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Sam-I-Am Violin on the streets, fundamentalist Judaism, planting organic vegetables, and the like.

The Dust Settles

ISRAEL | Friday, 28 December 2007 | Views [992] | Comments [2]

I live in this tunnel. The door is on the left. Check out the lighting; it really looks like this.

I live in this tunnel. The door is on the left. Check out the lighting; it really looks like this.

I tried to play Ms. Pacman while I was waiting for airplane boarding, but the machine wouldn't accept my quarters, until I realized that I had been repeatedly inserting the Chinese yuan that Matthiah gave me when he visited.

Thats about the highlight of the flight. Pretty smooth, except for the over-entitled Zionist next to me complaining about crying babies and bad food. I got on the sherut (groupt taxi) alright, and spoke Hebrew and English with a nice old man on my way to Jerusalem. But in the end the driver dropped me off at Har Tzion hotel instead of She'ar Tzion (Zion Gate). No matter. I had a pleasant walk to my new home for the next three weeks. I found Aish HaTorah and slid in after another Yeshiva student typed in the top secret code for entry.

It was then that I first worried about what I was getting myself into. Neither of my contacts/allies were available, and no one knew what to do with me, so I sat in a corner of the Beit Midrash (study room) while bearded young men argued and paced back and forth the finer points of the Talmud. I preferred to focus on Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess (this book is really helping my chess game, thanks Zeke).

Eventually it got sorted out; somebody was expecting me, and I was shown to my six-person dorm room after dinner, my bed freshly made for me. The room itself is nothing to write home about; but the building (The Sephardic Center) and the location are pretty choice. See the pictures.

The balcony of this place is incredible. Somebody must have paid a lot of money for the building. Methinks I will be spending a lot of time sitting out there watching the people at the Kotel, staring at the Dome of the Rock, and listening to the call of the muezzin (?). I eavesdropped yesterday as one yeshiva boy explained to another the scope and expanse of the original Temple, which of course stood directly in front of us as we were looking out. I begin to understand how emotional, electric it must be for the fervent believer to look out on its remains every single day. And so too, how frustrating it must be to see two Mosques perched atop that holy spot every single day. Personally I just think it's all really amazing, the intermingling of the religions, and listening to the drone of the muezzin every few hours.

Yesterday I wandered a bit through the souk (market; since it's Arab, I think I'll use the Arabic word for it). I'm a little afraid to be too curious or look like a tourist because the stall-owners like to harass you, but you all know how slow I like to go. It's a constant battle. At one point I veered right into a courtyard that looked curious, and two little boys ran up to me saying "K'neesah, k'neesah!" (church). When I said no thank you (in Arabic no less; I'm so proud), they hesitated and then followed me as I left the courtyard, saying "Givmi". "Givmi money".

More highlights:

-The yeshiva has unlimited Tetley-ish tea. Boom.

-I tried to play some basketball yesterday but the two kids who were playing when I showed up were just about to leave. They say no one plays in the winter, despite it being about 50 degrees at the lowest.

-Trent Dilfer was mentioned by the Rabbi in one of the classes at Yeshiva today. I kid you not.

One more thing. One of my roommates turns out to be a music major, brought a guitar, and we've played together about 5 times since I got here Tuesday night. He is quite good. We have big plans for public display of music.

I think I'm invited to Shabbat at a friend's home tomorrow, and Sunday is my friend Kaila's wedding. So good things to tell soon.

Tags: israel, language, religion, transportation




Hi Samuel,
Just read about your arrival in Israel and your first impressions at the yeshiva and Jerusalem.

Keep the emails coming.

Today is New Years' day. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling year (2008).

Luv, grandma

  grandma Jan 2, 2008 8:13 AM


no prob. i'm not sure that i can still beat u @ chess.
Ur place sounds pretty sweet. I couldn't find the pictures, but the balcony does sound awesome.
Our NAA team is dominating, just so u know.
Have a great time!


  Zeke Silverstein Jan 7, 2008 3:30 AM

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