Greetings, fabulous friends, families and stalkers of Shnatties! Another week has passed, and life in Tel Aviv continues to be vibrant, just as we were starting to think “we’ve come on holiday by mistake!”
Tel Aviv has recently been wetter than the stereotypes might have you believe, and on Thursday morning our street flooded! After wondering whether the situation was as biblical as it seemed, we decided to have a spontaneous pool party and enjoy the murky waters. It was, to the surprise of many, really really cold.
We had a fascinating Yom Chinuch day after this. We started off the day with a mama'ad ran by Jack and netzer guest Jess, who told us all about their philosophical topics and issues. We all felt deeply existential afterwards. Next up, we had a thoughtful session with Rodrigo, a member of the Netzer Tzevet responsible for the Spanish & Portuguese speaking end of Netzer. We talked about the act of giving to charity, and whether the concept of charity is even a good idea! Later, we were lucky enough to talk to Lea, a transgender student rabbi who talked about her various transitions in life (including growing up Christian). It was such a unique perspective on Reform Judaism and her journey was genuinely inspiring.
We had a restful Shabbat. Sima and Joe attended a Kabshab in a local reform community, and some shnatties left the weekend with some interesting new hair colours.
Ulpan has been intense but very effective. We're now two weeks in, and can introduce ourselves, order falafel, and tell strangers we don't speak enough Hebrew to understand them!
On Monday, we had Hebrew lessons in the Ulpan and Shira’s class (Gideon, Joe, Harley, Jack, Sima, Emily, Alyssa and Sam) went down to the lobby and asked people standard, everyday questions, eg: where is the best ice cream? And: do you speak Russian?
On Tuesday, Talia joined Shira’s Hebrew class and everyone went to Carmel market to practice their Hebrew skills. Jack tried and tried but did not manage to get any free strawberries... Harley and Joe found an interestingly shaped cactus, Emily practiced her skills, asking to taste some Turkish delight. Gideon had a great opportunity to use some Hebrew words when he saw an Israeli guy wearing the same jumper as him, Talia scored a free Bureka and Alyssa and Sima got some looovely fruit.
On Wednesday morning, Shira’s class wrote scripts for date adverts (the fruit, not the social events!) and the whole office celebrated Tu B’Shvat (the birthday of trees!) by eating almonds and cranberries and watching Gideon soak some grass - we still aren’t too sure why, think it may be a tradition?
We've continued to volunteer at various places. The special needs kids' centre has provided exhausting but satisfying days of work, with many kids making visible progress. Gideon and Talia managed to break a laminator on their first go with it, as well as play endless rounds of hide and seek, and partake in a play. Sima and Emily worked with one of the special needs classes in “Chimes” to do some delicious baking, as well as test out their Hebrew skills with a new class. At the LGBTQ+ centre, Jack, Joe and Halrey painted several rooms and helped out with events, including a Tubishvat celebration, with 200 people! The animal help centre has continued to help animals, centrally.
On one the evenings, our Shnat Director, Orit, came over and got us to draw trees representing how we feel as a way to reflect upon the first half of our programme! She also baked us some delicious cupcakes.
We've had several guests over the week. Some people from Lotan came up to see us which was lovely, and this evening, our friend from Ljy, Yoni Ehrlich, arrived in Israel and came to see us, which us Brits are extremely excited about!
Next week we are joined by seven Australians and one German so this is our last few days as just the Northern group! We have really enjoyed each other’s company but a few new people may just be what the doctor ordered...
Stay tuned for more Shnanigans, but with double the people and double the Kef!