Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Blog: I am moving to

I have started a blog that will be easier for you and me to use. It is completely about the Army as well. I might use this blog for more personal posts, but for now please start reading from

Thanks for following!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Job on the Kibbutz (Glorified Bus Boy/Waiter)

Hey All and שלום,

Once again it has been a long time since my last post, but not a lot has gone on. I have my second job in Israel. The Kibbutz I am on has a large hotel and events center. I work in the Hader Ochel הדר האוכל which is the hotel's dinning rooms. It is a large place with four main rooms, which can be six rooms or one.  I am the only American that works there! Which is sad, but oh well. Most of the people I work with are my age. They are mostly Russian or Ethiopian (I think I spelled that right). So they all speak to me in Hebrew and I speak to them in Hebrew! It has really improved my hebrew, but my speaking is not very good. I add in a lot of English and try to say it with a Israeli Accent (Which is probably worse).  I am starting to think in Hebrew, just the basic talking to myself about how work was or if I need to go to the bathroom...I think it is a big step. Work is long and can be hard. Running around, getting yelled at in Hebrew, picking up dishes, setting the tables, filling water... Oh and a cool, but very stressful part of the Dinning Room is that we are completely Kosher. This has its positives, but for me it is a lot of negatives. We have two separate of everything, Milk and Meat. and this week is the week before Passover פסח; so we have a third set of EVERYTHING....and I mean everything. Also we have been cleaning for Passover. Yesterday I was on my hands and knees with a scotch pad and bleach, scrubbing the place where the floor meets the wall....and today I dumped out all the salt and pepper. Fun fun fun.

So this coming monday is Passover. A fantastic holiday for us Jews. Lots of meals together and fun. Most people do not like this holiday because it is forbidden for a Jew to own, have, eat, ect.... Chemiz/Leven. Which is kinda complicated, but pretty much means nothing from a grain. This is where Matzah is famous. I took the week off to do some volunteering work. Which in my mind is the most important part of being Jewish. I have found a group that puts on a Seder (Passover Meal, in Israel we only have one, but everywhere else they have two.) I am helping them all weekend and then joining them for the meal. Then for the rest of the week I'm traveling down south of Tel Aviv for a few days for camping on the beach and helping "At-Risk" Youth that have no family or left home for some reason... I'm really excited to do this and practice my hebrew.

Two weeks after Passover, I'm taking some time to prepare myself for the Army. What could this be? Working out? Fasting? Nope.........I'M GOING TO AMSTERDAM!!!! My family is dutch and my Grandma has a few 1st cousins there still. So, my Mom and Grandma are flying out and meeting me there. So one week in Amsterdam, before the Army. Can we say Detox...jk.

I still have just over a month before I enlist in the IDF. The big day is May 4th.

חג פסח שמח ושבת שלום! Happy Passover and Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Kibbutz

Hey everyone, so a long needed update for all my friends and family out there.

I'm now all settled into my new apartment. Its a big room and I have a roommate and then there are four other rooms with soldiers. My roommate is really cool, he is 21 and from Mexico. He is here only on the weekends. Therefore I have the whole place mostly to myself, which is nice. It has been really boring though...I have been relaxing, partying, suntanning, hanging out with friends, and making new friends. Its a really great time, but I now watch a lot of TV, which I haven't really ever done in my life. TV here is so bad too, they only plus is I kinda learn Hebrew, with the subtitles.

I have found a cure to the boredom though. I got a JOB! My friend, Idan, from Camp lives on my Kibbutz and his family has adopted me. The plus is that my adopted dad is the General Manager of the Kibbutz hotel. So starting on Sunday, I am going to be a waiter in the Kibbutz Hotel Restaurant. Its minimum wage and a lot of hours, so it is money. I need to save up for my April trip to Amsterdam with my Mom to visit family.

So many of you know I've been having some stomach problems and its not been so good. Everything I was eating was making me sick. Well now and after a few bad doctor appointments with tests I believe now I'm a Celiac and Lactose Intolerant. Well we think, and so far not eating wheat, gluten, and dairy I've been feeling better, but something I feel is still up, so I'm still trying to figure out what is going on in my belly.

Well thats it for now, oh and enjoy these pictures on my backyard. Love you all. Army in Two Months! I  am going to start getting ready...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have finished Ulpan!

I am currently in the last week of being at the Ulpan. Classes are over and I have one day of work left!

Friday I will be moving to Kibbutz Shefayim קיבוץ שפיים. Its just north of Herzalia and right on the coast. My current plans are to get moved in to my new place, look for a job, and start working out to get ready for the Army.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Its been a little while since my last update, but nothing has really happened.

New years is not really celebrated here or Christmas...and I had no "Holiday Break" that was in September/October for the Jewish High Holidays. I did want to celebrate the coming of the New Year though and I had Friday off, so I decided to go to Tel Aviv. I'm really glad I went and I had a really good time, checking out the local scene. I've only ever gone out in Tel Aviv with groups, so it was different than I had experienced before. On Saturday, I was very tired from all the festivities the night before and passed out on the very nice warm beach and got a very nice was pretty red, but didn't hurt, its a nice tan now... speaking of which, Israel is going though a Winter Heat wave this past few weeks...I was very cold for about a month, but now it is quite warm. I'm not complaining, I could be in Colorado freezing my tukas off.

I have some good news too! I only have 17 days left of the Ulpan...but who is counting??? Not ME?!?!

and I know where I'll be moving when the program is complete. The Ulpan is finished with the final exam January 28th and I'll be moving my life to Kibbutz Shefayim קיבוץ שפיים. Here is a google map link to see where it is located. Click Here. Its right on the beach and just north of Tel Aviv. I have some pics, but my internet is very slow tonight. I looked at an apartment a few weeks ago and I love it. I have to have a roommate for awhile, but as soon as a single opens up, I will be able to have my own room. The apartments are all for Lone Soldiers in the Israeli Army. I think my roommate is going to be a nice France Guy that is currently in the Army. The best part of living on Shefayim is that my really good friend and roommate from Camp, Idan, has lived there his whole life and is still there with his amazing girlfriend. I am really glad I get to live on his Kibbutz and his family there is so nice and welcoming. I will be living there for all my Army service so this is going to be a great place to settle down, plus when I'm in the army, they will pay for everything and I'll have a place, food, and laundry all for free!

Well, I need to start some studying. I have the oral exam on Tuesday! Wish me Luck...well it doesn't really matter how I score, not college or anything... (Sara, I am typing a story all in Hebrew so I'll send it to you or post it here.)

I hope you all in the rest of the world are not too cold.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hanukkah Vacation (The whole country in one week)

View Larger Map

Click for my trip map!

I'm back at the Kibbutz now after a week or so traveling around my very "Big" country...well its pretty small, but man...I saw a lot (and Eilat). 'American Israeli Joke'

My first night of Hanukkah (חנוקה):
I went to Sam's apartment, a friend from my IsraeLinks trip in '08. Caitlin, also from IsraeLinks, was there and one of her friends too. We lit the first candle and then Sam and I went to go find a Shul (Synagogue). We walked to Hadar, a neat community in Haifa. The first Shul we found was closed, but right on the corner we found a Chabad. (My favorite chose of Shul) It was all Russian though, but still the same service I knew from Boulder. We walked back to his apartment afterwards and ready for us was a very nice Shabbat Dinner. After Dinner we had a very strange encounter with a man and his son in Sam's apartment building. The man invited us up to his apartment for drinks. It was very late and all in Hebrew, so I can't tell you much, but it was fun...
The next day we all went back to the Russian Chabad House, came back and ate lunch. After Lunch, the man from upstairs invited Sam and I to his Shul for Afternoon Prayers. It was very close. When we got in, we saw that it was a Sephardic Shul. This was a very rich experience and they treated us like royality. I got to carry the Torah to the Bima and I also got an Aliyah. (Called to the Torah for the reading, a very honorary custom.) THATS it for Shabbat and the first night of חנוקה.

My second night of חנוקה:

I had also planned to meet up with some friends from CPLV (My Summer Camp) in Tel Aviv Motzi Shabbat (After Shabbat/Saturday Night). So after we lit the second candle, I got on a bus from a very wet and rainny Haifa, to Herzalia to where I got picked up by Yogev, my camp friend, and we then drove to Ramat Gan (Just East of Tel Aviv). There we met up with Roni and Anna, more friends from camp. We sat and had coffee and snacks for hours and caught up with each other, while I had a chance to practice my Hebrew...Which I may add is getting pretty good, well...not really speaking, but Understanding.

The time flew by and I had no chance of making it to the Kibbutz that night, so I stayed with Anna in Petah Tikvah, just north a bit from Tel Aviv. The next day, I caught a bus back to the Kibbutz. *I have to add that Anna was amazing and very helpful. I got to the Kibbutz at 11am, four hours late for Class! I also missed the big mid-term test...I got yelled at by my teacher, but it was חנוקה and I got away with it. I then had to start the test on my own, while my whole class started making חנוקה decorations. This was a very hard test, as it was testing us on three levels of Hebrew. So much for day two...

My third night of חנוקה:
Sunday night, the Ulpan had its חנוקה party. We had spent the whole week before preparing. I only had to do one thing for the party, light a candle. My whole class had to light a candle in the honor of something. Mine was, Peace in the Middle East and the World. I felt like I was in the Miss America Pageant. It was very fun night and I ate even more Sufganeot (Jelly Filled Donuts). *I might post some videos of it on facebook... The next day I had to go to Work!

My candle in Hebrew: אני מדליק נר לכבוד השלום. שיהייה שלום במזרח התיכון ושלום עולמי בכל העולם
My candle in English: I light this candle in honor of peace. That there be peace in the Middle East and all around the world.

My fourth night of חנוקה:
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I had to work because the the first level class had off class and work. My class had Thursday and Friday off.

Monday night, a friend that lives on my kibbutz, Tzach, invited me and some girls, Arielle and Ellinor, to a natural hot springs in the north, just off the Jordan river. It was very relaxing and nice.

My fifth night of חנוקה:
On Tuesday Night, I went to the Kibbutz's Hanukkah Play for the Kids. It was really quite the experience for a Theatre Major. One it was all in Hebrew, but for Kids, so I got most of it and two it was a mix of children dancing and adults acting. It had nothing to do with Hanukkah, or anything Jewish, just a play about a puppy that lost his brother and he went looking for him. It was all very nice. Plus we lit a giantHanukiah.

My sixth night of חנוקה:
I left the Kibbutz right after work on Wednesday and headed off to Eilat (The southern most part of Israel on the Red Sea). My friend from College, Katie London, is there for a few months working in a hotel on a program. I packed my stuff and went out to the gate of the Kibbutz. I always Tramp (Hitchhike) to the near town, Kiryat Ata to check the bus. However when I got in the first car to stop, the driver asked what my destination was and I said Eilat, via Jerusalem. He replied with that he was also going to Jerusalem and I could go with him the whole way. WOW! Second time this had happened. I got to Jerusalem two minutes after the earlier bus to Eilat. Damn, the next bus, which I planned to take anyways was in three I decided to get some lunch and wait for the bus. After I ate, I went to the info desk in the bus station and found out that the 5pm Bus to Eilat was sold out! Awww, What! מה? So I had an hour to get to Tel Aviv to get a bus to Eilat. I didn't get to Eilat until 10:30pm! While I was on the bus, I heard the prayers for the sixth candle, on the radio. I got off to meet Katie and we went right out to get some dinner and check out the boardwalk.

The next day, we woke up and got some breakfast with Katie's Boyfriend on the boardwalk. This was the first I got to see Eilat in the light. It was pretty dusty and I couldn't even see across town, which is mostly hotels. It was warm though and I got to wear shorts.

My seventh night of חנוקה:
We went out to dinner at one of the hotel's that Katie's friend, Kara, works at. It was pretty bad, but I got another Sufganeot... After we went to get ready to go out for the night. It got kinda crazy and I met a ton of their friends. We all lit the seventh candle together in another hotel lobby where only staff live. I met two 17 year olds, one from Russia and one from Kazakhstan (Yes, it really is a country). These guys were working at a hotel, but they just got fired and are moving to Kiryat one wants to live there, by the way, its the town right by my that was cool meeting some guys from where I live in the north. 

The next day, Friday, I had to head to Jerusalem for Shabbat. A few minor problems though...The only ticket I could get to Jerusalem was at 1pm and would not arrive in J town until 5pm, 30min after Shabbat starts. (I wanted to keep the Shabbat and I was staying at a religious family). So I went to the bus station at 10am to try and get on the first bus to Jerusalem, but no I got another great idea! There was a 11am Bus to Tel Aviv. So I got on it... Well that was a mistake, as I soon realized. I thought it would be the same amount of time to Tel Aviv as Jerusalem...I don't know why, but I did. I thought I would get to Tel Aviv at 3pm and then be able to make it to J town in time...well the bus would not get to Tel Aviv until 4:25pm...No Good/לה טוב, but I was going to an amazing person's house. Rivkah, my friend/fellow guide on this summer's Birthright trip. She got on the computer and started cross refrenceing my buses stops and buses to Jerusalem. I ended up switching buses and making it to Jerusalem at 4:20pm!!!!! 10 Minutes to Shabbat, not 10 minutes to the grace period of shabbat. I ran off the bus and right to a taxi. I told them the address and to go fast! I arrived at Rivkah's house right as the sun was going behind the horizon.

My eight night of חנוקה:
I was to late to light candles, as they had to be lit before Shabbat. They had eight hanukiahiot lit. Which was very spectacular. I went to a Shul across the street with Rivkah's Brother for Shabbat. Dinner was great for Shabbat. Rivkah has one older brother and six younger sisters. Plus three other guest where at dinner. I love a large Shabbat dinner with a bunch of loud Israelis! Really, it was a lot of fun.

Shabbat Day was amazing, as I went to Shul once, ate another large meal for lunch and took a walk with Rivkah. I really had one of my best and rememberable shabbats. Her family was amazing and I felt very welcome. I really got to practice my hebrew too!!!

That night I met up with a friend from the Ulpan and caught a bus back to the Kibbutz. I wanted to get back and get some rest, because Sunday and Monday the whole Ulpan was taking a trip to the Negev (Israeli Desert).

Ulpan Trip to the Negev:
The Ulpan I'm in takes a few trips durning the program and this week's trip is of the Negev, for two days. We left at 7am and took a bus to our first destination of Maresha (Click for Link). It was a very old site of city with a ton of underground tunnels and rooms. We spent a few hours on our hands and knees and see massive rooms under the ground.

Next we went to a "Hot spring" at the edge of the desert, just north of Ber Sheba. It wasn't really so much as a hot spring, but a full on Spa, with some hot pools. Very nice and relaxing, but not like the one I went to in the north the week before. Here is a great pic of the sunset.

Then it was getting late so we headed to the famous, Bedouin Tents , at Kfar Hanokdim. I was at the same place with my Birthright group this summer. So about the same...Food, Music, Fire, Desert walk/prayer. I really had a good time, even though, my group drives me crazy at most times.

On Monday, we woke up and ate, and went Camel riding. My third or forth time... It was just the same as all the times before, but a bit longer. Not a good thing...My eggs were in my pun intended.
Then we set out for a three hour hike in the desert near the Dead Sea (ים המלך). It was a very easy hike, with amazing views! I really enjoyed it, more than any other part of the trip.

After the Hike, we went to Dead Sea to Float! Been there done that, but in the Summer. The water was very cold, well pool temp. We floated for awhile and then headed back to the Kibbutz.

The End!

Now back to class and work!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Picture Update

Sufganiot (Jewish Jelly Filled Donut)
I got to fry them for Class...really good.

Jerusalem after a rain storm

Horses on the Kibbutz

Kibbutz FieldsBlurry, but thats some very famous people. I was sitting in an Audience for an Israeli TV Show. אור ישראלי More about this in a post...