Monday, December 04, 2006

Life in Israel

Balancing Yeshivah studies and work can be a tight fit. My first couple of months in Israel were pretty easy. The workload was slow, and I hadn't decided to put in some serious Yeshivah time, so the days were pretty relaxed. Too relaxed, in fact. I find that when I have twelve free hours, and only eight hours of work to do, I only actually get through six. But when I only have eight hours to work, the stress and time limit forces me to hunker down and take care of business.

Typically, I spring out of bed (well, actually, I roll out of bed) at 6:30. I make it to the 7:00 AM Minyan (morning prayers) at 7:20, and race to catch up. I daven they way I learned at Chabad, Nussach Ari. A nussach is a type or style of prayer (there is also Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Sephard, among others,) and Ari being an acronym for "Ashkenazi Rabbi Yitzchak," who composed the nusach by stitching together an Ashkenazi (European) style with Sephardi (North African/Middle Eastern) wording. I daven at the Sephardi shul, which is actually much easier for me to follow, being a nussach Ari guy, than at an Ashkenazi shul.

Davening with the Sephardim has an extra advantage, I can bump into Cousin Rafi, who also goes to the same shul. It turns out, Rafi is learning mornings at a Kollel (yeshivah for married men) only two blocks from mine, so if I can hitch a ride with him, I can shave half an hour to an hour off my morning bus commute.

There being one car between two parents and four kids in the household, every day is different, some days I have a ride and some days I don't.

Davening usually ends at about 8 AM. I go to Rafi, who is usually engrossed in some extra-credit prayers or tehillim (psalms), and make the universal sign for "drive," to which he responds with either a thumbs-up or down.

Thumbs down means a 20-minute hike up the hill to the number 8 bus stop at the top. Thumbs up means I go over to his house and forage for breakfast in the fridge while Galila prepares the kids for school and Rafi gets his cell phone and work papers together.

Yuda (Rafi's brother in law) lives a few blocks away and studies at the same Kollel, so, on ride days, we swing by and pick him up.

Some days we have to stack up the kids to fit. (Yuda in the background.)

There's often pretty severe traffic on the bridge, as it's the only access point to Jerusalem from all of Pisgat Ze'ev, as well as all the settlements north of Jerusalem, not to mention all the Arab workers who come in from Ramallah and environs.

I typically arrive at the Yeshivah between 8:45 and 9:45 AM.

The yeshivah publishes a Hebrew newsletter which is distributed to shuls all over the country. Since I'm not doing ulpan, I wanted to focus on Hebrew learning, so I grab a newsletter and sit down with my pad of paper, newsletter, and Pocket PC with Hebrew Dictionary, and start translating. As I go through the article, I form a list of new words I've encountered in the article.

From 10:30-11:30, I have a course, alternate days on Halachah (Jewish Law) or Tanach (the Jewish Bible) with a focus on the Nevi'im (prophets.) From 11:30-12:30 there's a course on Chumash (the five books of Moses.)

At this point (12:30), if I have a whole lot of work to do, I pack up and head for the bus (or Rafi, if I have a ride.) If work is slow, I stay until Mincha (afternoon prayers) at 1:15, go downstairs and wolf down lunch with my fellow students, and hit the road at 2 PM. It takes me an hour to get home by bus, 30 minutes if I have a ride.

Getting home any time between 1:15 and 3, I change and jog about 3 kilometers up a steep hill, to the archaeological gardens in Pisgat Ze'ev Merkaz (Central Pisgat Ze'ev) and 3 kilometers back down. And then, it's time to start work, which goes until 10PM, after which I blog for 30 minutes, daven Ma'ariv (afternoon prayers) on my own, and hit the hay, ready for the next day.

Me at my workstation. Does anybody have an extra office chair? (and a desk, and shelves, and...)

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