Once I actually found the sherut (taxi van), I had to tell them where I was going… I (I know, I know silly me) didn’t actually write down the address, I just knew it in my head. But when they asked me… I was pronouncing it like an American… and not correctly. And I had forgotten it was a two word name Hizkiyahu HaMelech. Only the document I had had the first word spelled Yehesikayhu… at least I knew my neighborhood, Ketamon.
As we drive towards Jerusalem, we are stopped several times to be checked by soldiers. I don’t know the location or purpose of the check other than to keep bombs from exploding in Israeli cities. We passed walls and barbed wire, check points, cities and deserts. All stunning to watch fly by as you hold on for dear life (Israeli drivers are up there for worst in the WORLD… folks, in Israel, the sidewalk is not just for walking, it is for parking too, evidently). After letting a few people off, the driver hounded me for more information. I became a serious casualty of American convenience. When my iPhone would not pick up a signal and I when could not check my email for the details, panic began to spread through my stomach. How in the world would I find my Yeshiva? Would he dump me on some unknown corner with my three suitcases (seriously though I am here for 5 months…) and I would have to end up making camp on the sidewalk? Finally I remembered that my iPhone stored old emails and found one with the address on it. Thank G-d! The other passengers were getting nasty with me. Not as if I was holding them up, he kept dropping them off as I was trying to figure myself out.
He dumps me on a corner and I see the school a block up… hill… I start to panic a bit. Here I am in a country where suitcases are blown up if they are left alone for even one minute (because that could be a bomb) with too much luggage (yes mom, you were right … though I was thankful for every bit when I got inside), a very poor command of spoken Hebrew and no way to get to the school. And then, a bright shiny face greeted me.
“Are you with Mayanot?” she asked IN ENGLISH!
“YES!” I replied tamping down the urge to hug her. She took me to the gate and helped me carry my luggage down the stairs and up the stairs and finally I found my home for the next five months.
Yes, I am nearly 30 and living in a dorm and sharing a bathroom and eating communal meals but the classes, the knowledge, the atmosphere of incredible women is worth every second.
Yes, we are locked away in our safe castle for now (locked gates all around the building to keep us safe) but soon it will be Tishrei and time to venture out and celebrate the Jewish holidays with the entire country.
Did you know our weeks are Sunday through Thursday here? Friday is the Muslim sabbath and Saturday is ours so Fri and Sat are the Israeli Sat and Sun.
Did you know you are not allowed to open for business on the holidays here? Pretty cool. To hear the shofar blown in the city of the Bais HaMigdash (the Holy Temple), I think will be a defining moment for me and I hear the singing and dancing parties on Simchat Torah are pretty amazing here.
Stay tuned for my Traveling Talia updates!