Its been a week!

28 May

Monday May 27 was the one week mark of the beginning of our dialogue. It is so hard to fathom that already a week has passed. I feel that in one week, I went from being a tourist, to a resident of Jerusalem. Getting to know the different neighborhoods, especially Rehavia and Ben Yehuda, I have come to realize how life in Jerusalem can be very similar to life at home. Once I got over the idea that this is only a vacation and really began to feel like I was actually living here, I noticed a similarity to my adjustment to moving from New York to Boston. However, unlike my one year adjustment period to life in Boston, my adjustment to Jerusalem was almost instantaneous. The combination of coming back to Israel for the umpteenth time and having a routine has made me feel a confidence that is not characteristic of a tourist.
Class on Monday took place in Emek Rafaim. We went to the same building where we met the students from Hadassah College a few nights before. We were privileged enough to have two poets speak with us; Linda Zisquit and Gilad Meiri. Both poets offered something different to the experience of learning to appreciate poetry. I have never been a fan of poems, and have always found them daunting and have been to intimidated to work with them in any way. Linda’s approach to teaching us was a great way to introduce poetry to a very dynamic group of students, some of which enjoy poetry and others who may not. She did not ask us to analyze every poem she read to us, but rather read to us in an almost melodic tone that really encouraged me to listen to the words she was saying and see that all poems are not the same. Some poems are more obvious to decipher than others, and I found that Linda read her poems slowly enough to digest every word she was saying. Linda’s poems reflected more of the old Jew and the more traditional views of Judaism, even in her most daring poem.
Gilads’ approach was more geared towards dissecting the meaning and analyzing the poems individually. I think the order in which the poets came to speak to us was important because I feel that had Linda not shown me that poems can be enjoyable, I would have found Gilads’ approach to be overwhelming and discouraging. However, I was able to understand his approach better after processing the poems while he was reading them because I had read them the night before which was very helpful. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I am in love with poetry now, however, this experience definitely made me see that not all poetry is intimidating and unapproachable. His poems reflected the lives of the New Jew and the more secular lives they lead. This was especially reflected in the poem in his poem titled Ode to Odysseus.
After class, we had our first free day since we arrived in Jerusalem. We were all exhausted and walked home to have lunch and take a nap. For some reason, I was too excited to sleep and did not want to waste the day. So after I did some writing, I gathered a small group of people to go to the Shuk. About five of us walked there together and with the help of Maria’s’ navigation and the help of a few Jerusalem citizens, we finally found it. Our last experience at the Shuk was midday Friday which is the busiest day of the week because it is right before shabbat. You observe everyone around you hustling and bustling to get their last minute challah and of course the coveted Marzipan Rugelach.
Monday at the Shuk is an entirely different experience. The amount of people there is 1/3 the amount that you see on Shabbat and considering we went later in the day, some of the shops were closed. At first I thought this may be a disappointment, however, as we walked through I began to realize that everything I needed was still open, I just had less of a choice which for me is always more positive than negative. I think that is when I realized the Shuk is truly my favorite place in Jerusalem. You walk through and you experience it with all of your senses. You smell the different types of foods available like the cheeses, fresh breads and typical Israeli foods. You taste the different flavors and spices each person has to offer. You see the array of colors in all the fruits and candy. You feel the textures of the different breads, all of which are absolutely delicious. And lastly, you hear the noises of all the market salesmen shouting in Hebrew, all competing with each other over who has the best price for a kilo of watermelon (in case you were wondering it is the man at the end of the street on the left for a whooping 2 shekel a kilo.) That day off was just what the doctor ordered and I can’t wait for more days to explore the city I have begun to feel so at home in.

-Chloe Sakhaie

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