the first two choices were not really options. When I got the application for the program, the first thing that popped into my head was "how much does it cost?" After doing some research I noticed that there was no application fee, so I had nothing to lose. I applied to the program, and as I was going through the multiple interviews, it finally dawned on me that I had to participate in this program. It just felt like the right thing to do.
English can be taught all over the world. I am sure each one of you know of someone who has taught english abroad. If not, now you do :) I am sure I could have found a program in another country to teach English, but I do not think I would have connected the same way as I will in Israel. I got to experience Israel as a tourist back in 2012 for my Birthright trip. This country is just so unique and stunning. How can you go wrong when the Mediterranean Sea is within walking distance of your apartment. This country has such rich ties, and they are so welcoming to all visitors of the country. It's great when you can feel at home and still be thousands of miles away. The purpose of all these various types of trips, is to get people to come back to the country. I still do not know how to explain this feeling, but the trips really make you love this country. You cannot always believe what you read and listen to through the news. The news just tells you all the negative that is going on, but I know Israel as a loving and caring country and I cannot wait to spend the next 10 months here.
I would love to here peoples opinions and questions so feel free to comment below!!
At the time I am publishing this piece, I have already spent a few days in Israel, but do not worry I already have other posts in the works, and pictures to be posted. Stay tuned to the continuation of this adventure.
What is the purpose of traveling, and why is it so important for people to do? To quote St. Augustine, "The world is a book, and those do not travel read only one page." I just came from a college that has an amazing international education program, but I failed to take advantage of it. Hearing about all the amazing experiences my friends had traveling, I knew that I had to explore the rest of the world. My only international experience was back in the summer of 2012, when I went on my Birthright trip to Israel. That experience had a huge effect on my decision to teach in Israel this next year, but I want to take a step back to when I was in high school.
The talk about traveling all started in my 9th grade global history class. My teacher - now mentor - Dr. Goldberg would continually talk about an experience he once had in college called Semester at Sea. This program allows for college students to live on a cruise ship for a semester, while traveling around the world to over 10 countries. Having this seed planted in the back of my mind from the beginning of high school, I knew I had to live abroad for a long period of time. I wanted to take advantage of the great abroad program at Molloy, but that did not fit into my schedule. Now for the next 10 months, I will fulfill the goal of living abroad by teaching in Israel.