Thursday, August 8, 2013

August already?!

Overworked, overstressed, overheated. Too much sun, too much walking, and too much information (that my tired, fried little brain can't possibly retain). And a fine layer of dust over absolutely everything.

This has been my state of being at the end of each week for the past three weeks or so that we have gone on field trips with our Biblical Archaeology class. This was the last one, and I can honestly say for the first time so far at HUC that I have never been happier to see something end. 

Don't get me wrong: I adore this beautiful country, its landscape, and its history. I have seen exhibits, archaeological dig sites, tunnels, tombs, caves, ruins, inscriptions, columns, city walls, gates, homes, palaces... but after a while, my vision gets blurry. Doors look like gates which look like walls which look like drainage systems because at the end of the day, I just see ancient stacks of stones.

We walk for hours, baking in the sun, listening to our professors tell us sixteen different archaeologists' opinions that all lead to the same conclusion: we can't actually say for certain what it is you're staring at, but we can tell you that it's old. VERY old. 7th, 8th, 9th Century -- that kind of old. We can tell you whether it's Egyptian, Philistine, or Israelite; Calcolithic or Neolithic; Iron or Bronze Age. But beyond that, unless there is an ancient engraving that explicitly states "Here Stood David's Palace", it's really anybody's guess. 

Maybe I'm oversimplifying things; it has been an extremely long week. But I simply don't connect with this course. It raises many interesting questions about the land itself, how we as Jews choose to relate to it, and how to interpret the Bible as an anthropologist might approach a population census. But I struggle with the dates, the facts, the numbers, and the stones that all look alike. I connect more to languages, narratives, anecdotes, interviews, interaction, participation. Maybe this just isn't my thing.

On the bright side, I've spent the last few weeks so immersed in being exactly in my element that I haven't had a free millisecond to blog about it. Hello, again. :-)

When I have the energy and brain power, I will write about some of the incredible things I've had the opportunity to do over the last few weeks, but here's a preliminary top ten list:

1. Beautiful, musical Shabbat services at Naha Tehila
2. HUC Beit Cafe (open mic night)
3. High Holy Day choir rehearsals 
4. Shabbat dinner with old friends from Yeshivat Hadar
5. Shiur and discussion with the editor of the Women's Commentary on the Torah
6. Reunited with an AJU friend who's currently serving in the IDF
7. New York themed get together with the HUC NY campus students
8. Taught a mini shiur (entirely in Hebrew!) about the history of Jewish music 
9. Prayed with Women of the Wall at the Kotel for Rosh Hodesh Elul
10. Went to the shuk on Friday afternoon and lived to talk about it!

Shabbat this week is just what the doctor ordered... I can't wait to welcome her in tomorrow night. Shabbat Shalom to any and all who read this! 

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