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So after getting used to Gillie, the Hebrew teacher, for the first two days, the third day threw an additional level of complexity at us. Beyond just having class in a different room every day, at different times every day, we now had a second teacher to learn from as well, giving us 2 different accents to try and emulate (not that much of a difference), and not 2 but 4 sets of handwriting to learn (they each have distinctive ways of doing the formal and cursive characters). That was a surmountable obstacle – more nuanced of an encounter was our 45 minute-long Hebrew song lesson. We (the Aleph level classes) filed into an auditorium with a piano and were promptly spoken at (not to) by an Israeli music teacher who refused/was unable speak anything but rapid-fire Hebrew. Now, the songs were all in Hebrew (as expected), but when the page numbers and titles of the songs were quickly read in between details of the composer’s background [again, all in rapid Hebrew], it can make for difficulty understanding what is being said. Nevertheless, the auditorium was filled with passable Hebrew singing at the end (it also helped that all of the songs were transliterated, meaning written into phonetic English pseudo-words).

And, on an entirely different note, it turns out that the delicious breakfast salad common in Israel (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and some lettuce) doSo after getting used to Gillie, the Hebrew teacher, for the first two days, the third day threw an additional level of complexity at us. Beyond just having class in a different room every day, at different times every day, we now had a second teacher to learn from as well, giving us 2 different accents to try and emulate (not that much of a difference), and not 2 but 4 sets of handwriting to learn (they each have distinctive ways of doing the formal and cursive characters). That was a surmountable obstacle – more nuanced of an encounter was our 45 minute-long Hebrew song lesson. We (the Aleph level classes) filed into an auditorium with a piano and were promptly spoken at (not to) by an Israeli music teacher who refused/was unable speak anything but rapid-fire Hebrew. Now, the songs were all in Hebrew (as expected), but when the page numbers and titles of the songs were quickly read in between details of the composer’s background [again, all in rapid Hebrew], it can make for difficulty understanding what is being said. Nevertheless, the auditorium was filled with passable Hebrew singing at the end (it also helped that all of the songs were transliterated, meaning written into phonetic English pseudo-words).

On an entirely different note, it turns out that the delicious breakfast salad common in Israel (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and some lettuce) doesn’t keep at all – my lunch today was going to be the leftovers from breakfast a few days ago, but it turned into mush 😦

To keep up to date, I called El Al about my possessions again yesterday. I spoke to a lady named Anat, and after some discussion it became apparent that whomever I spoke to last week on the phone failed to register any of my information in a case file for nearly a week. Again, a huge sign that the money I paid for their flight wasn’t worth it by a lot. Anat, however, was very helpful indeed. She got all of my information, made sure to call me back within 3 hours to let me know that it had been properly logged into their system, that the bar code number on my receipt sticker hadn’t entered the system yet, and that she would be sure to tell the night shift to call El Al in Newark directly to inquire as to the standing of my items. We shall see how this turns out, but optimistically, it gives me more time to go scout out places around the city to go take photographs at later.

Yesterday evening, I attended the first meeting of Beit Madrash – a sort of theological discussion of Judaism at the synagogue with dinner. It ended up being a presentation by a rabbi of several Rabbinic interpretations of the Bible that are overtly strongly in favor of Zionist policies (basically, moving as many of the Jewish people into Israel as possible). Rather than a lecture where he presented what he held as fact, he gave us the texts and let us read and discuss them in small groups, followed by a large group debate/argument. It was a very enjoyable evening, and I look forward to attending Beit Madrash more in the future (what better place to brush up on my slim Jewish theological knowledge than here?).

Finally, this morning, I managed to figure out that there IS one way for me to stand out more than I do while wearing shorts in the winter at home (DC or Cleveland). At home, while there are some other people who do wear shorts all the time, we still get odd looks from people. Here in Jerusalem, however, things are slightly different. This morning, I got up at 5:45 and got dressed to go to the Lerner gym – gym shorts and tee shirt only. I didn’t realize it upon waking up, but it was actually quite chilly this morning – every Israeli I saw was wearing a heavy winter coat and a hat, and in many cases, gloves and scarves. Needless to say, I didn’t only get some odd looks, I got a few people who openly gaped at my choice of attire. Admittedly, it was probably in the 40’s F, because my arms were fairly reddish upon getting to the gym. Nevertheless, I have decided to go buy a sweatshirt later today and wear that to the gym on future mornings. Even though that’s my plan, I guarantee you the morning guard for the Reznik dorm gate will remember me in the future – upon returning, I forgot that here at HU the gym ID is different than my student ID, but the guard didn’t care (very unusual, because it has been my experience that they adamantly require students to have a student ID in order to get it). Maybe with my sweatshirt I’ll stick out less.

For those who are so interested, I hope you enjoy the inauguration today – I look forward to watching it with a bunch of Israelis and see their reactions/listen to their commentary.

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