Entry hand written on Thursday, February 3: I am currently sitting on the train making my way from Rehovot to Haifa. I get to spend the weekend with some of my best friends and I couldn’t be more excited. Unfortunately the internet in my apartment has been slacking on us. So I’m writing this entry in my journal first which is a great way to spend some of my time during this two hour train ride.
I’ve been in Rehovot for just about a month now and I’ve really been enjoying it here. On Sunday and Tuesday afternoons Jen, Amir, and I volunteer at a community center where children up to sixth grade go to after school. I work with a woman named Dahliah and in her class are second graders who I try to help and play with. There is one girl in particular who I always work with. Lately I’ve been helping her with her math homework. I had a particularly rewarding moment with her one day when I helped her figure out the process of adding and subtracting and she was so happy she understood that she couldn’t wait to do more. I don’t know if this moment felt more rewarding to me because I can only communicate to her in Hebrew. Even still it was one of those times where I saw firsthand the importance of helping even one person.
On Mondays and Wednesdays Amir and I bike our way to an elementary school. We work here from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. helping the English teacher in her classes participating in art and gym class, and getting to know the students and teachers. This school isn’t in the greatest of neighborhoods and many of the students come to school with no real desire to learn.
One too many times I’ve seen boys kicking and pushing girls, and in general just a lot of physical fighting. On Wednesday our teacher asked us what movie she should show to the class, Beethoven or Jumanji? I said Jumanji and Amir asked, “Isn’t that too scary for them?” But the teacher replied, “Too scary? This is nothing compared to what they see in the streets.” It makes me sad that a neighborhood like this exists, and that it’s just one of too many in this world. Many also have very little respect for the teachers, I don’t really want to go into detail here as I think it’s unnecessary, but regardless it’s certainly made me grateful for being able to grow up in the environment and home that I did.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays Amir and I volunteer at another elementary school of tutoring about four or give students in English. It’s fun being in a small group as it allows us to reach the students on a more intimate level. We had a “couldn’t stop laughing” moment the other day when we thought we had the same student twice only to find out she had a twin sister.
When I am not volunteering I can be found browsing bookstores, sitting in coffee shops learning Hebrew, watching movies or the TV in my family room with my roommates, or running. I enjoy the running path I’ve found because I live in a small city and it’s so great to be able to run by all types of people, cafes, stores, Universities, etc. and just zen on out.
Plus in between my weeks I’ve been fortunate to have had some really great weekends. I had that amazing four day education seminar weekend on the Israel/Palestine situation which I promise to finish blogging about eventually because there is still so much more interesting things to write about.
Last weekend I spent in Jerusalem with Miriam and her mom. I remember in November of last year I parked my car for the week in Miriam’s driveway because my family and I were flying out of Logan airport in Boston to make our way to Mexico. At this time I had begun to seriously think about spending my first year out of college in Israel. Miriam’s mom has spent a significant amount of time in Israel, she even volunteered two years on Kibbutz Geva, where Mir is now. She talked a lot about Israel with me that day, on top of other times too. So it was quite amazing when I was able to spend three days with them in their favorite city, Jerusalem.
I was able to see Jerusalem from a whole other light. We met with some of Debbie’s friends, visited the Jerusalem shuk where we ate some delicious food, had some lovely long night walks though the city, visited the Western Wall on Shabbat, and had just a whole bunch of fun and laughing moments. It was so great to have a little piece of home in my life again.
As always, it makes me think of and look forward to returning to the states. But until then I’m going to love Israel and my life here because I know when I do go home I’m really going to miss this place.