Well, it appears I am behind the 8 ball in the realm of blog posts. The end of June brought the TBA Congregational trip to Israel and we spent a fabulously busy 10 days touring the country with our friends from home. Sadly, Mark's sister Jennifer and her family had to cancel at the last minute because our brother-in-law Mitch had to have back surgery. Speedy recovery, Mitch! We missed all of you Crenins a lot during the trip and wish you could have been here with us. We are excited because the Crenins have recently moved back to California (living in Davis) from Pittsburgh, PA and now we will get to spend more time together. Hooray!
I'll write a separate post about our 10 day trip with the congregation but here's an update on our summer life in Jerusalem:
I've started a new ulpan at the Conservative Yeshiva. Using my 5 or 6 years of childhood Hebrew school knowledge plus all the great stuff I learned in the alef class at Ulpan L'Inyan, I placed into kitah bet at ulpan. The first day was Sunday. We had an orientation and then went off to our separate classes. My teacher was Edna, and I really enjoyed the first part of class when we were all taking turns introducing ourselves in Hebrew and telling about where we are from, where we live here, etc. She would ask us questions, and we would try to answer in Hebrew. I was following MOST of what was going on during that time, but there was a small percentage of things I didn't understand. Then we took out our books and started to read the very first essay/story. Well, it was WAY over my head. I couldn't even understand half of it. At one point I got so overwhelmed that I started to cry. Edna said she would explain every word, but I couldn't pull myself together enough to listen and understand. It was very close to the end of class so we all dispersed, and I had a very good cry. Then I went to Rabbi Gail Diamond who was in charge that day and told her I might be in the wrong class. She encouraged me to try to stay in kitah bet. I took home both the alef and bet books and went over them. It turns out that I could figure things out and get them right on the test but not really know them yet fully. Like the past tense - I know the singular conjugations but not the plural. And I don't know most of the irregular verbs at all. So, after looking through the alef and bet books and seeing the curriculum of each, I decided to try kitah alef plus. It was a wise decision. I am enjoying myself in the alef plus class and still learning a lot - filling in the gaps that I didn't even know I had. My teacher's name is Ouzi and he is SO patient. He explains things over and over and over again when people ask the same question over and over and over again (including me!). He's really good at teaching us and getting us to speak and read and work together. It's definitely the right place for me right now. It would have been much too difficult for me if I had stayed in bet. But maybe next time! :-)
Before the congregational trip, when we were at Ulpan L'Inyan, we walked through the German Colony, Baka, and got to know Talpiot where AACI and the ulpan are located. Now I have to go in the opposite direction to the Conservative Yeshiva, so I don't even really pass any stores on my way to or from ulpan. :-( I am halfway to Ben Yehuda Street, and Machane Yehuda is just a ways past that, but it isn't as convenient has having a mall and two supermarkets across the street and another mall and supermarket around the corner of AACI. Oh well.
Today at ulpan I did a load of laundry! There are 2 washers and 2 dryers in the guest house that are available for students to use. A load costs 15 shekels to wash and 10 to dry for 60 minutes which took care of the clothes just fine. So before class, I put the clothes in the washer. I paid two shekels for soap but none came out, so I went across the street to the supermarket and bought detergent. Then I got the washer going and went to ulpan. During hafsaka (break), I changed the wet clothes to the dryer and got that going. At the end of class, I went back and folded the clothes and put them in my backpack for the long walk home. Luckily I had some company during the folding. Corrina, a woman in my class, chatted with me the whole time, then we practiced some Hebrew together before she went to her afternoon class. I did have a lot of schlepping to do to make this laundry thing work, but using Mark's backpack helped.
Micah and Jonah had a playdate at Nadav's house so I had some extra time. Nadav is a friend they met at Camp Shelanu, which is a community day camp off Emek Refaim at the pool. Only a handful of children speak English; they are mostly Israeli. Nadav speaks English (his dad is from New York), Swedish (his mom is from Sweden), and Hebrew (he is growing up here). Micah and Jonah are very impressed.
Recently I realized that I am going to run out of the B2 vitamins before we leave. I take 200 mg twice a day to prevent migraines and it seems to really work. I've shopped at two stores already and not found them. Mark went to just one store tonight and found them! So he bought me the one bottle that they had, but I still need another to cover me until the end of our time here. Hopefully I'll be able to send them to my brother-in-law Barry via Amazon prime overnight shipping, and he'll bring them when he comes to visit next week. We'll see.
Yesterday we had a lovely dinner at Caffit with Mark's friend Ilene Sandberg Sunderland and her mother Edie. It was fun to meet them, and Ilene brought Micah and Jonah 4 cans of Spaghetti-Os and a game called Blink. So sweet!!!
A few days ago, we had dinner with the Carey/Schoenblum family - Jonathan, Amy, Jordan, and Sasha. We ate a Burgers Bar - yum. It was really great to see them. Then the next day, Jordan and Sasha came over for the afternoon so that Jonathan and Amy could go to Yad Vashem. We had a fabulous playdate at our apartment, two parks, and of course the ice cream/juice stand around the corner. :-)
At the park, we had a little adventure when some Arab boys and a girl took our soccer ball and claimed it was theirs. It was very difficult to communicate with them because they spoke Arabic and not much Hebrew and no English and we were speaking English and not much Hebrew and no Arabic. After much following and then chasing them around the park, their mothers finally intervened and told them to give the ball back. ARGH!
At the kiosk around the corner from our apartment, the kids each got a popsicle, and I got a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Then after they finished their popsicles, they all wanted juice too -- Micah got apple, Sasha got orange, and both Jonah and Jordan got the grapefruit, all three kinds were fresh squeezed of course!
My first week of ulpan at CY ends tomorrow, and it has been a very good week.