Posts Tagged ‘narrative’


Batsheva Ensemble Auditions

February 11, 2012

I’ve been sick for four days now, with a constant fever and impossible nights of sleep. Violent chills alternated with what I considered the true meaning of what it is to sweat. I think it’s something like the flu. I’m taking care, don’t you worry. I tried running in the middle of the week, but was only met with fatigue. With high spirits though, I attended auditions today for the Batsheva Ensemble.

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Recipe: “We’ve All Split-Pea Soup”

February 6, 2012


Once upon a time in a kfar far away, there lived a man.
His friends all left to gather firewood or vacation in places near and far.
They all left behind various food items. From these items, this man made a soup.


Please enjoy this tastefully wistful cousin of Stone Soup.



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Oh, to audition!

January 14, 2012

I auditioned for Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company today at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv with my roommates.

The weather was blustery, the commute long, and the air around Studio A practically vibrated with concentration and nerves. Though the space provided for the dancers in waiting was tiny, everyone seemed to find room somewhere to dry off and warm up. I used a staircase.

I nerded out at these auditions. In attendance were people I’d seen before in classes, members of companies I had seen in performance, and even one person that had taught me repertory here. When I finally saw Inbal and Avshalom, my eyes lit up. They’re real! They’re people, just like in the powerpoint presentation we saw in Dance in Israel, but living and breathing before me …and passing between them a numbered list of dancers.

I think my greatest awe simply lay in this:  Inbal, Avshalom, and their dancers teaching the repertory combinations are what make up the company, and conjure the rich images that have made me fall in love with their work.



Oh, to audition! To wear just the right thing, and try to keep your sticky number from falling off. I must say that knowing a good amount about the company, their work, and their aesthetic, really helped me contextualize the material given to us. The movement was a pleasure to dance and act. I actually had a lot of fun. Without giving away too many details, I was cut after three rounds, right before the final one.

Before I left, I introduced myself, thanked them, and then brought up her work being set at Rutgers. It’s crazy that I saw Inbal Pinto just today, and that she’ll soon be in New Jersey at my school teaching my friends. (Again, enjoy!)

My roommates and I met for drinks afterward at a great tequila bar in Florentin and then made our way back to Jerusalem. From the time we left this morning to the time we came back, it was about twelve hours! Indeed, I’m tuckered out and plan on going to bed early. I’ll be well rested for tomorrow, and what the new week will bring.


The rabbi served us shots.

October 21, 2011

Why do you have such a long October vacation?

In my preparation for my trip to Israel, I saw on our academic calendars the observance of MANY Jewish holidays. I’m currently in the middle of Sukkot Vacation. Because of the way this vacation hits the fall semester, I had Hebrew Ulpan for the first month, some steady DanceJerusalem-only dance classes and rehearsals early in the month of October, and the REAL semester will start on October 30. It’s weird to me that my dance semester hasn’t started yet when Mason Gross is at approximately mid-term, but I gather that this is a nice acceleration lane into living in Israel and getting acclimated. Also, the fall semester will last until about February.

What’s also great is that I have all this free time to travel.
But I’ll tell more about that later.


What is Sukkot?

Sukkot (pronounced sue-COAT) translates as “Festival of Tabernacles.” Also, “Sukkot” is the plural of sukkah. A sukkah is a temporary structure that a Jewish household will build in their yard. The holiday is observed to remember the forty years that the Jewish people wandered in the desert, living in temporary dwellings. It’s also observed in celebration of the harvest.

There are specifications for building a Sukkah. For instance, the roof is made of something that grew out of the ground naturally. Around here, the roofs are made of palm leaves. The insides are decorated with pictures of prominent rabbis, maybe cut-out shapes of fruit, lights, candles, and garland. It’s a lot of fun for kids, I can imagine, because building a Sukkah is probably much like building a fort and camping out in your backyard.

A number of us got dressed in our conservative best and headed out to Meah Shearim to see for ourselves what Sukkot is like.


Photo courtesy of Michaela Burns

Sukkot on apartment balconies

They cover all the buildings

Sukkah decorations sold outdoor on Meah Shearim

Arba Minim: the Four Species, used in ritual

The Arba Minim are sold everywhere

Everyone shops for the perfect Etrog


Sukkah Hopping, Tish Hopping

Our Hasidism professor was very generous in inviting his class to his home one Saturday night. The bunch of us that went were received in his Sukkah, and enjoyed conversation over cake, cookies, and coffee, made by his wife. (I’ll admit that I showed up late, which was an adventure of a commute in itself.)

Before our group left with our professor to explore Meah Shearim at night, we were given a tour of the neighborhood by his son.



The boy was incredibly enthusiastic about showing us around his block. He knew all the ins and outs of the neighborhood, and everything about each Sukkah! He showed us a small one made for only one man, and a big one that can seat up to thirty guests! We saw Sukkot with lights, with cloth exteriors, some fancy windows… even one with air conditioning! The tour finished, and we were off to Meah Shearim to find a Tish.

I’ll admit that I was nervous. This evening, I was NOT dressed in full Yeshiva style like I had been during my first visit. I wore a plaid shirt with green corduroys and brown shoes. I had a jacket and a bag for my belongings.

The first stop was a Sephardic synagogue. The women left for their section, and the men of our group walked into the building. I was certainly out of place, as I didn’t have a kippah on my head. Everyone was dressed in their black and white, their kippot and black hats. In the center of the space was a circle of men dancing, with kids running about and other men standing and sitting on the sides, cheering. There was live music and a man leading hymns and songs. Altogether, it was an overwhelming scene to walk into. But we came to dance, right?

My professor joined into the circle, which was now going around. One less person to stand near. When he made one full lap, he grabbed my classmate Moshe. I was standing on my own. They both came around and I joined the circle. The dancing was open-ended… hopping, cheering, and smiling, with hands joined. I felt better about being there.

Not a moment too soon, a man in the middle of the circle grabs me and pulls me into it! He dances with me and gestures for me to do the same. So I break it down, naturally. All of a sudden, a stranger puts his kippah on my head. The man takes my bag and actually rips my jacket off of me. He wanted me to get comfortable and stay a while. So we dance until the song is through. It… was… exhilarating. It was such a good time, because everyone was cheering and enjoying themselves, and warmly welcomed my joining them.

On our way out, people came and asked who we were, and where we came from. We explained that we were students from America. I was also asked if I was Jewish. With a smile I replied, “Ulay.” Maybe.

We visited two more tishim that evening. Here are two videos, taken at the last one, which seemed to attract a generally younger and more active crowd. I kept the videos short so I wouldn’t seem too intrusive.




The music at the last place was my favorite. Among the drums, the electric guitar, and the amazing trumpet player, the band almost had a ska sound. When the music got more lively, the scene turned concert style with people jumping with their fists in the air!


A Third Trip to Meah Shearim

After another great group dinner last night, I went out with the guys to Meah Shearim for Simchat Torah, this time without our professor leading us around. I have to admit, looking for the celebrations in the synagogues felt very much like wandering College Ave looking for a party with a decent ratio. After wandering around and feeling somewhat unsuccessful, we finally found a congregation and got up the nerve to step inside.

This led to synagogue hopping again, and we found some pretty fun spots. At one place, the rabbi served us shots. You heard me.

When we’d had enough fun, we went to the Western Wall to see if anything else was going on. The scene there wasn’t as lively as we thought it would be, so we had some quiet time near the Wall before we took a taxi cab home.


I like being here, and doing these things. I adore learning about Jewish holidays and rituals. My photos would be better, but I also try not to be TOO much of an intrusive tourist. I must remind you that Meah Shearim is ultra Orthodox. There are signs in the neighborhood that tell visitors to dress modestly, and that large groups are offensive. I try to tread lightly, and try not to take too many photos of people when I’m visiting.

So many questions come up in my mind. I see things and want to know more. My curiosity is piqued. I hope I’m able to visit and learn more during the semester.


VIDEO: Student Village

September 1, 2011

Hello, friends! Since my Internet situation is still in the works, these posts come a day late from when I intend to write them! My apologies. It won’t be like this for very much longer as I’m getting the Internet taken care of TODAY.

I’m going to try my blogging hand at posting videos.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million!

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Retroactive Post from 35,000 Feet

August 31, 2011

I am writing this as we pass over the Atlantic Ocean, at an elevation of 35000 feet, 596 miles per hour, and with just over 3000 miles to go until Tel Aviv.

It has been my goal during the last academic year and definitely this summer to cultivate my patience. And boy, did it come in handy today. If you’ve traveled internationally, you can imagine what I’m about to explain.

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