Archive | September 2012

To a sweet and happy new year.

A week ago now I saw Gary Yourofsky, radical vegan activist and lecturer, speak at BGU. To sum up, Yourofsky does not believe you should eat animal flesh or products (eggs, dairy, honey) under any circumstances for any reason, ever. Apparently his Youtube video is one of the most popular in the country, but for his first time speaking outside the US, Israel was an interesting choice for a few reasons:

1) one of his biggest talking points is to make the comparison that the mass murder of livestock for food and the treatment of animals as a commodity began well before the Holocaust, has continued well after, and is yet the largest “Holocaust” to ever be;

2) he doesn’t believe there is any reason that animals should not get exactly equal treatment for being sentient just as we are, and insists that humans cannot justify their actions with the argument that they are superior and animals were created for their use, which Jewish teachings definitely infer (Adam’s naming, Kosher law and all that); and

3) Kosher law states and so Jews believe that an animal used for dietary purposes must be killed in the most “humane” way and lays out how this is to be done, yet Yourofsky counters that if you don’t want to perpetuate animal cruelty, there is no reason why you should kill animals at all.

Intense.

BITCH PLEASE.

Let’s just say this lecture definitely had an impact on me. He called meat eating an addiction, just as alcohol, etc. is…which I can’t really think of an argument against, as you can see how many people go red in the face defending factory farming, insisting they’re good people despite their culinary inclinations, as soon as it’s threatened. I love this quote by him: “Religion condones speciesism […] Good people don’t pray about kindness, about love. They give it directly, and they know that peace begins at the dinner table.”

Though I am not sure I will/can ever cut out meat and dairy entirely, I’d like to get to the point where I am integrating vegan meals into my diet in a way that I eat less and less of animal-based foods, maybe settling at once per week. Of course, I need to work up a repertoire of vegan cuisine beforehand so that I do this in a healthful and safe way (being anemic and all), and I think for this reason (and all the veggies I’ve been munching on for breakfast) spending time in Israel is a chance to become healthier – yes intellectually and spiritually if it’s not too much to ask, but particularly – physically and dietarily. There’s no reason why eating a ton more veggies, fruits, and legumes is not a great idea, and I pledge to start thinking towards this now so that my roomie and I can cook up a storm when I get back to NYC 馃槈

For some bangin’ new recipes I’m itching to try:聽http://mouthwateringvegan.com

It was a great lecture and though I don’t agree with him to the last detail, I have a lot of respect for his obnoxious outspokenness, genuineness, and ability to stand his ground with research he’s done himself. Apparently a question he gets asked a lot, by non-vegans/vegetarians to boot, in apoplectic fits of defensive righteousness is: “What about the fruits and vegetables? They’re reproductive organs of plants! How do you think they feel? That’s not right at all!”

Sir Yourofsky’s response: “I’m not even going to entertain this stupid question. Next.”

***

Last Wednesday was the official last day of Ulpan, and we had a deliciously catered ceremony/”graduation.” We ate and then each class made little performances/skits about typical days in the classroom. As such, my role was to enter late eating rice cakes, then to look pained and confused every time we start a new verb聽binyan.

luxurious Ulpan Party buffet

I wish the lighting had been better for me to photograph my beautiful food!

Take 1

Take 2

Take 3

Adulis and I

My teacher Ilana, me, and my certificate. I’m going to miss her =(

This was also sad because it was our last night with the German group! It’s so quiet around here now…

On Thursday I left for Jerusalem. I went to the allergy doctor and found, not to my surprise, that I am not allergic to any common allergens! Conclusion: a combination of strange soap, heat and stress. I just need to be more observant in the future. Then I journeyed to Mahane Yehuda for some Challah, olives and dried fruit, and most importantly a KUBE stop! I walked down Jaffa Street alongside the light rail towards the ever-famous Ben Yehuda Street and happened upon Tmol Shilshom (“time past”), a fairytale-like bookshop/coffeeshop that’s a treasure for hobbits like myself. (Aaaand what’s coincidental about that is that I just started reading聽The Hobbit, a long-time goal of mine – and much happier read than Ray Bradbury short story collections – that I’m so excited to actually be fulfilling so I can finally watch the LOTR movies; it is a shock that’s it’s really as amazing as they say?!) I wish I had had more time there but I will certainly be returning for some quiet coffee and reading and hibernation time…

Taking pics of graffiti is an addicting pastime.

a staircase leading mysteriously up and up…

Tmol Shilshom

a cozy nook, just as it should be =)

the menu…just cute and cheesy enough to suit suckers like me. It also makes me miss Alice’s tea cup ='(

Homemade (the only best kind) apple pie and a pineapple, melon and fig smoothie.

Another awesome thing about this weekend was discovering Darma (讚讗专诪讛) yoga in Rechovot, a place that felt so familiar. I took a great vinyasa class and my first Iyengar class…though this was cool, I think it would have been a bit more helpful in a language I understand…kinda my fault…

The whole setup was recycled wood/boxes! It’s all about living the motto.

Incidentally, there is a great quote from聽The Hobbit to sufficiently explain my 5-day reprieve at Michal and Tibi’s (my family away from family) in Rechovot:

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever – even supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet there is little to tell about their stay” (Tolkien 58) <–can’t quite stop being an English major even on my blog.

My time in Rechovot was beautiful, refreshing and rehabilitating. I hang out, I read, I did yoga, I ate a lot of Michal’s incredible cooking (including homemade Kube!!!), I was really full, I watched Michal repeatedly make fun of Americans for always saying “I am so fuuuull!”, I played with a 4-year old and 8-month old, I watched “Blue Valentine” and “Eyes Wide Shut” with Steph’s cousin Alex and his wife Esther, I took lots of naps. I drank a lot of this:

Wissotzky, chamomile and nana, Rooibos, it’s aaaaaall good.

Speaking of which, I just “discovered,” if you can call it that, HOW HEALTHY IT IS TO DRINK HOT WATER WITH LEMON EVERY MORNING. I am going to do this as often as I remember, because the Vitamin C can ward off all kinds of crazy germs as well as help with my iron absorption…it’s like a miracle cure to everything was hiding right in my fruit drawer my whole life:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4769/Why-You-Should-Drink-Warm-Water-Lemon.html

http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/features/health_care_in_autumn/au9.html

and ate this at River, a sushi/Asian cuisine restaurant:

delicious as a soup but an abomination of the “ramen” it was supposed to be. Manhattan and your Japanese nooks =(

and for Rosh Hashana I fulfilled one of the best obligatory actions of a Jew:

Apples and honey =)

Apples and honey to symbolize sweetness… Good for the Jewish “head of the year,” good for any time of year.

We watched the sunset go down on Alex and Esther’s balcony on a beautiful Rechovot evening.

I was just commenting on how talented she is at blowing raspberries when this photo happened.

Michal, my adopted mom, who hates photos XD

***

Finally, today was our first day of classes. Wednesday’s my “rest” day so to speak because I only have Hebrew from 8:30-10am and then lots of free time! untiiiiiiiil… I need to wake up 6am Thursdays to catch a 7:20am bus to Sde Boker for my Israeli Mosaic class. Because I’m lazy and would never EVER get up this early back at Queens, part of me would have loved to drop it but I know it’s going to be great in a way I won’t regret, and it’s important Anthro credit.

What’s interesting about autumn in Israel is that we just had Rosh Hashana break and after classes this coming Monday, we essentially have a Yom Kippur leading into Sukkot vacation for almost two weeks. My two goals are to visit Petra and see Idan Raichel =) By the time we get back it will be almost mid-October which means the Israelis will be almost coming back to campus and we can get the party started. So excited for it all!

So an ant, a rabbit, a pig, a nightingale and a dove walk into a room for rent…

I felt this was fittingly and patriotically dramatic.

This post in so many ways has a lot to do with progress. So we鈥檙e at the end of Ulpan: today was my final exam (and it was REALLY REALLY HARD). It’s incredible to me that 6+ weeks have passed…the amount of time I have left to be here has been reduced to the much less intimidating number 3 1/2 months. Classes are starting a week from today, after the Rosh Hashana break. But I really have a hard time with endings. This trip is a way for me to challenge my expectations of myself, my boundaries and comfort zone. Despite the honest fact that during these six weeks I have struggled to win the confidence to speak and am only beginning to understand snatches of conversation (being monolingual, it鈥檚 a slow process), Ulpan has been an extremely helpful and large step forward. I came here and I was like a walnut. Yes, a walnut. Ilana my teacher has cracked open my shell, and though I鈥檓 not fully out of it, I鈥檓 peeking through, and that鈥檚 no small feat. Despite being miserably exhausted almost every day in Ulpan, I feel that she made it a very supportive and safe space to learn, and I am sad to see that go. I wish I were progressing (诇讛转拽讚诐 TAKE THAT SIX WEEKS OF ULPAN) faster but perhaps part of life is realizing that you don’t always adapt to new spaces, places, challenges and areas of study as quickly as you’d like. And by you I mean me.

Let me be depressing for a moment before writing about the pi帽ata of awesome the last two weeks have nevertheless been. I’ve been dealing with some shitty medical problems since Day 1 that have only intensified, and with which I’m trying to find some peace and acceptance. For the first 3-4 weeks here, my stomach barely cooperated. About 3 weeks ago I developed an allergic reaction that I think started with an unfamiliar soap but which was maybe irritated by heat and stress. After going to the on-campus clinic a few times (which ended up being way less intimidating than I feared, though the doctor speaks only Hebrew and Russian) and taking a blood test, they were unable to tell me what the rash (by that time mostly cured by some steroidal pills) was caused by, but they did tell me that my iron count is really low. “You’re anemic!” Yep, been that way for years but apparently I am not taking very good care of myself. I have felt tired for the entire trip so far but daily functioning without frequent naps had been getting difficult the last few weeks; now I have an answer. Despite the fact that taking my iron pills should have been a bigger priority earlier, I have become extremely frustrated: with the doctors, with myself, with my health, with learning Hebrew, with everything. It’s been non-stop and I had just been starting to feel a bit more comfortable when this occurred, just to feel knocked down a notch, to lament that my energy could be being spent so much more effectively, like devoting my time and attention to studying and learning Hebrew hardcore instead of sleeping. My聽madricha Sarah (HI!) gave me some food for thought when she said it’s easy to blame everything around us rather than focusing on the real root of matters, namely your perspective on happenings and the way you choose to react to them. I think it’s important to acknowledge that my anemia is not something I did to myself by being irresponsible at the same time that I get to choose (at least to a decent extent) my mood and my drive during the day. SO THANKS SARAH. =)

Another lesson learned is that when I get back to NYC the love of my life, I am going to turn my default laziness around and do all of the activities I’ve been putting off, because life is way too short聽to do your homework聽to not be self-motivated to improve yourself and have positive and meaningful life experiences.

Anyway, the temporary conclusion is that I’m still a bit itchy and going to the doctor in Jerusalem tomorrow. It’s all about the experience, right? =P

FUN TIMES! If you don’t understand the title of this post, you are probably American (and not one that was in my Ulpan class). Hee hee. It’s a joke on a children’s story (讚讬专讛 诇讛砖讻讬专) by the amazing, late Israeli poetess Lea Goldberg. Here’s us performing it in class!

Stuffed animal props

Here comes the nemala (ant)… That’s my teacher, Ilana, on the right.

I also finally got to go to a dance bar! Sidenote: I found a new fave beer, Leffe Braun, to compete with my love of Sam Adams.

Einstein, a dance bar right across the street from the Meonot.

On another note, ISRAEL HAS BEEN RUINING MY SHOES. God Israel. But I’m excited to invest in some Naot Teva, a great Israeli brand.

These are also my favorite shoes =(

Last Friday was fantastic.

I spent the morning sleeping in and catching up on some DNC/RNC videos (though I’ve yet to see Bill Clinton’s speech!). Then I headed off to Maimon Spices in the BIG center, about which some tipster (Adi =]) told me I can find gourmet coffee beans there. It did not disappoint. Like for real this store is my new best friend. I also have a life.

转讘诇讬谞讬 诪讬诪讜谉

bulk spices! I bought some special rice seasoning (转讘诇讬谞讬 讗讜专讝), cumin (讻诪讜谉, cuhmoon), coriander (讻讜住讘专讛, cusbarah) and turmeric (讻讜专讻讜诐, corcoom).

After some life and death debate, I took home samples of coffee from Tanzania, Brazil and Ethiopia.

Then I made my way to DraftBar, an awesome pub I hope to return to at nighttime, for FASHBASH, a showing of original Israeli designs of clothing, bags and jewelry…

Showings of clothing in front of the bar

The earrings I bought are on this rack, but hard to see =) I got yelled at for taking this picture before I said I was posting it on my blog. Oopsie =(

I made two purchases (a pair of earrings shaped somewhat like calla lilies with a pearl in the center, and a sexaaay blue long-sleeved romper) and will re-update this post when I have the photos of me modeling them =)

I bought the romper from a really awesome lady named Lital who designs her own brand, Isidora Anne. In case you’re interested…

Facebook:聽https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isidora-by-Lital-Alkalay/207865347063

Etsy:聽http://www.etsy.com/shop/IsidoraAnne

UPDATE!

I felt like a fairy =)

my new romper i lovelovelove it. coincidence that both the rompers I own I bought in Israel?

***

I returned to the Meonot for a fantastic Shabbat dinner with Shoshana, Doug, Vishna, Zoe and Zoe’s friend Tal.

Shoshana and Doug preparing

Shoshana’s mango and cranberry salad.

Doug’s Israeli salad

Carrot soup and meat. You can definitely tell when food is Jewish.

Schabbat Schalom! Vishna, me and Shoshana in front of those roomies’ door.

Setting the table!

Afterwards, I called it a night and then spent the entire Saturday prepping for my 20min Hebrew presentation, which I think I nailed wooo.

Also this week I got my tragus piercing which I am irrationally and disproportionately excited about! 住讜祝 住讜祝! (Finally!) And I can always remember that I got it here in Beersheba, by a dude named Avi who was so pleased to have our business that he rushed through (don’t worry, he did a very good job actually) my tragus and Nisha and Zoe’s helix piercings – while I tried to look like a concerned, dissatisfied American, which does not work in a country where customer service is barely a priority – saying to me afterwards, “We hope you like your piercing; if you don’t, it’s your problem!” When I asked if he sterilized his needles or used new ones he told me that he bought used ones from Beit Cholim Soroka (hospital) across the street from BGU. Sir, I do not understand your sarcasm delivered in a heavy accent. Ah, the Israeli way.

I feel like a new woman.

Some things I’ve been eating/making as I finally grew the ovaries to legit cook:

Falafel that Ilana brought into class for us!

My favorite splurge.

My favorite reasonably priced deliciousness. It is signature Aroma and it’s like sunshine in a glass. Too bad it distracted me so that I forgot to take a picture before I drank it…

One of my favorite lunches: schnitzel, couscous, chick peas (hummus) and stewed veggies.

From the Beersheba wine fest.

Actually, this was super controversial:聽http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4276987,00.html

The wine fest was scheduled to take place right outside a mosque that was “confiscated,” so to speak, by the local government. Muslims litigated, wanting to reopen it to practice there, but the courts ruled against them, in favor of making it a museum I believe. Though the wine fest has taken place here for six years, this recent contentious decision must have renewed anger. They did move it a bit further from the Islamic site but held it despite threats of a terrorist attack.

An example of the 50 shekel ($12) unlimited pickins’.

Found a great stir fry place that’s gonna be my go-to when I crave Chinese noodles.

Chloe’s Concoctions #1: I have no idea what this was but it was delicious. Noodles (guys these were called Grandma’s Noodles I know right), oil, bean sprouts, pepper, carrots, eggs and various spices.

Chloe’s Concoctions #2: curry potatoes with couscous. YUMMEH.

Making meatballs and couscous with Adi. Too bad I forgot to take a pic of our end result =(

……………………

This post took so long to write omgosh. Uploading photos is so stressful! I have 20 minutes to get to the Ulpan party, at which we’ll be performing an end skit and celebrating our wild success. Tomorrow I am leaving to spend 5 days in Rechovot for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). I’m excited to finally have time to start reading Winnie the Pooh in Hebrew and some Margaret Atwood essays after I finally finished the two Bradbury short story collections (The Martian Chronicles聽and聽The Illustrated Man) I was working on for over a month.
Look out for my next post which will be about a Gary Yourofsky lecture I saw last night and some environmental observations I’ve been making!
诇砖谞讛 讟讜讘讛! So excited to eat apples and honey and maybe hear a shofar or two…
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