Monday, March 29, 2021

#87 Guidebooks for Hiking [that are delivered to my door!]

 Front door delivery is not big news in America or the UAE, but in Israel it is astonishing--At least to me!

I ordered a book of hiking trails around Tel Aviv a few days ago. I took a chance and put in my home address, assuming it would get delivered to the nearest post office, generate an email and have to be retrieved by me at a pre-scheduled time. This has been the process several times already.

Today I did get a text, but it wasn't from the post office--it was from the author of the book!

She wasn't kidding. And not only was it on the doorstep, it had a personalized message on the package. It's the little things that make life so fun!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

#86 A Visit to the Forest of the Martyrs

Since I didn't travel over spring break I have decided that my purpose during this vacation is to rest, spend time with myself, rest some more, exercise and spend time with myself. 

Yesterday's adventure was a quick outing to The Forest of the Martyrs. There was almost no one out, which I assume is because tonight is the beginning of Passover, a huge holiday here. I think everyone was getting ready for the seder tonight.

The forest was created in 1951 when 6 million trees were planted in honor of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust. There were two memorials I visited--the Scroll of Fire, Martyr's Cave and the Anne Frank Memorial. Both are moving and beautiful and help us to remember the unforgettable.

I just saw in the news that the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial in Boise (my hometown) was defaced in December--I can't believe how people behave. It is unimaginable to me the hate people can harbor for their fellow humans.  Anyways, the Idaho memorial was completed in 2002 by Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, a non-profit organized by former priest Bill Wassmuth who was disturbed by "the misuse of theology for hateful aims". Idaho has a history of housing some people with racist and prejudice views and this memorial is one way to combat hate.

As I learn more about Israel and Judaism I find more and more evidence that God has me here on purpose. The fact that there is an Anne Frank Memorial in Idaho to encourage people to think about human rights is just another "coincidence" in the mystery of my presence in Israel. 

I am so grateful that people take the time to remember. 

The Scroll of Fire

The Jerusalem Hills

I hiked up to the top of a ridge above the Anne Frank Memorial.

The Martyr's Cave

The Anne Frank Memorial

A memorial found at the site of the cave and the Anne Frank Memorial

Saturday, March 27, 2021

#85 Yoga in the Park

 I've never done yoga in the park before, so today was a first! my new friend from the gym recently became a yoga instructor and has started teaching in the park.d It was a beautiful day and I did an assisted headstand from straddle, which I've never been able to do. At least now my body knows what it feels like!

The instructor, Shachar

I cheated during class to snap a picture

Melanie went with me

Okay, I didn't get up by myself, but that's me learning what a headstand feels like!

#84 My Coronavirus Roommate

 One year ago today I Abu Dhabi announced a 24 hour lockdown. I had been teaching in my apartment for the week and the thought of staying there for 48 hours solid brought me to tears.

So I called Kelli hiccup crying. She lives in a two bedroom, three bath ground floor apartment in a lovely development in Abu Dhabi. Kelli didn't hesitate. Pack your stuff and come over here right now

I never spent another night in that apartment. We had the best time during lockdown! Her husband was in America for the entire time (less one night) I stayed there. We made dinner, went scuba diving and went to the grocery store a LOT. I miss living with her so much but I am forever and ever grateful for her hospitality and friendship.

Thank you, Kelli!!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

#83 Attending my first symphony performance in over a year

After a wait of over a year, I attended my first symphonic performance tonight of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra! I was so delighted to get lost for an hour in beautiful classical music.  Jessie and I walked about 25 minutes to the theatre during which I said about 63 times "I can't believe I live overseas!" 

I couldn't resist a picture of the absolutely massive ladies room

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#82 Dinner at a new friend's house

 I just returned from dinner with a new friend! She invited me over to her house and we had a lovely evening just hanging out. Just me, her, her toddler and her husband when he came home from work.

It was wonderful to be in the company of a family and with people I felt so comfortable with. Furthermore, and more importantly, I returned home with a corrected perspective on my life. My soul lately has been troubled and I have been clouded with bouts of loneliness and self-pity, but tonight I realized (and you are welcome to remind me of this later) that really I have a great life, even here in Israel, and that it is the "by myself" parts that really get to me. I feel so left out so much of the time, but when I have these beautiful, nourishing connections with others, my heart is refilled and I see from afar that my troubles are mostly inside my own soul. Much of the time I spend alone is so tormented that it feels like forever. In truth, I am being cared for by God every second and He hasn't forgotten about me (Please remind me of this next time I'm putting up decorations for a pity party).

I'm also grateful I am vaccinated. I took the bus to her house and it was crazy town! The bus came at least 30 minutes late so there was a large gathering of people waiting for the 66 when it finally arrived. I was on it for about 40 minutes. My first spot was by the door but eventually I got a spot sitting on the steps and finally upgraded to a seat. I even had the courage to tell a guy near me to put his mask on!

Crazy town!

Finally I got a seat about 30 minutes in.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#81 Getting My Hands Dirty

 This first day of spring break I've been busy doing lots of self care. One of the things I have been meaning to get to is transplanting 4 plants into larger pots. The plants were a party gift at a Halloween party I went to and, miraculously, they have stayed alive!

In Tel Aviv (and I assume all over Israel) people have plants all over their balconies in those cool pots that hang on the railing. Now I do, too!!  (As another gratitude: I'm always so impressed when I follow through with these little tasks. I bought the planter and soil this afternoon and transplanted right when I got home.)

Monday, March 22, 2021

#80 Spring break officially begins

Today is the first official day of spring break. I am not travelling for the first time since moving abroad and I definitely have been experiencing the "spring break blues". These blues appears the first few years of teaching when I didn't have anything to do over spring break. It's a fear of being the only one who doesn't have anything "cool" or fun to do over the break. 

Then one year, my friend Lorien told me, "Joy, people who have something to do over spring break make plans". That was news to me and SUPER helpful! I tried it the next few years and always called Lorien on the Friday of spring break to report back.

Since moving abroad I have always easily had plans for spring break, travel being the big draw for living overseas--even last year at the beginning of Covid. This year, however, I am not travelling and do not have any plans for the almost two weeks off.

Thus when my friend Madeline suggested all of us go out for happy hour after school on Monday (our last day), that little voice of fear quieted down. Although the plan morphed a bit, I got to go out the first night of spring break--and not only that, I met some new people, too!

Thank you, Madeline!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

#79 ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Today my museum buddy Olivia and I went to the newly renovated the ANU Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University. It was stunning! And thorough--super thorough. After two hours our brains were filled and we called it a day. 

I don't know how to describe it accept all-encompassing. No aspect of Jews in modern culture is left out. The top floor covers movies, arts, music, literature and more. The middle floor is a brief (although still thorough) history of the Jewish people. This is the one where we reached our limit and skipped to the first floor--what appeared to be some exhibits about Judaism in general.

It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you get to Tel Aviv after this pandemic is over, I highly recommend it!

E.T. was directed by Stephen Spielberg.

This exhibit showcases different Jews from all over the world.

A beautiful painting of the Jewish year.

This map is so cool! It tells the spread of the Jewish people over time. Super helpful!

There was a short film highlighting Jewish participation in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#72 The first outing with the other newbies (only 7 months late)!

 I spent today with a small group of lovely people--we all started working at our school this year but have not been able to get together in person because of "The Corona". In a normal year the new people generally spend the first week in the new country sightseeing, taking tours of the campus, getting acquainted with each other and setting up things like visas and bank accounts.

Today we did our very first "sightseeing" adventure--a wine tasting about 45 minutes north of school. I almost didn't go because I don't drink, but that part was really minimal. We basically drove around beautiful, colorful fields and stopped to drink a sip of wine every now and then.

Then we had a delicious lunch and made a stop at a cute little town called Zichron Ya'akov on our way back. 

I'm so glad I went! Although I'm super tired and still need to do work tonight, it was totally worth it! Not only did I get to know a few people better, I met three people I hadn't really remembered meeting before. 

It's beginning to feel like I am living overseas again!

Our main transport of the day.
With Lynne (also from Dallas)

Don't swim here or you will look like this creepy guy!

The lunch table with Jill

The cute pedestrian street in the little town of Zichron Ya'akov.