Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 1 in Israel

Shalom from Israel!

I departed from JFK Airport on Saturday night, flew for 10 hours and landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last night. It was an emotional journey during which I reflected on my two past trips to Israel (I lived here for a year in 1999-2000, then visited again in 2005).

During the first trip, I learned so much - it was the first year of my rabbinical school training (which was five years total). I was engaged at the time, so much of the year was spent pining for my fiance at home (we split up soon after I returned to the States).

Last time I was here, it was very soon after my car accident. I was in so much pain the entire time, and there was so much I couldn't do. I spent much of the trip on the bus, waiting for the group to return.

I am going to post pics soon (it's not working right now, for some reason). Will update more tomorrow!!

This time - I'm healthy!!

When I arrived last night, I said a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. It felt like a homecoming. I was surrounded by people speaking Hebrew, I rented a "pelaphone" (Hebrew for cellphone), and I was on my way to Jerusalem. It was dark and rainy out, so I really didn't get to see much of the landscape.

I am here for our annual Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention (the main Reform rabbi professional organization). Last year was in Cincinnati, and this year is in Jerusalem. BIG DIFFERENCE!!! :)

Today, however, I took a day trip with some of my colleagues to the Galilee. Specifically, we visited a site called Beit Shearim, a very famous burial site in Jewish tradition (one of our Talmudic sages of the 2nd century, Judah HaNasi, is buried there). We then traveled to Tzippori, another famous town very close to Nazareth and Megiddo, where the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court during the first two centuries CE) once sat before moving to Tiberias.

In Tzippori, we saw the most incredible mosaics - they were found on the floors of excavated 6th century synagogues. They depict images of the Bible, such as Abraham's binding of Isaac, images of Aaron becoming the High Priest, as well as big ole Zodiac. I am fascinated by the Zodiac, because it shows that the Jews were quite influenced by the outside Hellenistic culture and that they adopted some its beliefs/art.

Happy Blogoversary to Me!!!

By the way,

TODAY IS MY BLOGOVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe that I have been blogging for TWO YEARS! How has that happened?

Which leads me to ask -

What is something amazing that YOU have accomplished over the last two years?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

All kinds of updates

Hello, all!!

Yes, it's your lovable old pal, Marci, checking in after a brief hiatus. My life has been on a non-stop path of stress and chaos - not always of a negative nature, but just requiring a lot of time and energy. No matter what, as you would imagine, there is a lot to catch you up on!

First cool thing: I am going to Israel in two days!! You've heard me mention this upcoming trip, and I can't believe that it is almost here! I hope to be blogging about the trip while I am there (at the request of my dear friend, Andi). I will post pictures of my adventures - we are primarily in Jerusalem for the convention, but there are a few trips to Tel Aviv and other communities throughout. I also will be sure to take pictures of the fun times with friends and classmates, including Rabbi Phyllis Sommer (have to travel to the other side of the planet to see her!).

Second cool thing: My Jenny Craig adventures continue to go really well! My latest weight loss total is 24.2 lbs - so close to that 25 pound mark!! I will do my best while in Israel, while not driving myself crazy. But, it continues to be a success, and people are really starting to notice that I look thinner. Woohoo!!

Third cool thing: I had a passport adventure this morning. My passport doesn't expire until the end of April, so I assumed that it was going to be fine for my 10 days in Israel. Yeah, it turns out that it isn't okay at all - your passport needs to be valid for at least six months past your travel dates. When did I figure that part out? On Tuesday!!! and I leave SATURDAY!!! I have to tell you, I am so grateful that the US Department of State offers same-day passports (which costs a pretty penny, but is still available nonetheless) as long as you travel to very specific locations. I called the NYC location first - they didn't have an appointment available until NEXT WEDNESDAY!!! Yep, that wouldn't really help :) So, I looked around on the government's website, and there is a site in Norwalk, CT, which had an appointment available this morning. Thank goodness! So, I shlepped up there, went through the whole routine of standing in various lines, waiting for my number to be called, and finally, after 2 1/2 hours, received my brand-new passport.

This one doesn't expire until 2019. I remember when I got my soon-to-expire passport back in 1999 - I was preparing to leave for rabbinical school (the first year is in Jerusalem), standing at a major precipice in my life, not knowing what was to come over the years to come. I was also struck by the fact that that passport would expire in 2009 - when I would be nearly 31 years old, when I would be five years into my career as a rabbi, and, I hoped, married with kids. Well, the married with kids part hasn't panned out just yet, but I am so happy with where I am. I am healthy, out of pain, enjoying my career, and living with my sister. There are wonderful, profound adventures around every corner. I wonder what will happen between now and the next time I have to renew my passport!!!