Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In The Beginning

Time has a way of losing its meaning here. I arrived in Israel on Monday morning, and from the moment I stepped off the plane the minutes and hours began to blur. I keep forgetting what time it is, what day it is, what month it is. I can sleep for an hour and it feels like an eternity, but when I sleep for six hours I wake up feeling sleepless. But aside from all that, everything feels absolutely perfect. I am exactly where I need to be.

We finally got internet in the apartment, which means I can not only blog but I can also skype and facetime -- FINALLY. Today, I got to see some of my all-time favorite faces- my family (dogs included), my girlfriend Michelle, and my best friend Julie. It feels amazing to finally be able to truly keep in touch with people and start communicating again. You don't realize how much you rely on internet until you're without it for 48 hours!

I am living in a beautiful apartment in Jerusalem on Rehov Ramban with two fantastic cantorial classmates, Liz and Jacob. The three of us auditioned together, got in together, and decided to live together. I hope our neighbors are prepared for a whole lot of singing over the next ten months! So far, our living situation is pretty lovely. With the exception of a few minor glitches (massive shower flooding, no gas in our oven or stove, and a couple of awkward conversations with our landlord), we are all settling in smoothly. We went grocery shopping tonight and learned that all three of us are masters at hunting down a good bargain while stocking a mostly empty kitchen. So, armed with a kitchen full of chicken, eggs, milk, butter, pasta, cereal, and a dwindling supply of Israeli candy, we are ready to conquer week one.

The first night I arrived in Israel, I went to my all-time favorite place in all of Jerusalem. I walked from my apartment to the Mamilla Mall, walked through the mall to the Jaffa Gate, and walked through the Old City to pray at the Kotel. Three years ago, I stayed at the Mamilla Hotel with my family and we quickly made the area our new stomping ground. The walk from Mamilla to the Kotel is flooded with memories, sights, smells, and emotions that crystallized my very first impression of Israel. A few nights ago, they all came back to me in full force and I felt absolutely giddy -- like I had finally come home. The littlest things excited me: the crowds wading through the sea of Jerusalem stone, the street musicians pouring their souls onto strings, the haphazard swaying of people lost in prayer. It felt familiar and comforting to return to somewhere so steeped in meaning on my first night in my new home.

I've been to campus twice now, and spent a fair amount of time getting to know my classmates and colleagues. I am absolutely blown away by the class I am a part of this year and for the next four years. These people are brilliant, kind-hearted, articulate, passionate, mature, and committed. Most importantly, I am finally among like-minded people -- people who talk about faith, people who seriously engage with their communities, people who crave musical and intellectual and spiritual nourishment. I am so excited to learn with and from everyone this year.

I'm completely wired and wide awake, but the Israeli clocks tell me that it's past my bedtime so I'm signing off for now.

PS- follow my apartment's blog for more updates from me, Jacob, and Liz throughout the year! You can find us at:


  1. I am so excited for you, Tamara, and I am already living vicariously through your blog posts. Let me know if I chime in too often, especially on the apartment blog. Perhaps the initial excitement will wear off but I suspect your adventures will keep me engaged all year. Thanks for sharing! XOXO

  2. I love what you wrote and share a lot of your discomfort, but I am comfortable with the metaphor. So I have a question. Do you really not feel a part of the ethical and sociological evolution of our people that is the primary subplot of the Passover story or do you resist the anthropomorphic and concrete way in which the story is told? In other words, is it the metaphor that troubles you or is that the Exodus and God's various interventions along the way are presented as historical fact and that we are exhorted to believe that we ourselves were actually freed from slavery and present at Sinai?