Sunday, June 24, 2007

Since last we met . . . .

a) a lot has happened in Gaza. A lot. So much that I wonder who, if anyone, was able to keep track of it. And it makes me wonder: Why wasn’t the idea of having two separate Palestinian states (one in Gaza, one in the West Bank) floated more seriously oh, 15 years ago? The idea of having one state on two non-contiguous plots of land never seemed very logical to me. Forget about the question of how different the cultures are between West Bank Palestinians and Gaza Palestinians, Fatah vs. Hamas, whether the West Bank is more “moderate,” or whatever . . . the West Bank and Gaza are not contiguous. How could Israel ever allow passage between the two in a way that grows trade for this new Palestinian entity without endangering Israel’s security? Who ever thought that would work?

b) There was a gay-pride parade in Jerusalem, and an anti-gay-pride parade protest, which affected me only to the extent that I wasn’t able to take a bus to the Creative Zionism institute on Thursday night and had to take a taxi instead. This annual (or has it become bi-annual?) event and counter-event brouhaha – will the rabbis discourage violence or encourage it? Will it be a parade or a rally? Blah blah blah – is getting really old.

c) I was accepted as a Fellow to the Creative Zionism Institute. I think I’m the third-oldest Fellow; this program is really geared more for people with the energy to spend their days working and almost every. single. evening talking about their “projects.” However, it is indeed a great place for me to network and tell a lot of very energetic and enthusiastic Jews about my goal to open a Global Relationship Center in Jerusalem.

d) Speaking of which, the LYO and Money Freedom courses were cancelled last week. They are extremely expensive to run, and we were coming nowhere close to breaking even. However! There will be a meeting on July 25 in Jerusalem, for anyone who wants to be involved in making future courses happen, to talk about how we can raise money and make this program fiscally viable. In a way I’m pleased, since this is forcing we in IsraelIsrael” dream to work! But I won’t say that I wasn’t depressed when we decided to cancel. It was a deep disappointment and took a lot of work for me to be able to dust myself off again and keep going. to work as a team toward a goal, and to do it ourselves, without outside help. Putting the whole “working toward a more cooperative, productive, economically self-sufficient

e) The UN Human Rights Council overwhelmingly voted to make Israel a permanent agenda item. Among the countries who are on the Council and who voted to focus so much energy on Israel’s human rights abuses, while not making, say, Sudan a permanent agenda item, were China, Angola, and Saudi Arabia. I have nothing to say. Hillel Neuer has already said it all for me.

f) I finished a major journalism assignment which was hanging over me for a very long time. Celebrated my new freedom by watching four episodes straight of CSI. George Eades really does not look good in a moustache.

g) Guess what I had done today with a friend? I love it!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Money Freedom(TM) and Loving Yourself and Others(TM)

What I'm Up To These Days

Amended from a post I just uploaded to the Nefesh B'Nefesh listserve:

Following the success of our two "Understanding Yourself and Others" classes, I'm happy to be able to announce the next two classes I'm organizing in
the effort, which I think we all share, to make Israel a more loving, productive, cooperative place. Both courses will take place at the Listening Hands Institute
in Maalot Daphna, Jerusalem and come with money-back guarantees.

"Loving Yourself and Others" June 27-29


"Money Freedom" July 1-2


A 2.5-day course where you can practice to:
-Stress less and be more productive
-Live in this moment joyously, even with problems
-Prevent your feelings from being hurt
-Not be annoyed or angered by others
-Stop aggravating people
-Spend more time making yourself happy
-Become better at encouraging yourself and others
-Have more command of your life
-Learn to give and get support from your family

A 2-day experiential course where you can learn to:
-become aware of your subconscious beliefs about money
-become “unstuck” in your creation of wealth
-realize the meaning and purpose of money as an avenue to help you express yourself
-support others in their process of creating wealth
-free yourself to move with ease and confidence without money stress

Organized in partnership with Global Relationship Centers, Inc.

If any of my wonderful blog readers would like more information, please write to me at chayyeisarah at yahoo dot com.

See you soon!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Back from the Dead

She's alive! She's alive! Bwahahahahaaaaa!

OK, I'm a bad blogger.

It's just been a combination of busyness, feeling a little down, and being overwhelmed by how much I have to write. Sorry, everyone. I didn't go away for good.

A brief update:

On Lag Ba'Omer, the holiday on which Israelis traditionally make bonfires, I helped my friend Alice W. (whom I met when she took UYO) watch over the park across the street from her house. Alice had spent two weeks, with the help of a few volunteers, clearing brush from the ground and preparing small clearings where people could safely make their fires. On the night of Lag Ba'Omer, I spent a couple of hours with her and one other volunteer, beating out fires that were getting out of control and bringing water in tanks to families who had forgotten to bring something to quench the flames. I was very, very happy to be helping, and we educated a few kids who looked at us wide-eyed when we explained that large bonfires, blowing sparks caused by putting cardboard boxes into the fire, and overhanging branches don't mix, and they should please move to a safer spot. The experience reinforced my belief that the fact that more serious accidents or out-of-control fires don't happen on Lag BaOmer is a revealed miracle. It also reinforced my belief that, though not all teenagers are obnoxious by far (you know I love teens!), the most obnoxious people in the world do tend to be between the ages of 13-19. Alice was there until almost 8 am, and had to call the police when one group refused to move, despite the fact that they were already singing leaves of a nearby tree.

Shavuot was very nice. I went to the home of Ari and Sarah Beth, as is my tradition. A good time was had by all.

I have gotten onto a CSI kick. I'm renting every episode in order. Am currently in Season 4. This is not a healthy thing. You know how I know that Yael knows me very well? When I told her recently that I've watched about 30 episodes of CSI in the space of 3 weeks, did she look at my sympathetically and say "Sarah, you know that wasting time like that isn't good for you"? No! She looked at me sympathetically and said "Sarah . . . if you keep watching it at that rate, pretty soon you'll finish the whole series and then you'll be depressed." Now THAT is a friend.

My teaching post has come to an end for the term. I now have 8 months, until the program starts again, with no pressing reason to leave the house on any given day. Not a good thing. That teaching job saved my sanity. I loved those kids, I loved the material, and I'm pretty sure I did a great job. My nightmares about teaching are completely gone. I gave my students evaluation forms at the end (see what a reflective professional I am?) and the consensus was that I did at least as good a job as any of their other English teachers have done -- the feedback mostly ranged from "par for the course" to "you are awesome"-- but that I gave way too much homework. Duly noted.

What is keeping me sane now is that we have scheduled the next Global Relationship Center courses, so I'm neck-high in planning. For those of you interested in attending, we're doing "Loving Yourself and Others(TM)" on June 27-29, and "Money Freedom(TM)" on July 1-2. More details in another post soon to come. You can also email me for more info at chayyeisarah at yahoo dot com. I'm very excited about these classes, and will be taking them myself as a student.

Finally, inspired by a recent post over at Treppenwitz, here is a list of 12 things I love about living in Israel:

1. Virtually everywhere you go, in Jerusalem at least, there are mezuzot on almost every doorpost: Government offices, business offices, restaurants, shops, etc etc. A constant reminder that I'm living among people who share my culture. It's such a comfortable, and comforting, thing to see.

2. Any large or mid-size city in the country will have at least a couple of kosher restaurants, and even the most backwater little towns will have kosher pizza and falafel joints. Any shopping mall or bus terminal will have kosher places in the food court. It makes traveling so much easier, not to have to pack cans of tuna fish and jars of peanut butter whereever you go! Being able to get hot, kosher food anywhere is really a treat.

3. Though just as difficult as the one in New York (for me, anyway), the dating scene in Israel is nowhere near as cruel as that in the Big Apple. When I go to singles events where there are a lot of native Israelis, I find that the men will look me in the eye and be sincerely interested in talking to me, even if it's just to be friendly. In New York, people don't bother talking to you unless they think that it will go somewhere (whatever that means to them, if you know what I mean). In general, I find Israeli men to be much more friendly than Americans, even if their dating habits are just as inscrutable to me.

4. Hot Israeli men. Did I mention they are hot?

5. Predictable weather. As soon as spring rolls around, I take out all my sandals from storage, and make a point of not wearing closed-toed shoes again until September or October. And that's always fine.

6. Israeli straightforwardness. It's often mistaken for rudeness, but I'm learning to appreciate the Israeli style of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I'm not a game-playing kind of person, and I appreciate that Israelis get to the point and "talk tachlis." You always know where you stand with them. I find that refreshing, especially when they are expressing enthusiasm -- and you know it's genuine.

7. There are traditional and knowledgable Jews everywhere. An Israeli Jew (especially those of Middle Eastern descent) who isn't particularly observant in an Orthodox kind of way is still much more likely than his or her American counterpart to keep kosher, or pray regularly, or avoid certain activities on Shabbat. There is a sense here that Judaism is an organic part of life, less rigid than the way it's practiced in the US, and therefore more accessible. I just loved it when the clerk at my post office, who was wearing tight jeans and low-cut, sleeveless top, suggested that I avoid signing a lease during the Three Weeks. Not to mention that Jewish holidays are national holidays and the traditional way to say "have a nice weekend" is "Shabbat shalom."

8. No pressure to wear the latest fashions, or have a perfect manicure or pedicure, or to blow-dry your hair "just so." Clean, ironed, and matching, with a little makeup, is more than good enough. And no pressure to "impress" anyone with fancy jewelry or tales about one's trips to Club Med or Europe or some tropical island. Materialism, be gone! Goodbye Upper West Side, hello Jerusalem!

9. The friends I've made here. (Shout-out to Estee, Rachel, and Gila)

10. Feeling that I'm part of something important, that just by being here I'm making a difference in society and helping my country to make its incremental steps forward.

11. The views of Jerusalem's hills, from within and from without. There are so many opportunities to enjoy a good view, and I feel lucky to be here, in this ancient city, every time.

12. Proximity to the Galil, one of the most beautiful places on earth, ancient home to my soul.