Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm Back + Life in the Holy City

Dearest loyal readers,

Thank you for always reading my latest travels, musings and observations about this crazy thing we call life. I took a brief hiatus to focus on grad school. I started a double masters in Middle Eastern Studies and Global Policy. Hence, my time has been stolen by the ever demanding teachers to which I am subservient. Welcome to the life of a graduate student. They say jump, you say how high? And is there a special jump you'd like me to do? Any specific form? Acrobatics?

But back to the life I am living currently...

After a glorious, arduous and mildly ridiculous first year of grad school, I received a fellowship to study abroad again! Can you guess where? I am back in the Holy City, Jerusalem. I am studying Hebrew once more, to hopefully skyrocket my Hebrew to higher levels. I am also trying to find a good place to intern, though Hebrew classes are taking up more time that I thought!

In the hot breezy mountain top city of Jerusalem, I am lucky enough to live, literally, on top of the famous Mechane Yehuda market. I awaken every morning to the sounds of trucks vrooming, venders shouting whilst filling their wooden crates full of the freshest produce money can buy. The oranges are ridiculously orange. The grapes are sweeter, the nectarines are juicer and the sweet smell of leavening bread constantly drifts through my window in an effort to remind me of the foodie paradise I am surrounded by. Just this morning, I stumbled across the most salivatingly glorious croissant I have ever had the pleasure of eating- sweet dough sprinkled with powder sugar, filled with goat cheese . Now, before you judge, imagine. Though, sadly, I know it is impossible for you to comprehend the honor which this food bestows on its carbohydrate category. Magnificent. 5 Stars. Picture to follow :)

This summer I am happy to have the unique experience of living with very religious Jewish women. I found a sublet online and chose to live in the city center instead of isolating myself in the dorms atop the mountain where Hebrew University is located.  I am learning all the rules of Shabbat (more than I knew) and also of living Kosher. My roommates are both sweet as can be, and very open minded. One of my roommates, Tamar, is as she calls herself "almost Haredi" (Ultra-Orthodox) explaining that she chooses not to dress in the traditional Haredi costume. The difference between her community, called National Religious and the Haredim community is that one is Zionist (National Religious) while the Haredim are generally not so much. Now, living in my glorious apartment means accepting their rules. When they found out that I wasn't Jewish, she had to consult her Rabbi. Even though I am living kosher and following all the rules requested of me, she still thought their might be some problems. We spoke yesterday and she told me there might be a problem with me using the kitchen because I am not Jewish. (Ever so sweetly, of course, and saying that we will find a solution that works for both of us!) I was a bit worried that I won't be able to use a kitchen for a good month... but today we received good news from the Rabbi.

Of course, they found a loophole :) If they constantly keep a candle lit (lit by a Jew, and not me) in the house, then I am able to cook. Only, If I want to cook, I cannot light the gas stove by striking a match, I must take a match and light it from the candle lit by one of the Jewish girls. Oh, I also can't be the one to open a bottle of wine.  Now, these rules and more, are in addition to the usual kosher rules of having two sets of plates, forks, cups, etc. for all things meat and all things dairy. It is an interesting challenge, and the girls are so sweet about it, how can I say no? I am taking it as a new experience, a chance to learn and a fabulous summer.

As always, if you have any questions about life in Jerusalem, religion or the Middle East, fire away! Feels so good to be back. Below is a view from my room!

View from my Apartment

View from Campus overlooking Jerusalem and the West Bank

1 comment:

  1. Sarah!!

    I am so excited and happy for you, I hope Jerusalem is treating you very well. I'm sorry I've been a terrible friend in keeping up with your life and adventures, but you cross my mind very often and I wonder what new experience you are embracing that day. I wish you the best however long you are there for, and I hope our paths will cross again someday. Ciao for now!


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